Home Remodeling – Essential Knowledge

Kitchen Cabinet Selection




kitchen cabinets

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Selecting the Best Kitchen Cabinets for Your Remodel

Choosing the right cabinets for your kitchen remodel is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. This is because the cabinets are the foundation for the functionality and look of the kitchen. They are also usually the most expensive component of a kitchen remodel.

This post offers analysis and tips to help you make the right decision for your kitchen.

Understanding the Different Types of Kitchen Cabinets

Here we discuss the types of cabinets available and their pros and cons.

Custom Cabinets

A local cabinet maker will make these cabinets by hand. He will do this partially at his own shop and partially on-site. And the cabinets will be made to meet the exact specifications demanded by your kitchen design. So it is also essential that you involve a professional designer in this.

Pros of Custom Cabinets
  1. Unique design: you will get a unique and personalized look, tailored to your specific taste and kitchen layout.
  2. Perfect fit: the cabinets will fit perfectly because they are built to the exact measurements of your kitchen. So you will end up with optimal space utilization and a seamless look.
  3. Quality materials: the cabinet maker typically uses premium quality materials, such as solid wood and custom finishes. So you will get a durable and beautiful result.
  4. Customized storage solutions: you can include specialized storage solutions from the beginning. These would be things like pull-out shelves, lazy susans, soft-close doors, and soft-close drawers.
  5. Increased value: future potential buyers may see custom cabinets as a premium feature
Cons of Custom Cabinets
  1. More expensive than pre-manufactured cabinets.
  2. Longer delivery time.
  3. Require a professional cabinet maker and a professional designer. 

Generally, custom cabinets are a waste of time and money. They also involve potential aggravation in having to work with the professionals involved in the process.  A good and creative cabinet installer can deliver just as good a result working with other types of cabinetry.

But if the budget is of no consequence and you have a trusted interior designer/general contractor to handle all the details for you, knock yourself out.

Semi-Custom Cabinets

These are pre-manufactured cabinets that are modified to meet the specific needs and specifications of your kitchen. Such modifications include size, style, and color. And you can add such features as pull-out shelves or soft-close doors.

Pros of Semi-Custom Cabinets
  1. Increased customization over straight pre-manufactured cabinets, so you can add your own personalization to the kitchen.
  2. Improved fit: They can be adjusted to fit the specific measurements of your kitchen, providing a better fit and a seamless look.
  3. Shorter lead time than custom-made cabinets. This is because they are ready to ship quickly.
  4. More affordable than custom-made cabinets.
Cons of Semi-Custom Cabinets

Relatively limited in materials and finishes when compared to custom cabinets. But in our opinion, this is not a major factor.

Stock Cabinets

These are pre-manufactured cabinets that are readily available for purchase, often in standard sizes and finishes. You will find these in big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot.

Pros of Stock Cabinets
  1. Affordability: They are generally the most affordable option for kitchen remodeling. But you need to balance this against the potential of RTA cabinets (see below)
  2. Immediate availability: You may be able to pick them up on the same day. This makes them a good option for people in a hurry to complete their kitchen remodel.
  3. Standard sizes: This makes them easier to plan for
  4. Wide range of styles: This generally makes it fairly easy to find a style and look that you will like for your kitchen.
Cons of Stock Cabinets

Stock cabinets have limitations when it comes to customization, finishes, materials, and hardware. Also, affordability can come at the cost of quality and durability.

Ready-to-Assemble (RTA) Cabinets

These are a type of cabinet that is shipped in pieces and assembled on-site. They are a popular choice for people looking for a cost-effective and customizable solution for a kitchen remodel.

Pros of RTA Cabinets
  1. Affordability: Usually less expensive than semi-custom cabinets. They may be on a par cost-wise with stock cabinets.
  2. Can be customized to fit the requirements of your kitchen and can give you a look you will like.
  3. Typically have a shorter lead time than custom and semi-custom cabinets.
  4. Wide range of styles.
Cons of RTA Cabinets

They require a certain level of skill and knowledge to assemble. And they may not be as durable or long-lasting as other cabinet options. 

Our Overall Assessment of Cabinet Types

Provided you have basic DIY skills and can handle the maneuvering of pieces of furniture and you have some space to work in, the RTA cabinet is a great way to save significant money and get good results. 

No matter which route you want to take, having on your team a really good cabinet installer will make all the difference. These are expert finish carpenters and can often do with cabinetry what looks like magic.

Greenguard: Low Emission Cabinetry

When you are choosing your cabinets, pay attention to the materials used in their construction.

Look for the Greenguard logo and certification  This ensures that the cabinets have been independently tested and verified to meet rigorous emissions standards. There may be some additional costs but balance this against improved air quality in your home over time. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Kitchen Cabinets

Integration with Layout and Appliances

You must be sure that your cabinets and appliances work together, both practically and aesthetically. To make sure this happens, this is the order of your decision-making:

  • First, determine your kitchen layout.
  • Second, pick out your appliances
  • Third, pick out your cabinets.

Doing this will Ensure:

  1. Best aesthetic result: integrating cabinets with appliances creates a smooth and continuous look.
  2. Best functionality: Integrating cabinets with appliances helps maximize usable kitchen space and makes it easier to use appliances.
  3. Enhanced organization: Integrating cabinets with appliances helps keep the kitchen better organized.
  4. Increased durability: Integrating cabinets with appliances helps protect appliances from damage and wear and tear.

Proper integration requires careful planning and careful execution. But this kind of attention to detail results in a beautiful, functional, and organized kitchen.

Work Triangle

We discuss this elsewhere but it is an essential part of kitchen cabinet layout. The “work triangle” is a concept in kitchen design that describes the proper relationship between the three most used areas in the kitchen: the refrigerator, the sink, and the range/cooktop.

When you lay out the kitchen cabinets, it is vital to accommodate a properly functioning work triangle.

Storage Options

When designing your kitchen cabinetry, consider the following important storage options:

  1. Drawers: These provide easy access to kitchen utensils and give you a good visual of them. They can be installed at different heights and equipped with different types of user-friendly hardware, such as soft-close mechanisms. And remember that, in balancing the relative volume of drawers to open cabinets, drawers are a much more efficient use of space.
  2. Pull-out shelves: These make it easier to access items stored in the back of cabinets. They can also be equipped with soft-close mechanisms.
  3. Lazy Susans: These are rotating storage trays that make it easy to access items stored in difficult-to-reach parts of corner cabinets. 
  4. Open shelving: This is considered a stylish storage option. But, in our opinion, it is a fad and fit only for easy access to cookbooks.
  5. Glass-front cabinets: These are stylish and functional and give a light and airy feel to a kitchen. 

Pull-Out Organizers

Pull-out organizers help to maximize the space in kitchen cabinets and make it easier to access items stored inside. They can be put in base cabinets, pantry cabinets, and upper cabinets. And they come in the form of baskets, shelves, trays, and waste bins.

Adjustable Shelving

Adjustable shelving allows for a change in the height of shelves within cabinets to accommodate different types of items. This makes for:

  • Space optimization
  • Increased functionality
  • Cost-effectiveness


The material used in the construction of kitchen cabinets has a significant impact on the look, durability, and cost of the cabinets. These materials include:

  • Wood: chosen for its natural beauty and versatility, species of wood used include oak, maple, cherry, and birch. 
  • Laminate: a synthetic material that can be made to simulate other types of material. It is cost-effective but with limitations as to durability.
  • MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard): has stability, strength, and versatility. It can be painted or stained for the desired look.
  • Metal: This is a special application type of material. It is durable but expensive and rarely used in domestic kitchens.
  • Glass: This is only used for cabinet fronts

Cabinets can be built using a combination of these materials. For example, you can have MDF-based boxes with wood fronts.

Door Style

Popular door styles include:

  • Shaker: Simple lines and recessed center panels. 
  • Craftsman (Mission): A simple cabinet style with tongue-and-groove joinery, featuring three vertical stiles on the door.
  • Flat-Panel (Slab): These have single-board doors without frames, panels, or ornamentation. Typically made from MDF.
  • Beadboard: These feature vertical panels with uniform beads and recessed lines. Used in country-style kitchens.
  • Handle-Free: Cabinets operate using groove, channel, lip, or finger-pull functions, or by installing a push or tap latch system.
  • Raised-Panel (Traditional): The raised center panels are designed to show off the grain of the wood they are made from.

Color and Finish

The color and finish of cabinets play a major role in the look and feel of your kitchen. Popular color options include:

  1. Natural Wood: Oak and cherry are popular for their warmth and versatility. They can be stained or painted to match any kitchen style. But, in our opinion, this is an expensive mistake because it hides the natural beauty of the wood.
  2. White: This is a classic and timeless color for kitchen cabinets. It makes the kitchen appear large and spacious.
  3. Gray: This is a popular color but can be seen as a passing fad. 
  4. Black: In our opinion, black is a passing fad. It destroys any feeling of space. 
  5. Bold Colors: These are OK for contrast but, in our opinion, verge on the faddy.

Some popular finish options include:

  1. Glossy: Provides a high-shine look that is easy to clean and maintain.
  2. Matte: A popular alternative to a glossy finish. Provides a softer look that is less reflective and less prone to showing fingerprints.
  3. Distressed: A technique used to achieve a warm, vintage feel.

In our opinion, you can’t go wrong with a classic raised panel, natural wood cabinet, or white paint.


Touchless Technology

This is the use of sensors to allow you to open and close drawers and doors without actually touching them. This is great for an aging-in-place application. It also helps reduce the spread of germs and bacteria in the kitchen.


This is a feature in cabinet drawers and doors that closes them gently and quietly with no slamming shut. This is desirable but comes with a cost.

Incorporating LED Lighting

This can be used in several ways:

  • Make cabinets more easily accessible by illuminating their interiors. 
  • Under the upper cabinets to provide task lighting on the countertop
  • Display items in a glass cabinet.
  • Accent lighting for a backsplash or a piece of artwork.
  • Safety lighting under the cabinet toe-kick

This lighting can be controlled by sensors.

Using a Professional Cabinet Company


The benefits of working with a cabinet company include:

  • Expertise and experience.
  • A deep understanding of the products they sell
  • Advice and guidance on what will work best for your kitchen.
  • Assistance with design. 
  • Provision of warranties and guarantees
  • May have a contractor’s license inhouse


The downside of working with a cabinet company is that they may be limited to the lines of cabinetry they represent.

The Importance of Professional Installation

Whether you use a cabinet company or not, there is no getting around using a professional installer. A skilled finish carpenter that specializes in cabinet installation is as essential to your project as the cabinets themselves.

Money-Saving Suggestion: consider finding a highly qualified cabinet installer and working with him in the selection of RTA kitchen cabinets and subsequent installation.

Things to Ask Before Hiring a Cabinet Company

  1. Please provide some past client references.
  2. Please provide licenses, liability, and workers’ comp insurance.
  3. What happens if something unexpected happens during the installation?
  4. Please provide a detailed cost estimate for the work.
  5. How long will the work take and when can you start?
  6. What kind of warranty can you provide for the work and materials?
  7. Do you have photos of similar projects you have done in the past?
  8. What do you do to protect surrounding areas during the installation?
  9. What form of contract do you use to outline the scope of the project and the payment terms?

Recap and Conclusions on Kitchen Cabinets

A kitchen remodel is a major investment and the cabinets are a major part of it. They also play a crucial role in the overall design and functionality of the kitchen. And there is a great deal that goes into the decision-making process. To summarize:

  • Consider the material, door style, color and finish, hardware, storage options, LED lighting, and more.
  • Consider the types of cabinets available, including custom-made, semi-custom, stock, and ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets. Each has its own pros and cons.
  • Consider quality as balanced against affordability.
  • Do your research and balance desires against budget

Final Thoughts

In our opinion, the use of DIY-assembled RTA cabinets combined with a professional installation is a great money-saving approach to kitchen cabinets.  

See if you can work with a professional cabinet company to handle the entire kitchen remodel and ask if they will be flexible enough to incorporate the RTA option.        

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