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 beautiful for many years to come. Unfortunately, some cabinets 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. All-Plywood Cabinets
CliqStudios offers all-plywood cabinets. All of our cabinet materials have been tested and certified. You can be confident that your new cabinets will stand up to everyday use. Moreover, they won’t expand and flake when there’s the occasional leaky faucet.
Many retailers use varying materials and cannot identify the specific material grades that make up their cabinets.
Strong and long-lasting, certified plywood sides and backs are standard on CliqStudios Signature cabinets and optional upgrades on the CliqStudios Signature Plus line. 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 offers both fully-assembled and ready-to-assemble cabinets, whichever is more convenient for you. The cabinets are shipped directly to you, ready-to-install.
Ready to Assemble
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. 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.
Fully-Assembled and Ready-to-Install
CliqStudios offers fully-assembled semi-custom cabinets in our popular Signature and Signature Plus lines. 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.
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.
Solid Hardwood Frame
CliqStudios cabinetry features painted 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.
Plastic Corner Gussets
Some cabinet 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.
Furniture Board Braces
Captured and integrated furniture board braces are integrated with the CliqStudios Signature Plus 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.
CliqStudios Signature cabinets feature fully integrated I-beams. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Plywood Full Back
The back panel of a CliqStudios 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.
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 cabinets have stapled particleboard drawer boxes.
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. 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 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 all door 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.
Smart-Stop Soft-Close Hinges
CliqStudios Signature Plus cabinets feature Smart Stop soft-close hinges. They are 6-way adjustable, concealed, nickel plated steel, with a 107 degree opening. They have a limited lifetime warranty.
Blum® Soft-Close Hinges
CliqStudios Signature cabinets feature Blum® soft-close hinges. They are 6-way adjustable, concealed, nickel plated steel, with a 107 degree opening. They have a limited lifetime warranty.
9. Soft-Close Drawer Glides
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.
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.
Fully-Concealed Steel Undermount Guides with Smart Stop
CliqStudios Signature Plus cabinets feature steel fully-concealed, ball bearing, undermount guides with Smart Stop. The ball-bearing glide is concealed beneath the drawer box supporting up to 75 lbs. The glide uses a dampening system that is almost silent when opening and closing your drawer.
CliqStudios cabinets feature Blum® brand full-access, soft-close steel undermount guides. The ball-bearing glide is concealed beneath the drawer box supporting up to 100 lbs. The glide uses a dampening system that is almost silent when opening and closing your drawer.
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.
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.
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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