Your Expert Guide to Cabinet Construction….

There’s an old saying that says, “You’ll know quality when you see it”, and this is still true today and probably always will be.  But, sometimes there are situations when you have no idea what quality really is, either because you have absolutely no idea about the subject or because quality can be subjective and can vary depending on the expectations of the individual.  So, when it comes to factors to consider when choosing quality kitchen cabinets, the following will provide you with guidelines to follow and thoughts to ponder when choosing the best quality cabinets that are aligned with your needs as well as your budget. DiStefano Brothers team of experts will help you choose the quality and style that meet your budget and reflect your unique vision.

Cabinets can come in several ways:  boxed and ready to install, boxed and ready to assemble, semi-custom, and custom.  It is obvious that the higher end cabinet is the one custom-made to the buyer’s specifications, and therefore the most expensive.  However, no matter which of these is right for you, they all have certain structural components and factors that impact performance, price, and visual appeal that should always be considered. The following information will help you decide on the kitchen or bathroom cabinets that are right for you and your style.

CABINET TYPES: Particle Board vs. Plywood- When deciding between plywood and particle board, there are a few things to consider.  Plywood tends to be the best choice for several reasons.  It is lighter in weight, holds screws and hardware better, more resistant to pulling, and is able to bear more weight.  Plywood is also more resistant to scratches and dents.  However, particle board does have its unique advantages.  To begin, particle board can withstand temperature changes and will be more resistant to warping due to environmental changes.  Particle board is also less expensive, depending on your budget and the scale of your project; this may be a big advantage.  It is also important to note that particle board is not resistant to moisture.  Our team will consider environmental factors, budget, design, style and your vision when guiding you through this decision.


There are two types of cabinetry frames; face framed and frameless designs.  The face framed design is what has been popular in the past and offers a traditional look.  The frameless or box design is a newer, simpler option which has become very popular.  Both choices are offered in stock, semi-custom, and custom cabinet designs and are available in both framed and frameless construction. Both types of frames can share similarities in materials but differ in construction.


With a face framed design, a 1.5-2 inch border, or frame, hides the edge of the cabinet box.  This type of design offers strength and sturdiness to the cabinet.  The cabinet door is attached to the frame’s side.  Doors can be mounted to the inside of the frame giving a flush look or to the front of the frame leaving an overlay.  Very few cabinet frames are made from solid wood.  The box is typically made from plywood, particle board, or medium density fiberboard (MDF).


The frameless box, also known as the euro, has no face frame.  The doors attach directly to the sides of the cabinet box and cover the entire frontal space and box.  This is called a full overlay.  This design gives the benefit of full access to the cabinet interior and therefore offers the maximum use of space.  The cabinet drawers are slightly larger with this design than the face framed construction method.  Most frameless box designs are composed of plywood, structural particle board or MDF and edged with a laminate or wood veneer.


If you are ready to splurge and desire an old world appeal or a traditional look, go for the face framed cabinet with drawer fronts and doors made from solid wood.  This would give a classic appearance whether the cabinets are flush or have an overlay design.

If you are looking to save money, the frameless construction requires less labor and is therefore, more economical.  There are many styles in the frameless construction design that allow you to achieve the look you desire at reduced prices.


Kitchen or bathroom cabinets should be both beautiful and functional and provide convenience to the homeowner.  A stronger glide technology allows for larger drawers and maximum weight.  Drawers can hold from small utensils and spices to pots, pans, and even butcher blocks.  Drawers can be simple or divided for ease of storage.

Currently gaining in popularity is the trend towards drawer only designs for base cabinets.  These base cabinets are stacked as lower, middle, and upper drawers and have glides that aid in opening and closing.  Some options include three quarter extension epoxy-coated glides that hold up to 75 lbs. and allow most of the drawer to be pulled out from the box, to full extension glides which hold up to 100 lbs. and give access to the entire drawer.

When considering drawers and glides, be sure to check the load rating options which can range from 50-100 lb capacity.

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There are plenty of choices for cabinet doors, latches and hinges.  Our design team will guide you through these options while always considering your style, needs and the functionality of the cabinets.

One thing to consider adding to your cabinets would be soft closing hinges.  Soft closing hinges involve a mechanism that is built right into the hinges.  A soft closing hinge will stop the slamming of cabinets so that you can avoid the jarring sound as well as the damage to the cabinet from continued slamming.


Cabinet finishes are a great way to personalize your kitchen. Manufactured wood doors and drawer fronts are available unfinished or with a factory-applied finish. Semi-custom cabinetry offers a wide selection of finishes and paint colors, which are typically baked on. Custom finishes are usually hand applied or rolled and topped with a varnish.  Your budget will drive much of your decision as to the type of finish suitable for your project but your choice of finishes is almost endless. The finish of your cabinets is as important as how the cabinet is constructed.  The finish is the message of who you are and what your style is in your home.  It should have aesthetic appeal but is also the key component in the protection of the wood surface of your cabinets ( please note we’re talking about wood cabinets, not laminate or melamine in this case). There are thousands of varnishes, lacquers and other cabinet surface treatments to investigate but the following are some of the common finishes and their important features to help guide your decision.

  • Paint– The benefit of paint is that you have a limitless color pallet available to you. You’re not limited to a range of browns and other earth tones like you are with wood stains.  Semi-custom cabinet lines will color match swatches to of paint from a manufacturer.
  • Stain – Wood stain is a topical color treatment that alters the natural color of the underlying wood while allowing the grain pattern to show through. Wood stain requires a sealer on top of it for protection.
  • Glaze– Glaze is a pigmented but transparent or semi-transparent coating that’s applied over a base coating such as paint or stain. Glaze is used to enhance the look of cabinets by highlighting the underlying base color and bringing out surface detail. When glaze is applied and then hand wiped some of the glaze remains in the corners and recesses of doors, providing additional visual highlights.
  • Antiqued Look- Antiqued patinas are hand-rubbed for added character, allowing cabinetry to appear well beyond its years. Cabinets may be distressed through a variety of techniques, which score the wood’s surface to add age and a weathered rustic patina. Paint has a heavy pigment that does not show the wood’s grain.
  • Laminate and Thermofoil- Other common door types are laminate and thermofoil. Laminate doors look similar to slab doors but most have 5/8-inch MDF core covered with a laminate on all sides. Laminate doors are very rigid and withstand scratches better than thermofoil. Thermofoil doors are made from a three-quarter-inch MDF slab with a sheet of heat-formed PVC face that is wrapped around the door. A thermofoil surface won’t stand up to some abrasives and is easily scratched, but creates a seamless and stain resistant coating and is a popular choice for more contemporary high gloss cabinets.

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When choosing your cabinet finish, think about how appealing it will be to you over time.  Will it be too bold later, or too distracting, or so trendy that it will go out of style quickly.  Choose timeless paints or finishes that you could live with for a long time.


It is not necessary to buy custom made cabinetry in order to personalize your design.  There are many ways to make your project your own that are not necessarily expensive and can make a remarkable difference in the look of your cabinets.

One way to enhance the look of your cabinets is with knobs and pulls. These handy features are more than a means to open cabinetry. Along with hinges, they are integral decorative elements. The primary consideration when selecting knobs and pulls is determining whether these elements will serve as an accent or blend in with surrounding cabinetry. An extensive range of knobs and pulls is available from wood and plastic to metal and ceramic. Personal taste and price point are the only guiding factors.

Whether you are installing new cabinetry or upgrading, you’ll want to peruse accessories for ease of use, optimum storage and increased organization.  Some of the more common basics include lazy Susans, trash bin and recycling pull-outs, and utensil dividers. Others such as plate displays and divided wine racks establish eye-catching focal points but also serve a function.  For the culinary expert, spice drawers are popular.  Keep in mind when making choices for extras such as these, the more accessories added, the higher costs will increase.

Still another way to personalize your design is by considering the upper cabinet door choices.  Glass door faces on upper cabinetry offer a welcome change of pace and open up the room, allowing it to feel more spacious. Glass doors can be paned, beveled, textured, etched, mirrored, glazed or tinted.  A current trend is a mercury glass finish to glass panels for upper cabinet doors.  They are beautiful, offer a spacious feeling due to a mirror effect, and also hide most of the contents of the cabinet. Another alternative to solid doors or upper cabinetry is open shelving which personalizes a room and allows it to feel more airy. The look can be sleek for modern spaces or pump up the charm factor in cottage-like kitchens. Whatever your taste, tidiness and attractive dishware are key to glass inlays and open shelving.

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Environmentally conscious consumers have more options than ever to limit their negative impact on the planet, at least when it comes to their kitchen cabinets.

The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) created the Environment Stewardship Program (ESP) to help manufacturers, consumers, designers, architects and builders identify environmentally friendly products. More than 150 cabinet manufacturers carry an ESP seal, which recognizes companies meeting requirements of air quality, product resource management, process resource management, environmental stewardship and community relations. Stock, semi-custom and custom cabinetry are all available with ESP certification.

Another eco-friendly idea is if you are repainting, choose paints with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  And, when designing custom cabinetry made of solid wood, be sure that the wood is derived from a certified managed forest and carries the Forest Stewardship Council logo.  Also, be sure to complement cabinetry with other sustainable or eco-friendly materials on countertops.


Manufacturers sell cabinets through a retail network including building supply stores, kitchen and bath retailers, renovation and design firms, and home improvement centers.  When you are shopping for kitchen or bathroom cabinetry, the options are many.

It’s advisable to enlist the same company to measure, design, purchase and install cabinetry, whether you buy through a big box store or a custom cabinet maker. It is best and most convenient to let your retailer take the measurements.  This ensures you won’t be responsible for any measurement or other oversights.

Once ordered, the turnaround time for kitchen cabinetry can be anywhere from one day to several months. Semi-custom orders take around six weeks to arrive and stock cabinetry delivery time is minimal, often with same day delivery. Plan on eight weeks or more for custom cabinetry

Installation methods vary from installer to installer, but there are some things that should be consistent.  Walls should be straight and primed, floors flat and everything should be square.  Cabinet doors and drawers should be removed before installation and appliances to be installed should be on-site, in case any adjustments are necessary.

So when pondering what you might need to know about cabinet construction, you begin to realize there is actually a lot to know.  DiStefano Brothers will be with you throughout the entire process and will guide you through these tough decisions.  As always, our goal is to make your unique vision a reality.  Each piece of a design project is exciting, and we look forward to being there with you every stop of the way!

If you have questions or would like to discuss your project, get in touch today!