Shopping for Kitchen Cabinets? Here are Some Basic Shopping Tips

Shopping for kitchen cabinets? A kitchen renovation breathes new life into your home; cabinetry plays a key role in how the room looks and how your kitchen functions. Even if you’re not doing a full kitchen renovation, you can update the space by replacing the cabinets for a fresh, custom look.

As you shop around, here are some features of kitchen cabinetry to keep in mind.

Five-piece drawer fronts vs. slab fronts

Five-piece cabinet drawer fronts comprise five pieces of wood: the center panel and the four surrounding pieces that create a frame around that center panel. Looking at the drawer front, the two side pieces of the frame are called the stiles; the top and bottom parts are the rails. The center panel can be fabricated in many beautiful styles and different profiles to satisfy a range of tastes, from country farmhouse to traditional.

Slab drawer fronts (also called solid drawer fronts) are simpler, made as a single flat panel without decorative elements. Their streamlined look helps make the hardware stand out as a focal point. They are almost always the less expensive option for drawer fronts as well.

The different wood species offered for kitchen cabinetry

Kitchen cabinets are made in hard woods and soft woods, each with their own range of colors and grain patterns, and each best suited to different cabinet styles from transitional to traditional to contemporary. The most common species used are maple, oak, birch, cherry, alder, and hickory. Some custom cabinet lines may include walnut and beech, and rift-cut woods that offer a unique linear appearance. While not wood in the same way, other options are MDF (medium-density fiberboard which gives you the high-end look of wood for less money) and specialty faux veneers.

The difference between MDF and plywood cabinet construction

An MDF cabinet box has backs and sides made of wood fibers that are bonded by synthetic resin and compressed through pressure and heat, resulting in a solid, uniform board with good finish and durability. It is less vulnerable than plywood to expansion and contraction, and is typically more budget friendly.

Plywood-constructed cabinet boxes are made of thin overlapping wood sheets that are glued perpendicularly (or cross-laminated, meaning the sheets are rotated every layer and glued) and heat pressed. Plywood is strong, structurally stable, and lighter than particleboard. This option is often more sought after and is considered an upgrade in most cabinet lines while it is the standard in others.

More Shopping Tips: The differences between inset, framed, and frameless cabinets

custom kitchen cabinetsThe three main types of cabinets are called inset, framed, and frameless.

  • In an Inset cabinet, the door and drawer sit within the frame of the cabinet for a flush look when the cabinet is closed. A more custom high-end option, this inset cabinets work well for homeowners with ample storage available because this style offers less space within the cabinet’s interior. It is also a good choice for those who prefer a more historic, rustic, or old-world charm look.
  • Framed cabinets are more common and offer more options in terms of sizes and modifications. A solid wood face frame is added between the door and cabinet box of the framed cabinet. The face frames make for easier installation and adjustments of the doors and drawers than frameless cabinets.
  • Frameless cabinets—which are popular in Europe—have a sleeker look. They offer a larger drawer box capacity with full access to the cabinet interior.

At Affordable Granite and Cabinetry, our sales team can explain the differences between the various cabinet boxes, doors and drawers, and show you all the options available in wood and MDF cabinetry from some of the most popular brands on the market. We make shopping for cabinets a pleasure! Contact us at (845) 564-0500 to set up a private consultation in our Fishkill showroom, and we’ll help you bring your custom dream kitchen to life.