Six Things to Know When Buying Cabinets

A List of Options to Consider when Buying Kitchen Cabinets

By Mark J. Donovan

Kitchen cabinets are hugely expensive however they are a must in every kitchen. There’s no getting around the fact that kitchen cabinets can make or break a kitchen remodeling project, both in aesthetics and budget. Consequently when buying kitchen cabinets there are a number of things you should consider in your cabinet selection process to ensure you’re buying kitchen cabinets that truly meet all your needs. Top considerations when buying cabinets include refacing/replacing types, cabinet styles, finishes, and more.

Summarized below is a list of the key items to think about when buying cabinets.

Replacing or Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

When planning your kitchen remodel you need to determine early on if you want to replace or reface the kitchen cabinets. Replacing the cabinets outright is the most expensive route, but it is the route most homeowners choose. Refacing kitchen cabinets, on the other hand, can save you some serious money. Refacing kitchen cabinets involves leaving the kitchen cabinet frames in place, however replacing all of the doors and drawers, along with their associated hardware. In addition, veneers are also often applied to the exterior cabinet frame surfaces.

Framed or Frameless Faced Kitchen Cabinet Styles

Next you need to decide on whether to go with framed or frameless face kitchen cabinets. The traditional kitchen cabinet that most of us in the United States are familiar with has a faced frame. With a faced frame cabinet, a frame made out of solid wood is attached to the front of the cabinet box. Cabinet doors are then made, and attached to the front cabinet face, such that the solid wood face has an exposed reveal.

Frameless faced kitchen cabinets, typically seen in Europe, have larger doors that attach to the sides of the cabinet box. When closed the cabinet doors show no wood reveal from the front view of the cabinet.

Kitchen Remodeling design ideas

The advantages of frameless faced kitchen cabinets are that they are cheaper to build and the openings into the cabinets are larger.

Wood Species

Another area of major concern when buying cabinets is what species of wood to use. Pine and other soft woods can ding easily, and after only a few years the cabinets can look pretty beat up. Oak, Cherry, Maple and Ash cabinets on the other hand are very hard however they are much more expensive than Pine cabinets. Each type of wood species stains differently, and each has its own unique natural color, so make sure when shopping for cabinets to look at the various color tones for each wood species.

Painted versus Stained Cabinets

If you buy hardwood cabinets then you should stain them. One of the key reasons for buying hardwood cabinets, besides the fact that they are very durable, is that their natural wood provides an aesthetic beauty to the kitchen or room that they are installed in. If on the other hand you’re using a softer wood, such as Pine or Poplar, then you may indeed want to paint the cabinets. The paint itself can help to protect the wood from damage.

Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

When buying cabinets, it’s also important that you choose quality kitchen cabinet hardware. Cabinet hardware includes items such as door knobs, hinges, and slide rails. Kitchen cabinet hardware takes a beating just from the high volume of use they receive over time.

Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet

Also, cheap cabinet hardware can lead to drawers not opening smoothly, which can lead to drawer breakage and simple frustration trying to open and close the drawers.

Kitchen Appliance Panels

Finally, when buying custom cabinets you can often order front wood panel veneers to apply over your kitchen appliances front surfaces. Applying wood panels over the kitchen appliances can help to provide a beautiful and uniform cabinet look in the kitchen. Ask the appliance store salesperson whether or not wood veneer panels can indeed be attached to the kitchen appliances you’re considering purchasing and if so consider this cabinet option.

For help on your kitchen remodeling project, see my Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet. The Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet provides a request for quote checklist section that you can provide to prospective kitchen remodeling contractors. It also includes a comprehensive kitchen remodeling cost breakdown table, in Microsoft Excel format, that allows the contractor to include his projected remodeling costs for every phase of the project.

Related Information

Additional Kitchen Remodeling Design Resources


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