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Top 10 Characteristics of High-Quality Kitchen Cabinets

High-quality kitchen cabinets have at least ten characteristics that contribute to their long lifespan. The best kitchen cabinets will be durable and look beautiful for many years. Unfortunately, some cabinet have problems in as little as a year or two. Issues like crooked doors, sagging drawers, scratched faces, loose hinges and warping boxes quickly deteriorate the look of a kitchen. That’s why it is important to choose the best kitchen cabinets with high-quality construction. As you shop for cabinets and compare cabinet costs, look for the following construction features. This will help ensure you choose high-quality cabinets for your home.

1. Durable Cabinet Box Materials

CliqStudios provides you with two durable cabinet box material options. Signature and Signature Plus lines are all-plywood and the Classic line is furniture board. CliqStudios cabinet materials have been tested and certified. You can be confidence that your new cabinets will stand up to everyday use. They won’t unnecessarily expand and flake when there’s the occasional leaky faucet.

illustration of various cabinet materials

Varying Materials

Many retailers use varying materials and cannot identify the specific material grades that make up their cabinets.

illustration of furniture board

Furniture Board

CliqStudios Classic line cabinet box material is made with certified M-2 rated furniture board. Furniture board provides a strong, long-lasting box. It resists expansion from temperature and humidity fluctuations, which makes it a stable material.

illustration of plywood

Plywood

Our Signature and Signature Plus cabinets are built with strong and long-lasting, certified Grade K plywood sides and backs. Consumer Reports recommends plywood as the premium quality option for cabinets. Plywood holds screws more securely and resists moisture better than alternative materials. It is resilient against blow-outs, dings, dents, and sagging. These benefits make it the best material for cabinet sides, backs, shelves, and drawer bottoms.

2. Fully-Assembled Cabinets

CliqStudios quality cabinets are fully-assembled at the factory. They are then boxed and shipped direct to you, ready-to-install. Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets are designed to be assembled by a homeowner or contractor. The differences to the consumer include price, convenience, and construction strength.

Assembly of RTA cabinets involves a learning curve. First, you learn how to assemble the boxes. Then, it takes about 20-45 minutes to assemble each cabinet. Finally, it will take additional time to assemble drawer boxes, glides and other accessories.

Illustration showing pieces of RTA cabinets.

Ready-to-Assemble (RTA)

RTA cabinets ship in parts, such as the cabinet, face frame, drawers, drawer glides, inserts, doors and hardware. They are designed to be assembled at the construction site. RTA cabinets are assembled using metal clips or plastic attachments, which tend to be less durable than wood construction. Assembly and installation can be handled by the DIY homeowner or by a hired contractor. Either way, some skill is required to ensure safe, functional cabinets.

illustration of a fully-assembled quality cabinet

Fully-Assembled and Ready-to-Install

Every CliqStudios cabinet is factory-assembled and ready-to-install. This means every cabinet is engineered to create a single piece that will arrive in one carton. No assembly required. Factory construction methods join wood parts using dovetail joints, hot & cold glue, power fasteners and other industrial techniques. In this wood-to-wood construction, the pieces bond on a microscopic level, creating a quality kitchen cabinet with strength.

3. Long-Lasting, Quality Cabinet Frames

Long-lasting, quality cabinet frames provide stability. Face frames keep the cabinet box square during shipping and installation. Professional cabinet installers often charge more to install frameless cabinets, because it is more time-consuming. This is because frameless cabinetry requires very precise installation. Frameless cabinets only have 1/8” gaps between the doors of the cabinets, so the install area must be perfectly level. This is especially important in spaces where the floor and walls may be uneven.

illustration of frameless kitchen cabinet

Frameless

Frameless, also known as European-style, cabinets have no frame on the front of the cabinet box. Cabinets without frames are full overlay, revealing approximately 1/8-inch around drawer fronts and cabinet doors. Side panels are thicker than in a framed cabinet to allow the glides and hinges to mount directly to the cabinet sides.

illustration of hardwood framed cabinet

Painted to Match Frame

CliqStudios® Classic cabinetry features frames that are painted to match the EverEdge™ finish.

illustrations of wood cabinet face frame

Solid Hardwood Frame

CliqStudios Signature and Signature Plus cabinetry features painted or stained frames made with ¾” by 1½” solid hardwood. Solid hardwood is unique in its color, texture, and grain patterns. This includes mineral streaks and knots. These natural variations add to hardwood’s distinctive appeal and beauty. Hardwood is durable, resilient, and easy to repair.

4. Quality Cabinet Boxes

Captured and integrated brace construction creates a quality cabinet box. This increases stability during shipping and installation and provides long-term cabinet strength. Unless integrated with the cabinet side, gussets add no strength or structural integrity to the cabinet. Captured, or integrated, braces also make base cabinets much easier to move into position when installing.

Illustration of plastic corner gussets

Plastic Corner Gussets

Some cabinets brands use plastic triangular shaped corner gussets as a lower cost alternative to braces or I-beams. Gussets are usually stapled, glued or nailed to each corner of the cabinet. This is to keep the cabinet square during shipping. However, plastic gussets do not provide the same stability and strength of captured and integrated braces.

illustration of furniture board braces

Furniture Board Braces

Captured and integrated furniture board braces are used in CliqStudios Classic base cabinet construction. The braces are integrated with the box through a dado joint, nails and glue that connect to all four sides of a base cabinet. This integrated construction style provides great strength and stability, especially when moving and installing cabinets.

illustration of plywood I-beams

Plywood I-beams

CliqStudios Signature and Signature Plus cabinets feature fully integrated I-beams. Like the braces used in Classic line, the I-beams are essential to creating a sturdier box. I-beams add stability during shipping and installation and provide long-term cabinet strength. Integrated I-beams also make installation of base cabinets faster and easier. Wall cabinets do not need this support because they are enclosed on top and bottom.

5. Easy-to-Clean Interiors

Kitchen cabinet interior surfaces should be non-porous and easy-to-clean. Cabinet interiors also need to be tough enough to last the life of the cabinets without staining, bubbling or showing wear.

Melamine and laminate are two different, yet similar materials. They are the perfect surface for cabinet interiors because of their extremely high resistance to moisture. Most melamine and laminate cabinet interiors are printed with a light-tone wood grain.

illustration of wood veneer interior.

Wood Veneer Interior

Wood is naturally porous and rough. A stained wood veneer interior or shelf surface will absorb moisture and stains. It will also trap soil in the grain of the wood. The finish will not tolerate strong cleaning solutions. Wood veneer will become damaged by residual moisture. This damage could come from dishwashers, excessive humidity, greasy cooking fumes, as well as dirt and food particles.

illustration of laminate cabinet interior

Laminate Interior

Laminate is a durable, easy-to-clean cleaned material that keeps your cabinet interior looking great through years of use. CliqStudios® uses a neutral, light, wood-toned laminate that brightens the cabinet interior.

illustration of melamine quality cabinet interior

Melamine Interior

Melamine is durable and resistant to fire, water and stains. It can be safely cleaned with strong household solutions. As a shelf or cabinet lining, it wipes clean easily. CliqStudios uses a neutral, light, wood-toned melamine that brightens the cabinet interior.

6. Durable, Full-Height Back Panel

For strength and ease of installation, quality kitchen cabinets have a durable, full-height back panel. A full back panel allows the cabinet to be directly attached to wall studs at any point on the cabinet back. If installation requires the cabinet be cut around ductwork, plumbing or electrical, the modification will be simpler on the full back.

illustration of alternate cabinet backs

Alternate Cabinet Back

Metal, rails, hang rails and picture-frame panels are all alternate cabinet backs. It’s common to see 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch hangers at the top and bottom of the cabinet. Manufacturers then either omit the back panel entirely or incorporate a thin 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch panel. If a rail needs to be cut to accommodate wiring or plumbing, additional reinforcement will be necessary.

illustration of furniture board, full-height back panel

Furniture Board Full Back

CliqStudios Classic cabinets have a 3/8” furniture board full back panel. This panel provides all the benefits of a full-height back at a very affordable price. Full-height back panels provide superior strength and flexibility to alternate cabinet back materials, while eliminating the need for hanging rails.

illustration showing how quality cabinets have plywood full-height back panels

Plywood Full Back

The back panel of a CliqStudios Signature and Signature Plus cabinet is a full-height, 3/8” plywood panel. The back is secured with hot glue, nails and a rabbet joint. Extending the panel from the top of the cabinet to the bottom eliminates gaps or spaces and provides additional strength.

7. Dovetail Drawer Box Construction

CliqStudios knows the bottom of the drawer must support the weight of the drawer contents. That’s why we choose to use solid hardwood sides with a fully captured bottom. Hardwood drawer boxes with dovetail joints have become the standard for American cabinetry. This is due to the long-lasting strength, durability and beauty of the dovetail joint.

illustration of stapled drawer box

Stapled Particleboard Drawer Box

A wide range of materials and construction methods are used for cabinet drawers. Construction methods vary greatly and could include particleboard, plywood, metal or plastic elements. Lesser quality cabinet have stapled particleboard drawer boxes.

illustration of hardwood, dovetailed drawer box

Solid Hardwood Dovetailed Drawer Box

CliqStudios drawer boxes are made from solid hardwood with dovetail joints. A dovetail joint has teeth that interlock to join two pieces of wood. A high-quality hardwood drawer box will have sides of 5/8-inch or thicker solid maple or birch. The sides meet at dovetail joints, where the strength of the joint comes from the wood itself. A strong plywood drawer bottom is glued and nailed in place. Every drawer bottom is fully captured on all four sides in grooved joints.

8. Soft-Close Door Hinges

All of CliqStudios cabinets have soft-close door hinges with KCMA Certification. This means they have been tested to withstand 65 pounds of weight and operated through 25,000 open and close cycles. CliqStudios provides a limited lifetime warranty on door hinges for Classic, Signature and Signature Plus cabinets.

other hinges illustration

Other Hinges

There are thousands of hinges available to cabinet manufacturers. Be wary of cabinet manufacturers that use low-end hinges. Many hinges only provide four-way adjustability or do not have a product warranty.

soft-close hinge illustration

Soft-Close Hinges

CliqStudios Classic cabinets feature soft-close, 6-way adjustable, concealed nickel plated steel hinges. They open to 107 degrees for easy access. They are backed with a limited lifetime warranty.

Blum hinge illustration

Blum® Soft-Close Hinges

CliqStudios Signature and Signature Plus cabinets feature Blum® soft-close hinges. They are 6-way adjustable, concealed, nickel plated steel, with a 107 degree opening. They have limited lifetime warranty.

9. Soft-Close Drawer Glides

KCMA Certification assures you that the CliqStudios guides have been tested for quality. Each drawer glide can withstand 15 pounds per square foot of drawer space. They can also be operated through 25,000 open and close cycles. CliqStudios provides a limited lifetime warranty on drawer glides for Classic, Signature and Signature Plus.

illustration of partial-access drawer glides

Side-Mount Epoxy Coated Guides

Other brands use many different types of drawer glides, including epoxy-coated metal with nylon rollers. Center-mount and side-mount glides rarely provide full access. Partial-access means that about 25 percent of the drawer remains inside the cabinet. This makes it difficult to reach the back of the drawer. Side-mount glides are never soft-close.

illustration of full-access drawer glides

Full-Extension, Soft-Close Steel Undermount Guides

CliqStudios Classic cabinets feature full-extension, soft-close steel undermount guides rated to support a 75 lb capacity. The glide uses a dampening system that is almost silent when opening and closing your drawer.

illustration of quality Blum full-access drawer glides

Blum® Full-Extension, Soft-Close Steel Undermount Guides

CliqStudios Signature and Signature Plus cabinets feature Blum® brand full-extension, soft-close steel undermount guides. Full-extension guides give you 100 percent access to the entire drawer. The ball-bearing glide is concealed beneath the drawer box supporting up to 90 lbs. The glide uses a dampening system that is almost silent when opening and closing your drawer.

10. Toekick

The toekick area is the space where the cabinet meets the floor. It provides space for your feet when standing at the counter. A toekick should be fully enclosed and captured with dado joints, glue and nails. It should be integrated into the full-length, back panel and cabinet sides for additional strength. After installation, applying a finished toekick panel completes the look.

Cabinets supported by plastic legs are not as strong or stable as full-box cabinets. An additional toekick panel is also necessary to prevent dirt and small items from being trapped under the cabinet.

illustration of cabinets without a toekick

Open Toekick

Some RTA cabinets have four plastic adjustable feet for support. Some brands may offer stainless steel feet for an upcharge. The open space under the cabinet requires a toekick cover, which snaps on the legs to enclose the area. Cabinets with an open front need a wooden toekick panel added.

illustration of furniture board toekick

Furniture Board Toekick

CliqStudios Classic cabinet box reaches all the way to the floor at both the toekick and the full-height back panel. This encloses the entire space under your cabinets to keep them clean. It also ensures that the the box is supporting the weight of the cabinet, contents and countertop. A decorative panel applied post-construction provides a finished look.

illustration of toekick on high-quality cabinet

Plywood Toekick

A quality kitchen cabinet with a solid, full-length plywood back panel and plywood cabinet sides forms a natural toekick panel. High-quality cabinets use fully-captured dado joints, hot glue and more to create the strongest base for heavy countertops. A decorative panel applied post-construction provides a finished look.

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Showing 33 comments

  1. Terri Reply

    what kind of wood is used for your cabinets? are they wood? it may be obvious but I cannot tell. I am remodeling my kitchen. I love these ideas but need to know what kind of wood is used on the door front.

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      Specifically, all of our cabinets are semi-custom, fully-assembled, built-to-fit and ready-to-install.

      Our CliqStudios Signature and Signature Plus boxes are made with 1/2-inch plywood sides and a 3/8-inch plywood back. All are fully captured dado joints that are secured with both wood glue and pneumatic nails for strength. Our face frames and door frames are solid hardwood – maple, birch, oak or cherry depending on which wood species you select. Our drawers have four solid hardwood sides with dovetail joints. Most styles are available with a choice of a slab or a five-piece drawer front. Our hardware is Blum Blumotion soft-close drawer glides and hinges. Our finishes are hand-applied in multiple steps before being baked on for long-lasting beauty and durability.

      Our CliqStudios Classic Line boxes are made with 3/8” thick furniture board back and side panels. Our face frames and drawers are made with MDF wrapped with EverEdge finish and come with soft-close 6-way adjustable 107 degree opening hinges.

      We stand behind our product with a lifetime warranty. Our design service is complementary. Shipping is free to most locations. We offer financing for those who wish to pay over time. Call 888-350-1242 to get started.

  2. Dana Evans Reply

    Great informing article

  3. Cathy Reply

    Thanks for the great tips. I would like to pursue ordering cabinets from you but am concerned about shipping damages. If shipping damages any of the cabinets, the kitchen completion will delay building schedules of our house in WV.
    By the way, what would be a typical shipping charge for about 24 cabinets?

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      Congratulations on your remodel. Shipping is free on most orders.

  4. Lisa Reply

    Do you ship to Alaska ?

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      We do not ship to Alaska at this time. Thank you.

  5. Ron Benkin Reply

    Are these custom cabinets and where are your cabinets manufactured?

    • CliqStudios Digital Marketing Reply

      Hi Ron! Our cabinets are manufactured at our factory in Connersville, Indiana. They are semi-custom cabinets which we sell directly to consumers.

  6. Lois walker Reply

    I just want door prices – no cabinets

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      We only sell complete kitchen cabinets that are custom built to fit each space. They arrive fully assembled and ready to install.

  7. kalekidan aklil Reply

    wow thanks good explanation then add to other subject related ideas

  8. Jeanne Reply

    Do you offer a contractors discount?

  9. susan Reply

    Are the cabinets greenguard certified? What is the VOC emissions of the cabinets and counters?

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      We’re proud to answer definitively that our products are fully compliant with the stringent CARB2 and EPA TSCA Title VI standards for minimal formaldehyde emissions. You can be assured that all of the composite wood components used to build our cabinetry are sourced from mills that have been certified as supplying materials that meet or exceed these very stringent standards. To learn more about the Carb2 and EPA standards, visit the California Air Resources Board at https://www.arb.ca.gov/toxics/compwood/compwood.htm

  10. Krystal Sturges Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful, informative video! We’re in the process of renovating our new home. We NEED your help for the kitchen (and possibly the 3 bathrooms and library)! We found someone local that seemed to have quality products. But they’re RTA that he orders and assembles himself for the customer. I’m not sure where to start. What are the lead times? Do you do custom colors?

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      Congrats on your renovations! At this time, we do not offer custom colors. Our lead time is 4 to 6 weeks from the time that you order.

  11. Debbi Reply

    Hi there- When looking at the construction of your cabinets, I noticed that the toe kicks come unfinished. Do you provide matching stain or paint depending on the finish of the cabinets? Also, do you supply paint or stain for cabinet touch-ups?

    • CliqStudios Social Media Reply

      Hi and thanks for your question! When your CliqStudios cabinets arrive, your order will have a care a maintenance guide. We also include a touch up kit in every sink base, just in case.

  12. Debj755@yahoo.com Reply

    We checked off all the boxes you said for good cabinets. Except ours were painted white from the warehouse. The paint did not last well, chipping, falling off &look terrible. Little wear & tear with only me & hubby living here. We even had the cabinets resprayed professionally. We paid $8000.for that. The paint still deteriorated.. I’m so disappointed 😞

    • Natalie Reply

      We are getting ready to re-do our home. @Debi, your comment says you checked off all of the boxes listed here for good cabinets. What you did not specify was whether you used the CliqStudios cabinets. Will you please clarify? I would like to know the good, the bad, and the ugly prior to making a decision.

      Thank you!

  13. Linda Reply

    I am planning a new home. Any chance I could still use your service?

    • CliqStudios Reply

      For sure! Give us a call at 888-350-1242 and we’d love to help you get started.

  14. Vincent Gaver Reply

    Your website is amazing. I’m a complete amateur and was able to select my cabinetry with ease. I have gone to surplus warehouses and so-called discount cabinet stores and no one makes it this easy. (and Ikea – the cabinets are not high quality though I’m sure they function.) In the future it would be nice to offer free local pick-up.

  15. Bradley Mikkelson, B-Mike Contracting Reply

    Looks like some awesome products that could give me an advantage over other local competition in my residential remodel business. It would be nice to get some product sales and guide books to have for selling a kitchen remodel with your cabinets. I work in a lot of areas where internet service is not available. This makes hard copies more important that this great website. If you offer anything like that please contact me immediately.

  16. bird Reply

    Are you able to do two different colors of cabinets? I have one wall of cabinets and then a lone island. I currently have the wall cabs an espresso brown and the island turquoise. Can this be done?

  17. Gene Harbula Reply

    I’d like more information

  18. Michele Pierce Reply

    I am interested in your cabinets. I need 15 boxes. What is your best price per box?

    • CliqStudios Reply

      Hello Michele, the standard wall cabinet starts at $250-300, while a standard base cabinet starts at about $400. Keep in mind that CliqStudios cabinets come in varied widths and heights, meaning that you it’s possible you’ll use fewer than 15 cabinet boxes for the storage you need.

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