Five Quality Tests To Apply Before You Buy Discount Kitchen Cabinets

Before you buy discount kitchen cabinets, there are some quality tests you should make. There are cabinet dealers who offer lower quality cabinets under the “discount” designation. But if you look around and shop carefully, you can find one of the dealers who offer high-quality cabinets at discount prices. Cabinets really are not the place to sacrifice quality in the name of savings when remodeling a kitchen.

If you will spend some time looking at sample cabinets and asking key questions before you decide where to buy, you will be able to ensure buying high-quality cabinets (where only the price is lower) instead of cheap low-quality cabinets.

Here are the five things you should look for:

Look at how the drawers are made. High-quality cabinet construction does not include staples or nails to hold drawers together. They are not just glued together, either. Good construction will make drawers with dove tail assembly. A good drawer in discount kitchen cabinets will be able to support about 75 pounds when it is open. It is generally wise to avoid thin particle board drawer construction.
Look at the sides and back of the discount kitchen cabinets. This is an important indication of quality. The case of the cabinet – sides, top, bottom and back should be of solid wood that is at least one-half inch thick. You will create a lot of heat and steam in your kitchen. Thin cabinet casings can warp. Particle board is also not recommended, which has a tendency to warp.
Finished interior surfaces are a true test of the highest quality cabinetry. Some discount kitchen cabinets will leave these surfaces unfinished. Not only does this create an unappealing appearance, but it leaves the wood subject to damage and splintering. This could be harmful and very inconvenient.
Look for adjustable shelves. This is a definite indication of the quality of cabinets. It does not mean there is anything wrong with the construction of the cabinets, if they meet other quality tests, but it causes a lot of wasted space that you probably need for storage in your kitchen. Shelves can bow (just like bookshelves) from weight and moisture. Insist on shelves that are at least 5/8 inch thick.

Check the quality of the hardware and the appearance of the hardware. Cabinet doors can be installed in two ways. One style of construction allows the hinges on the doors to be seen. In this case, you will want to check the finish on the hardware to ensure that it will not be damaged by moisture and that it matches other metals used prominently in your kitchen.

By paying careful attention to these five tests of discount kitchen cabinets, you can buy the quality you want at a discounted price and not risk purchasing inferior quality in the name of discount kitchen cabinets.

How to Stay Within Your Budget and Find Great Kitchen Cabinets

What determines the cost of your kitchen cabinets? How can you save money without sacrificing quality? Here are a few things to help you make the most well-informed choices.

Set Your Budget

There are many optional features that can make a big difference in the cost of your cabinets. You can weigh the advantages of these options to get the most for your money.

Consider the value best suitable for your needs and pick the options that will make your storage space as efficient as possible. Here are some things to think about as you design your kitchen cabinet placement:

Space and Layout

Of course the amount of space you have to place your kitchen cabinets is a huge factor in determining how much you will spend. But having plenty of cabinet space is far too important not to utilize your space effectively.

The layout of your kitchen will, of course, determine how much area you have for kitchen cabinets. For example, cabinets for a U-shaped kitchen will cost more than cabinets to be placed in and L-shaped kitchen.

Choosing a stack of drawers rather than a drawer with a cabinet underneath will add to your expense. There are many ways to configure your cabinet design to provide efficiency at a price you can afford.

Construction Method

A solid dovetailed construction is one of the most durable methods of producing good quality kitchen drawers. Obviously, this will cost more than pinned particle board drawers and other less durable construction methods.

This is one place you should not skimp – your drawers will be much more durable if you go with the best construction method, and you will be much happier in the long run with solid construction.

Construction Material

You’re going to find many different materials to choose from for your cabinets. You can choose different types of wood cabinets as well as other materials for cabinet construction.
Stainless steel clad cabinets might be among your most expensive options, while one of the least expensive choices is a thin plastic laminate surface over particle board or other inexpensive woods.

High-quality wood cabinets are among the most popular choices for kitchen cabinetry, and even within the wood cabinet options, the prices vary. More exotic woods will be far more expensive than oak or pine, but there are many types of wood to consider, such as maple and cherry.

Deciding on your finish and materials will certainly affect your overall price. This is a good place to do a lot of comparison to stay within your budget and still come away with great looking cabinets.

Bathroom Storage – Cabinet Construction and Materials

Custom cabinetry in a bathroom is a nice touch, but with custom-built cabinets costing twice as much and more as stock cabinets, they can be a potential budget-breaker. Granted, you don’t need nearly as many cabinets in a bathroom as you would in a kitchen, which makes bathroom cabinet upgrades relatively more affordable. But still, when it comes down to a decision between a whirlpool tub and a custom-built bathroom vanity, I think that the whirlpool will generally win out. Not that this will result in a horribly ordinary bathroom; there are plenty of fine-looking stock cabinets around that are reasonably priced and well made.

The most reliable and economical source of bathroom cabinetry will be manufacturers who are members of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA). Cabinets carrying KCMA certification labels meet standards for general design and construction, strength, finish, function, and hardware. Of course, this still leaves a lot of leeway; in cabinetry, as in most other things in life, you get what you pay for. Quality details like dovetailed drawers and mortise-and-tenon face frames are more expensive; so, too, are cabinet carcasses of plywood and MDF rather than less-expensive particleboard, from which screws and staples are more likely to pull out.

Choosing one particular style of cabinetry over another is largely a matter of personal taste. I have a preference for traditional frame-and-panel wood doors and face-frame cabinets, but I’ve found that flat full-overlay doors on Euro-style frame-less cabinets offer better accessibility and are a little easier to keep clean (no corners for dust and dirt to settle in). Though I like the look of natural wood, cabinetry with a light-colored melamine or laminate interior is a great choice for bathrooms. The light coloring makes it easier to find things even when they are shoved toward the back, and the hard, durable surface is easy to clean and resists water and stains. Cabinets with this type of interior are available in either frame-less or face-frame construction.

Usually cabinets from one of the many major cabinet manufacturers can be configured to fit in almost any bathroom, but sometimes a cabiĀ­net built on-site or from a local woodworking shop is the only solution to a particular space and design problem. I’ve built a number of different styles of cabinets, both on-site and in my shop, and I’ve worked with cabinets built by local cabinetmakers. While I’ve been pleased with the results, these are expensive options; for any given level of quality, it’s difficult to compete in price with a large-scale cabinet manufacturer.

Cabinet Box Options for Cabinet Construction

The Construction

There is a selection of cabinet box choices and a variation in quality from RTA (ready-to-assemble), stock, semi-custom and custom. Take caution when selecting the product you will put in your home.

A cabinet is just a box with a door on it. As with everything in life you get what you pay for. And, as with everything else boxes cab be well-made or not, with prices matching the quality. That’s where cabinet construction can get complicated rather quickly.

First you should understand what lies behind the cabinet door – the cabinet box. You might respond with, “What’s the big deal about that?” but there is more going on than you think. It breaks down by:



In framed construction, wood joinery holds the parts together. Horizontal rails and vertical stiles secure the door to the box. In frameless cabinets, special hardware fittings do both jobs. Because no rails or styles block the way, frameless cabinets offer slightly easier access to their interiors. Frameless cabinets are also referred to as full-access or European style cabinets.

You might be surprised to learn that solid wood rarely forms the cabinet box. It’s more often used in face frames and doors than in the larger side panels parts. So when you see the billboard say solid wood cabinetry it’s not really so. The frame is solid wood not the sides. That’s because the solid wood sides would tend to warp – a special concern in the kitchen where the moisture level changes frequently.

But in the doors, using multiple strips of lumber in a variety of sizes can reduce the warp factor. A “floating” panel might also be used. The center panel of the door floats because instead of being glued to the door frame, the edges sit between wooden grooves, allowing the wood to move more freely with changes in the kitchens humidity.

The Box

Box materials contain wood chips, other wood by-products, and synthetic additives to make them especially strong and warp resistant.

You options for box material include:

Particleboard or furniture grade flake board
Medium-density fiberboard

All have solid reputations for durability and screw holding power, particularly plywood. Medium-density fiberboard has gained a following for its ability to be formed also into doors and drawer heads and other decorative features. Furniture grade flake board offers a stronger alternative than particle board, which you’ll pay the least for.

Some cabinet boxes are stapled together. Beware of staples! Staples pull apart. You want cabinets with thick side panels that have been corner blocked and glued and/or fastened with screws.

Depending on the choice you make in the cabinet construction options of RTA (ready-to-assemble), stock, semi-custom and custom… the thickness if the sides panels will vary also. I’ve seen 1/4″ sides, 3/8″ sides, 1/2″ sides, “5/8″ sides, 3/4″ sides, and 1″ sides. These are all options in the thickness of the cabinet box material.

Although the thickness may be a reflection of the quality… at a certain point you might be just paying for more wood.

Often the door and box will be constructed of different materials. A cabinet door might be solid maple and the sides plywood covered with a maple veneer. The same finish would be applied to both, unifying the look. Or you may decide to construct the side with a matching door panel for a customized furniture look.

How the Cabinet Door Fits Over the Cabinet Box Determines It’s Basic Type

Your options for door type include:

Partial overlay
Full overlay

Inset doors sit within the rails and stiles and lay flush with the front edges of the cabinet box. Truly inset doors are only available with framed construction, but designers can achieve the same look using vertical pilasters on frameless cabinet. Some semi-custom manufacturers have achieve the inset look by the construction of the door style that mimics the beaded reveal of a beaded inset cabinet.

Lipped doors are routed with a slight wooden groove to fit over the face frame. Partial overlay doors somewhat conceal a portion of the frame, while full overlay doors have less than 1/8″ of the frame showing.

Frameless cabinets have full overlay doors that almost completely cover the edge of the cabinet box but framed cabinets have them as well. You can check and tell whether a cabinet is framed or frameless by opening the door and check for rails and stiles. If the edge profile is 3/4” then they are frameless.

Architectural Interiors is a Kitchen and Bath design firm specializing in the design-supply-install of cabinetry. Owner and Chief designer Marvin W. Towler has more than 25 yrs experience in residential design. Architectural Interiors is well known for custom kitchens and cabinetry and customer satisfaction in all areas of custom kitchen design and installation. Architectural Interiors is an exclusive resource for the design and purchase of custom cabinetry by housing developers, builders, architects, interior designers and homeowners. Specializing in the design of custom cabinetry for kitchens, baths, libraries, closets and more.