Choosing Kitchen Cabinets for a Remodel

Weigh look, quality, details and cost when choosing the cabinets that will go in your kitchen.

Cabinets are top of mind among homeowners considering kitchen remodels, and it's easy to understand why. The role of cabinetry in the finished look and function of the space is crucial to the success of a kitchen design and the enjoyment of spending time there. And since roughly 60 percent of an average kitchen's cost is spent on the cabinetry, choosing the right cabinets is a critical decision in remodeling and in new construction.

But even for professional contractors who may build dozens of kitchens a year, it can be difficult to confidently advise clients on selecting a finish that will enhance the overall kitchen environment and is appropriate to its level of use, as well as provide the best possible quality at an affordable price.

So how do you handle picking out the right cabinetry for the kitchen? The easiest way is to call a professional design firm. Kitchen and bath design professionals are a tremendous resource to homeowners shopping for just the right cabinetry — and to the builders and remodelers who need product selections completed.

Knowing the Details

Understanding cabinet qualities and the performance of various types of cabinet construction materials is the first thing to embark upon. Based on that, evaluate the price as it relates to the quality of the product. Because cabinetry typically dominates the cost of a new kitchen, homeowners should contact a kitchen professional to learn about the differences in cabinet quality grades.

Homeowners should compare wood or laminate finishes in their selection process. They also should ask about the way the cabinet finish is achieved. The best wood cabinet finishes use a multiple step process of sanding, sealing, hand-wipe staining and finish coating. Other critical steps in the cabinetry selection process include accurately measuring the space available in the kitchen and surveying the overall configuration of the room to determine the best possible design choices for aesthetic, functional cabinets within budget parameters.

The final but possibly most important step is to order the cabinetry correctly. Because cabinetry fits together like a giant Lego set with dozens — even hundreds — of parts and pieces, ordering is no easy assignment. Failure to order all of the parts can result in delays that could put everything on hold for weeks or months, depending on what the part is. For example, a missing or wrong base cabinet means that the countertop can't be installed, and that means the sink and cooktop can't be put in.

In addition, today's emphasis on the furniture look in cabinetry, with a continuing trend toward ornate European country styles, means that installation is very labor-intensive. In fact, it often is more like cabinetmaking than simple installation. That's all the more reason for remodelers to consider calling in cabinetry professionals to handle that part of the project.

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