Cabinets are a must-have in every kitchen, whether you’re redesigning your existing cooking area or building a new one.
Like any other contractor, you need to hire a knowledgeable and skilled kitchen cabinet maker for your kitchen renovation project. And it’s important to sit down with them to ask a few vital questions. This way you feel confident that the job is in the hands of professionals committed to achieving the best results.
Before meeting face to face with your cabinet maker, prepare a list of few questions. With exact answers to your queries, you’ll be in a better position to make informed decisions. Aside from the questions listed below, ask for pictures of recently completed projects and customer references.
Top 11 Questions to Ask Your Cabinet Maker
Custom cabinets come in a range of materials, designs, colours and features, and are easily one of the most expensive parts of your kitchen. Make the most of them by asking relevant questions of your potential cabinet maker.
Before we jump into these questions, though, here are some definitions that will prove helpful when talking to them.
Key Definitions Related to Cabinets
Box: The actual body of your cabinet. They vary in quality, finish and design, and can easily go unnoticed. Make sure the inside has a UV-cured finish for easy cleaning and moisture resistance.
Face Frames: Face frame refers to a framed cabinet’s trim boards where the doors are attached. It’s usually made from a different material than the structure’s back and side panels. Using solid wood for the face frame gives your cabinet beauty and durability.
Doors & Drawer Fronts: These are the primary (noticeable) parts of any cabinetry, and includes all or most of its opening sections.
Toe Kicks: This is the open space between the base cabinet and floor that provides comfort to your feet as you work on the countertop. They also allow for easy cleaning underneath the cabinets.
Hinges & Slides: These pieces of hardware are important for proper functioning of doors and drawers. Cabinet doors that are difficult to operate or drawers that sag from low-quality hardware (hinges and slides) may cost you a lot of hassle and money.
Knobs & Pulls: Door knobs and drawer pulls are the most useful hardware accessory for your cabinets. They may either be part of the cabinet bid or you may have to pay extra for them.
Finish: The finish refers to the final protective coating (stain, paint or lamination) that gives a cabinet its final look. Much like the paint on your wall, finish imparts beauty and protection to your cabinetry.
Now that you know some of the most common cabinet terms, it’s time to get started with the questions.
Q1. Who makes the doors and drawers?
This is a basic but important question homeowners often overlook. When you’re paying for made-to-order kitchen cabinets, make sure that it’s completely custom-made and doesn’t include any readymade parts. Also ask about the kind of hinges and slides they’ll use.
Q2. What kind of materials do you use?
There’s a range of materials available for cabinet construction and choosing the right material will have a huge impact on the overall beauty, longevity and functionality of your kitchen. You can either choose the material on your own or leave it to the professionals. Just make sure it’s durable and water-resistant, particularly because you’re going to use them in your kitchen which is a high-traffic and moisture-prone area.
Q3. Do you check the moisture content of the wood before you begin work?
Excess moisture in your wooden cabinets can cause warping which can lead to loose hinges, large gaps and other serious problems. Additionally, wood that’s excessively moist can prevent certain paints and finishes from adhering.
Q4. Can I design the cabinet interiors?
The chief purpose of a kitchen cabinet is to store cooking ingredients and utensils. Thus you need to discuss your space requirements with your contractor and create a design that best fits your needs. If you see, discuss, edit and approve the design beforehand, there won’t be any room for unpleasant surprises.
Q5. How are the cabinets assembled?
There are many methods, some better than others. For example, gluing and pocket screwing make the cabinets extra durable. By contrast, stapled cabinets fall apart quickly and face nails leave unsightly, permanent marks.
Q6. Will you do the final installation or hire a third-party for the job?
Installation is an important factor, and it’s always better for the cabinet maker to do it instead of hiring someone who knows nothing about your specific kitchen. The cabinet manufacturer can also make any changes or adjustments immediately.
Q7. Can I visit the production site?
An honest and dedicated cabinet maker will always welcome you to see their work process and studio.
Q8. How long will the entire project take?
Building and installing quality kitchen cabinets takes time, but you don’t want to wait unreasonably. Discuss your priorities and ask for a tentative completion date before signing a contract.
Q9. What kind of hardware will you use?
Undermount soft-close slides are the best kind of hardware for smooth functioning of your cabinet drawers. Cold rolled steel hardware is more efficient and durable than cast pewter.
Q10. How is the finish dried between layers?
Complete drying between layers ensures that the finish sticks well to the surface of the cabinet and leaves a smooth, spotless look. Many large-scale cabinet makers use powerful lights in huge ovens to accelerate the process, although sometimes the finish takes up to a month to set.
Q11. What about the product warranty?
Make sure your cabinets come with a warranty. An honest and professional cabinet maker will provide a fair one, but be sure to ask about any clauses you don’t understand.
Once you receive satisfactory answers from your potential kitchen cabinet maker, you should feel confident enough to sign the contract. However, if the contractor seems reluctant to answer your questions, it’s a clear indication that you should look for someone else.