Measure Your Space for the Cabinets
You’ll eventually want a professional to come to your home and look at your space, but you should measure your area and think about where you might want the new cabinets to fit. With these preliminary measurements in hand, you’ll be able to give more accurate information to the salesman at the home center or kitchen store, and he’ll be able to give you more precise estimates and ideas for your project.
Choose Stock, Semi-Custom, or Custom Cabinets
Stock cabinets are least expensive, are constructed in standard shapes and sizes, and are available in a limited number of woods or styles. Semi-custom cabinets are factory-built in standard sizes, with many options for storage, design and style. The high end of cabinet construction is custom cabinets. They are constructed in either a workroom to designer specifications or on-site in any style and finish.
So Many Options in Cabinet Design
Stock cabinets offer few options beyond drawers and cupboards. But semi-custom and custom cabinets provide endless solutions to your storage needs. Pullout shelves for pans, a lazy Susan, a wine rack, vertical dividers for trays and cookie sheets, an appliance garage, or pullout bins are some of the standard add-ons. If you have a space too narrow for a cabinet and counter, a tall pantry closet provides lots of space, either for pots and pans in the kitchen or towels in the bath.
You Have a Choice in Quality of Cabinets
If you’ll live in the home for a short time, you can select a basic style of cabinets. But if this is going to be your “dream kitchen” or bath, you should look for top-quality construction. Cabinets should have solid frames, door and drawer fronts, reinforced corners and closed backs. Drawers and doors of cabinets will be opened and closed many times a day and should operate smoothly and quietly. The finish on the wood should be smooth.
Choose Your Decorating Style for Your Cabinets
Look in magazines and stores to find what look you like. Stock cabinets come in a limited number of styles, whereas semi-custom and custom cabinets offer more choices. Choose a style that blends well with the architecture of your home as well as the interior design of the other rooms. You can choose natural wood finish in a number of colors and woods, painted or stained, or laminate finished.
That depends entirely on you, your tastes, the style of your home and its furnishings.
Today's truly custom cabinetry can be made of any fine wood depending on that wood's
availability and your price threshold. Certain exotics may be hard to come by due to
protection of the species or even the local political situation and war! The most common
choices for custom cabinets are:
Maple ($$$) - There are more than 10 species of maple in the North and Northwest however, most maple used commercially comes from one of 5 species. The most common being the soft maples. The sapwood is very similar to the heartwood being a creamy color. It is straight grained when plain sawn. It is moderately dense and strong however Rock Maple is denser and stronger. Rock Maple is also redder and is very lustrous. Certain Rock Maple logs are selected and peeled to create the beautiful "birds-eye" figure. Maple finishes very well.
Cherry ($$$) - Sapwood is pinkish in color while the heartwood is a pinkish brown which will grow to red-brown over time and exposure to sunlight. (See the Natural Cherry example) It tends to be straight grained, is moderately dense and strong, and takes finishing very well.
Hickory ($$$) - Sapwood is light colored, the heartwood is reddish-brown, it is dense strong wood, typically straight grained and takes stains well.
Oak ($$) - There are 200 different species of Oak. The most common has light colored sapwood with tan or yellowish brown heartwood. Oak can be straight grained but can often be irregular or cross-grained. When quarter sawn it presents a silvery figure. It is quite dense and strong and takes stain well.
Pine ($$) - Pine can be either white, yellow or ponderosa. White pine is white to straw colored, not very dense, straight grained and takes stain and paint well. Yellow pine is very similar in characteristics to white pine. Ponderosa pine has yellowish sapwood while heartwood is orange to reddish with very prominent resin duct lines. It needs special attention and surface preparation to take stain and paint well.
Paint Grade ($) - Typically Birch, Poplar, Maple or Sycamore.
Mahogany ($$$$$) - Most mahogany comes from the rain forests found on the western coast of Africa. The wood is reddish-brown and the grain is typically interlocked but can be straight. It is a medium density wood but not very strong. It takes stain and polishing very well.
Walnut ($$$$$) - There are many species of walnut, American Walnut being found across North America into South America. The heartwood is dark brown and gets darker with age. It is relatively straight grained but can be wavy. It is a medium density wood but strong. It takes finishing very well. European Walnut is similar in characteristics except that the wood is more gray-brown with a pronounced wavy grain.
Ebony ($$$$$) - Ebony is a generic name for wood species with very dark or black heartwood. African and Indian ebony are common species. Ebony is typically straight grained but can be curly, wavy or irregular. It is very dense and strong but also brittle. Ebony is at its most beautiful polished to a high luster.
To ensure your cabinetry lasts long and looks good for generations to come, general upkeep and cleanliness is very importlant.
Here are some tips to guide you through the proper ways of taking care of your new cabinetry.