Choosing High Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets have many purposes. Not only do they hold appliances, dishes, and food, they also bring the essential style to the kitchen. Buying kitchen cabinets can be expensive and difficult, but understanding the different cabinet options on the market and finding reputable kitchen cabinet distributors will be able to get a beautiful kitchen without breaking the bank.

Shaker, flat panels, and raised panels. Pocket and swing doors. Eco-friendly cabinet options. These are all basic things that buyers need to know before finalizing on the kitchen cabinets. These terms may sound complicated, but they are not as intricate as buyers may think.

Door styles include shaker, flat, and inset. Choosing the perfect kind is important since it could be the biggest kitchen expense. Shaker cabinets are the most common door style. It is a five piece flat panel that has a frame made from four pieces and a single flat center panel for the fifth piece.

Flat panel doors are simple and stylish and do not have any expensive details. They contain hard lines and a minimalist form that makes it perfect for contemporary and modern kitchens. Flat panel cabinets work best in modern kitchens. Hardware needs to match this style. Clean and simple pulls look contemporary and work well with this cabinet style.

Inset is one of the most expensive styles on the market but it is a classic door. The door is set inside of the cabinet frame and is constructed with precise measurements so it nests well. Raised panel cabinetry looks best in traditional kitchens. Classic and old world fixtures fit best with this beautiful style.

The cabinets do not have to be traditional wood. Getting glass doors are a great way to open up the kitchen to light and space. Glass doors have some negatives as well. They are easily fingerprinted so require more frequent cleaning. The interior cabinets also need to be organized at all times for aesthetic purposes.

Standard cabinet doors swing, but there are also flip up doors, corner drawers, and pocket doors, can make cabinets more functional. Flip up doors use a hydraulic mechanism to raise the cabinet door up instead of opening them sideways. They are great for specialty areas.

Pocket doors are used to hide the heavily used task and prep areas in the kitchen. Corner drawers are a twist on the corner cabinet that pulls out from the corner. They are fully accessible that allow the difficult corner cabinet to be opened easily.

Open shelving is a great idea to make a kitchen more modern. It is a simple and clean storage style that works well with any home. They exhibit the feel of a lived-in workable space. It makes the kitchen the heart of the home no matter what style the kitchen is.

Adding molding to the cabinet is an easy way to make any kind of cabinet look custom. Adding crown molding to an existing kitchen or edge molding to new cabinets will help the kitchen look more elegant and rich. It is a great addition to do after buying new cabinets for the kitchen.

Decorative supports, aprons, and corbels are great extra features to add to cabinets. They are not standard on most cabinets, but are a great project to add on to the kitchen after installation of the new cabinet. Decorative supports put an artful emphasis on upper cabinets. The supports were originally designed to help support cabinets, but now they only serve as decor.

Corbels are a great focal point to add to make a kitchen more elegant. They work best in island corners. They are very ornate and stand out on kitchen cabinets to draw attention to certain features. The apron is a piece of wood that travels under and around the countertop overhang. A standard apron height is three inches to leave room for legs under the countertop.

How To Be a Smart Shopper When Selecting Kitchen Cabinets

When renovating or remodeling a kitchen your choice of kitchen cabinets might be the most important selection you make. Cabinet selection is important for two reasons.

First, the cabinets you choose for your new kitchen will be the items having the greatest visual impact. In the average kitchen cabinets are mounted on or against at least two walls (or the equivalent), and perhaps more. Cabinets will also create the base for an island, whether designed for cooking or for casual dining. The cabinets you select will establish the design of your kitchen.

Second, the cabinets you select will account for about half of the total cost of your kitchen renovation or remodel. Although you can find and purchase cabinetry in a wide range of price categories, this is an almost universally applicable rule of thumb. Good cabinetry in not inexpensive. Most contractors and kitchen designers will agree that kitchen cabinets are not the place to scrimp when designing a new kitchen. Your cabinets will outlast your kitchen floor, your appliances, and possibly your countertops (depending upon the material you choose).

Characteristics of good kitchen cabinet construction:

  • Avoid drawers held together with glue, nails or staples
  • Avoid drawers made with thin particle board
  • Test the drawers before you buy to be sure they will support about 75 pounds when open
  • The case or cabinet box should be made of wood that is 1/2 inch thick or more on all sides
  • All surfaces of the cabinet should be finished, even the back and the interior sides
  • Kitchen cabinets should have adjustable shelves (this is a clear indication of construction quality)
  • All shelves in kitchen cabinets should be 5/8 inch thick or more, otherwise they will bow
  • Check the quality of the hinges (most should be invisible from the front, no squeaks and no metals that will rust easily) and ensure that doors open completely
  • The very best kitchen cabinets are made entirely of solid wood
  • A plywood box or case with solid wood frames and doors can still be a good quality product
  • Some reliable kitchen cabinets are available at lower cost because they are built with plywood supports and use medium- to high-density particle board for door and drawer fronts. Others use laminate over the particleboard.

Cabinet design installs the cabinet doors in one of two ways. Frameless construction was a very popular adoption from European design in the 60s. The style continues to be very popular in contemporary kitchens. In this style, the door covers the entire box or case of the cabinet. Alternatively, in framed construction, the doors are installed in a way that leaves a frame around the outside of the door. Framed construction is the norm in traditional, country, cottage, and many eclectic kitchen styles.

Ways to purchase kitchen cabinets:

  1. Knock-down cabinets can be purchased and taken home the same day. Many homeowners can install these units themselves. These are the least expensive types of cabinets and can be the perfect choice if you are on a tight budget.
  2. Stock kitchen cabinets are available only in standard sizes and limited styles and finishes because they are mass-produced by the manufacturer. These are also a good option when the budget is tight.
  3. Semi-custom cabinets are also available only in standard sizes. There is a larger selection of styles, finishes, accessories and options. These provide somewhat more flexibility in designing your kitchen.
  4. Custom cabinets, although available from some cabinet companies, are most often purchased from local cabinet makers. These cabinets are made to order and are thus built to the exact specifications of your needs. They are more expensive, but they offer the largest variety in wood, finish, style, size and special and unique details.
  5. Hybrid approaches are also very popular. By working with a cabinetmaker to select the kitchen cabinets you like from a manufacturer. The cabinetmaker then installs the standard size cabinets and customizes others for special sizes and needs, as well as adding personal touches and special features.

Many inserts and built-in features are also available to provide for organization and ease of access to items stored within your kitchen cabinets. From pull-out work surfaces, to drawer fronts for refrigerated drawers, to door covers for nooks for small appliances to wine racks, you can customize your cabinetry in a variety of ways to meet your needs. It is possible to create an appropriately designed cabinet or work surface for every need.

There are also a number of features available or customizable to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. These include lower work surfaces that pull out or that are stationary and leave open space beneath. Pull-out organizers, Lazy Susans and other enhancements to make items readily accessible.

This basic information should help you begin to make decisions about your new kitchen cabinets. Keep in mind when shopping that the appearance of your kitchen renovation will be established to a very large extent by the cabinets you choose. Your cabinetmaker will be able to help you consider the vast range of ways you can customize your cabinets and create a unique kitchen design.

Kitchen Cabinet Installation – Step-By-Step Instructions on How to Install Kitchen Cabinets Yourself

Now that you have your new kitchen cabinets, you are ready to move on to the next big step…..Installing your kitchen cabinets. While the actual installation of the Kitchen Cabinets isn’tall that hard, the critical first step is measuring and marking out where the cabinets will go. By placing layout markings on the walls and floors, it will not only help you with kitchen cabinet placement and stud locations, but it will also help you locate where adjustments and shims will be required. Before we get started there are a couple of items that you will need for the project:

Pencil

Level or Laser Level

Drill

Tape Measure

Stud Finder

Clamps

1″ x 3″ Piece of lumber (6′-8′ in length) or an Inverted U-shaped frame (see notes below)

Shims

Screws (long enough to go 1 1/2 into the studs)

Utility knife or chisel

Marking Compass

An extra set of hands (you may have to bribe one of your friends)

As I mentioned above, you have the option of using a piece of 1′ x 3′ lumber for the installation or building a frame to support the cabinets (I have included a picture of a sample frame below). This can be made out of 2′ x 4’s and should be tall enough to support the bottom of your wall cabinets. If you plan on installing more than one kitchen, then I would suggest the frame, but a piece of lumber will do just fine if this is a one time event. In either case, you will need another set of hands to help with the installation.

In this case we bought (RTA) Ready-To-Assemble Kitchen Cabinets from RTA Kitchen & Bathroom Cabinet Store. Now the kitchen cabinets are assembled, we are ready to start marking out our layout lines. Some people start with the base cabinets, but we are going to start with the wall cabinets first. There is no right or wrong way to start, I just prefer to start with the upper cabinets first.

1. Use a level and a pencil to draw a parallel line across the wall about 3 inches up from the floor. Measure down from this line, to the floor, and find the floors high point (if it has one), and mark a line at that point. From that high point, Measure up 34 1/2 inches and draw a level line across the wall to designate the top of the base cabinets.

2. Now that you have the top of the base cabinets marked, measure up another 19 1/2 inches and a level line across the wall to indicate the bottom of the wall cabinets. Lightly mark each cabinets’ dimensions and placement on the wall to make sure that your original layout is correct.

3. Use a stud finder to locate the wall studs. Use a pencil to mark the stud locations at least 6 inches above and below the line for the bottom of the wall cabinets. Draw straight vertical lines between the top and bottom marks to indicate the center of the studs.

4. If you decided to go with the piece of 1′ x 3′ lumber, now is where you will use (if you decided to go with the U-shaped frame, it will come into play after all your lines are laid out). Screw a temporary 1′ x 3′ support rail to the wall, aligning the top edge of the rail with the line for the bottom edge of the wall cabinets. Attach it by driving 3 or 4 two inch screws through the rail into the wall studs.

5. Now that we have all the lines marked, it is time to start installing your kitchen cabinets. We are going to start with the corner cabinet (here is where your helper’s extra set of hands will be needed). Place the corner cabinet onto the temporary support rail and have your helper hold the corner cabinet in place. Drill pilot holes through the sturdy cabinet back or its support rail and into the wall studs. Screw the cabinet into the wall using two screws that are long enough to penetrate the studs by at least 1 1/2 inches. Check the top of the cabinet for level and the front of the cabinet for plumb. If you have to correct the position, just back the screws out a little bit and top shims behind the cabinet at the stud locations. If it is plumb and level, drive the screws all the way in and add several more into each stud to ensure that the cabinet is secured tightly to the wall.

6. Now we are going to move onto the cabinets on either side of the corner cabinet. As you install each one, use the clamps to secure each cabinet to the neighboring cabinet and then check it for plumb with your level. On faceframe cabinets, it is a good idea to drill two 1/8 inch pilot holes through the sides of the faceframe and use screws. In this case, with frameless, ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets we are going to screw through the plywood sides and use shims in between the cabinets to ensure a tight fit and make sure that the cabinet faces are plumb.

7. After all the wall cabinets are in place, install the corner or end base case cabinet. Use shims where needed to level the cabinet and raise it up to the line which indicates the high point of the floor. Be sure it is level from front to back and from side to side, then screw it to the wall studs. If you don’t have a diagonal corner cabinet or blind base cabinet in the corner, push the adjoining cabinet into place and clamp the two units together. Add a filler strip if needed to allow the doors and drawers enough clearance to open and close properly. If necessary, tap shims under the cabinet and behind it to adjust for plumb and level.

8. Drive screws through the cabinet back (and shims) into the wall studs. Trim any excess material from the shims with a sharp chisel or knife. Continue to add adjoining cabinets in this manner, joining them the same way you connected the wall cabinets in step 6.

9. If your cabinets end up butting against another wall, you may need a filler strip to make up the last few inches. If you have custom cabinets, they should have been built to fill this gap, but if you are using stock or RTA Kitchen Cabinets the filler strip may be needed. If you do need to use a filler strip, leave the last cabinet detached from the other cabinets. Clamp a straightedge to the face of the nearest installed unit, extending far enough for you to put alignment marks on the end wall. Allow a 3/4″ offset behind those marks (for the thickness of the filler piece) and fasten a cleat to the wall. Then install and fasten the last cabinet and measure the gap between its face frame and the wall.

If the wall is flat, simply rip the filler board to the required width and fasten it in place. If the wall is irregular, you’ll have to scribe-fit the filler board. Start by setting a marking compass to the width of the gap, then place a strip of 1″-wide masking tape along the filler board in the area where it needs to be trimmed. Clamp the board to the end cabinet’s face frame, then trace the wall contour with the compass. Remove the board and cut along the scribe line with a jig saw, then reinstall it to check the fit. When it’s right, drive screws through the adjacent face frame into the edge of the filler board. Screw or nail the other side to the cleat.

At this point, your kitchen cabinet installation is complete. If you purchased matching crown molding or any other details, these should be easily installed now. Depending on whether you had to use shims under the base cabinets, you may have to install some trim pieces by the toe kicks to cover up the shims or any gaps at the bottom of the kitchen cabinets.

I hope this helps make your kitchen cabinet installation as smooth as possible. If you need any help with cabinet selection, kitchen layout tips, or ideas for cabinet styles, check out RTA Kitchen & Bathroom Cabinet Store