Buying Guides

Buying guide: Kitchen cabinetry

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Buying Guides

Buying guide: Kitchen cabinetry

Possibly more than any other feature, cabinetry defines the style of your kitchen. We've done the legwork to help you make the choice that's right for you. Find out what cabinetry options are on the market and add stylish storage to your kitchen.

Thermoplastic or Thermofoil $
Created by “shrink-wrapping” a design or finish on a substrate (MDF); sometimes includes an embossed pattern or faux wood grain.
Quality ranges from poor to good, depending on the manufacturing and the substrate.

Laminate $
Very economical; often achieves a realistic wood tone.
Quality is only as good as the substrate (usually MDF).
When it's well made, an excellent budget choice.

Wood veneer $$
An economical way to get the look of exotic wood without a high cost to you -- or to the environment.
Can be superior to solid wood, since the properly sealed backings are less prone to warping and moisture damage.
Quality of product varies widely.

Solid wood $$$
Hardwoods (oak, cherry, maple) are very durable.
Pine is rustic, but it dents easily.
High-gloss stain and paint finishes (including the trendy lacquer-finish look) show scratches and fingerprints more than a satin finish does.

Metals $$$$
Stainless steel is trendy, but it is prone to showing fingerprints and scratches.
Aluminum has a softer look than stainless steel but has similar drawbacks.

Selecting stock rather than custom cabinetry will help trim your costs. Expect to pay $5,000 to $12,000 for budget, $12,000 to $25,000 for mid-range, and $25,000 for high-end cabinetry.

When choosing, look for the following:
• Square, neatly joined edges, even where they don't show.
• Backs of doors that are as carefully finished and sealed as the fronts.
• Solidly made hinges that move smoothly; avoid plastic components that will wear out more quickly.
• A smooth finish, without any bumps or lumps except for the natural grain in some types of wood.
• Drawer glides that come all the way out and gentle, self-closing springs.

Updating cabinetry knobs and pulls is a snappy way to make your kitchen shine.
Cost: $3 to $50 each.


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Buying Guides

Buying guide: Kitchen cabinetry