How do you know if your kitchen cabinets are good quality?

Kitchen cabinets are hard to ignore. They take a big portion of the space and state the mood and style to the room. While cabinets have a tough job to do with storing everyday use items, there can be some wear and tear. So how can you determine if your cabinets are of good quality?

Focus on the basic components like the cabinet box, drawers and shelves and how they are assembled. Thicker materials will be sturdier than thinner materials or construction techniques like dovetail joints are more durable than glued butt joints. When a deep groove meets a matching joint, this joint is strong and the glue has more surface to adhere to for extra strength. The “bracing” of the cabinet box is also extremely important for strength and durability. Wood or engineered I-Beams let into the sides, front, and back are preferred for base cabinet construction. Thick cabinet backs let-into the cabinet sides is preferred for wall cabinets. Whether framed or frameless construction, joints, bracing and material thickness keep a cabinet from falling apart and help keep it square.

Most cabinets are in box form and they come in various sizes and are made from various materials. Here are some materials most cabinets are made from.

  • Particle Board- Particle board is used widely to make cabinet boxes and other components. Particle wood is covered with melamine, wood veer or a vinyl laminate layer. These material is very susceptible to damage from water and other liquids. While particle board cabinets can be cost effect prepare to replace these sooner due to getting damaged easily or warping.
  • MDF is engineered wood that is made from wood fibers and bonded together. Just like particle board it can be damaged by water and liquids. MDF is also very heavy and must be reinforced correctly.
  • Plywood is considered to the be the premium option for cabinet boxes because it’s a strong material and the core is solid plywood.

The stigma and recurring argument throughout the industry is that plywood is considered the better choice. Plywood is usually stronger than particle board and doesn’t expand as easily in moist environments. Is particle board always bad? Not always. If your cabinet layout includes cabinet boxes next to each other, and they are constructed properly, then the particle board sides are “buried” and unseen. However, on end cabinets with sides exposed, have your designer specify a “finished end” with a plywood side, or at least an engineered side which has a veneer of real wood. The worst aspect of a particle board cabinet is to have a paper or “picture” of wood on an exposed end rather than real wood.

One final thought: if we’re talking about drawers, thin particleboard drawers with staples for joints would not have the lifespan of their wood counterparts. Some cabinet lines may try to cut corners and use particle board for drawer boxes.

Not all kitchen cabinets are created equal, you have to do your research on how they are made in order to really assess their quality. To answer your question, how do I know if a cabinet is good quality…

  1. Look for dado joints
  2. All-wood frame and drawers
  3. Dovetailed drawers
  4. Soft-close drawer hardware
  5. A lifetime warranty.

Don’t be fooled, just because a door style is contemporary and the drawer mechanics are soft-close doesn’t mean the cabinetry is of a good quality. Follow the guidelines above and you will be on your way to finding quality cabinetry.