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Cabinetry 101

The Knowledge You Need to DIY Your Own Custom Cabinets

If you value quality and originality and want to be a little more hands-on with your renovations, RTA Modern can help you create the custom space of your dreams. We provide this Cabinetry 101 to help you get started, and we’re available to help you out with any questions you might have before, during, and after the process. Contact us today for a free consultation and take the first step toward the space of your dreams!

Know Your Parts

Choosing the right cabinetry for your style, function and budget can seem like a major task. In addition to many design options, there is a whole new set of terms related to cabinetry. In this section, we aim to help you in picking up on some critical terminology to aid in your project.

Cabinet Parts

Door Parts

Know Your Options

When selecting your dream cabinets, there are many choices to make, including colors, species, styles and materials. In this section, we’ll help you tackle these decisions. Lets start with five tips to help you narrow down your cabinet selection:

1. Frame Vs. Frameless

Both styles of cabinetry have their advantages and disadvantages. Framed cabinets are constructed in much the same manner as frameless cabinets. The major difference is that framed cabinets have, typically, a 3/4″ solid wood frame attached to the face of the cabinet box. This adds some stability to the cabinet box. Aside from a slight increase in rigidness, framed cabinets are considered an older style of cabinet and are not as popular aesthetically. In addition, framed cabinets loose both depth and width of storage capacity to accommodate a frame. In some cases, a solid wood “stile” is actually used to split openings and in effect limit opening size. Frameless cabinets are very popular and tend to be the common method of construction. They provide a sturdy, sleek, and stylish-looking cabinet. In addition, they are more cost-effective and have a slightly higher storage capacity.

2. Paint Grade or Stain Grade

When selecting cabinetry, another major decision is whether or not you want a natural wood look or plan to paint your cabinets. This decision matters not only for style preferences but also budget concerns. Stain grade cabinets are typically finished with a clear coat, maintaining a natural look, or stained to meet your style. Stain grade cabinets require higher-cost materials, mainly select grade veneer plywood, to give consistency and character. Popular wood choices for stain grade cabinets are: Cherry, Maple, Walnut, Oak, and Hickory. On the other end of the spectrum are paint grade options. Because the finished cabinetry will be painted, material selection is larger. Paint grade cabinets can be made from solid wood or composites such as MDF or melamine. In addition to a wider selection of materials, your option to customize cost increases. Composite materials are often cheaper than their wood counterparts, giving the customer flexibility to find options that fit within their desired price range. Both stain grade and paint grade cabinets offer a sturdy, stylish, and modern-looking option. Your main factors in this category are price and style.

3. Door Style

Doors are the first architectural detail that people will typically see when walking into your new kitchen, closet, hobby room, den, etc… Aside from color or wood species, the door is the most visual part of your project! Cabinet doors fall into three main categories, and each with some variations and customization available. The three types are slab (solid flat door and drawer), raised panel (a stile and rail constructed door with a raised interior panel), and inset panel (a stile and rail door with an inset interior panel). Each of these doors can be made of solid wood or composite materials. In addition, they are available in both stain grade and paint grade. This selection really comes down to style preference. For a better look at your options, head over to our door page to see a large sample of some door styles and colors available.

4. Material Options

There are various options available to construct your dream cabinets. As with anything, each has its pros and cons. The three main choices for cabinetry are plywood, MDF, and particle board. All three are widely used in cabinetry and furniture production. The main benefit to plywood is its structural integrity. Plywood hold screws well and has a high load capacity. The down side to plywood is its cost, in some cases two or three times the cost of its composite counterparts. MDF (medium density fiberboard) is a byproduct of plywood construction. MDF is extremely cos-effective, and holds the smoothest surface for applying paint. The downside to MDF is its adverse reaction to water. Moist conditions are only suitable for MDF if the substrate is properly sealed and painted. Finally we have particle board. Another byproduct of plywood manufacturing, particle board is extremely cost-effective and lightweight. Particle board is used often in cabinet construction due to these attributes. Particle board typically comes in a melamine finish available in various colors. The downside to particle board, as with many core options that aren’t plywood, is durability if improperly assembled. Particle board requires special screws for construction. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Regardless of what option you choose, RTA Modern will optimize your cabinetry to last!

Material options: plywood, MDF and particle.
Render of kitchen cabinet extras.

5. Hardware & Accessories

Once style is determined, the task of functionality reigns supreme. What do you want from your cabinetry? Storage? Ease of use? Comfort? All of the above? Hardware for your cabinetry consists of drawer guides and hinges. Some options are soft close, self closing, full extension drawer guides, and so on. Accessories can really put the custom in your custom cabinetry, with options such as pullout recycle and trash cans, drawer organizers, led cabinet lighting, and spice racks, to name a few. Use the following links to some of our vendors to see available options!

Richelieu →

Rev A Shelf →

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