Kitchen Cabinets

These come in a variety of finishes, all with varying price points.
In increasing order of cost we have :

  • Prefinished board, as an entry level product. (e.g. Laminex’s Lamiwood, Polytec’s Meltec, Parbury’s Panelart are all examples of this style)
  • Prefinished board in high gloss finish or textured timber look finish
  • Veneered doors (Natural Timber Veneer)
  • 2 pack polyurethane painted door (first seen as Imperite in 1985)
  • Thermoformed doors (sometimes called Vinyl Wrap)
  • Timber doors (this can get very complicated, because of all the variants)

Choosing Your Door Style

You need to think about questions such as:

How much light is coming into the kitchen, bathroom, living room?

Is it already a dark space?

Should we have that lovely dark woodgrain we loved?

Or should we try to lighten the room and make it feel larger?

How large is the space?

Dark colors will make it feel tighter.

Light colors will make it feel more spacious.

What sort of furniture/architecture does my new kitchen have to “work with”?

Do I want an eclectic look where I am mixing and matching different styles, materials and eras?

Do I want a smooth, understated, elegant & seamless look?

Do I want something else again?

How much “punishment” (kids, clumsy young teens, etc.) will it have to take?

Remember, everything can be damaged and it’s all about how the damage is able to be seen and/or repaired.

  • Laminate and paint can both chip, because their surfaces are very hard and therefore brittle
  • Vinyl & timber are both flexible materials  and tend to “bruise” or “crease” rather than chip.

Little children make a lot of mess, so make sure you think about cleaning when choosing a door style. Jam & Vegemite dribbles are very easily seen on a mirror finish surface, far more than a lower sheen.

What can we afford?

No one has a money tree in the backyard, but neither should we be too price driven. There’s nothing worse than looking back in a few years and lamenting, “Oh, I wish we had done this, or that”, because then it’s too late.

As the old saying goes, the first cost is usually the lowest cost. This is certainly true when renovating your home.

Why am I doing it?

To sell or to stay?

If selling, my taste might not be my potential buyers’ taste.

If it’s for me, then I must ensure it’s “my kitchen”, not my “designer’s kitchen”. It should do the following:

  • Be an efficient layout. It is a little factory after all.
  • Use the space well so that it has visual balance.
  • Then and only then should you address the aesthetics.

Too many kitchens become a monument to the designer’s genius, rather than a well planned functional space that people have to work in.

Around 1900, the American architect, Louis Sullivan coined the phrase, “form follows function” and it is amazing to see how few kitchens really live up to this mantra.

While we all want our new kitchen to be beautiful, our primary task is a functional space and this must be your priority, then we can make it beautiful, not the other way round, which is constantly what we see in many coffee table magazines.

Profiled Door

A door with a shape cut into its surface, can only be obtained using:

1. Thermoformed doors (sometimes called Vinyl Wrap)

These doors can be manufactured as a flat panel or with many different profiles, (shapes), and can be made with a textured, satin, (or suede) and high gloss finish,. The price reflects the increasing gloss level in each type.

As with any product they have their strengths & weaknesses.

Strengths are their durability, (they are really “kid proof”), great range of colors and from a design point of view some manufacturers have taken the technology to the point where you can make virtually any shape, size object you want completely seamlessly with stunning effect.

In particular vinyl is a heat sensitive product and care should always be taken to protect it from excessive heat. All of the better door manufacturers provide care and maintenance instructions for their products. If you follow these carefully you should have little or no trouble. There are many imported vinyl doors that are really not up to the mark, they are “very cheap, because they are very cheap”. These types of panel; will delaminate very quickly even with strong sunlight on them. They are a  trap for the unwary.

Disadvantages include de-lamination in areas of high moisture or heat, when damaged material could tear or dent. Unfortunately cannot be repaired or touched up, would need to be replaced.

2. 2 pack polyurethane painted door, (First seen as Imperite in 1985)

2 pack polyurethane paint can be likened to a pigmented version of “Estapol”. It is usually cured in a “low bake oven”  and comes out very hard, scratch resistant, can be finished with a wide range of gloss levels including, Textured, Matt, Satin and High Gloss.

Advantages include flexibility in finish, endless colour choice, disadvantage is paint can chip similar to car duco, as it is ‘baked’ and so can be brittle when met with impact, however chips can be repaired/touched up.

3. Timber doors

Firstly, timber is warm, homely, beautiful, classical, timeless and also always expensive, but working out the what’s, where’s and why’s of a solid timber kitchen can be pretty intimidating.

A look at the following gives you an idea of the task.

Timber doors can be made as a:

  • Solid frame with a veneered centre
  • Solid frame with a thin solid centre, (known as a Shaker door)
  • Solid frame with a raised panel solid centre
  • Solid frame with “lining board” centre
  • Solid frame with a “lining board” solid centre, with a raised moulding around it

So we have 4 basic types of door.

Then we have the main species available, pretty much in order of increasing cost:

Softwoods:

  • Knotty Pine, Celery Top Pine, Radiata Pine, NZ Pine .
  • Baltic Pine, Oregon, Cedar, NZ Rimu

Flat Panel Doors

In increasing order of cost we have :

1. Prefinished board, as an entry level product. (e.g. Laminex’s  Lamiwood, Polytec’s Meltec, Parbury’s Panelart are all examples of this style).

These are available in a huge range of colors & woodgrains, and are available in matt, textured, and grained finishes. They can be used to create sensational results. Don’t be fooled by the term “entry level”, that just means they are very affordable.

2. Prefinished board in high gloss finish. (e.g. Laminex’s Crystalgloss finish & Polytec’s Createc gloss)

These are manufactured in a similar way to the entry level product, but with the addition of a high gloss coating that is both very hard, scratch resistant and imparts an absolutely mirror like finish to the surface. These products have a higher price point than Lamiwood type products, but give a spectacular finish to a modern kitchen.

It is fair to say that this very new finish is going to provide the marketplace with a less expensive alternative to the well known “2 pack paint “ finish that has been so popular over the last 20 years. It is substantially cheaper than 2 pack and gives, (in a flat panel at least), a stunning new way of achieving a mirror finish to your kitchen. In particular the new woodgrains that this type of product offers are really stunning.

3. Veneered doors

Veneered doors are flat panels faced with a natural timber veneer. These come in a huge range of species ranging from  modestly priced Victorian Ash, (or Tasmanian Oak, as some people call it), to the most exotic species costing a small fortune plus everything else in between.

4. Thermoformed doors, (sometimes called Vinyl wrapped doors).

5. 2 pack polyurethane painted door, (First seen as Imperite in 1985)

6. Timber doors.  This is where it all gets pretty complicated.

Generally speaking, softwoods are not really ideally suited for kitchen cabinet doors. Too soft and too unstable.

Hardwoods:

  • Victorian Ash, Tasmanian Oak. Cherrywood, Nyotah,,Qld Walnut.
  • Blackwood, American Oak, Red Gum, New Guinea Rosewood, Rock Maple, Aust. Myrtle.
  • Red Gum Select, Jarrah, Danta, Mahogany, Silky Oak, American Hickory.

Now we have all the various finishes available:

  • Clear polished
  • Stained & polished
  • Tinted
  • Hand painted
  • Distressed, (which means prematurely ageing the door)

Now if we multiplied out all these permutations, we would get loads of differing price points, so to cost a timber kitchen is very difficult until you know exactly what you want. More so than any other door style. However, a good designer will be able to work you through it without too much stress.

Needless to say there are more options than these, but these probably cover 99% of the marketplace.