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Kitchen Cabinets: The Basics

By: Nivea Miller


As the interior design industry has progressed and embraced the concept of ergonomic design, kitchens have become more focused on creating a simpler, more streamlined experience for the everyday cook. Kitchen cabinets have evolved to become more functional and more efficient, allowing ease of access and organization to the homeowner. These days you can find a specialty kitchen cabinet to store just about anything, from spices to wine bottles to small appliances. Even the cheapest lines of stock cabinetry offer organizational cabinets and accessories as standard products. Pullout bins to hide unsightly garbage, corner lazy susans for pots and pans, full-extension pull outs, soft-closing drawers and other features are available at discounted prices, giving even the most cash-strapped consumer an opportunity to create an efficient and more convenient environment. Consumers with kitchens of all sizes can incorporate a variety of products and materials to fit their needs and make their experience a less stressful one. Small kitchens benefit from numerous interior design tricks that allow their space to look bigger than it actually is, while still finding ways to meet their most pressing needs. Larger kitchens enjoy elaborate islands that allow for greater organization space, as well as additional countertop space for food prep, cooking, and dining.

Kitchen Cabinet Materials

Kitchen cabinets are available in a wide variety of materials. Solid wood cabinetry is the most common type, plywood and particleboard. Plywood tends to be cheaper than solid wood but is still a very durable option for your kitchen cabinets. Many times, cabinets will be constructed with a combination of both solid wood and plywood. Particleboard is the cheapest and probably the least desirable option of kitchen cabinets, as this material tends to expand when it comes into contact with liquids. You'll also find that many cabinet doors will use an MDF (medium density fiberboard) veneer for the center square. You can find affordable kitchen cabinets made with a solid wood and plywood combination that is able to withstand standard wear and tear.

There is also a wide variety of wood options to choose from. Red oak is the most common and most affordable type of kitchen cabinet. It is known for its durability and its distinct grain pattern and is most commonly used for traditional kitchen styles. White oak is more durable and has less pronounced grain pattern but it is also less widely available, and is most likely to be found as a custom option. Birch is another durable and fairly inexpensive option that is characterized by fine grains. This wood is commonly available in stock, semi-custom, and custom cabinetry lines. Maple also has a fine grain pattern, and is slightly more expensive than oak and birch. While it is most commonly found in semi-custom and custom cabinetry lines, it is often offered as a higher-end stock cabinet. Cherry wood, known for its strength and durability, tends to be a more expensive, custom option.

Kitchen Cabinet Construction

Kitchen cabinets are available in framed and frameless options. Framed cabinets are common amongst traditional cabinet styles and feature narrow strips of wood that frame the cabinet doors. Cabinets these days tend to utilize a frameless design, which offers for more adequate usage of the cabinet space. It also lends itself to a more contemporary design.

When shopping for your kitchen cabinets, there are certain features that you should look for to ensure that you're receiving a durable product. Drawer construction is particularly important in this respect because they need to be able to hold a significant amount of weight. Opt for a dovetail drawer box construction, as this tends to be the strongest.


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