The "box" is more complicated than its simple name suggests.
What material is used?
- The more real wood used in the construction of a cabinet box, the better.
- Quality plywood holds up the best over time.
- Plywood is good for larger surface areas such as sides, tops, bottoms, backs and toe boards.
- The face frame should be constructed of premium-quality, solid wood for extra rigidity.
- Particle board (also called "engineered wood") is not a good choice for the side panels, tops or bottoms of a cabinet.
How is the wood joined together?
- Cabinets need to endure hard knocks. Make sure the box includes strong joinery using rabbets and dados. If a joint is only glue and staples, pass up that cabinet.
What is an "exposed" end panel (side panels) and what should it look like?
- Sometimes when a cabinet is installed next to a dishwasher or stove, a little bit of the cabinet's end panel will show.
- Exposed end panels should be covered with stained wood veneer or melamine that closely matches the exterior finish.
What does the interior of the cabinet look like?
- A light colored interior reflects the most light so it's easier to view your cereal choices. A light-colored melamine applied over plywood does the trick, and is easy to clean.
- If your kitchen cabinet designs call for open or glass-door cabinets, make sure the line you choose offers a stained wood veneer interior to match the outer finish.
How are the shelves made?
- Better quality cabinetry offers adjustable shelving as a standard feature. It’s worthwhile to ask about this, since some lines offer only fixed shelves. Adjustability gives you more flexible storage options, especially where shelves and roll-out trays are concerned.
Is the cabinet complete?
- Extra features, such as a fully enclosed space under the bottom drawer in base cabinets, help to protect cabinet interiors and their contents from dust, bugs and rodents.
- Some cabinet boxes are made without a back or enclosed bottom or even a melamine interior.
Is there a warranty?
- The manufacturer should stand behind its products with a warranty.
Another reliable mark of quality is KCMA certification. This means cabinets meet minimum standards for quality set by the Kitchen Cabinetry Manufacturers Association.