Shopping for kitchen cabinets can be as stressful as the actual renovation project. The mistake most homeowners make is to run to the big box stores for everything. They do a very good job of offering every door style, wood type, and finish under the sun. The way the structure the pricing, they get you to focus on all of the add-ons, which slowly (or in some cases quickly) drive your budget through the roof. What they are really distracting you from is the quality of the cabinet.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is impulse buying or letting your emotions affect your decision. It is really important to do some research before going into the store and have a budget in mind. Minor changes in the look of the cabinet can end up adding hundreds, if not thousands, to the same of your kitchen. The same thing applies to unnecessary upgrades and accessories.
The easiest place to start your cabinet search is to start looking online. The big box stores will offer the big, name brand cabinets, but if you search online you will find that there are similar, if not identical cabinets for significantly less on-line. Have you ever noticed that the stores will usually price cabinets on a cost per square foot? This is done deliberately?.
when you are emotionally attached to a particular style of cabinet, what is more likely to sway you from going over your budget- That upgrade is going to got you an additional $1.00 per square foot, or that upgrade is going cost you an additional $900? It is a great technique to distract you from the actual price you are paying and get you focused on the style and finish of the cabinets. What you will also find is that the quality of the materials used will differ dramatically from cabinet to cabinet. As I mentioned before, the retail stores do a very good job of getting you caught up in the features and accessories of the cabinet face, but how often do you hear them talk about what the actual cabinet box is made of? Ironically, most of the higher priced cabinets don't actually use solid wood for the cabinet box. They may have a great looking cabinet door, but they are using particleboard or fiberboard for the construction of the cabinet box. The problem with both of these materials is that they are adversely affected by water and moisture.
Sounds kind of funny, but something that is going to be in a kitchen, with plenty of moisture, can actually have an adverse reaction of excess moisture. What you will find on-line is that a lot of the lesser-known cabinetmakers actually use solid plywood, which creates a much stronger cabinet box. The other big factor in materials is how the cabinet is held together. Since most of the big manufacturers mass produce their cabinets, they end up using staples or simple wooden dowels to hold the cabinets together. In doing some research on-line you will more than likely come across another common term in the cabinet industry- RTA, or Ready-To-Assemble. If you ever go into the big stores and see pre-assembled or stock cabinets, they are actually RTA cabinets that are pre-assembled for your convenience (and significantly more expensive).
There are three categories that separate RTA Cabinets from their competition- 1) Assembly- they are so easy to assemble that you can actually eliminate the added expense of hiring someone to assemble and install them 2) Price- if you find the companies that are importing them directly, the saving can be as high as 40-50% versus the name brand cabinets 3) Construction- Not all RTA cabinets are the same, but most of them use solid plywood for the cabinet box, solid wood for the face frames and doors, and they have an interlocking cam lock assembly that is a stronger bond than staples, nails, or wooden dowels With all the advantages of RTA Cabinets, there are some inferior products on the market that you should steer clear of, but they are definitely worth doing some research on. So before you go running to your local big box supply store, take the time to do some research on-line. At the very least you will be a more educated customer and you can avoid the mistake of exceeding your budget for your kitchen.
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