Kitchen cabinet doors and panels
Doors, panels, gables, and moldings of good-quality custom made kitchen cabinets are mostly built of wood or MDF. Check my article comparing wood vs mdf doors.
Solid wood doors are a good option if you prefer stained kitchens. You can see and feel the wood grain. Painted wooden doors, unfortunately, will crack on the joints, where stiles and rails meets. Wood in a 5-piece door expands and shrinks when temperature and humidity is changing, which leads to paint cracking on the joints. There is an option to use MDF as a central panel, but it does not eliminate stiles and rails cracks. It might make 1-5 years or more but eventually, the paint is going to crack.
MDF is usually used in mid-priced kitchens. With some water-resistant options available on the market, and with a proper lacquer finish it is a durable material for cabinet doors.
High-gloss doors: they are based on MDF core with high-gloss acrylic or glass laminate, or coated with Italian high-gloss lacquer.
Matte or textured laminate doors can be done on different cores: MDF, plywood, or particle boards. Same applies to custom laminating and veneering.
Custom kitchen cabinetmakers in Toronto usually have different opinions and preferences, and advice you get may vary from one kitchen designer to another.
How much custom kitchen cabinets cost?
If you search online and call different companies I guess you might get a $5,000 quote, a $75,000 quote, and many more in between, for the same layout. Generally, our kitchens are in $20,000-$25,000 range for mid-grade materials, and about $30,000-$35,000 for High-end ones, but ofc it depends on the size and style.
Why is that?
Lets take painted doors for instance. Did you know that it can be painted with 10$ Amazon spray gun and a pancake compressor or with $1000 professorial spray gun with a special $5000 pump for the best results? Or the finish itself, pre-cat, post-cat, convention varnish, they all off-gassing for weeks after painting, releasing formaldehyde gasses into your home. For a couple of hunder $ more I would rather buy a top-quality European paint that's 100% safe to use and that's deliver much better results than standard paints.
And there are hundreds of little details like that. To craft the best product we just use the best materials available. As do many High-quality cabinetmakers, like Downsview kitchens, Bulthaup, and many others.
Types of kitchen cabinets
There two main types of kitchen cabinets:
The main difference is that one has a frame and the other one doesn't.
Here on the picture is a frame that is a separate part and on the other picture the frame is attached to the cabinet. The frame is spray-painted separately. This method of construction is very time consuming and requires exceptional precision and accuracy with 3/32" tolerances
Framed cabinets could have insert doors or overlay doors. The overlay doors can be typically seen on Chinese cabinets or other cheap alternatives, wheres framed cabinets with inset doors is the most expensive type of cabinetry on the market.
Frameless kitchen cabinets do not have a frame glued to the cabinet box. A typical frameless cabinet is a box and doors with euro style hinges + side panels.
It's not that one is better then the other - it's just 2 completely different styles.
You can read my resent blog post about frameless vs framed kitchen cabinets.
I mostly work in Toronto and Oakville, and also service Hamilton, Burlington, Vaughan, and GTA.
What materials are used for kitchen cabinets?
Custom kitchen cabinets are usually made of plywood (domestic or imported) or particleboard (with melamine, laminate, or veneer finish). Melamine comes in many different colors to match the doors and generally less expensive than plywood or laminated boards. The main drawback is that it is not water-resistant and even a small amount of water left on the surface will damage it.
Particleboard: There are different types of this material on the market with different price and quality. Some Italian boards are pretty good for middle and high-end custom kitchens. Can be easily damaged by water. Comes in a variety of colors.
Plywood: Plywood used in high-quality custom kitchens is not the stuff on the bulk racks at Home Depot. At Devix Kitchens, we use furniture-grade plywood that performs as well or even better than solid wood. Plywood will be found in boxes, not doors and other finish surfaces. It also has different grades and can be made of birch, maple, oak, etc, which affects the price and the look of the cabinets. Birch plywood that is usually used is from China, whereas maple plywood is made in Canada. It is eco-friendly and formaldehyde-free because of soybean glue. When choosing this plywood, you are getting zero-VOC custom kitchen cabinets.
Solid Wood: Mostly used for doors, panels, gables and drawer fronts in high-end custom kitchen cabinets. But what about solid wood kitchen cabinets?> Nope, they don't exist. Well, we can build custom cabinets of solid wood boards but it doesn't make sense because high-quality boards cost a lot (those used for custom furniture like tables, etc), whereas low-quality boards are easily affected by humidity and perform worse than plywood (premium grade plywood). I have seen many cabinets that are claimed to be solid wood but if fact made of veneered particle board and sold on Kijiji as solid wood - check before you buy.
Outside dimensions of kitchen cabinets may vary. But within each box, recommended thicknesses of panels are:
Cabinet sides, top, and bottom: 3/4" thick
Back Panel: 1/2"-3/4" thick—important because cabinets hang on this panel!