How to Rate Kitchen Cabinets


Kitchen cabinets come in various materials, and their construction usually will tell you about the quality and durability of the cabinet. Know what to look for when rating the quality of kitchen cabinets.

  • Examine the parts and design of the cabinet box. Look for plywood construction, which gives the best quality cabinet. MDF (Middle Density Fiberboard) cabinets, or pressed wood fiber cabinets, create a midlevel quality cabinet. The lowest quality for strength and durability are those made from particle board.

  • Examine the thickness of the cabinet box, since the thicker it is, the stronger it will be. Look for 3/4-inch thick cabinets for the best quality. The 5/8-inch thick is midquality, and any cabinet thinner than these won’t be as sturdy. Look for framed or frameless construction, with frameless cabinets usually having a better durability.

  • Determine the quality of the cabinet by the door construction. A solid wood door offers the strongest construction, a plywood cabinet door has mediocre construction quality, and the melamine, or laminate-covered particle board or MDF door has the lowest quality. Look for 3/4-inch to 5/8-inch thick cabinet doors for the best quality cabinets.

  • Look for cabinets with a glazed finish for the highest quality; stained or lacquered finishes offer a medium quality cabinet. Consider cabinets that are painted or made from melamine last, since they are usually inexpensive cabinets and not made to last long.

  • Examine the drawer joint construction, looking for solid wood or plywood construction and adequate slide capabilities for better cabinets. Find the highest quality with dovetail joints, which require no nails or screws to hold the drawer together. Mortise and tenon joints provide the next best drawer construction. Look for special features in the highest quality cabinet lines like self-closing and full-extension drawers.

  • Check for shelf material and thickness, with the best cabinets made out of 3/4-inch thick solid wood and the next best out of plywood that is 5/8-inch thick. Steer clear of cabinet shelves made out of particle board, as they often sag under the weight of dishes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Work with a professional cabinet salesperson who sells high- and low-end cabinets. Do your research to know the differences, and determine what fits in your budget while meeting your standards for quality, durability and life of the cabinets. Also check cabinet manufacturer warranties.

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