The nuts and bolts of kitchen cabinets

Selecting kitchen cabinets for your new log home is an "exciting...big" decision.  It maybe the most important room in the house and with so many choices out there we wanted to arm you with some basic knowledge before you start shopping.

Traditionally kitchen cabinet manufacturers offer different product lines and quality levels.  Meaning they may offer stock, stock-plus (semi-custom) and/or custom lines of cabinets.  Now on top of that you'll have a host of options and upgrades (and price points) to choose from that you can add to your kitchen package based on a product line.  

Stock cabinets:  Just as the name suggests, the manufacturer pre-builds specific sizes and styles with a very limited list of options to choose from (i.e.: wood species, colors, hardware, etc.).  Stock units streamline and lower manufacturing costs which is reflected in the price and one of the benefits is product availablity.

Stock-plus cabinets or semi-custom: In order to bridge the gap between stock and custom, many manufacturers offer a stock cabinet, but allow you to customize them with a wide range of optional features, upgrades and sizes.  When ordering these cabinets expect a 4-6 week wait for delivery.

Custom cabinets:  Are unlimited in size and design because they're custom designed to your specifications and budget.  Make sure you ask the cabinet maker how long will it take to custom build your cabinets.

Now let's talk about the cabinet box design itself.  There are two distinct styles of kitchen cabinets, framed and frameless.

Framed:  Are cabinets that have rails and stiles that make up the face frame around the cabinet door opening.

Frameless:  A more modern style of cabinet, the door covers the entire cabinet opening, offering wider drawers and cabinets openings, hence more accessible storage room.

Construction Materials:  The construction of the cabinet box is an important factor when choosing your kitchen package.  Here's where, "you get what you pay for" factors in.  Typically a less expensive cabinet box is made from MDF (medium-density fiberboard) or particle board with a laminated surface.  Higher quality cabinet boxes are made from furniture grade plywood or solid wood.  No matter what you select, make sure the cabinet box has a closed back for greater stability and strength.  

Higher quality drawers and cabinet fronts/doors will be made from solid wood in a variety of species and styles and lesser quality maybe made from laminate MDF.

Box and Drawer Construction Methods: When shopping for cabinets check to see how the cabinet boxes are constructed, meaning the joinery. Lesser quality cabinets might be glued and stapled together with plastic bracing. Higher quality boxes might have dadoes that are glued using screws/nails with wood or metal corner bracing.
The type of drawer joinery is also a sign of quality. Lesser quality drawer construction will be pieces butt together and fastened with glue, staples or in some cases snap together. Higher quality drawers are made from solid wood or furniture grade plywood and typically use strong joinery such as dovetails with glue or to a lesser degree use dadoes with glue and nails to hold them together.

Quality vs. performance: How you'll use your kitchen should impact your quality level choices. For example: If your kitchen is going to get a workout, say with a large family then you'll want to pay attention to stronger materials and joinery methods. Also look closely at the cabinet door hinge and drawer slide options. You'll have performance choices here with different price points. If you shop smart, you can find a quality cabinet that is well made at reasonable prices.

Budgeting: When developing your materials budget for your kitchen package you'll have three primary areas: Cabinets, counter tops and appliances. Budget 50% for the cabinets, 20-25% for appliances and 25-30% for counter tops.

Things to consider:
  • define your vision of your new kitchen and put it on paper. 
  • take a closer look at your current kitchen, what do you like and what would you change? 
  • what changes in your lifestyle do you expect once you move into your new log home? More entertaining perhaps? If so, incorporate those lifestyle changes into your design. 
  • a kitchen package is a big investment, so shop and compare quality versus price choices based on your needs. 
  • make sure you bring your floorplan with you when kitchen shopping. 
  • be prepared to define either through words or photos the kind of kitchen package/design you're looking for. 
  • checkout cabinet manufacturers online before you start shopping. A little homework before you grab your coat will be well worth your investment in time. 
  • make sure you consult with your builder about your choices. He or she will definitely have an opinion, so factor that into your decision making process. 
We hope this article helps educate you just a little about the "nuts and bolts" of kitchen cabinets. Happy shopping!

By The Leelanau Log Home Company LLC