Anyone who has ever worked on a construction project knows that during the construction phases there are a lot of opinions floating around about everything from the design and layout of the structure to the quality of the materials being used. Most of the time, the homeowners are not present to hear these opinions, and sadly, many may never get quality info on these subjects. Without pointing fingers to blame anyone in this information gap, it is important to note that ultimately, the persons most invested in closing this information gap are the same persons who need to be proactive about the choices in the project by asking thorough questions- the homeowner.
Just this week on one of our projects, we installed a beautiful Paperstone countertop on what appeared to be very handsome cabinets. That appearance, however, can be very misleading. Statistics show the top two factors influencing a cabinet purchase are looks and cost. Here lies the problem. Creating good-looking cabinets can be very easy and inexpensive. Like humans, the appearance of cabinets change with age and those cabinets that aren’t made strong, that aren’t…fit, get old and tired looking. Cheap cabinets go this route very quickly. Installing counter-tops we can easily identify just how quickly. This past weeks project involved placing counter-tops on very low-grade standardized cabinets. We immediately noticed the lack of quality because the boxes, made from 1/2″ thick plywood and particle board offered no place to secure the kitchen island. This presented little problem with the cabinetry butted against the back wall where simply gluing the counter-top to the boxes and scribing it to the wall was sufficient. However, the island with an overhanging counter-top required brackets to support the counter-top. Not due to a lack of strength in the solid surface material, but a hazard created by the cantilever. Should someone step on the end of that island to replace a light bulb the glue might very easily fail and…you know the rest of the story. Unfortunately,the 1/2 thick plywood and particle board also nullified the opportunity to install L-clips for securing the countertop; their just wasn’t enough material to get a screw into and the material itself was suspect. Ultimately, the builder will need to install brackets mounted to the outside of the cabinet boxes to secure the top properly, something that may or may not look nice.
This could all be easily avoided. First off, don’t buy cabinets based merely on cost and appearance. Cost and appearance only tell half of the story. Custom cabinetry by a good cabinet-maker is better than standardized cabinetry and it always offers the opportunity to ask questions about how the cabinets are made. If custom cabinetry exceeds your means, find a quality standardized cabinet manufacturer like Breathe Easy that builds a durable product using such materials as 3/4″ (minimum) plywood boxes. Ask a lot of questions. Find out how the cabinets are made. Focus on quality first, and let price and appearance come next. Nobody can afford a cabinet that resembles a tired old man after 5 years.