If you are starting the spring season with a new remodel/addition, one of the biggest decisions you will most likely make will be the cabinetry you choose. Cabinetry can represent a significant investment of cash and labor and can make or break a room. Your choices can be numerous, not to mention overwhelming. Listed below are some tips to help you make the right decisions:
- Consult a professional. A consultation with a professional remodeling company can help you make the decisions you need before installing cabinets.
- Decide on the details of your cabinetry. Before making a final purchase of your cabinets, ensure you consider the following points: materials used, door and drawer fronts, hinges, knobs and drawer slides. Design experts recommend buying the best material you can afford, since cabinets are typically in high traffic areas. Also, remember that certain materials clean and wear better than others, and consider the fact that there is a large amount of water and humidity in both kitchens and bathrooms.
- Decide on the configuration. One of the first things to do is to decide on the general distribution of the cabinets according to the space available. With kitchens, you may need to decide on whether a single-row, L- or corner-shape and U-shape with or without kitchen islands will work best depending on your room size and design. The classical way to distribute the basic kitchen appliances around cabinets is: refrigerator, space, oven, space, kitchen sink with dishwasher. This traditional lineup keeps the heat of the oven away from the fridge but still allows enough room functionality. Arguably kitchen cabinets are the most expensive and important purchase you’ll make when remodeling your kitchen. Typically, they can account for between 50–70% of your kitchen budget. That’s why it’s important to invest time in researching and planning this aspect of your project.
- For your bathroom, it is critical make the decision as to whether or not you really need cabinets. Today, many bathrooms use pieces of furniture in conjunction with an installed sink rather than cabinets. Make sure that you are not installing cabinets simply because you think you have to or because that is what is normally done. Ensure that you need them for space and available countertops. For any remodeling project, planning is key, but it is especially important in bathroom remodels. Maximize your space and maintain your budget by having a carefully thought-out plan.
Begin with a budget
Though cabinets can be more, chances are they will be in the 50% range of your remodel’s total cost. Therefore, calculating your total budget figure is an important first step. Consider the value of your home and the homes in your neighborhood before setting a remodeling budget.
If you are completely replacing cabinets, plan your workflow and storage needs, then figure out what type of cabinets will work best. Measure the area, using the standard base height for upper cabinets of 34 inches and for counters of about 36 inches. Adjust heights to accommodate the tasks and needs of your family members. It’s a good idea to vary heights somewhat depending on what you’re doing. If you are 6′-2″ tall, you may want counters higher so you don’t have to stoop.
For small and medium size kitchens less than 150 square feet, the average cabinetry is about 12 feet of wall cabinets and 13 feet for base cabinets. If you have a larger kitchen, you may need more cabinetry for additional work space and storage.
Choosing a Cabinet Type
There are three types of cabinets to choose from: stock, semi-custom, and custom–each with their own pros and cons. Stock cabinets are the most economically priced, are available immediately or within a few days of purchase, and are fully assembled. However, there are limited choices of wood types, styles and finishes. Also, they can’t be adjusted to specific measurements and are generally constructed in standard sizes such as 3” increments. Semi-custom cabinets are available in a larger variety of designs, have a larger variety of storage options and come in standard sizes and with standard finishes and styles. Also, they can include optional modifications and factory-installed accessories. They are made-to-order but with set widths which could possibly require inserts for non-standard dimensions. Custom cabinets, though usually the most expensive, can be built to specifically requested measurements and dimensions and designed to fit your exact taste and style.
Choosing a Material
After choosing cabinet types, your next choice is the most interesting (and sometimes most difficult) decision: the material and finish of your cabinets. Cabinets come in three materials, and like wood furniture they are often not made completely of solid wood, but of wood-based materials. This is because solid wood can absorb moisture easily and is prone to warping and cracking if it isn’t adequately sealed, whereas wood-based materials such as plywood, MDF, and particle board are not. Therefore, cabinets that advertise “solid wood” are usually an engineered wood material covered with a popular veneer such as maple, oak, or cherry.
Today finishes require much less care and upkeep than those of the past, but there are certain things you want to know about when deciding on your ideal cabinets. Some good questions are whether the cabinets have “heat-catalyzed” conversion varnish, hand-rubbed stains, ultraviolet inhibitors to minimize sun damage, and high solids sealers to protect the wood. Many good-quality factory finishes last longer than many older finishes which may not resist moisture very well. Obviously, you probably won’t be able to tell if your cabinets have good ultraviolet inhibitors unless you can distinctly smell sunscreen emanating from the general area, so be sure to ask.
Money Saving Tips
- Plan your project
- Don’t move plumbing or electrical unless necessary
- Buy the best quality cabinets you can afford to improve functionality as well as appearance