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How to Choose Quality Kitchen Cabinets

When shopping for new kitchen cabinets, you're faced with many choices in a wide price range. Quality should come first; here's what to look for.

Cabinets are one of the more expensive items in a home, and most of them are in the kitchen. When it's time for an updated look or simply a replacement of old, worn-out cabinets with sagging doors, plan to shop around before making a decision. There are so many design options in today's market, that it can become quite confusing as to what will work best in your kitchen space.

You may have already inspected a few stock cabinets at the local home improvement store. These are perfectly good in some cases, but you should still plan to visit a couple of showrooms to get an idea of what to look for.

First, you'll be faced with the choice of stock, semi-custom, or custom and the price will go up accordingly.

Stock cabinets are just that. They're pre-made and, in some cases, all hardware is already in place. On the lowest end are the cabinets that are pre-built with laminate surfaces, but they do require a top. You can also choose wood cabinets that have to be sanded, primed and painted, or sealed. These will require knobs and handles as well. If you're tempted to go the custom route, look around at the selection of stock cabinets first. You may find just the size and finish in today's market that was not available even a few years ago.

Semi-custom cabinets can be finished to specifications. You order them already made, but can choose the hardware and finish.

Custom cabinets are usually required for odd-sized spaces and when an exact-match finish is needed. These and semi-custom cabinets may be the more economical option if you're attempting to modify a stock cabinet.

The quality lies in the construction of a cabinet, not whether it is stock or custom. First, the hinges should be sturdy and adjustable. This is essential to the long life of the cabinet and for keeping the doors hanging properly. Hinges should also allow the door to open to full width to maximize accessibility.

Drawers should have two glides - one on either side. A single glide centered on the bottom will not last as long and may become wobbly. Less expensive drawers will be stapled; mid to upper quality drawers will be dovetailed (interlocked), then glued.

Inspect the shelving. Best quality shelves will use a pin and clip for security. The holes will be finished out with no splintering.

Choose factory finishing if at all possible. It is almost impossible for casual do-it-yourselfers to obtain a flawless finish. Look for smooth, even, coatings that contain no tiny pricks - these are evidence of dust particles



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