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Kitchens > Cabinets
The most visible and the most expensive component of a kitchen is the cabinets. They play a dual role, providing functional storage space on the one hand and creating a particular look and feel on the other. The exact same kitchen can take on a remarkably different appearance if one set of cabinets is replaced with another. In the process of a kitchen construction or remodeling, typically 50% of the budget is spent on the cabinetry, which means that cabinets cost as much as the countertops, appliances, floors, walls, fixtures, and windows combined.
The cabinets in a kitchen can be compared to the dresser in a bedroom. Both are items of furniture which provide a combination of form and function. However, the difference is that many more waking hours are typically spent in the kitchen than in the bedroom. In addition, while the bedroom is usually private and off limits to others, the kitchen is accessible and often visited by other members of the household, guests, and relatives. Finally, while a bedroom can function without a dresser, a kitchen will be seriously hamstrung, if not rendered nearly useless, without cabinet space.

Modern cabinet making dates back to the 18th century, when the first published materials and blueprints were made widely available. Before that time, cabinets were made on a custom basis for the nobility or wealthy merchants and, as a rule, could not be afforded by the majority of people. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, cabinets increasingly became a mass produced commodity, which brought down their prices and made them affordable for the vast majority of homeowners. Today, there are more options when it comes to cabinets than at any other time in history. From low cost stock types, all the way to hand-crafted, custom made units, the modern homeowner has a myriad of choices available to suit his or her unique preferences.

Given the range of types, materials, designs, and layouts, it is easy to become lost in the world of cabinets and end up overspending on a suboptimal alternative that provides neither the sought after form nor the expected function. However, with a cabinet set costing anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000, nothing less than a perfect result is acceptable. Consequently, to help you avoid a sub-par outcome, we have gathered all of the critical information pertaining to kitchen cabinets in a single, easy-to-follow section of the site.

The "
Construction" section describes how cabinets are constructed. There is more to a cabinet than simply a box with a hinged door. We explain the difference between framed and frameless cabinets. In addition, we differentiate between cabinets which are fully constructed of a particular material and those in which only the doors are constructed of that material, considering the relative differences in terms of durability, quality, and cost. We also consider different types of joints and fits, and their relative advantages and disadvantages.

The "
Types" section describes the four major cabinet types available to consumers. Each type is associated with a particular pricing band and, in most cases, it is the type of cabinet selected which will make the greatest difference with respect to the final price tag. Specifically, we consider RTA, stock, semi-custom, and custom cabinets and analyze the trade-offs of each type as far as cost and customization, cost and quality, and cost and appearance.

The "
Layouts" section deals with the different ways in which cabinets can be arranged in a kitchen. We explain the three main cabinet formats and how they can be grouped to create a variety of storage configurations and looks. We also consider various modifications, such as lazy susans and pullout shelving. The layout of the cabinets will have a direct impact on the relative comfort and convenience of cooking, so these considerations are of critical importance.

The "Materials" section, as its name suggests, examines the different materials which are commonly used for cabinets. Wood is the most popular, but there are many wood species which offer differing profiles in terms of cost, durability, and appearance. We provide a detailed breakdown of different woods and explain their corresponding advantages and disadvantages. In addition, we explore non-wood options for cabinets, including stainless steel, glass, thermofoil, melamine, veneers, PVC, and laminates. The choice of material will not only have a major impact on the cost of the cabinets, but also on their appearance, their performance over time, and even their impact on indoor air quality.

The "Designs" section explores the different ways that a set of cabinets can be made to look by using a variety of paints, finishes, and door designs. While the choice of material will have a profound impact on the overall look, the way in which that material is shaped and finished can have an even greater impact. In addition, the choice of cabinet hardware, such as knobs, handles, or pulls, will also serve to alter the overall look and feel. It makes little sense to spend $20,000 on a beautiful set of cherry wood cabinets only to have the effect spoiled by an improperly chosen set of door handles or a garish paint finish. Finally, the design chosen should correspond to the overall style of the kitchen, whether it be Old World, or contemporary, or anything in between.

The "Services" section deals with the professional services that are likely to be necessary in the process of acquiring, installing, replacing, or refacing kitchen cabinets. Importantly, the section addresses the question of how to go about selecting quality cabinet makers, ensuring the lowest possible price, and monitoring the construction and delivery process. We provide a set of questions which you should ask and specific steps you should take with respect to due diligence in order to assure a positive outcome.

The "
Costs" section provides a rundown of the typical expense bands associated with different kinds of products and services related to kitchen cabinet construction and installation. Although specific prices will vary by region, by service provider, by type, by material, and by design specifics, they will still generally fall within a certain range. Having an idea of this range can help to plan ahead, to determine whether a particular material or type is worth the cost, and to provide context for provider price estimates.

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