What should I look for in kitchen cabinets?

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High-quality kitchen cabinets have at least ten characteristics that contribute to their long lifespan. The best kitchen cabinets will be durable and look beautiful for many years. Unfortunately, some cabinet have problems in as little as a year or two. Issues like crooked doors, sagging drawers, scratched faces, loose hinges and warping boxes quickly deteriorate the look of a kitchen. That’s why it is important to choose the best kitchen cabinets with high-quality construction. As you shop for cabinets and compare cabinet costs, look for the following construction features. This will help ensure you choose high-quality cabinets for your home.

1. Durable Cabinet Box Materials

Double Glazing provides you with two durable cabinet box material options. Signature and Signature Plus lines are all-plywood and the Classic line is furniture board.Kitchen cabinet materials have been tested and certified. You can be confidence that your new cabinets will stand up to everyday use. They won’t unnecessarily expand and flake when there’s the occasional leaky faucet.

Varying Materials

Many retailers use varying materials and cannot identify the specific material grades that make up their cabinets.

Furniture Board

Classic line cabinet box material is made with certified M-2 rated furniture board. Furniture board provides a strong, long-lasting box. It resists expansion from temperature and humidity fluctuations, which makes it a stable material.

2. Fully-Assembled Cabinets

Quality cabinets are fully-assembled at the factory. They are then boxed and shipped direct to you, ready-to-install. Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets are designed to be assembled by a homeowner or contractor. The differences to the consumer include price, convenience, and construction strength.

Assembly of RTA cabinets involves a learning curve. First, you learn how to assemble the boxes. Then, it takes about 20-45 minutes to assemble each cabinet. Finally, it will take additional time to assemble drawer boxes, glides and other accessories.

Ready-to-Assemble (RTA)

RTA cabinets ship in parts, such as the cabinet, face frame, drawers, drawer glides, inserts, doors and hardware. They are designed to be assembled at the construction site. RTA cabinets are assembled using metal clips or plastic attachments, which tend to be less durable than wood construction. Assembly and installation can be handled by the DIY homeowner or by a hired contractor. Either way, some skill is required to ensure safe, functional cabinets.

illustration of a fully-assembled quality cabinet

Fully-Assembled and Ready-to-Install

Every cabinet is factory-assembled and ready-to-install. This means every cabinet is engineered to create a single piece that will arrive in one carton. No assembly required. Factory construction methods join wood parts using dovetail joints, hot & cold glue, power fasteners and other industrial techniques. In this wood-to-wood construction, the pieces bond on a microscopic level, creating a quality kitchen cabinet with strength.


Frame less, also known as European-style, cabinets have no frame on the front of the cabinet box. Cabinets without frames are full overlay, revealing approximately 1/8-inch around drawer fronts and cabinet doors. Side panels are thicker than in a framed cabinet to allow the glides and hinges to mount directly to the cabinet sides.

4. Quality Cabinet Boxes

Captured and integrated brace construction creates a quality cabinet box. This increases stability during shipping and installation and provides long-term cabinet strength. Unless integrated with the cabinet side, gussets add no strength or structural integrity to the cabinet. Captured, or integrated, braces also make base cabinets much easier to move into position when installing.

Plastic Corner Gussets

Some cabinets brands use plastic triangular shaped corner gussets as a lower cost alternative to braces or I-beams. Gussets are usually stapled, glued or nailed to each corner of the cabinet. This is to keep the cabinet square during shipping. However, plastic gussets do not provide the same stability and strength of captured and integrated braces.

5. Easy-to-Clean Interiors

Kitchen cabinet interior surfaces should be non-porous and easy-to-clean. Cabinet interiors also need to be tough enough to last the life of the cabinets without staining, bubbling or showing wear.

Melamine and laminate are two different, yet similar materials. They are the perfect surface for cabinet interiors because of their extremely high resistance to moisture. Most melamine and laminate cabinet interiors are printed with a light-tone wood grain.

Wood Veneer Interior

Wood is naturally porous and rough. A stained wood veneer interior or shelf surface will absorb moisture and stains. It will also trap soil in the grain of the wood. The finish will not tolerate strong cleaning solutions. Wood veneer will become damaged by residual moisture. This damage could come from dishwashers, excessive humidity, greasy cooking fumes, as well as dirt and food particles.