Cabinet Construction Introduction
How to Check for Cabinet Quality
Examine your cabinets for quality before making your purchase.
A coveted name brand (and hefty price tag) might imply high quality, but to truly ensure quality, it's important to examine cabinet construction and components that often go unnoticed.
- Drawer construction: Dovetail drawers will provide the most strength.
- Finishing system: To properly protect the doors, your cabinet’s finish should include a moisture resistant sealant, catalytic conversion varnish and baked-on coats.
- The composition of the doors.
The Hardwood Manufacturers Association recommends asking yourself:
- Is there evidence of cracking of wood or delamination?
- Are corners square with no perceptible joint separation?
- Are exposed surfaces smoothly rounded with no blemishes?
- Do doors align when closed?
- Are hardware and handles fastened securely and aligned properly?
- Are all edges smooth?
- Are screws, nails and fasteners properly concealed?
- Do doors and drawers open smoothly and quietly?
- Are the drawers removable?
- Is the finish smooth with no drips and bubbles?
The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) sponsors a national testing program for cabinets to ensure they meet standards set by the American National Standards Institute. Cabinets that pass the tests—designed to simulate years of typical household use—have seals reading ANSI/KCMA A161.1. The certification program is voluntary.
When you purchase a cabinet with the KCMA seal, know that your cabinets have passed the following tests:
- Doors are properly aligned and close without excessive binding or looseness.
- All wood parts were dried to a moisture content of 10 percent or less at the time of fabrication.
- Cabinets are suitable for use in kitchens and bathrooms, withstanding exposure to grease, solvents, water, detergent and steam.
- Mounted wall cabinets were gradually loaded to 500 pounds without visible signs of failure in the cabinet or the mounting system.
- All shelves and bottoms were loaded at 15 pounds per square feet and maintained for seven days to check for joint separation and bending.
- Drawers were loaded at 15 pounds per square feet and opened and closed 25,000 times to ensure proper drawer assembly and operation.
- To ensure tight and proper connection of doors, door-holding devices and hinges, doors are opened and closed through a full 90-degree swing 25,000 times.
- The cabinet door has been placed in a hotbox at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and 70 percent relative humidity for 24 hours to test the finish for discoloration, blistering and film failures.
- To ensure durability, exposed surfaces were subjected to vinegar, lemon, orange and grape juices, ketchup, coffee, olive oil and 100-proof alcohol for 24 hours (and mustard for one hour). The finish did not show appreciable discoloration or stain that would not disperse with ordinary polishing.