5 Red Flags in Kitchen Cabinetry — And What Makes a Quality Cabinet

April 15, 2019

Sure, you want your kitchen cabinets to look great. You know you need storage space, and that you hope they’ll last at least a couple of decades. But what really counts when it comes to high quality kitchen cabinetry? These days, it’s not uncommon for households to experience warping, sagging, and hardware issues well before a cabinet’s anticipated expiration date. Thankfully, almost all of these issues can be avoided by choosing high quality materials and construction for your kitchen cabinetry project. Here are a few things to look for next time you’re ready to upgrade your cabinets:

Beautiful cabinets with a black galaxy granite countertop.

1. Soft-Close Hinges

Hinges aren’t at the top of most peoples’ list of cabinet details to consider, but a quality hinge can make or break your project. Poor hinges are at the root of many issues including cabinets that sit unevenly or won’t close properly.

Conversely, high quality hinges will keep your cabinets looking stunning and functioning as well as they did on their install date for years to come. The right hinge should have a soft-close mechanism built into the nickel-plated, hardened steel hinge. It should be adjustable in six different ways: in-out, up-down, and left-right. This ensures that your hinge can be adjusted as times passes and your cabinet doors begin to expand and contract during seasonal shifts.


2. Undermount, Soft-Close Drawer Glides

Similar to hinges, drawer glides are something most of us don’t think about … until they start causing problems. A squeaky, glitchy drawer that sticks, locks, or gaps open is extremely annoying. The ideal drawer glide mechanism should extend to provide full access to the entire drawer (not just the front half, as many plastic mechanisms do). Adjustable glides with a soft-close, anti-slam dampening system make opening and closing the drawer a nearly silent action, while ball bearings and steel guides provide smooth operation and long wear.

While it may seem excessive, your glides should be rated to support at least 90 pounds. Lower ratings are often responsible for drawers that sag or break after just a couple years of daily use.


3. All Plywood Construction

Plywood is an extremely sturdy and versatile building material. Unlike it’s lower-quality contemporary, particleboard, plywood has a lot of holding power with screws, fasteners, and glue. It also has a much higher tolerance for moisture — crucial in settings like kitchens and bathrooms. Plywood can bear weight over a long period of time, and it’s extremely resilient to bangs, dents, and slams. Furthermore, it’s sturdy construction makes it much less prone to sagging or warping as compared to particleboard (also known as engineered wood, fiberboard, hardboard, substrate, or furniture board).


4. Full-Height Back Panels

If you’re like most of the world, the items you’ll choose to keep in your kitchen cabinets likely include dinnerware. Heavy, fragile dinnerware. Imagine coming home to find that the cabinetry you thought you’d scored a great deal on has all but disintegrated under the weight of your dishes. Metal rails jutting out everywhere, the wine glasses you got as a wedding gift in pieces on the ground … You get the idea.

Cabinets fail in this way as a result of weak back panels. Avoid this catastrophe by choosing solid, full-height plywood back panels. These panels are at least ⅜” thick and allow the cabinet to be mounted directly to the studs of the wall. If a cut is necessary to accommodate for wiring or plumbing, a quality back panel will retain its integrity without any additional reinforcements.


5. I-beam Construction

I-beams are ½” stretchers used in base cabinet construction. Secured into the upper sides of base cabinets, I-beams provide strength that stands up to time and keep your cabinets looking great during the shipping and installation processes. Compared to less expensive options like gussets and braces, I-beams are much more durable and trustworthy. Since these less expensive alternatives are simply stapled to the cabinet’s sides, they offer no added strength or support. Therefore, cabinets made without I-beams are much more likely to eventually warp or bend.

When it comes to choosing your cabinetry, quality really does count! If you’re concerned about choosing kitchen cabinets that will serve your family for decades to come, give us a call. We’re happy to answer all your questions and offer top of the line, durable, attractive cabinetry for your project.

Scroll to Top