Universal Elements of Cabinetry - Everything You Need to Know to Pick the Right Cabinets

Cabinets and Countertops
Carpentry
Kitchen Remodeling
By Contractors.com Team July 22, 2021

Cabinets, whichever room they may be in, are huge contributors to storage and design. No kitchen is complete without a complementary set of cabinets to go along with the rest of the interior. Since there are many types of kitchen cabinets to choose from though, the task of finding exactly what you need can be somewhat difficult. Should you go for a matte finish? Have you considered knob-less designs? Do you know the difference between high-density fiber, light plywood, and MDF?

There are many nuances worth considering and being familiar with to choose cabinets. The more you know about cabinet wood types and costs to types of kitchen cabinet door mechanisms, the more likely you are to find precisely what you are looking for.

Box Construction

The box of the cabinet determines its durability, how noisy it is, as well as the shape of the cabinets, their size, and plenty of other stylistic choices. The main deciding factor for this decision should be the material that the cabinet box is built from. There are many common choices for cabinet woods and alternative materials to choose from, with advantages for each.

The Natural Beauty of Wood

Wood Kitchen Accents for a More Biophilic Interior

Wood Kitchen Accents for a More Biophilic Interior

Natural wood is a very common material used for different types of cabinets. A major advantage of solid wood materials is that it is naturally grainy with beautiful knots that give the cabinet surface a gorgeous appearance. With a coat of varnish, these patterns will last for a very long time before needing a reface. Natural wood cabinets are also very strong and can support heavy loads for many years with little to no maintenance needed. 

The main disadvantage of natural wood is its vulnerability to moisture, which may cause it to warp if refacing and maintenance aren’t done on time. The one other disadvantage of hardwood is its price, as it is typically more expensive than its processed wood counterparts. But for the higher price, homeowners are also paying for a very high-quality material that is very strong and will last them decades before needing to be repaired or replaced.

High-Density Fiber

Durable Cabinet Materials That Are Sleek and Durable

Durable Cabinet Materials That Are Sleek and Durable

While not as tough as natural wood, high-density fiber (or HDF) cabinets offer their fair share of advantages for homeowners too. A blend of wood fiber, resin, and wax creates a durable construction material able to stay in one piece even under a lot of pressure. Cabinets constructed with HDF are very versatile in style as they have a smooth surface that can be matched with countless modern kitchen interiors. HDF can be painted and stained to take on any texture and match any interior texture. One downside that HDF has is it is not as durable as wood, meaning that it will require maintenance much sooner. This durability does not only refer to the longevity of the cabinet but also to how well the nails and screws fit into the material and keep the entire cabinet piece together.

Simple and Light Plywood Cabinet Box

Light But Sturdy Cabinetry Materials to Choose From

Light But Sturdy Cabinetry Materials to Choose From

While plywood is one of the more cost-effective materials on the market, do not let that get in the way of the features it has to boast. Sure, it is not as durable as HDF (and certainly not as much as natural wood), but plywood is very easy to work with. It does not shrink or warp as a result of water damage and it is still very durable in its own right. You can find stronger construction materials out there, but plywood is a great material for cabinets in a kitchen that doesn’t have as heavy a load and can be very stylish. Its bright and light wood appearance works very well with more biophilic and bohemian themes that can be present in your kitchen design — especially in combination with potted plants. Ensure that you purchase your plywood cabinets from a reliable supplier who offers high-quality material. Do not chase low prices when it comes to plywood as you may end up purchasing material that peels and cracks soon after installation. 

Thermofoil and Laminate — the Pragmatic Choice

Modern Cabinet Materials Perfect for Heavy Lifting

Modern Cabinet Materials Perfect for Heavy Lifting

Thermofoil is another very popular material used for building cabinets. Much like HDF, it does not warp over time and stays solid for many years. One major convenience of thermofoil is how easy it is to clean. Keeping the sleek sheen of its surface is so easy that it is almost effortless. It is quite damage-resistant, sturdy, and will not bend any time soon. Thermofoil cabinets have found their way into modern kitchens thanks to these qualities. Laminate cabinets are often confused with thermofoil, and they are quite similar. However, in the case of laminate, the vinyl material is glued onto the cabinet surface and for thermofoil it is hot-pressed onto it.

Despite being somewhat pricier than HDF and plywood, thermofoil cabinets are a great choice for homeowners looking for construction material that is durable, stylish, and versatile.

You can also find alternative modern cabinet materials in the form of aluminum, stainless steel, and polypropylene too. 

Cabinet Doors Types

As important as the box construction is, cabinet doors are also crucial when it comes to building a solid piece of furniture that will last you a long time. Cabinet doors also play a major role in the room’s interior as they are among the most visible surfaces. While there are many types of cabinet doors that you can find in stock or specially designed by carpenters, they can typically be divided into two major categories.

Solid Doors - One Sturdy Piece

Best Cabinet Door Types That Are Sturdy and Practical

Best Cabinet Door Types That Are Sturdy and Practical

A solid door refers to cabinet doors created out of a single piece of material, hence their name. The door is carved into the material, which is typically natural wood, creating a strong and very sturdy surface. While they may be a little heavier than other categories, solid cabinet doors will last a very long time thanks to the way they are built. As the door is one single piece of construction material you will not have to worry about maintenance as much as you would with center panel surfaces. 

Center Panel Doors - For Some Added Complexity

Classic Kitchen Cabinet Door Options

Classic Kitchen Cabinet Door Options

There are all kinds of decorative ornaments to a solid door if you are looking for something more complex and interesting. The center panel door types are very attractive thanks to their more detailed design. Four pieces of wood create the outer frame of the door while a thinner piece, usually HDF or plywood, acts as the center panel. Because they are built with separate pieces of construction material, center panel doors are not as sturdy as solid ones. However, they are typically lighter which puts less pressure on the hinges and makes them less noisy when opening and closing. 

Hinges 

Cabinet Hinges That Will Last a Long Time

Cabinet Hinges That Will Last a Long Time

The question of “how to choose cabinet hardware” is understandably not an intuitive one to answer. But as we get deeper we discover more factors to consider. And a crucial one that plays a huge role in the design of cabinets is the type of hinge it hangs on. Being aware of the various kinds of cabinet hinges on sale could help you pick the right one.

Full or Half Overlay Concealed Hinge

Pro Tips On How to Install Cabinet Hinges

Pro Tips On How to Install Cabinet Hinges

As far as cupboard hinge types are concerned, the full or half overlay concealed hinge is the most common across the country. It is a classic option and comes in many varieties, from ones that wrap around the door itself for a more rustic appearance, to more modern ones that are hidden behind the door. What determines whether a hinge is a full or half overlay is how much of the cabinet face it covers up. The half overlay hinges cover only a part of the cabinet face whereas the full ones cover the face entirely. For modern minimalistic interiors, the full overlay concealed hinge is used as the result is an entirely solid surface with no ridges or depths. Coupled with a lack of handles, this design feature creates a sleek modern interior. 

Subtle Inset Concealed Hinge 

Minimal Cabinet and Drawer Designs for a Contemporary Kitchen

Minimal Cabinet and Drawer Designs for a Contemporary Kitchen

The inset concealed hinge is very different in design when compared to the full and half overlay. The hinge allows the door to perfectly fit inside the cabinet frame leaving the seams in between the doors and cabinet face. While this is not as seamless as the modern full overlay concealed hinge, it is still a great option for those looking to do more with less. 

Cushion Close — for a Gentle Touch

Ways to Keep Your Cabinets Looking Fresh for As Long As Possible

Ways to Keep Your Cabinets Looking Fresh for As Long As Possible

Slamming doors is a lot more than an auditory nuisance. The more you do it, the higher the chance that either the door will break or the hinge will come loose. In both cases, you will need to repair or replace entire parts of your cupboard which is not something most homeowners wish to do regularly. Cushion close hinges do exactly what their name implies: they cushion the door, preventing any loud bangs from ringing out across the room. The door slows down just before it reaches the cabinet frame and slowly shuts by itself without making any sound or crashing into the frame. It also saves you some milliseconds.

Diversify with Lift-Up Doors

The Many Surprising Benefits of Lift Up Cabinet Doors

The Many Surprising Benefits of Lift Up Cabinet Doors

Some cabinets allow for a vertical lift up as opposed to traditional doors with their side hinges. The lift-up cabinet doors are great if you wish to diversify your furniture and add a bit of heterogeneity to your home’s interior. Instead of using the typical hinges which allow you to open the door to the side of the cabinet box, small hydraulics lift the door upward and keep it there. These hinges also come with the cushion close function which makes them silent and keeps the doors from impacting the cabinet face. Lift-up cabinet hinges have no inherent advantage over traditional ones as they are mostly about aesthetics and preference. However, they can also be a solution of convenience too, if you don’t have enough room to one side of any of your kitchen cabinets to avoid hitting the wall.

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team