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How to Compare Kitchen Cabinets to Get the Best Value

by Susanne Clemenz

There are good reasons to purchase kitchen cabinets at each price pont:

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  • Budget limitations
  • Limited use, like summer cabins
  • You're selling your house, and must weigh cost against return on investment
  • You're buying kitchen cabinets to use in a laundry room, storage room, or workshop
  • Conversely, you're remodeling and want the best upgrade you can afford
  • You're building your dream kitchen, and want the very best

How to Compare Kitchen Cabinets: Materials and Construction Techniques

Styles look the same, but construction materials vary. A simple raised-panel oak cabinet may have:

  • All particle board construction from 1/4" to 5/8" for the case, shelves, and doors, and all laminate exteriors
  • A particle board case and stapled fiberboard drawer boxes with laminate or wood face frames and hardwood doors
  • Thicker particle board cases with dovetailed plywood drawer boxes and hardwood face frames and doors
  • All-plywood cases with dovetailed wood drawer boxes and hardwood face frames and doors
  • Hardwood and dove-tailed construction throughout (premium, custom grade)

Compare Kitchen Cabinets by Hardware and Special Features

  • The simplest drawer slides have two strips of wood on the drawer box bottom that straddle a center strip. Waxing them improves operation.
  • Side-mount drawer slides (about $6.25/pair) are a metal tongue and groove system that attach to the drawer and interior case sides. Better ones (about $16.50/pair) have full ball bearings and a wheel that rides in the grooves.
  • Suspension slides can be self-closing and/or heavy duty.
  • Compare internal versus external hinges, and the strength of their construction.
  • Some companies like DeWils let you specify 1/4" increments in cabinet and drawer sizes.
  • Compare kitchen cabinets for options like architectural styles, decorative glass, hardware, and the variety of woods, stains, and paint colors available.

Shop around. Request a "bid," not a "price." Competition is to your benefit!



About the Author

Suzanne Clemenz designed her passive solar home and interacted with the contractors every day of the 6-month project. She started drawing floor plans and making models in the early '70s after purchasing several building lots. Recently she expanded and

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