When shopping in Philadelphia for kitchen cabinets you will notice that the price range is huge and yet the cabinets look the same except for style, wood and color differences. Designers might also throw out words like framed versus frameless, veneer, real wood, MDF, engineered wood, thermofoil, acrylic and more. How confusing! Let me see if I can explain some of the cost differences while defining some of this cabinet related terminology.
First let’s start with what Philadelphia kitchen cabinets are made of, and it is not wood. The cabinet box is made up of some type of engineered wood. Engineered wood is used because it lacks the expansion and contraction of natural wood and can also be stronger and more stable. Many types of engineered wood, such as plywood and medium density fiberwood (MDF), are used in cabinets. Within each type are varying grades that depict strength and overall quality. The quality of the engineered wood is one of the biggest differences in the price of the cabinet. You can use plywood in a cabinet and yet the strength and longevity of the cabinet can be less than other engineered wood. It is all about the quality, and unfortunately the consumer and even the designer is unable to see the quality. Price is a hint, but just a slight hint. The only given is that if the cabinet is really cheap, the material used to make the cabinet is really cheap and it may have a short life.
The cabinet doors on Philadelphia kitchen cabinets are made out of a variety of materials including wood, veneer, MDF, laminate, thermofoil and acrylic. Each of these options has pros and cons and some are inherently more expensive.
Wood never refers to the entire door since a cabinet door made entirely of wood would be unstable and subject to the expansion and contraction you get with wood. Usually if the door does have solid wood, it is in the center panel or the side panels.
Veneer involves a thin sheet of “real wood” that is glued to a core of engineered wood. Even cherry or maple doors are veneers, which reduces the amount of trees that need to be used. With the advent of newer technology, quality cabinet veneers almost never peel from their core, even after 20 years.
MDF is an engineered wood that is mainly used with paint. MDF has no grain so paint goes on very smoothly.
Laminate refers to a plastic veneer which is very popular with higher end, modern European cabinet companies. Laminate has the added benefit of having fewer defects since it is manufactured rather than grown, and is easier to clean.
Thermofoil and Acrylic refer to very shiny cabinet doors. Thermofoil is usually easier to damage and slightly cheaper. Acrylic can have a small line on the door edges where you can see the backing, but is often unnoticeable.
Framed versus frameless is another set of terms often mentioned. Neither one is inherently better nor worse; the difference is in the construction and installation. You can tell the difference when you open the door of the cabinet. If the hinge is attached to a frame that goes around the cabinet box, you have a framed cabinet. If the hinge is attached directly to the cabinet box, you have a frameless cabinet.
If you would like more information on terminology or price differences with regard to Philadelphia kitchen cabinets please go to Teknika’s website at www.teknikadesigngroup.com or call us at 215-922-4414.