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10 Ways to ensure you are purchasing quality cabinets

1. Are you buying Custom Cabinetry?

This can be a tricky task. Often times, semi-custom cabinetry provides multiple options and includes subtle differences so that when looking at a layout of it, you’d assume it is fully customized. Semi-custom cabinetry has fillers and applied mouldings to hide joints on panels and extended runs.

As soon as you look to make small adjustments though, you will find out it cannot be done. A true custom cabinetry manufacturer will have no limitations as long as what is requested will be stable and functional. They will have the ability to produce for any situation, eliminating most fillers and applied joint mouldings, allowing your new cabinetry to fit exactly your space.

2. WHAT IS IT MADE OF?

The easiest way to quality-test is to ask what materials your cabinets will be made of.

Watch Out For:

  • 1/2” or 5/8” cabinet sides
  • 1/4” backs
  • Structural components that are stapled together
  • Plywood construction look-a-likes: These have plywood looking edge band or stickers on the tops or ends of the cabinet to make you believe you are buying wood cabinets.

3. DRAWER TRACKS

Let’s face it, drawers and doors get used and abused. Choosing the right ones will make all the difference in how long your kitchen lasts and how much you enjoy using it long-term. This is a crucial quality component to focus on.

Quality drawer tracks should be full extension, soft-close and have a lifetime warranty. Tracks should be capable of handling a dynamic load (when the drawer is moving) of 30-50kg or greater.

Why does all that matter? Full extension drawers will pull out all the way, giving you full access and maximum use of your space. They will auto-adjust so you can’t bind them, which allows you to close the drawer from any angle and ensures no premature wear and tear.

Soft close is a feature you’ll never regret having.

4. HINGES

Hinges range from being able to open 45 to 180 degrees. They can also have the soft close feature added to them or have the soft close included to begin with.

Knowing what access you will need for your cabinets is important.

HINT: You’ll likely want a hinge that opens more than 90 degrees to allow you greater access to your cabinets.

5. QUALITY CONTRL

Here’s the scenario: You’re visiting a kitchen & bath design company and you’ve asked the appropriate first stage questions. You know they offer completely custom services. You know they build with quality, including the drawer tracks and hinges that will last a lifetime.

Ask: How do they ensure quality?

6. ECO-FRIENDLY+YOUR HEALTH

You may not be thinking about how environmentally friendly your cabinets are, but this is of the utmost importance.

FACT: According to the Canadian Lung Association website, pressed wood cupboards contain formaldehyde and can lead to illness or irritation.

FACT: Did you know that cabinetry can off gas harmful toxins into your indoor air for years to come? On average, Canadians spend 90% of their time indoors. For this reason, our indoor air quality is an important health concern.

A custom cabinetry manufacturer should be able to tell you about their products’ formaldehyde emissions.

The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association Environmental Stewardship Program is designed to recognize those cabinet manufacturers who not only understand, but practice reducing pollution and waste while promoting resource sustainability.

This designation represents the industry standard for practicing environmental responsibility. The Environmental Stewardship Program requires its licensees to maintain their status by completing annual re-certification and provide proof of compliance.

There Are 5 Categories For Annual Compliance:
Air Quality, Resource Management Regarding Product Offering, Resource Management Regarding Processes, Environmental Stewardship, and Community Relations.

Fact:
According to the Canadian Lung Association website: While everyone’s health can be affected by indoor air quality problems, certain people are especially at risk:

  • People with allergies or asthma
  • People with lung diseases
  • People with suppressed immune systems
  • Children

Question To Ask:
Ask to see the manufacturer’s environmental policy.


7. FINISHES

There are hundreds of door style combinations, wood species, stains, paints and glazes to choose from. Ask to see an entire selection of available finishes.

Finishes require expert knowledge and assistance, so below is a list of different finishing techniques and a list of questions to ask.

Stain – A process applied to natural wood to enhance the natural colour or shade that will change the wood to a different colour without losing the natural characteristics of the grain.

Paint - Applied to wood or MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard) to completely change the colour, you will eliminate any grain.

Glaze - Applied on top of the stain or paint and wiped off. It adds beautiful and elegant touch!

Distressing - Distressing is where a perfect piece of wood is made to look old and weathered. For the best looks, this is done by hand to ensure no repetitive patterns are left (that usually come from stamps and machines).

Contemporary choices: - High-gloss sheens are available for a modern look, and they are also the hardest to do.

Watch Out For: High-gloss wannabes. They’ll come as a plastic coating that can easily accept moisture and chipping due to edge seams. A proper high-gloss finish will be smooth to the touch and not have indentations over wood grain, any bumps, or imperfections.

Question To Ask: High-quality finishes set manufacturers apart. You don’t need the answers to all of these questions, but taking the time to ask one or two will show you just how serious they are about their finishes. You’ll know the right answer when you hear it.

  • Can you custom colour match?
  • How is each process completed?

HINT: Ask about finishes yellowing, especially if painted white.

8. FINISH QUALITY CONTROL

You’ve asked the questions, you’ve done your due diligence, and now it’s time to see just how serious they are about the quality control on finishes. On-site finish laboratories ensure quality and exact colour replication every time.

HINT: Ask how they deal with wear once it’s installed in your home!

9. DOORS

Wood doors are mostly assembled using mortise and tenon joints.

They are sensitive to moisture and temperature changes and will expand and contract with the seasons. They are your only choice for stains and a popular choice for paints because they are wood. With the expansion and contraction you will get hairline cracks at all of the joints, which is not something any manufacturer can avoid, so they should be upfront about it.

WATCH OUT FOR: Wood doors that have been spray-stained. The stain may not have seeped into all of the joints and grooves properly, so eventually you will see a small, unfinished area or line of wood where the door or mouldings are joined.

Ask: What are your options if you want painted cabinets?

10. WARRANTY

Last, but not least, is your warranty. Quality cabinets come with a quality warranty. If they are willing to put their money where their mouth is, it will be in writing.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information expressed in this e-guide are that of the author’s.