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There are so many innovative cabinet options on the market today: wood veneer, thermofoil, custom-built wood cabinets and even laminate/wood combinations. If you have narrowed your cabinetry selection to the material that best suits your lifestyle, budget and personal taste, be aware that not all cabinets are created equal.
Just because cabinets look nice in a showroom doesn't mean they are manufactured using the best procedures and materials. You should ask questions about a particular cabinetry company's production process -- especially the finishing steps -- so you can adequately compare options and prices. For example, cabinetry typically sold at discount stores may wear more easily and have a limited warranty leaving you unhappy in the long run.
Armstrong, a cabinet manufacturer for kitchens and baths, uses a 17-step finishing process to ensure your investment pays off for years after you have your kitchen cabinets installed. These steps include: hand-sanding, mechanical removal of dust particles, pre-stain application for uniformity, chemical resistant sealers, and proper baking to ensure a complete cure throughout the wood. Before an Armstrong cabinet is sold it goes through some additional final steps, including more sanding, a second removal of all dust, a final coat of Catalyzed Varnish and a pre-cured topcoat application followed by a slow bake.
No matter what type of wood you buy, these 17 steps are followed making your finished cabinets durable, easy-to-care-for and an investment that will retain its value over time. You are going to live with your cabinets for a long time so don't be tempted to buy cheap imitations of quality manufacturers.
If you are considering a kitchen remodel, you may have heard some kitchen designers or show room experts refer to wood veneer cabinets. What are the advantages of this innovative cabinet construction? Should you buy it? What is it?
Wood veneer is made of the same species of trees used to make typical wood cabinets, such as maple, birch, oak, cherry and others. But wood veneer is made from very thin sheets of wood and then professionally adhered to another, less expensive material. Wood products with large surface areas are often made with veneer to provide an authentic appearance at a lower price point. As long as wood veneer products -- such as kitchen cabinets -- are made using proper manufacturing methods, they can be a good choice for those remodeling kitchens.
Wood veneer cleans easily and can be stained to create a variety of appearances just like wood. Go online to find out more about what kinds of innovative veneer cabinets you can buy. For example you can combine an understated maple wood grain door frame with a veneer raised panel in the center. Opt for furniture-quality veneer that produces a uniform look in both color and grain patterns. These cabinets will save you money on your total cabinet cost, especially if you have a large kitchen and plan to have a large amount of cabinetry installed. In general, when buying cabinets, you should consider buying the best materials you can afford.
As you go through your kitchen design process, you will hear some new words. It is important that you understand some aspects of cabinetry so you make the right choices for your budget. For example, some types of joints in cabinetry are ideal but more expensive to make. Additionally, some types of construction are more desirable than others. Even small details can make a big difference in the way your cabinets appear once completed. Here are some terms to get you started:
If you are planning a kitchen overhaul, you know there are many details to consider -- not only cabinet choices but appliances and precise measurements. The showrooms of more innovative cabinet makers will likely have experts on staff that can help you through the somewhat confusing remodeling process.
If you can, find a Certified Kitchen Designer, or CKD, as these professionals have strong relationships with manufacturers in the industry and up-to-date ideas. The best way to hash out the details of your new kitchen is to meet with such an expert one-on-one. These showroom appointments can even be free of charge. But, keep in mind that a kitchen designer will have lots of questions to cover during such an appointment.
To get the most out of this meeting, plan ahead and be prepared for these questions. Take photos of your current kitchen and put them in your idea folder, paying close attention to entrance and exit ways. Make a wish list of every feature you would like to have and then number them in order of priority. If you have selected appliances, take the model specifics and measurements. Take measurements of your kitchen as well. If you have fabric swatches, and paint or flooring samples, bring those along. Establish a budget before you meet with a kitchen designer and stick to it during a meeting. If you have chosen some decor items, such as collections of glass or pottery, take photos of those as they will help a designer understand your style preference. The more homework you do before you meet with a kitchen designer, the better.
However, don't panic if you haven't made color, fabric or other style choices. If you aren't sure which way to go, a designer can guide you. Finally, be prepared to answer specific questions about your cooking and entertaining habits as well as the types of food and cooking item storage you require.
Let's say you want to create a kitchen unlike anything you've seen to date. You might have seen ideas you like on websites or in showrooms but nothing exactly like what you want. Do you have to sacrifice some features in your kitchen remodeling project? Maybe not.
There are so many design ideas today for innovative cabinets and drawer spaces that make cooking a breeze. And, you don't have to pick a particular kitchen you see in a magazine; you can pick and choose only those features you want. Here is an example of the ideal island. Let's say you like dark wood contrasted with light wood. You can order innovative cabinets that incorporate both. Maybe you like food prep at an island location. You can install a sink and disposal there so you don't have to keep turning around to use your main sink. Maybe you like to keep an eye on your daughter doing her homework while you make dinner. You can design your island to include an overhang for bar stools. Maybe you want to catch your favorite TV show while you handle food prep. Believe it or not, you can have a pop-up TV installed in your island. Oops. You forgot to get out your pastry blender. Just open a custom drawer and find it in its own separate space. Or, check a recipe by pulling out a cookbook next to you from a shelving unit. Need a bottle of wine to enhance your meal? It could be within easy reach in the vertical wine rack custom-built into your island food prep paradise. The list can go on and on.
The best places to find these and other unique ideas for your kitchen include websites, TV shows and magazines. You can also do your own searches online for a particular item or meet with a custom kitchen installer who is likely to be aware of the many suppliers who offer newer products for the kitchen industry.
Quality wood lasts a long time. Some people who know that best are farmers. When they construct barns, they often utilize well-made wood since it has to stand up to the test of time, the housing of animals and harsh weather.
Many homeowners today are looking for ways they can "reduce their carbon footprint." That means contributing less to the shipping and production costs of new materials if it isn't necessary. Some environmentally conscious homeowners have found innovative ways to remodel their kitchens by using recycled wood from barns that have been torn down. This wood is called barn wood. Many truly committed woodworkers love to get their hands on barn wood. They love restoring it, working with its variety of textures and appreciating its history.
Even though barn wood has been exposed to the elements -- giving it a weathered look -- and may have cracks, nail holes and other imperfections, those who love a country or rustic kitchen style find barn wood attractive. It's just those imperfections that make barn wood an innovative choice for kitchen cabinetry. Barn wood can be stained any color you choose and has already been through a manufacturing process to remove splinters. However, if you choose barn wood for your kitchen, consult a skilled craftsman who knows how to work with it before you have it installed so the individual pieces used are durable. You can find out more about barn wood through an online search or by contacting woodworkers in your area.
Let's say the kitchen is finally finished and your friends are on their way for your first dinner party in your newly remodeled room. What do they see? How about shiny red cabinets with a lacquered finish that 'snake' in interesting curves around the space? You might have told them you were redoing your kitchen in red but it's unlikely they expected this. Or, how about cabinet facing made of blue translucent Plexiglass that covers your uniquely triangle-shaped island?
There are lots of options for innovative cabinetry. Some people choose pantry cabinets framed in black with clouded glass insets, while others accent birch wood with stainless steel cabinet facing. And, innovative cabinets aren't just for modern and contemporary homes. Some people choose rather traditional cabinetry styles and finish them with a deep brown or even black finish. You might even decide to have laminate cabinets installed with in a light turquoise color to soften the steel accents and decor you chose.
Truly innovative cabinets may be the only way to express your creativity and personality and that's what home decorating is all about. Also, if you entertain a lot, your kitchen will be a conversation piece all to itself. Keep in mind some disadvantages of having more unique cabinetry installed are that it may be harder to replace or repair in the case of an accident. To find such interesting ideas, choose a local kitchen designer, interior designer or installer that has experience with this type of kitchen as they will have relationships with suppliers who offer such products. Never consider installing any kitchen cabinetry by yourself as it takes at least two professionally-trained people to handle a job of this kind.
These days you'll hear a lot of talk about custom-built cabinets and custom-designed kitchens. You may even hear the word "Bespoke" referred to: it's the British word for hand-made cabinets. If you have the budget for such innovative cabinets, you can increase the value of your home drastically.
Hand-made cabinetry follows a more recent trend of returning to original approaches of fine craftsman and getting away from so many machined parts. You can obtain Bespoke cabinets for any style of kitchen and they will offer a rich appearance you'll treasure for a long time. If you decide to sell your home, your hand-made cabinets will be a great feature to talk up. Or, if you don't want to sell, choosing Bespoke furniture will allow you to best use the space you've got for kitchen activities.
Bespoke cabinets can also be made in a modern or contemporary style. If you don't have the budget for Bespoke cabinets, you can consider less expensive options like laminate coverings, which can even be made in metallic finishes to mimic stainless steel and other metals. You can choose a glossy or matte finish or contrast both finishes. Metallic laminate looks fancy but is easy to clean. However, don't use abrasive agents or cloths with it as it can scratch and is then hard to repair.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|