What To Look For In Cabinet Construction and Materials

Last month we focused on the difference between framed and frameless cabinetry (if you missed last month's newsletter you can read it HERE). This month we are going to dig into the nuts and bolts of what cabinet construction means as far as quality goes. Everyone wants to purchase an "all wood" cabinet because they have heard from a friend that it is what is best. Well the industry has heard this too, so even the cheapest brands out there claim to be "all wood". When making your cabinet decision you should really look at the warranty that brand offers. If it's "lifetime" and the brand has been around for more than 10-20 years, you should feel more confident that you are getting a better quality cabinet. Contact us today to set up a free consultation. We can go into further detail with you the brands we sell and how they differ from each other.

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Cabinet Construction 101
In a room design, the cabinets are not only functional; they are a major focal point that can also help to establish your style. Choosing the right cabinets might not be quite as exciting as picking out your chef's appliances, but how they are constructed is one of the most important decisions you'll make in the long-term functionality and usability of your space.

Cabinet construction can vary widely in both quality and price. Much depends on the material used and the quality of construction. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cabinets is essential. Let's take a look at cabinet boxes, what they are, the materials used, and what to look for in quality cabinet construction.
Cabinet Materials
When your designer is talking about the cabinet box, they're talking about the physical infrastructure of the cabinet, minus the hardware, trim, and doors. The cabinet box consists of a floor, sides, a back, and a top, along with shelves, and if it is a base cabinet, a toe kick.

Cabinets are typically constructed of three types of “engineered” woods. All have their place in your design, depending on the type of wood used in the construction. They can vary widely in price. Better materials mean better quality and will last longer and stand up to daily use. It's essential to buy the best cabinet boxes you can afford. The materials you can choose include:
This is the most expensive choice and is generally what your designer means when they say the cabinets are of “all-wood” construction. It's the strongest and most structurally sound material for cabinet construction. Plywood consists of thick layers of wood veneer that are glued together in contrasting grain patterns to add strength. The grade of the plywood depends on the number of layers, the thickness and grade of the wood used. All of these directly contribute to the quality of the box. Plywood is easily painted or finished and accepts veneers and laminates well.

MDF (medium-density fiberboard)
MDF is a structurally sound, solid material. It too takes veneers well, and you'll see many products that use MDF along with solids and veneers in their construction. MDF is made by gluing wood fibers together.

Particle Board
If you're working with a tight budget, particleboard may be your choice. Rather than using wood fibers and veneers, it's typically constructed from sawdust and wood scraps bound by resin. Particleboard contains higher levels of VOCs than either particleboard or plywood. The construction of particleboard makes it challenging to use screws, and if you need to disassemble and reassemble your cabinet boxes, they may not survive.

While the material is an important consideration, ultimately, how your cabinets are constructed is critical. The construction methods used can vary widely, by the manufacturer and the level of quality you pay for. Make sure that whatever cabinets you choose, whether custom or stock (more on this in a minute), the manufacturer uses proper joinery techniques. Strong joints equal durable cabinets. Mortise and tenon, or dovetailed joints connected using glue, nails, and screws make the strongest, most durable connection.
Stock, Semi-Custom, or Custom Cabinets
When it comes to your cabinets, you have three cabinet types to choose from: stock, semi-custom, and custom cabinetry. Each level of the build has elements to consider. Your designer will examine your wants, needs, and budget when determining which level of cabinetry is right for your space.

Stock Cabinets
Stock cabinets are the lowest cost option. They are a good choice if you are working with a limited budget, or you'd rather save some of your budget to splurge on more used rooms like the kitchen or master bath. Stock cabinets are usually limited in colors, styles, and sizes. You also need to understand that not all stock cabinets are built to last, so you need to look closely at how they are built to make sure you get a quality built product. Many stock cabinets have size limitations, and that can result in a poor cabinet layout. At CHW, we occasionally use stock cabinetry; however, we only work with high-quality manufacturers who offer options like plywood upgraded construction and many sizes that provide our clients with a semi-custom look.

Semi-custom Cabinets
Semi-custom cabinets allow your designer to create a design that will fit perfectly into your space and often have features that are not available in stock cabinets. Typically stock cabinets are available in three-inch size increments (18”, 21”, 24” etc.). Semi-custom kitchen cabinets are available in incremental sizes, so if you need a 22 1/2” counter depth, it is possible. At CHW, we offer a few brands in this level of cabinetry that will also allow you to choose any Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams paint color. This enhances your "custom" look at a semi-custom price!

Custom Cabinetry
Custom Cabinetry is the most expensive option. However, if you have the budget, custom cabinets give you the ability to create a design that is unique to your home and will precisely meet your needs, both aesthetically and functionally. With custom cabinetry, you have more choices of features, can use exotic wood species, and are built to your exact specifications. Watch out for the lower lines of cabinetry that say they are "custom". This is when you really need to do your homework and check out their warranties and compare the thickness of their construction versus other brands you are considering. At CHW, we have done that for you and can show you right in our showroom the difference between each of our lines.

If you have a home in South Carolina, and are planning a new construction or remodeling, give the expert designers at CHW Cabinetry a call at (803)520-6837. Let us help you design the space you've been dreaming about!
Product Spotlight!
Rev-a-Shelf's Product line began as metal and polymer Lazy Susan components manufactured for the largest U.S. cabinet manufacturers and has grown into the market leading innovator of quality, functional residential cabinet storage and organizational products such as Lazy Susans, Kitchen Drawer Organizers, Base Cabinet and Pantry Pull-Outs, functional Waste Containers, LED lighting systems and Childproof Locking System. Their worldwide presence extends from the  U.S. to Europe, Asia, and Mexico , with factories, warehouses and satellite offices strategically located to serve all their customers.

A "whole home" approach has expanded the current product categories to include: kitchen, bath, closet, and childproof cabinet products targeted toward the middle to luxury end of the customer demographic. Click HERE to check out their wide range of organizational products that can be used even in "stock" cabinets to give your space a more "custom" feel.
any Rev-a-Shelf purchase until the end of February!
Mention the code ORGANIZE when you order!
This Month's Feature Recipe
Chocolate Covered
Cherry Martini
Who doesn't love cherries and chocolate?!?!? This is a great romantic drink to make your Valentine on that special day to show them just how much you love them.
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger chocolate vodka
  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger cherry vodka
  • 1/2 fluid ounce grenadine syrup
  • 1 fluid ounce creme de cacao
  • 1 fluid ounce half-and-half
  • 1 dash chocolate syrup
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 chocolate kiss candy

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Pour in chocolate and cherry vodkas, grenadine, creme de cacao, half-and-half, and chocolate syrup. Cover and shake until the outside of the shaker has frosted. Strain into a chilled martini glass, garnish with maraschino cherry and chocolate kiss, and serve.
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Carolina Handcrafted Woodworks, LLC .
1819 Two Notch Rd
Lexington, SC 29073
Ph: 803-520-6837