Kitchen Cabinet Lingo for the Novice

by | Jun 19, 2017

Planning a custom kitchen cabinet remodel, but feeling a bit confused by all the features available?

Learning the language of a new endeavor increases our understanding and aides us in becoming comfortable with something outside our normal comfort zone.  In a previous blog entry, we discussed a little interior “cabinet speak” that covered the language of shelves and drawers.  Now let’s discusses the actual materials that a kitchen cabinet is created from.

First up, a kitchen cabinet may be crafted from solid wood of varying types (maple, oak, birch, cherry, etc.) with a sealing finish such as:

  • Glaze – A semi-transparent coating that can be applied over a stain to enhance the color  or give an older or antique look.
  • Paint – Often used to give a budget conscious spruce up or a new look to old cabinets. Primer should be used before the paint.
  • Stain – Coating used to change the color of a wood. Wood will need to be stripped prior to staining.
  • Varnish – Coating used over stain to seal and protect the wood surface.

However, all cabinets are not made of solid wood. Some are made from engineered or man-made wood products. These are created by combining wood strands, particles, or fibers bonded together using adhesives. In addition to being economical, some are actually stronger than real wood and tend to warp less.  Below are a few engineered products:

  • MDF (medium density fiberboard) – Created using individual wood fibers glued and pressed together. This is smoother and denser than particle board and thus can actually be painted, stained or varnished with good result. Since its not real wood, there will be no wood grain pattern or texture to show though the stain/varnish.
  • Plywood – Thin layers of wood (called veneers) are glued together with the grain at angles for strength. It is flexible, strong and resistant to splitting. Plywood may also be painted and stained/varnished.
  • Particle board- Small pieces of wood shavings or sawdust glued together and pressed into sheets. Very economical and will not bow under weight. Since moisture can cause it to expand and/or discolor, it is important that it be sealed using paint or one of the finishes below.

Engineered or man-made woods may also have one of the finishes below:

  • Melamine – A plastic material made from a resin composed of melamine and formaldehyde which is used to make surface coatings. There are many types.
  • Thermofoil –  Another type of plastic material that is thermoformed onto an underlying core.
  • Veneer – A very thin layer of material (often real wood) which is bonded to an underlying core.
  • Vinyl laminate – A composite material made from paper and a resin fused to create a relatively durable surfacing material.

Cabinet Wholesaler’s “All Inclusive” Signature Line of custom kitchen cabinets allow you to have complete control over what goes into your kitchen cabinet remodel. Choose from your pick of door styles, colors, crown moldings, hardware, decorative features, glass, and even the configuration for one low price.

Call us at 1-714-693-1111 to request your free no-obligation 30-minute kitchen cabinet remodel estimate.