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As you embark on updating your kitchen or bathroom cabinets, there are numerous decisions to make ... including the cabinet finish/color. Regardless of the finish selected, the application process includes sanding the wood surfaces, applying the finish (stain, paint), sealing the finish, additional sanding, and the application of a topcoat to protect the finish from chemicals, scratches, and wear/tear.
Stain is the most common finishing option for cabinets. Stains come in an almost endless variety of colors and enhance the wood's color and pattern by penetrating into the grain or remaining on the surface. Stain is applied by spraying, wiping, or brushing it onto the wood's surface. The stain's penetration is dependent on the wood's grain structure. For example, hard maple has a dense, tight grain structure, making it difficult for the stain to penetrate deeply. Conversely, soft maple's grain is less dense and more open, allowing the wood to be stained very easily. Stain color is also impacted by the length of time the stain remains on the wood surface.
A painted finish is also a very popular option. In many kitchen remodeling projects, clients are choosing stained cabinets for the perimeter of the room and painted cabinets for the island. Similar to painted finishes, there are numerous color choices for painted cabinets. When choosing a painted finish, it is important to use tight-grained wood ... birch or maple are preferred ... to prevent the grain from showing through the paint. Enamel is used to help ensure a strong, durable finish for the cabinets. A downside to paint is hairline cracks along the joints become visible as the wood expands and contracts from humidity changes.
Glazes are transparent or semi-transparent stains applied late in the finishing process and are most often a complementary color to the base coat. Glazes are applied to both stained and painted finishes, providing character and depth to the finish. During the finishing process, a glaze is applied to the wood surface and then wiped off. While most of the glaze is removed, a portion remains in the cabinet grooves/molding details and in any natural wood imperfections. Alternatively, the glaze can be applied only in the grooves or corners.
Distressing artificially ages the wood to creat a look consistent with a period of time. Distressing comes in a variety of forms, including a crackle finish to mimic cracks in painted finishes, dings and dents to simulate wear/tear, rubbing through the finish to create a worn effect, and randomly placed worm holes.
Thermofoil finish is the application of a plastic laminate coating to engineered furniture board. The laminate finish can be applied to a variety of door/drawer shapes and profiles. Thermofoil provides a strong durable finish. However, thermofoil comes in a limited number of color choices and if damaged, is difficult to repair.
Finally, stainless steel can be used to create a very contemporary look. In this situation, stainless steel is applied over wood frames, so the door style choices are more limited. Stainless steel is a very durable and easy to clean finish.
Updating kitchen and bathroom cabinetry remains an excellent way to improve your home's value and appearance. Cabinetry is available in a wide assortment of styles, wood species, and finishes. Cabinets also come in a range of prices, providing options to fit the budget of every remodeling project. When planning a kitchen or bathroom renovation, cabinet options, construction and pricing needs to be considered to make the best investment for your home. To help, this post provides a summary explaining the characteristics of custom, semi-custom, and stock cabinetry.
Custom Cabinets give the greatest number of options for your project. They have an almost endless number of choices, allowing the bath or kitchen design to be limited only by your imagination. Custom cabinets provide unique products not typically available in semi-custom or stock cabinetry lines.
Current design trends make cabinets resemble furniture. The picture below shows a refrigerator designed to look like an furniture armoire. Custom cabinets can be designed and configured to "create" furniture, match existing designs and colors, or fit into unique spaces. Custom cabinets are typically constructed from plywood with solid wood face frames/doors/drawerheads, maple dovetail drawer construction and soft close hardware. The finishes can involve up to 25 steps to prepare, stain, and seal the wood for a lasting finish.
From a cost perspective, custom cabinets are the most expensive. However, the higher cost provides the most product and design options, an extremely high level of quality, and usually hand-rubbed finishes.
Semi-Custom Cabinets also come in a wide variety of styles and options. While not as adaptable as the cusom offerings, they still offer plenty of choices to meet the needs of home remodeling projects. Features standard on custom cabinets can be options, with additional cost, on semi-custom cabinetry.
Construction for semi-custom cabinet boxes may utilize furniture board or plywood, depending on the manufacturer and their options. Face frames, doors, and drawerheads are typically solid wood. Drawer boxes are usually made from solid maple and joined with dovetail joints. Delivery times for semi-custom products are shorter than custom, allowing for faster completion of home improvement projects.
Overall, semi-custom products provide a substantial number of options and choices, but at a lower cost than custom cabinets.
Stock Cabinets allow homeowners to add value without spending a significant amount of money. Stock lines have a variety of door styles, wood choices, and finishes. However, the selection is not as wide as custom or semi-custom lines. For example, the number of white paint options could range from 2 for stock cabinets to 8 for semi-custom lines to an almost limitless selection for custom. A more limited choice of cabinet configurations will reduce the amount of customization, or unique elements of a kitchen remodeling project. Similar to comments above, features that are standard on custom or semi-custom lines are often an upcharge on stock cabinets. Depending on the project, semi-custom cabinetry may be cheaper than stock cabinets if a number of options are chosen.
While construction of stock cabinets is similar, the materials might be slightly thinner (1/2" versus 3/4") or use a different material (furniture board versus plywood). Face frames and drawerheads are still primarily made from solid wood. Doors are usually solid wood, but could include veneer-covered plywood. Specifics will depend on the manufacturer. Solid maple drawer boxes with dovetail joints are usually an option with finishes applied in fewer steps on a production line.
Even though stock cabinets have more limited variety, they remain an excellent option for use in many renovation projects.
If you have cabinet questions or are considering a home remodeling project, Spiceland Wood Products would be happy to help you answer questions on cabinet options or show you the differences discussed above.
This is the final installment of options to better organize your kitchen. Read on for more information on wastebaskets and knife storage.
Wastebasket Pullout: How many times do you wish your kitchen wastebasket was out of sight? You can hide it. In almost all of our kitchen designs, we include a wastebasket pullout. Placing the wastebasket inside a cabinet keeps it readily accessible, while making it invisible when not in use. The pullout typically has two wastebaskets ... one for trash and one for recycling. This accessory can also be incorporated in other cabinets throughout your home, including the laundry room, bar and home office.
Knife Storage: Have you ever reached into a cabinet drawer and gotten stabbed by one of the knives stored there? Accessories are available to solve your knife storage ... keeping them organized, covering their sharp edges / points, and preventing damage to other utensils in the drawer.