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Factors to Consider When Shopping for Kitchen Cabinets

Jul 21, 2008
The durability and life span of your kitchen cabinets is going to depend on several factors. While most cabinets are built to withstand average wear and tear, the question then becomes... what is considered normal wear and tear? In a household with children and pets, the cabinets are going to receive considerably more use and abuse than the same cabinets in the house of single homeowner. So what features are going to affect the life span of your cabinets? Here are the important features.

1) Cabinet Box Construction- There are a wide variety of materials use to build cabinets, with a significant difference in durability. Custom cabinets will most likely use solid wood, but the most commonly used materials are plywood and particleboard. Plywood in some cases will be stronger than real wood because it is multiple layers of wood with the grain laid in varying directions to add strength. Particleboard and Flakeboard will hold up as long as the hardware used to attach the cabinets does shift or move. Particleboard will have a tendency to sag or break because it is bonded flakes or chips of wood. At the lower end of the spectrum is fiberboard, which is really just a thicker cardboard. The construction materials will have the biggest impact of anything on the life of your cabinets.

2) Cabinet fasteners- What is used to hold the cabinets together will also have a big impact on how the cabinets hold up. Fasteners can be just as varied as the types of materials used. Anything from dovetailed joints, screws, cam locks, nails, or even staples are used to hold cabinets together. Dovetailed joints are going to give you best bond. When combined with wood glue, your cabinets could easily last a lifetime. Cam locks also offer a very strong bond and are usually featured on RTA Cabinets. Lower end cabinets will tend to use only screws or only staples. While these may create a strong bond with real wood, when you start talking about particleboard and fiberboard, the joints will tend to pull apart.

3) Cabinet hardware- While the hardware can easily be replaced on most cabinets, it will still have an impact on the durability of the cabinets. The hinges for the doors and even the drawer slides could affect the usefulness and life of your kitchen cabinets. By not using the appropriate hinges and slides, it could result in damage to the cabinets.

So when shopping for kitchen cabinets, keep these three features in mind before choosing which cabinets to buy. While you always want to save as much money as possible, low end materials, fasteners or hardware can significantly reduce the life of your cabinets.
About the Author
Find out where the experts go to get all of their kitchen cabinets and accessories. Learn how to save thousand on kitchen cabinets by buying them where contractors and builders shop.
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