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Before you remodel your kitchen, take Cabinets 101

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When you decide to do a major remodel in your kitchen, you need to learn the basics before you go shopping for cabinets.

There is a learning process involved that we call Cabinets 101. Here’s what you need to know:

• Terminology can be confusing

In stock and ready-to-go generally mean cabinets in boxes that you buy at a big box or warehouse store. You can often take them off the shelf, buy them and take them home the same day.

Let me be clear: This can’t happen if you’re doing an entire kitchen.

At the next level are builder’s grade cabinets that have more options as far as sizes and styles. You also choose from standard boxes that only change in size by three-inch increments. Order these cabinets through stores, remodelers or online.

With semi-custom, you also get standard sizes. But the manufacturer will make a box to fit your dimensions, such as 12.5 inches wide versus the standard 12 inches. The quality of materials is better. You choose what you want in wood types, door styles, colors and finishes.

Custom cabinets have higher grade materials and custom finishes. They can be ordered from manufacturers, but many custom shops in Arizona can also build cabinets for you.

Almost all grades of cabinets — even custom — use some plywood and furniture board or particle board. Generally, the more expensive the cabinet, the better the materials and the more long-lasting.

• Do you want framed or frameless cabinets?

You may have framed cabinets right now, as they are common in older homes. These cabinets are built with a face frame in front with doors hanging off the face frame or drawers built into that frame. While face frames are often used with traditional designs, contemporary style cabinets are often frameless.

Cabinet companies say frameless construction is widely used on the coasts and is growing rapidly in popularity everywhere, partly because frameless can often be installed more quickly.

Frameless cabinets have larger drawers and doors that create a full overlay on the cabinet. When installed, all you see are the doors and drawer fronts. Generally, these cabinets offer more storage and accessibility.

• Need help from a designer or remodeler?

You often want an experienced person to measure and help you make decisions about colors, styles and sizes. A designer or remodeler can also bring samples to your home.

What do you do if the cabinet isn’t wide enough? How do you fill the space between the cabinet and the wall? What about the countertops?

Even if you’re an experienced do-it-yourselfer, what about the backsplash, plumbing, and sink?

• Many outstanding cabinet companies are located in the United States

The many independent shops in Arizona can make cabinets at competitive prices as well. Foreign-made cabinets could be cheaper, but cabinet boxes come ready-to-assemble instead of all put-together, and your remodel becomes more labor intensive.

Check the quality of foreign goods carefully.

• Skip the frills and extras to cut costs

More elaborate doors and rare wood species are pricier. Oak is less expensive; hickory, maple and cherry are more costly.

When you buy pullout shelves or sliding drawers to hold pots and pans, the cost goes up. Glass front doors and crown molding can bump up expenses.

Using some open shelving might be practical and less costly.

For more homeowner advice, DIY tips and videos, and information about all the projects around your house, home, castle or cabin, visit Arizona’s largest collection of homeowner DIY advice and information at RosieontheHouse.com.

And if you are in need of a quality contractor you know you can trust, visit our list of Arizona’s very best contractors or service providers for your home improvement projects at RosieontheHouse.com – Arizona’s most-trusted referral network.

Tune in to KTAR every Saturday morning from 7-11 a.m. for the Rosie on the House broadcast!

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