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Don't Get Stuck With Builder-Grade Cabinetry: 4 Great Cabinet Updates

by Jessica Santina

If you're like most homeowners, your kitchen likely came stocked with builder-grade cabinetry. A fancy term for "inexpensive" or "baseline quality," builder-grade materials are used because they're cheap, and, frankly, good enough.

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But you get what you pay for. Most builder-grade cabinets are made from particle board, which is comprised of recycled materials--sawdust and wood debris--held together by glue. So it's not long-lasting or strong, and the formaldehyde in the glue has an unpleasant smell and may even be a health risk.

Here are four great ideas for updating the look and materials of your builder-grade cabinetry, from simple to complex:

#1: Replace Cabinet Hardware

You can choose from pulls or knobs and from a wide array of shapes and finishes. Buy a sample first, and use it for a few days to make sure you like it and that it's practical. New hardware ranges from $1-$50 apiece and all it takes to install is a screwdriver.

#2: Explore Countertop Options

If you're on a budget, consider laminate countertops. A solid color with a striking metal edge offers a clean, modern look that's inexpensive. Or you can try granite without breaking the bank. Granite tile costs roughly 10 percent of the cost of granite slab, and the look is just as rich.

#3: Reface Cabinets

If you were lucky enough to get wood cabinets instead of particle board, try painting your cabinets. Painted kitchen cabinets look more contemporary and reflect your personal style. Replacing your cabinet doors or removing them altogether can make a huge difference.

#4: Replace Your Cabinets

The adhesives, particle board, hardware, and veneers in builder-grade cabinets aren't built to last. When you have the budget, investing in new kitchen cabinets is one of the best home improvements you can make, both for resale value and improving your quality of life.

About the Author

Jessica Santina is a freelance writer and editor with 11 years' experience in media, marketing, and publishing, and 8 years' experience as a college writing instructor.

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