How to Spot High-Quality Kitchen Cabinets

Are your cabinets average or extraordinary? These 5 tips will help you find out.

     Remodeling your kitchen is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and you want to get it right. When it comes to your cabinets, they need to be both beautiful and durable for years to come. But how can you tell if your cabinets are truly high-quality? How can you be sure that you won’t get them home only to have broken drawers, warping, peeling finishes, or stuck hinges a few years down the road? 

     We understand where you’re coming from because we have the same questions about our own kitchens. So without further ado, here are 5 things to consider when determining if your cabinets will have a long lifespan.  

1) Who Is The Manufacturer? 

     No matter what material your cabinets are made from, find out who the manufacturer is. Then, research them. Do they back their cabinets with a lifetime warranty? (This is almost always a good indication of a quality product.) Where are their cabinets made? Do they use quality materials? 

     Most cabinets are constructed from either plywood, particleboard, or MDF. All of these materials have different grades of quality. Simply put, some companies choose superior, long-lasting grade materials for their products, and others don’t. Consider the style of your cabinets when researching the manufacturer, too. Some companies are known for their frameless designs, while others are excellent at crafting inset cabinets.

The bottom line: The manufacturer is more important than the type of material used to make your cabinets. All materials have different levels of quality, and some companies use better grades than others. For more info on this topic, check out Quality-Made Cabinets: Fact vs. Fiction and 3 Signs You’re Getting Fooled into Buying Low-Quality Cabinets.

2) Clues In Cabinet Box Construction

     So often we hear from people who only want plywood cabinets. But by focusing solely on the type of material, you’re missing the real clues as to whether or not you’re looking at a quality product. For starters, check the cabinet box thickness. Is it the ½ inch, flimsy stuff? Or is it the ¾ inch, furniture-grade kind? If you’re not sure, ask the manufacturer what they use. (Note: Don’t settle for less than ⅝ inch when it comes to your cabinet box construction.) Besides thickness, check the cabinet box for reinforcers like corner braces and beam braces. Well-constructed locking joints, such as dado joints or dovetail joints, are also important features. You can spot less-sturdy construction in cabinet boxes assembled with nails, screws, staples, or glue alone. The locking joint is key here. 

The bottom line: When looking for quality kitchen cabinet boxes, check for the thickness of the material and the presence of interior braces and locking joints. 

3) Drawers Hide No Secrets

     Since we’ve got you thinking about construction, let’s take that one step further and talk about drawer construction. Like with cabinet boxes, you’ll want to pay the most attention to the drawer’s assembly, versus looking only at the materials used. Choose drawers held together with a locking joint, such as dovetail joints, dowel joints, or dado joints. Nails, screws, staples, or glue alone won’t cut it for the long haul. Most drawers are made out of the same material as the rest of the cabinet, but sometimes manufacturers will go one step further and use solid wood for the drawers since they get a lot of daily wear-and-tear. Features like full-access and soft-close slides can also indicate extra time and attention to detail in the construction. 

The bottom line: Quality construction is critical for your cabinet drawers. Look for locking joints; anything else won’t last as long. Solid wood and extra features like soft-close slides are additional, but not mandatory, signs of thoughtful craftsmanship. 

4) Check Your Hardware

     Don’t be so consumed with your cabinet boxes and drawers that you overlook the hardware. Again, check who the hardware manufacturer is and read the reviews on their products. Hinges and handles will get a lot of use and should be made from quality material. Look for real metal instead of imitation metal or plastic. 

The bottom line: Hardware plays an essential role in your cabinet’s functionality. Choose high-quality metals whenever possible, and research the manufacturer for reviews.

5) The Test Of Time

     One advantage of buying used cabinets instead of new is getting the chance to see how your cabinets have held up so far. Recycled cabinets have been lived with for 5, 10, or even 20 years. If, after all that time, they are still in excellent condition, that’s a good indicator you have a quality, long-lasting product. If you’re buying used cabinets, look into all of the things mentioned in this article and examine what you’re getting. How is the finish? Is it solid or chipping? Are the cabinets scratchy, bumpy, or warped in any way? Are the hinges solid or loose? Cheaply made cabinets won’t outlast those made from quality materials from a respected manufacturer. Even if you’re buying new, cabinets on showroom floors that aren’t constructed well will show signs of wear-and-tear much earlier on than their well-made competition (think loose hinges, stuck drawers, etc.).  

The bottom line: If you’re buying recycled cabinets, you have the advantage of the test of time on your side. You can see how the cabinets have faired up to this point and gauge how they will hold up in the future, too. 

     We hope you’ve enjoyed this article on how to spot high-quality kitchen cabinets. If you have any questions, be sure and reach out to us at ben@bensrepurposedcabinetry.com. 

     For more information on what makes high-quality kitchen cabinets check out the articles linked below: 

Quality Cabinets: Fact vs. Fiction

3 Signs You’re Getting Fooled Into Buying Low-Quality Cabinets

Plywood, Particleboard, and MDF: What They Are And The Pros And Cons Of Each For Your Cabinets.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Rule out Particleboard Cabinets

Ready to find your dream kitchen at the best affordable price? Check out our in-stock recycled cabinet sets here.