Lower‐quality cabinetry may look good on display and after the initial installation, but it won’t be long before some of the common signs of poor quality start to show up. These signs include door joints opening up, doors sagging or falling off the hinges, doors not closing properly, misalignment of the cabinetry (not square), sagging shelves, drawer guides sticking, and the finish or overall appearance looking worn after only a couple of years of use.

Many of the quality issues are related to the material and construction methods used. The irony in all of this is that it really doesn’t cost more to buy higher‐quality cabinetry, especially when you consider the headaches and lifetime cost associated with buying cheaper cabinets that must be repaired often or replaced too soon after purchase.

This is an overview of the components and elements of a cabinet’s case—the sides, top, bottom, and back—that reveal and affect its true quality.

  • Material used. Veneer core plywood is best. Stronger, more durable, more stable and less susceptible to moisture.
  • Thickness. Many products scrimp on the thickness of the case material. Review the thickness of the sides (ends). These should be at least 1⁄2 inch thick in cabinets with unfinished ends and 3⁄4 on a finished end. 3/8” and 5/8” are flimsy and not substantial enough to hold together. Always inquire about back and bottom thickness. You may be surprised to learn that 1/8‐inch backs are common. Be sure that the backs are at least 1⁄4 inch and have integrated hanging rails.
  • Construction methods. The bottoms, sides and top should be integrated together through a method of tongue‐and‐groove, dado or similar fashion. Face frame cabinetry should have the frame and box integrated together for maximum strength. Having an integrated back rail is especially important, since wall cabinets are hung from there. If the back rail is not integrated into the back panel and the sides, there is a greater chance the cabinetry could fall, leaving the back panel on the wall.
  • Tight joints. Check the tightness of the joints on the face frames and doors. These joints should be closed and not have open cracks.
  • Center panels. The center panels of the doors should not rattle when they close against the front of the cabinetry.
  • Drawer boxes. Well‐constructed drawers should be English dovetailed as a five‐piece drawer box—two sides, front, back, bottom. It is important to have at least 1⁄4” plywood bottoms for drawers.

Going hand‐in‐hand with proper construction is the importance of a good warranty, so be sure to ask about this. With proper maintenance and care, backed by a solid manufacturer’s warranty, your cabinetry should long continue to look as good and perform as well as it did on the day it was installed.

Your interior designer at BHR Home Remodeling and Interior Design will work with you to ensure you select the best cabinets for your space. Contact us at (908) 273‐9011 to make an appointment to discuss your needs.