Cabinets are part of nearly every room in your home.
Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, or finishing a basement, cabinets are part of the process.
It doesn’t matter if you purchase stock cabinets or custom cabinets, there are a lot of decisions to be made.
The box type, style, door type, accessories, and hardware choices are just a few of the decisions you’ll make to create the storage solutions you need.
We’ve broken down the necessary decisions into seven basic choices to make when buying cabinets to find the best option for your needs and budget.
Different Parts of a Cabinet
The first thing that needs to be covered is the different parts of a cabinet.
When you understand the different parts of a cabinet, you can make informed decisions about the style, design, and function.
Parts of a Cabinet Box
The cabinet box is the outer structure of the cabinet.
The box can be framed or frameless.
Framed cabinets are sturdier but take up more space. Frameless cabinets provide more storage space, but you must have full overlay doors.
The cabinet box supports the cabinet floor, shelves, sides, back, and toe kick (for lower cabinets).
- Sides & Bottom – The sides and bottom of the cabinets determine how big your cabinet will be and how much storage it can support. Cabinets should be no more than 36″ wide, or they will start to bow in the middle.
- Drawer Support – The drawer support refers to the box that serves as a frame for a drawer.
- Stretchers – The top of the cabinet is referred to as stretchers. This serves as the top edge, keeps the sides from bowing, and gives you something to screw the countertop into.
- Toe Kick – The very bottom of the cabinet is recessed to allow room for your feet while you work at the countertop.
Parts of a Cabinet Door: The cabinet door brings many stylistic elements to the cabinet itself and consists of five distinct parts.
- Panel – This is the center flat section of a cabinet door.
- Stile – The stiles are the vertical pieces of a cabinet door frame.
- Rail – These are the horizontal pieces of a cabinet door frame.
- Framing Edge – This is the cut of the outside of the cabinet door frame.
- Framing Bead – Any type of decorative inside edge of the door frame is referred to as the framing bead.
Decision #1 – Types of Cabinets
When you purchase cabinets, the first thing you need to decide on is what production method you want.
Stock: Stock cabinets are those that are premade and sold in the store as-is. They typically come in standard measurements and can be mixed and matched to fit your space. There are no customization options for stock cabinets, what you see is what you get.
Semi-Custom: Semi-custom means cabinetry with the option to change certain options like depth, door and drawer sizes, and door fronts. Semi-custom gives you a few more design options that are more budget-friendly than completely custom cabinets.
Custom: Custom cabinets mean your cabinets are built specifically with your kitchen in mind and can match your style with hundreds of options for layout, color, styles, and finishes. Lead times on custom cabinetry are longer than stock or semi-custom because these cabinets are built from scratch. They are also the most expensive option.
Decision #2 – Sizing
Next up is to decide on the size of cabinetry based on location and use.
Base Cabinets: Base cabinets are strong and sturdy cabinets that support your countertops and provide a majority of your storage space. Base cabinetry can come in many different styles but are typically standard heights between 32-38 inches tall including the countertop.
Wall Cabinets: Wall cabinets hang on the wall above base cabinets to provide easy access to the things you use most. Wall cabinets have a lot of versatility and come in heights anywhere from a small 12-inches to over 40-inches tall.
Tall Cabinets: Typically used for a pantry, garage, utility closets, or other large storage, tall cabinets can be 84, 90, or even 96 inches tall.
With their powers combined, these three cabinet types create all of your comforts and storage needs into one flawlessly functional cabinet design.
Decision #3: Budget
Like everything else in a home renovation, the cost is never exact.
It always depends on several factors.
For cabinets, the single biggest factor in price is the type of cabinet you choose (custom, semi, or stock).
Other things like size, type, style, accessories, and quantity will make a difference too.
Cabinets are measured in linear feet which is calculated by measuring where cabinets are needed and adding the total number of feet together.
Here are the average costs of each type of cabinet based on 25 linear feet.
- Stock: $2,500 – $7,500 (or $100 – $300 per linear foot)
- Semi-Custom: $3,750 – $16,250 (or $150 – $650 per linear foot)
- Custom: $12,500 – $30,000 (or $500 – $1,200 per linear foot)
Decision #4: Cabinet Materials
Once you decide on the type of cabinet, that has a trickle effect on the rest of your decisions. If you choose custom cabinets, then you can select any material whereas if you choose stock, your material choices are limited to what is available.
Hardwood: The wood from leaf-dropping trees is the hardest, strongest and most durable wood for great kitchen cabinets. Examples include oak, maple, hickory, cherry, and alder. Hardwood cabinets are beautiful, but they are subject to humidity changes and are also the most expensive option.
Plywood: This uses lower grade, softer woods glued together to form a strong material that is more cost-effective (and often even stronger) than hardwood. Plywood is relatively easy to work with
Fiberboard: Medium Density Fiberboard or MDF wood is fine wood fibers and glue that have been fused with pressure and heat. The material is strong, relatively inexpensive, and easily accepts veneers and paints well. However, it may struggle in extreme heat and cannot be sanded to repair chips or scratching.
Particle Board: This is basically sawdust and glue that have been fused together with pressure and heat. The material is the most inexpensive, but also the least durable.
Wood Veneer: This is thin sheets of real wood material glued to the MDF cabinetry that gives the appearance of solid wood cabinets without the high cost of hardwood. This option provides great protection against scratching and is very durable, but they are also vulnerable to water damage. Excess water can cause the veneer to bubble and loosen from the adhesive base.
Melamine: This is thin sheets of plastic fused to another material like MDF board. This gives you a scratch and stain-resistant surface and a nearly endless assortment of colors. However, melamine can be heavier and more costly than other materials.
Thermofoil: If you choose MDF, you may also have the option of thermofoil fronts. This adds a thin layer of vinyl vacuum-pressed onto cabinet doors and drawer fronts to create an easy-to-clean, high-gloss finish in a wide range of colors. On the other hand, the high-gloss finish shows fingerprints and scratches easily.
Metal: Most often stainless steel, steel, or aluminum – metal doors are known for their strength and durability. Metal cabinetry is mainly used for basements and garages, but can be used in kitchens to create a specific look.
Decision #5: Cabinet Doors
When someone asks you what type of cabinet door you want, they are mainly referring to these three options.
Partial Overlay: This is when the front of the cabinet partially covers the face of your cabinets’ frames, but not completely. This creates a border between each cabinet unit.
Full Overlay: This larger door design minimizes the exposed framework between each cabinet unit, creating a more seamless profile.
Inset: Inset doors sit flush to the frame and completely expose the face of the cabinet. This door type is best used with traditional kitchen and shaker cabinets.
Once you have chosen the type of cabinet door you want, you can choose the actual style of the door. Some styles may only work with one of the door types.
Shaker: Shaker cabinetry is very popular because its clean and simple lines make them a very versatile option to suit a wide range of styles and budgets.
Louvered: This is a unique style that isn’t used very often but serves an important function. The horizontal wood slats add a distinct look and great ventilation making them an awesome option for laundry rooms or to house electronics that require better heat ventilation.
Flat: For a contemporary or modern home, flat cabinetry provides a sleek look without any unnecessary details. This minimalist design is easy to clean and one of the least expensive options.
Glass: A center glass panel gives a beautiful variety to show off your kitchen tableware or other keepsake items while keeping them protected. They work seamlessly in more modern, minimalist kitchens.
Beadboard: Beadboard is the shiplap of cabinetry. It mimics the shiplap look and is a classic choice for farmhouse or cottage-style kitchens. It can be installed in the back and/or the front panel of cabinets.
Cathedral: The cathedral cabinet features a steep indented arch at the top, resembling a cathedral cut. It is a more old-fashioned style that still works beautifully with traditional home interiors, particularly those with extra tall cabinetry.
Decision #6: Cabinet Hardware
Now that you have picked out your type and style of cabinet, it’s time to decide on the hardware.
This includes hinges, handles, knobs, and pulls. You can use all of one type or you can mix and match.
Knobs: Knobs can be used for both drawers and cabinets. They are installed with a single screw and they are less expensive.
Pulls: Pulls are larger than knobs and make more of a statement. Pulls can be used as a design element to complement the style and shape of your cabinetry.
Your cabinet doors and drawers will range in size so picking the hardware can be a little tricky. There is no one right or wrong way, but generally, here are some ratios to go by.
Small Drawers: For a small drawer, pulls between 3-4” or a 1” knob works best.
Medium Drawers: Any drawer between 12” to 30” needs a pull that is between 4” and 8” long or a large knob up to 1.5” in diameter.
Large Drawers: If you have a drawer that is 30” to 48″ you can use two knobs or pulls, or a pull longer than 8 inches.
Decision #7: Accessories
This is the final decision in the cabinet buying process.
You can add accessories to make your space more functional and custom to your style.
Choose accessories based on what you plan to store in your cabinets.
Pull-out Pantry Drawers: If you don’t have space for a walk-in pantry, this option provides extra deep drawers organized for easy access.
Trash and Recycling Pull-Outs: No need to take up floor space with an unsightly trash can, these necessities can be built into your cabinetry.
Pull-outs for herbs, spices, and oils: These are typically very narrow pull-outs next to the cooking top to make your most-used items easy to reach.
Built-in Utensil Caddies: This insert in a drawer next to the stove is a great way to keep your countertops clear and your accessories within arm’s length.
A Stand Mixer Lift: If you use your mixer frequently, but don’t want to keep it on the counter, this is a great option. A stand mixer lift keeps your machine available when you need it and stashed when you don’t.
Vertical Dividers: This is the ideal solution for storing cutting boards, cookie sheets, pizza stones, and other hard-to-organize items.
Pet Bowl Storage: You can add a special cabinet just for your furry friend that conveniently tucks away food bowls and keeps them out of sight after mealtimes.
Corner Storage: No more digging around in the lost space of the back corner. Today’s cabinets provide convenient options to make the most of your space while maintaining easy access.
Hidden Ironing Board: Ideal for a laundry room, this option allows you to keep your ironing board out of the way when not in use.
Pull Out Cabinet Step Stool: If you’re constantly reaching for a stool or hopping on the countertops, this could be a great option to access all of your cabinetry.
Cutlery and Knife Block Drawer: The cutlery/knife block drawer system replaces the entire drawer and gives you a complete built-in cutlery/knife storage system.
Few things are more rewarding than completing a remodeling project and realizing that all your items have a home.
Good storage allows you to keep your space tidy with ease and provides strategic storage for maximum effectiveness.
Achieving a dream space is about carefully choosing cabinets that fit your needs so that you use your space for what matters most to you.
To start designing your new cabinets, contact Norsemen today.