A kitchen remodel (or building a new one from scratch) is a long and expensive process. The largest purchase you will make is definitely the cabinets, and it’s not a choice you should make lightly. Cabinets that function well for your needs are well worth an investment, while poorly-chosen cabinets will be a source of daily frustration. Read on to learn more about your options when purchasing cabinetry.


Quality and Choices


Cabinets represent about half of the budget of an average kitchen remodel, so obviously the cost is an important consideration. If you looking to cut costs, this is an obvious place to do it. But keep in mind that when it comes to cabinets, you get what you pay for. The cheapest cabinets you can find will often be made with substandard materials that break down and need to be replaced, and may be made in such a way that makes them difficult and frustrating to use.


Cabinet purchases can easily be divided into three categories: stock, semi-custom, and custom. A stock purchase would be walking into the home improvement store and selecting items right off the shelf, with little or no choices for upgrade or adjustment. This is often the most budget friendly option. Semi-custom cabinets are obtained when you select from a pre-set list of options from the manufacturer; these cost more but allow you more control over your purchase. Custom cabinets are designed top to bottom by you (or your architect or designer). These cost the most but provide you with exactly what you envision for your space.




The choice of materials in your cabinets has a big impact not only on cost but on the overall look of the product. Your choices include particle board, MDF (medium density fiberboard), plywood, solid wood, metal, and laminate or melamine. Particle board and MDF are found in the lower-cost varieties. Keep in mind that these can be covered with veneers to give the look of solid wood. Plywood is sturdier than those and may also be covered, or left in its own form for a more modern look. Solid wood is more expensive, and more luxurious. Depending on manufacturer, you can choose from oak, maple, cherry, mahogany, or even bamboo or other exotic woods. Veneers will never quite achieve the look of solid wood. These are often found in more traditional styles. Metal, laminate, and melamine all deliver a sleek modern look.




The hardware is often completely invisible after installation, but makes a huge impact on the usability of the cabinets. Drawer slides vary in quality: the best use ball bearings while others use nylon wheels or rollers. Physical location of the slides on the drawer (side or bottom mount) affects available drawer space. Hinges on cabinet doors can be mounted entirely interior (invisible when closed) or with a piece showing on the outside (more traditional). Some hinges are also manufactured to be soft-close, which reduces noise and banged fingers.


Shelf brackets are pretty standard, and generally made of either plastic or metal. In some cases, you may find cabinets with optional adjustable brackets, allowing you to rearrange the shelves as needed. Door knobs and drawer pulls are a purely cosmetic choice that has a big impact on the overall style of the room. If you are unhappy with the ones that come with your cabinets (or just want a change), they can be replaced inexpensively at any hardware or home improvement store.


Construction and Design


Framed versus frameless is the main difference in construction of cabinets. Framed cabinets, as you may expect, are built with a skeleton frame, and frameless are not. Most common styles of cabinets are framed.


The style and design of the cabinets are one of your main concerns as a homeowner. You may have a specific style in mind, or want it to match well with the style of your home. Or maybe you don’t know what you want at all! Our recommendation would be to browse at home improvement stores and online and discover what styles you like best. Remember, if you grow weary of a style after a few years, in many cases you can change them! Veneers can be changed, wood can be painted, and doors can be removed and replaced with ones in a different style.


Cabinets represent a huge investment in your home, as well as an important piece of functional furniture. Learn as much as you can about your choices before purchasing, to ensure that you make a choice that you’ll be happy to live with for years to come.

About the author

The Home Remodeling Experts

Wood Haven Construction - The Home Remodeling Experts in Houston, TX. With over 25 years of experience, you can count on Wood Haven Construction for all your remodeling needs. We are proud to be a Preferred Contractor in James Hardie’s National Replacement Contractor Program.

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