ARTICLE Stephanie Matheson IMAGES Scott Espie, Vanessa Craggs

As the backbone of your kitchen, the cabinetry holds up form and function in your kitchen. All things kitchen (and more) are stored here, and the cabinet material and style set the defining tone for the interior design of your kitchen. You can have your cabinets blend into the background with the many classic, timeless options available. It’s hard to go wrong with plain white or neutral cabinets, that can be ‘dressed up or down’ with extras and appliances, as and when your budget allows. Alternatively, make your cabinets the stars of your kitchen with special cabinet door finishes.

In any case, your kitchen cabinets should be real workhorses. Cabinet doors and drawers will be opened and closed many times a day, often in a rush, and should be sturdy to stand the test of time. That’s where the different cabinet materials come into play, along with robust hardware.

Standard cabinets are hugely popular, both because their cost-effectiveness and ease of installation. There’s a broad spectrum ranging from very plain, low-cost items all the way through to high-end luxury cabinets with glass doors and other extras. When choosing cabinets, especially low-cost, flat packed products, it’s worth checking the width of the units to ensure they are sturdy enough, fit the space correctly, and match existing units.

White lacquer kitchen cabinets

How much does a particle board or MDF cabinet cost?

On the inside, cabinets are usually constructed of either particle board or MDF and finished with a layer of melamine. Particle board is made of compressed wood chips with an open texture while MDF (medium-density fibreboard) is a very dense boards fabricated from wooden bi-products. MDF can be slightly more expensive, but due to its denser nature, and especially if a moisture resistant product is used, it is less likely to soak up water and can be expected to last longer. Where the boards are cut off and facing out, a tape is applied. The tapes used for cabinet edge banding can come in different thicknesses, which is both a reflection of cost and durability. The thicker edging will cost more and last longer.

How much does a melamine cabinet cost?

Melamine is also probably the most commonly used material to finish the exterior of your kitchen cabinet doors and drawers. It’s durable and affordable. However, there are quality differences and you should check with your renovation builder that a high moisture resistant MDF board and quality edge banding are used.

Contemporary gray and white kitchen cabinets

How much does a vinyl and lacquer cabinet cost?

Other options include vinyl and lacquer. Vacuum formed vinyl costs slightly more than melamine, but has no visible lines around the edges. Lacquer is more expensive again. It’s usually applied in two coats and can be specified in any colour and gloss degree, giving you the ability to customise your kitchen and creating a unique look.

How much does a custom wood cabinet cost?

A kitchen built just for you – if this is something you’re keen on, then plywood might be a material to look into. It’s is more expensive than MDF, but far more affordable than solid wood. Plywood consists of layers of wood veneer and has a beautiful finish with the layers showing on the edge. It’s very strong and less susceptible to water damage than MDF or particle board. Hand-made plywood cabinetry may be the way to go to maximise storage space in a very small kitchen, or even just for the love of having your very own one-of-a-kind kitchen.

Custom wood, painted white, kitchen cabinets

What options do I have for kitchen cabinet doors?

Glass doors with clear or frosted glass are becoming more popular. They can add a bit of sparkle and ‘lightness’ to a kitchen, especially if the kitchen is a dark space with limited natural light. The whole door can be made of glass, or you can get glass inserts or glass slats.

Solid timber doors are at the upper end of the price range, and wood veneers may be a good alternative if you love the timber look, but are trying to keep costs in check. You could also consider combining materials, not only to save money but also to add highlights and interest. For example, timber veneer works well in combination with melamine as a stand-out feature.

Can I add kitchen hardware?

In terms of hardware, door hinges and drawer runners are the key ingredients in your kitchen cabinetry. The quantity of these can vary greatly, and while the most reputable brands usually come with a bigger price tag, they also stand the test of time.  Sticking to cabinet doors versus drawers, can be a cost saver. However, if you do opt for drawers, soft-closing drawer systems can be worth the extra investment if you are looking to give your kitchen the ‘final touch’ and stop any kind of door/drawer slamming.

Hardware can go further though, and this is where functionality really comes into its own. With a bit of budget to spare, you can install useful inserts, drawer organising systems and handle-less furniture. Standard cabinets come in a huge range of different luxury options. Think pull-out base units, extra slim units, pantry units, storage drawers and inserts. Pull-out pantries, for example, can make life easier, and extra narrow slide-out cabinets will keep spices and other ingredients at hand. Corner units allow you to full utilise corner spaces while floor-to-ceiling units maximise storage room – the list goes on.

Custome faux wooden kitchen cabinets

All of these more complex configurations add to the overall cost of your kitchen, but can be worth the investment to make the most of your kitchen space and layout. An additional cabinet extra to consider is lighting. LED lights can be integrated into the cabinets, mounted underneath or installed as strip lights above, underneath or behind.

There is no limit as to what you can spend to create the kitchen of your dreams, particularly if you consider custom made cabinets, which can make use of every nook and cranny of your kitchen and be fully designed around your work flow.

You might be interested in reading: How much does it cost to add a basic storage?

 
Note: Prices are rough approximations only and Refresh Renovations cannot be held accountable for their accuracy. All prices in this article are exclusive of installation costs and any variations unless otherwise noted.
 

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