Select the Best Cabinets for Your Custom Home or Renovation

09:42 Sep 2018
Houston Home Remodeling

Regardless if you are selecting cabinetry for building a new custom home or a planned home renovation project, kitchen and bath cabinets will be one of the most expensive single line items you will be required to select. They typically will represent 40% – 50% of the entire kitchen budget. High quality custom kitchen cabinets have a large price range from $250/lf to $1200/lf. There are many features and construction characteristics that separate quality grades of cabinetry and justify this vast price range.

Cabinetry comes in many different design styles and finishes that have a huge impact on the design theme of the home cabinets are a must for homes valued north of $750,000. Cutting cost corners or following ill-advised advice will likely cost you far more then the upgrade price of a premium cabinet in the aftermarket sales price.

Architectural Design Styles

The cabinetry door selection process normally starts with identifying the appropriate design style that compliments your homes architectural design theme. Generally these door styles can be classified in one of four architectural design categories, Casual, Traditional, Rustic and Contemporary. Although the more popular door styles are widely used in almost all design categories, there are a few that may ultimately reduce a larger percentage of future buyers.

These are some of the most common cabinet door styles;

  • Shaker Style – This type of door stile is simplistic in design consisting in a flat panel door with the door rail and door stile framing the flat insert panel. The outer edges of the door frame edge is a simple 90 degree angle to the door panel for greater depth. This door style can used in almost all architectural design themes. They can be built in a stain grade material like oak, maple or in paint grade materials like popular.
  • Insert Panel Mold Style – These styles of doors are one of the most frequently selected door styles used. There are hundreds of different patterns that can be designed. The insert panel molding style is generally referred to as a raised panel door. The actual design style of the raised panel reflects the architectural flavor of the room space. These doors can also be built from most wood species and stained or painted. One of the great benefits of this door style is that it will also blend with all architectural design themes.
  • Glass Insert Styles – In contemporary and some accent cabinet door for traditional styles, glass insert doors have gained in popularity over the past couple of decades. Commonly used for china display cabinets, this style of door has shown to be very catching in wall cabinets in kitchens.
  • Louvered Style – This door style consist of horizontal slats bordered by both door edge stiles. This is most regularly used in older traditional styled homes and has lost favor in popularity over the past 4 decades. This style of door is both painted and stained during finishing.
  • Flat Style – This door and drawer style is flat as its name represents. There is no separate door stile or rail. The style is often represented in a contemporary style called European style. They are flat doors with either square or rounded edges. This style of door and drawer require the cabinet to be frameless construction.
  • Distressed Style – Represents more of an old world look or antique cabinet finish. Often with an oil rubbed corners and edges. This is popular with Mediterranean style and older European style architecture designs. Although this is technically a finish rather than an actual door style, the application requires a rich wood species to be appropriately profiled.
  • Beadboard Style – Is a cottage door style that is much like a reverse board and baton look. It has a shaker style frame but the panel insert is in the beadboard style. This type of door style is most commonly used in rustic or casual architectural design themes. Although it is infrequently used with stained wood look, the cabinet finish is commonly a enamel paint finish.
  • Thermofoil Style – Is a MDF core material wrapped in a plastic type coating and baked on at high temperatures to make an impervious surface. Most frequently the thermofoil style has a high sheen gloss finish. This is why it is best suited for a finished look over a MDF material. Appling this over hardwood grains enhances any imperfections that be reflected in natural wood.

Houston Home Remodeling

Cabinetry Construction

Frameless Cabinets

There are generally 2 types of cabinet construction methods that are widely used. Framed and frameless cabinets. Framed cabinets or full access cabinetry provides the owner a greater amount of accessibility to the cabinet space. This method of construction is very common on an European cabinetry style.

This method requires thinker width in box materials because this method of construction eliminates the face framing. The doors and drawers are built to overlap the open area of the cabinet box face and usually only allow less than 3/16″gap between them. This is a more expensive method of construction then framed face due to the expense of materials and required craftsmanship. There are also additional cost required for door hinges that need to be extendable to allow the door to swing away from the cabinet box opening, so to allow it to open without binding on the edge of the box.

The expense associated with this method of cabinet construction is also the requirements of the wood species used to build the cabinet and the doors. If a stain finish is going to be used, then it is a best practice to use wood species such as oak, maple and cherry. The rarer the species of hardwood specified to be used will increase the price even more. These would include hardwoods such as walnut, mahogany and hickory. If painting the cabinets is the finish look you are seeking, then it makes sense to use a lesser cost lumber that has less grain activity such as poplar, pine and birch.

Framed Cabinets

A faced framed cabinet is just what it sounds like. It consist of a 1-1/2″ x 3/4″ framing on the face of the cabinet box. This method allows cabinet builders to use cheaper materials for the actual cabinet construction. A cost effective material commonly used is called melamine plywood. This is a prefinished plastic type substance applied to the surface of the plywood. This allows a finished surface to be used saving on the wood finishing step. MDF is not recommended for frameless cabinets because it places stress on the hinge screws and can cause the screws to strip.

The frameless cabinet method is most frequently used for production cabinetry. The doors and drawers can be easily standardized in size due to the greater tolerance in the size of the gap between doors and drawers. The face framing allows to use particle board instead of plywood during construction.

Drawer Construction

There are varies ways of building cabinet drawers. The expensive methods involve creating mechanical wood connections at the joints. Some of these methods are French dovetail joints and English dovetail joints. These require slotting the edges of the sides of the drawer and mechanically interconnecting them.

The drawer faces are then connected to the front of the drawer box with varies types of screws and glue. The deeper the cabinet drawer the greater need for thicker side rails and beefier slide guides to allow the drawer to be pulled out.


Cabinet hardware is an essential requirement for cabinetry. This includes hinges, drawer guides, adjustable shelf pins and door & drawer pulls. As with cabinetry there are various products at many different price ranges. We have discussed briefly the need for European hinges on frameless cabinets. Blum hinges are considered to be one of the gold standards for door hinges and have up to 7 adjustment screws for proper alignment. There are two other features worth mentioning in this class. They are soft close hinges and soft close drawer glides.

Soft close hinges are in fact an European hinge that do not slam shut when closing a door. Once initiated to close the door having a soft close hinge slowly completes the task gently. These hinges can be used on both frameless and faced framed cabinets.

Soft close drawer glides function principally the same as soft closing hinges. They have a ball bearing extension slide glide that allow a drawer to move effortlessly and slowly into a closing position without slamming.

Cabinets are a critical decision during a home remodeling or custom home building project. This fact is even more significant when you consider that most buyers make much of their buying decision on the features of a kitchen and bathroom. Do your homework and choose wisely.


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