Cabinets are the defining characteristic of a kitchen. They will
likely be the most visible part of the room, and they represent the
largest single investment in a new kitchen. So choose your
and construction features carefully, and
plan your kitchen layout to make good use of your available space.
There are four basic types of kitchen cabinets: stock, semi-custom,
and custom, as well as job-site built.
Stock manufactured cabinets are mass produced, and are shipped
either pre-assembled or ready-to-assemble. They are frequently
available off-the-shelf at major home centers; they usually come in a
limited range of standard styles and sizes, with a few finishing and
accessory options. Stock kitchen cabinets are made in 3-inch width
increments; their manufacturers generally offer matching spacers, or
filler boards that are used to fill in gaps at the end of cabinet
runs. Standard base cabinets are 34-1/2 inches high, whereas base
cabinets designed for desks or eating surfaces are 28-1/2 inches
high. Wall cabinets typically come in 30 inch, 36 inch, and 42
Semi-custom cabinets offer better quality and a greater selection of
features, styles, and finishes, but they cost more than stock cabinets
and delivery lead times are longer. Semi-custom cabinets are also
offered in 3-inch width increments, using filler strips as spacers.
However, these cabinets are made to the homeowner's specifications, and
they may include various interior organizers and other enhancements.
Custom manufactured cabinets are
built to your specifications. Here, you may select from a wide
range of hardwoods, laminates, and veneers. At the high end,
finishes are multi-step and hand-rubbed, with a baked-on conversion
varnish finish. Heights, widths, and depths are all readily
customizable to meet your exact specifications; design options are
virtually unlimited. Sliding shelves, pull-out pantries, lazy
susans, and appliance garages are just a few of the many storage features
available. You can also expect to work with trained kitchen
designers who will help you through the selection process.
Traditionally, some kitchen cabinets were built at the job site by a
carpenter or cabinetmaker. The woods typically used were medium
hardwoods, such as birch or ash, rather than furniture grade woods such
as oak, maple, or cherry. The style was usually selected by the
homebuilder or general contractor. The final result depended on
how well the cabinets were finished by the painter. Job site-built
cabinets are still available today, but most kitchen cabinets are made
in cabinet shops where specialized tools and clean finishing rooms are
available. Kitchen cabinets should be of comparable quality to your
furniture, so before choosing this alternative, consider whether the
carpenter and painter are skilled cabinetmakers or furniture
Kitchen cabinets are made with either face-frame or frameless construction
Face-frame cabinets have a frame that runs across the cabinet box
face. The frame may show when the doors are closed. Most
traditional style cabinets have a face frame. Doors may have
recessed or raised panels, be trimmed, or have a framed glass panel.
Frameless cabinets, or European style cabinets, are made without a
face frame. Doors cover the entire front of the cabinet box.
The doors are typically constructed without molding or trim, and the
hinges are usually hidden. They present a contemporary look.
Whichever cabinet type you select, choose fully-adjustable hinges so that
the doors can be adjusted side to side, up and down, and in and out.
Opt for full-extension drawer slides, which allow access to the full depth
of the drawer. Some cabinets feature drawer-closing mechanisms that
gently pull the drawers closed.