Cabinetry is often the biggest investment you will make during a kitchen renovation, so it’s important you know a few cabinetry basics before getting started. There are so many considerations and decisions to make during this process. Should you choose stained cabinets or painted cabinets? Should you choose wood, veneer, melamine or thermofoil? Do you want stock cabinets, semi-custom or custom? Here you will learn some of the cabinetry basics everyone should know before setting out to make this important decision.

Cabinet Production

There are 3 different methods of production employed to manufacture cabinets. The terms used to describe these methods are: Stock, Semi-Custom and Custom. The terminology has nothing to do with the quality of the cabinet rather the method in which it was produced.

Stock cabinets are ready-made, pre-manufactured and ship when an order is received. They can’t be altered or customized. What you see is what you get.
Semi-Custom cabinets come in basic sizes similar to stock cabinets but give designers the flexibility to resize cabinet drawers and doors and modify the depth of the cabinets themselves.
Custom cabinets are built specifically for the area in which they will be used. Custom cabinets allow the customer complete freedom in the design and construction of the cabinetry.

Cabinet Types

These are the four basic types of cabinets:
A base cabinet is a cabinet that sits on the floor. A base interior can have several options such as shelving, drawers, organizational pull outs and much more.
A wall cabinet is a cabinet typically mounted to a wall. They come in several different heights. They most commonly contain shelving.
A tall cabinet is one that sits on the floor, but it stretches tall above the countertop height. These cabinets are mainly used for pantry space and appliances.
Specialty units maximize square footage and organizational efforts. They include appliance garages, corner cabinets, suspended units, cooktop & sink fronts etc..

Cabinet Construction

framed vs frameless

Framed vs Frameless Cabinets

Next we’ll move on to construction types. The types of cabinet construction are framed construction and frameless construction.
Framed cabinets incorporate a wood frame around the front outer edge of the cabinet box. This face frame is generally made of solid wood and adds strength to the cabinet by reinforcing the open side.
Frameless cabinets are made without any front panel or frame so that the doors completely cover the front of the cabinet box. This is sometimes referred to as European constuction.

Cabinet Material

After deciding on the construction of the cabinet, you will need to decide what material you’d like to go with. The material your doors are made from plays a major role in what your kitchen will look like. Most cabinets are made from hardwoods, but to reduce costs, these hardwoods are often applied as veneers over a substrate, such as plywood. There are several species that top the list of cabinet woods: red oak, white oak, hickory, cherry, hard maple, birch, ash and pine.

Cabinetry that is not solid-wood or wood veneer is generally laminate or Thermofoil, both of which are applied to substrates. Both laminates and Thermofoil come in a wide range of colors and patterns. Thermofoil is a good choice if you are looking to replicate the look of wood. High-pressure treated laminate cabinets are extremely durable but may be heavier than wood. There are many, many options out there, so be sure to do your homework to find the product that’s right for you.

Cabinet Finish

Now that you’ve picked out your cabinet construction and cabinet material, you need to choose a finish. This only applies to wood cabinets. Cabinets covered in laminate or melamine aren’t coated with these types of finishes.

These are the most common finish treatments that you’ll find on kitchen cabinets:
Paint – With paint, you have a limitless color pallet to choose from.
Stain – Wood stain is a topical color treatment that alters the natural color of the underlying wood while allowing the grain to show through.
Varnish – Varnish is a combination of oil and resin used to provide a protective layer over the wood.
Lacquer – Lacquer is another top-coat protective sealer used on cabinets. It is made by dissolving a resin in a solvent.
Glaze – Glaze is a pigmented but transparent or semi-transparent coating that’s applied over a base coating such as paint or stain.

As you can see, the world of cabinetry is vast. We’ll help you weed through the terminology and walk you through the process of choosing the perfect cabinet for your kitchen or bath renovation.

Contact us today for more information or to set up an appointment with one of our expert designers.









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