Thursday, March 7, 2013

New Kitchen Cabinets?

Refinish, re-face or replace

Ready to renovate that kitchen, but don't know where to start when selecting new cabinets. It is important to understand the different quality options that are available as well as determining if a make over of your existing cabinets is a viable option.

If you like the current layout of your kitchen and the existing cabinets are structurally sound, re-finishing is an option.
Minor refinish - would consist of first cleaning off oil and dirt and light sanding of the glossy finish. Then the bare areas can be stained and a new finish applied. Removal and replacement or hardware can give you a new look for a small investment.
Major refinish – would involve first removing all doors and drawer fronts. Sanding and filling all surfaces and imperfections. Priming. Applying a new solid color stain or paint and finishing. This option while more involved still keeps your existing layout, but gives you a totally new look.

If you are considering only minor changes to your cabinet configuration and you have a decent cabinet box (the part left after removing doors and drawers), a re-face can be your solution. With this option all doors and drawers are removed and thrown away. The old boxes are completely covered with a wood veneer of your choice. If you have oak cabinets you can switch to alder or cherry! Boxes are covered with a thin plywood veneer or a paper thin veneer of real wood. The boxes are then stained and finished. New doors and drawers are installed and finished to match. The only way you can tell the cabinets have been re-faced is to check the insides (usually a decision made when deciding weather to reface or replace.)
Additionally, changes to your layout and cabinet modifications can be made before re-facing thus matching your new cabinets to those refaced. One word of caution - there becomes a point where too many modifications can begin to approach the cost of new cabinetry. Make sure you are working with a contractor who will inform you of this point!

You have made the decision to replace your cabinets, but where do I start. Select a good contractor who will provide you with a design. Your design should consist of incorporating your needs and wants in a kitchen. When looking at options be aware of the quality choices you have with new cabinets.
Custom – cabinets are made to order and to exact specifications. There are no limitations to size and design – only your budget! When you are considering a unique layout and specific cabinet sizes the custom option can also be the most cost efficient.
Semi Custom – cabinets are just what they say, semi custom. A wide variety of sizes and colors are available, but units are made ahead of time in specific size increments with certain limitations. Different quality levels are usually offered such as an all plywood (considered the best quality) or MDF (very common) or particle board (considered the least quality) cabinet box. Options of hardware quality also effect your final pricing.
Off the Shelf – cabinets are pre-made to specific sizes. Don't necessarily assume they are of poor quality. There are a number of pre-made cabinet manufactures that offer an all wood cabinet. A little extra planning in your design can save you money and is worth a comparison.


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  2. These terms are interchangeable although they have different meanings.

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