Kitchen cabinets are the built-in furniture installed in many kitchens for storage of food, cooking equipment, and often silverware and dishes for table service. Appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens are often integrated into kitchen cabinetry. There are many options for cabinets available at present.
Cabinet faces. Solid wood remains a popular choice for many cabinet parts, including bases, frames and doors. However, most commercial cabinets have sides, backs and bottoms made of plywood or particle board. Traditional-style solid-wood cabinetry is more expensive and many consumers opt for cabinets that incorporate many particle board or plywood components to reduce costs. Pricing for solid wood cabinet doors depends on the wood species used. For example, teak is more expensive than cherry, which is more expensive than maple, which is more expensive than oak. Similarly, solid wood is more expensive than plywood which, in turn, is more expensive than particle board or similar sheet goods.
Trade-off: solid wood versus particle board. Solid wood and plywood are durable and strong, but are more costly and offer less dimensional stability at manufacture than particle board. For cabinets and surface finishes that may sustain damage during long use, serviceability is a consideration. In case of damage, solid wood can be repaired by a qualified furniture refinisher, other than the manufacturer, to achieve a perfect match to the surrounding finish. Veneered MDF and particle board components, if damaged, must be replaced by the manufacturer. If water reaches the core, particleboard especially will swell irreversibly (therefore it is never used in home sheathing applications, where oriented strand board OSB is used instead). Tolerances for the use of screw fasteners in particleboard are tighter than for solid wood or plywood, and screws often loosen over time if over-torqued. However, MDF and particle board are good choices where cabinets are well-constructed, will be cared-for, where service life is projected as intermediate, e.g., where the kitchen will be remodeled approximately every 15 years, or where the manufacturer can be relied upon to supply replacement components if needed.
Custom. Custom face-frame cabinets offer more efficient use of space because double width stiles (see above) can be avoided. They also provide far greater flexibility with regard to materials and design, since kitchen cabinet heights, widths and depths can be designed and produced according to the client's specifications. Every aspect of custom cabinetry can be made to specifications, which makes it both the most desirable and the most expensive choice in the majority of kitchen installations.
Door Mounting. For both face-frame and frameless kitchen cabinets, it is conventional for cabinet doors to overlay the cabinet carcase. Face-frame cabinets allow for various door mounting options. Traditional overlay doors do not abut, allowing a partial view of the face frames when the doors are closed. Full overlay cabinet doors fit closely so that they obscure the face frame when closed. A third and less conventional option for face-frame cabinets is to inset doors into, and flush with, the face frame (see below). Since frameless (see below) cabinet doors also fully overlay their carcases, the two types (frameless and full-overlay face-frame cabinets) have a similar installed appearance (when doors are closed), both may use European cup hinges, and both tend to use decorative door and drawer pulls (since there is no room for fingers at the door or drawer edge when installed).
Hinge design features. Those European hinges intended for use with frameless cabinets afford a quick-release mechanism enabling a door to be removed and replaced without the use of tools. Such hinges typically afford six-way (three-axis) positional adjustment by screwdriver for door alignment. Some accommodate complex motions to avoid interfering with interior cabinet components while fully overlaying the carcases (e.g., permitting the full-interior-cabinet-width dimensions for pull-out trays). Scissors-type articulating hinges support wide-angle non-interfering adjacent doors.
Frames. In the U.S. solid wood frame and panel construction, using either mortise and tenon or cope and stick jointed frames, is traditional, with maple, cherry, oak, birch, and hickory among the most commonly used species. Mortise-and-tenon frames, with their greater strength and permanence, are more costly to produce and less commonly used as compared to cope-and-stick frames. As an alternative, miter joint frames, which may be identifiable by face-surface relief that follows continuously around the frame, have become popular. Miter-jointed frames typically employ embedded metal fasteners to secure frames elements (stiles and rails) cut at a 45À angle. Captured within frames, panels may be either solid or veneered engineered wood (either particle board or medium density fiberboard). Laminates, including those designed to resemble hardwood, can typically be identified by a more rounded appearance associated with the minimum bending radii necessarily entailed by the manufacturing process of applying laminate to an underlying substrate. By comparison, solid surfaces, and solid hardwoods in particular, can be milled with more sharply defined corners, edges, or grooves on either a panel or frame.
Glass door construction options. Doors may have glass windows constructed of muntins and mullions holding glass panels (as in exterior windows). Other designs either mimic the divided-light look of muntins and mullions with overlays, or may dispense with them altogether. Cabinets using glass doors sometimes use glass shelves and interior lighting from the top of a cabinet. A glass shelf allows light to reach throughout a cabinet. For a special display effect, the interior rear of a cabinet may be covered with a mirrors to further distribute light.
However, the same is not true for trays. Even in the case of frameless construction doors and their hinges when open block a portion of the interior cabinet width. Since trays are mounted behind the door, trays are typically significantly narrower than drawers. Special hinges are available that can permit trays of similar width as drawers but they have not come into wide use.
Hardware is the term used for metal fittings incorporated into a cabinet extraneous of the wood or engineered wood substitute and the countertop. The most basic hardware consists of hinges and drawer/door pulls, although only hinges are an absolute necessity for a cabinet since pulls can be fashioned of wood or plastic, and drawer slides were traditionally fashioned of wood. In a modern kitchen it is highly unusual to use wood for a drawer slides owing to the much superior quality of metal drawer slides/sides.