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The Cabinet Center / Cabinets  / What Makes up a Kitchen Cabinet

What Makes up a Kitchen Cabinet

Home ownership is full of learning opportunities, and it’s always a great feeling when you understand just a little more about your house. Kitchen cabinets are a simple feature, but they can have a big impact on the overall aesthetic of your kitchen. There’s a reason they say kitchens sell houses, as they’re highly visible and highly functional spaces. When it comes to understanding your cabinet designs and how they work, it can be satisfying to feel like you understand what makes up a kitchen cabinet.

The anatomy of a kitchen cabinet

In its simplest form, a kitchen cabinet is a storage space with a door to cover the contents. The front includes a frame, hinges, and usually a handle. On the inside, there will usually be 2-4 shelves depending on the size of the cabinet and the desired height of each shelf. The outside is the box which is comprised of the back, sides, top, and bottom. When selecting cabinets, be aware the box is one of the most common points of failure for low-budget options – so it’s important to understand the quality of the craftsmanship plays a big role. After all, the weight of dishes and cups can add up quickly, and the cabinets themselves are often not light. You want to make sure whatever you install is going to last forever – not result in a kitchen disaster.

Doors and drawer fronts are made from solid hardwood in quality cabinets, but they can also be made of lower quality materials, like particleboard, if you choose a cheaper option. This can impact the aesthetic of your cabinets, but from a structural point of view a more important feature is the hinges on which they’re mounted. Consider, over the course of a cabinet’s life, it can be opened and shut tens of thousands of times. If the hinges aren’t up to the stress, they can fail, and potentially ruin your door or cabinet in the process. A good cabinet will have concealed hinges so you can get something heavy-duty while also being virtually invisible. For the drawer box, the front and sides will meet with notched joints and staples, and you’ll want to make sure those are strong – the drawer bottoms are another common culprit for your cabinets to fail.

Drawer glides, or runners, support the drawers (and, the weight of everything in the drawers) – so they’re extremely important in the construction of your kitchen cabinets. As a rule, if they’re visible, they’re not the quality you want. Drawer runners should be under-mounted and concealed, with a self-closing system. You’ll also want to ensure they provide full access – or extend beyond the face frame to expose the contents. A cheap drawer runner can leave nearly a quarter of the drawer inside the cabinets, making the space difficult to access and useless. Additionally, cheap glides may not be soft-closing, which is a convenient and desirable feature.

Finally, there is the interior finish material and the shelves. Quality kitchen cabinets will offer finish materials that are non-porous and wipe clean – nobody wants to spill oil and discover stained cabinets. Plus, that can lead to bubbling or excessive wear-and-tear. When it comes to your shelves, strength should be the primary consideration given that supporting large amounts of weights is the primary function. Take a look at the material and thickness, a half inch is the minimum, but three-quarters is even better.

Once you understand the basic principles of your kitchen cabinets, you can make sure they’ll last for years to come!

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