How to pick perfect kitchen cabinets
Their style might catch your eye, but it's the construction features you can't see that will
keep your cabinets looking good year after year. Most manufacturers offer a similar range
of door styles whether they sell ready-made, semi-custom, or made-to-measure custom
Remember that even if your contractor or architect does the measurements, make sure the
cabinet supplier signs off on them. That way you'll avoid finger-pointing should there be
What separates a well-made cabinet from a cheap imitation? Here are the quality features
to look for, and some flimsy ones to avoid:
1. Drawers. Best have solid-wood sides, dovetail joinery, and a plywood bottom that fits
grooves on four sides. Avoid stapled particleboard.
2. Drawer hardware. Full-extension guides are better than integrated side rails or
undermounted double-roller designs. Some premium models have a "soft close" feature that
stops drawers from slamming shut.
3. Doors. Best is a solid-wood frame surrounding a solid-wood or plywood panel. Avoid
laminate or thermofoil over particleboard. We didn't find any differences between types of
4. Cabinet box. Best is 1/2 to 3/4-inch, furniture-grade plywood, avoid 3/8-inch coated
5. Shelves. Best is 3/4-inch plywood. Lesser-quality 5/8- and 1/2-inch particleboard
shelves might sag.
Mounting strips. Best is 3/4-inch hardwood or metal with bolt holes. MDF, particleboard, or
wood that's thinner than 1/2 inch can be a concern for heavily loaded wall cabinets. Ask
your installer to use stronger stuff.