Quality-Made Cabinets: Fact vs. Fiction

Remodeling your kitchen comes with plenty of choices, but quality shouldn’t be one of them. Meaning no matter the style or features you choose for your cabinets, they need to last a lifetime. Period. Even though quality is non-negotiable, there are still quite a few misconceptions about what makes cabinets long-lasting. This article debunks 4 common myths you’ve likely run across and separates the junk from the treasure.

pinitMyth #1: Plywood Is Always Better Than Particleboard

Fact: Not all plywood is created equal, and the same goes for particleboard. Some people put emphasis on the type of material, but the quality of that material and how the cabinets are built is what matters.

If you hear the word particleboard and cringe, you’re not alone. It often gets a bad name because it brings to mind poorly-constructed, mass-produced particleboard cabinets. Nobody wants that. Many respected cabinet makers use particleboard, however, and it isn’t the flimsy stuff you’re thinking of. North American or European-made, furniture-grade, thick particleboard is a popular choice you’ll see in many high-end cabinets because it has an even surface that resists warping. This is especially important when it comes to your cabinet doors, which don’t have much holding them in place and keeping them from twisting and turning in a natural way. If you use a material that warps (and plywood does) for your doors, you can expect them to be wonky and warbled.

There are different grades of plywood, too, with A-grade being the highest quality. Plywood is most sought after for being water-resistant, an important trait in a busy kitchen. But well-constructed particleboard cabinets will have a lacquer or finish that makes them just as water-resistant. Or, you can prop your bottom cabinets up on feet if major wetness/flooding is a concern.

We wrote a whole post on the pros and cons of plywood, particleboard, and MDF, so if you want to dive deeper into this subject, click here (coming soon!).

The main thing to remember is this: Don’t assume plywood is always best and automatically rule out particleboard. It’s all about the quality of the material and the construction that holds it together. When in doubt, ask the manufacturer what grade material they use. If you want more details on what to look for when spotting quality construction, check out How to Spot High-Quality Kitchen Cabinets.

Myth #2 Fancy Features = A Quality Product

Fact: Are soft-close hinges nice? You bet. Are contemporary-style doors beautiful? Of course. Do these things mean your cabinets are high-quality? Not necessarily. We might sound like a broken record here, but don’t let the bells and whistles distract you from what matters: the quality of the construction and the materials. Are there locking joints in those drawers and cabinet boxes so they won’t fall apart? What about brace beams in your cabinet boxes for extra support? Who manufactured those cabinets, and what grade of material do these use?

Choose some styles and features you’d like your cabinets to have, then research which manufacturers are known for creating a fantastic product in those styles. Pro tip: A good indicator of a good manufacturer that believes in their product is a lifetime warranty.

The main thing to remember is this: When looking for cabinets, don’t settle for nice features alone. They add flair and can be important, but only after you’re sure they’re part of a quality product that will stand up against the test of time.

Myth #3 Only Dovetail Drawers Will Do

Fact: We often have customers on the search for dovetail drawers, and we can see why! This type of joint construction is virtually indestructible. The drawer sides lock together like a puzzle, making a sturdy and robust space to house your belongings. The good news is if you don’t see a dovetail joint, this doesn’t necessarily mean your drawers aren’t “locked” solid. There are also dado joints and dowelled joints, for example. As long as the two pieces lock together somehow and aren’t merely held by nails, screws, staples, or glue alone, you’re on the right track. Also, consider the thickness of the bottom of your drawers (thicker is better) and how it is attached to the sides (again, glue or staples alone won’t cut it.) When there aren’t dovetail joints, look for another locking construction, such as a drawer bottom that is dowelled to all four sides.

The main thing to remember is this: If you’re looking for dovetail joints, you understand that quality construction matters. But dovetail isn’t the only indicator of this. Make sure your drawer sides “lock” together somehow, that the bottom is thick and locks into the sides, and if the drawers are made out of solid wood too, you’ve found the right product. (Drawers with metal sides are another durable construction method you might come across.)

Myth #4 Framed Cabinets are Higher Quality than Frameless

Fact: This one is simply not true! Framed or frameless is merely a choice in aesthetics, and you can find quality-made cabinets in both styles. If you prefer the look of one over another, as always, check into the manufacturer (some may specialize in a particular style) and ask about the quality of materials they use. Next, look into the little details that went into the construction (you can read more about that in How to Spot High-Quality Kitchen Cabinets). This is good news because you can have the design you prefer and a high-quality product whether you lean toward framed or frameless.

The main thing to remember is this: Anyone trying to convince you that either framed or frameless is the way to go is talking about style alone. Quality comes in the form of the materials and how the cabinets are made and can be found in both looks.

There you have it! Do you have any questions on what makes a quality cabinet or myths you want us to look into or debunk on the topic? Let us know by sending a message to ben@bensrepurposedcabinetry.com.

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

How to Spot High-Quality Kitchen Cabinets

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

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