Cracks in wooden kitchen cabinets

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Hello,
When I bought this condo a year ago it had a brand new kitchen cabinets. However, some time ago I noticed small cracks between joints. Also, cabinet doors seem not to be aligned properly (as if the wood was bended a little). This was not happening a year ago. These cabinets are top-notch and (supposedly) of high quality. Here are some pictures:
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/1.jpg
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/2.jpg
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/3.jpg
Did this happen because of dry/hot air? Is there anything that I can do to prevent any further damage or fix existing conditions?
These pics were taken a year ago (you won't see much details):
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/1.jpg
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/2.jpg
Thanks, Lukasz
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote: ...

I hate to rain on your parade, but these look like pretty shoddy work. Mitered rails and stiles? On a quality scale of 1 to 10, they look like about a 2. And that's what I would have said if there WEREN'T gaping cracks.
Judging by the workmanship, the door panels are probably glued into the frames. As the humidity changes throughout the year the panel can expand and, unless it floats within the frame, can force the joints apart. You can check if the panels are floating by simply sliding them with your hand. If they are done correctly, you should be able to slide the panels up/down/left/right a little bit inside the frame.
If the panels ARE floating, you can probably fix this. Depending if you have any talent or experience with woodworking, you could drill a hole in the side of the door perpendicular to the mitered joint and using a screw to pull the pieces back together. There are ways to do this such that you can disguise the screw hole when you're done.
Sorry. I hope you didn't pay a lot for them.
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Well, I paid a lot for the whole apartment and the custom kitchen was factored into the cost. I guess, I don't have to replace everything, just cabinet doors in the worst case, correct? Do you know how much would it cost to order a custom (good/high quality) doors a piece? I hope that they could be made to match the existing texture/color of the shelves.
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If these cabinets are only a year or two old, why not approach the manufacturer? Or the company you bought the unit from? If you bought an upgrade that was supposed to be "high end" (whatever that means - no particular insult pointed at your cabinets), then there should be a warranty behind them. Hell, even the basic stuff probably has some sort of warranty behind it. Joinery coming apart would certainly fall into a defect in materials and workmanship in my opinion. You never know until you try...
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-Mike-
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Mike Marlow wrote:

You're right about that - it can't hurt to ask, but it is as I expect, a local carpenter, can't say cabinetmaker, built those as per the previous owner's instructions with mitered corners, who is at fault? The owner probably didn't know any better and there wasn't anything concealed from the buyer.
The thing that I just noticed is that the OP mentioned in an earlier post that he bought the unit a year ago and also included some pictures from a year ago. Those pictures show the gaps in the miters. Hmmm. These things don't happen over night, so I wonder exactly how old those cabinets are and when the gaps became objectionable.
R
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My bet - standard construction quality "upgrade". Came from some production shop hidden somewhere in... well, who knows.

I'm also wondering if he bought it new or purchased it from an existing owner. That would about kill any warranty claims... likely.
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RicodJour wrote:

Same idea but just judging from the unusual design - the reverse bevel frames - I kinda suspect that they were designed by a designer (or architect) who was enamoured with the effect of mitered frames and that some poor, hapless shop built them according to specs.
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Judging by the names of the files I believe he posted the same photos for the before shots as he did for the after shots...
John
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John Grossbohlin wrote:

I was going by what he wrote, not the file names. Read it again and you'll see what I mean.
R
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I understood your message was based on what was written but because the year earlier photos weren't--they were the current ones again--it gave you bad information to work with. I see that the OP noted the link error in another message
John
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John Grossbohlin wrote:

Here's his later post where he corrected the links:

I posted incorrect links. Here is the whole thing (photo taken a year ago):
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/k1.jpg
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/k2.jpg
If you read his original post he says he _bought_ the place a year ago. Well, if the corrected links are from a year ago, and he bought the place a year ago, and the gaps in the miters are visible back them, well, something is odd here, and only the OP can straighten it out.
R
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We're saying basically the same thing...
I pulled the corrected link photos into Photoshop and the open miters don't appear to be there but the left and middle upper cabinet doors aren't aligned across the bottom. On that count there doesn't appear to be a change over time.
John
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John Grossbohlin wrote:

I didn't import it, I just clicked on the picture and it bumped up to its native resolution. At that size you can see stuff. Check out the miter on the cabinet base door on the lower left.
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/k1.jpg
I definitely see a gap in the miter on that one. And on this one:
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/k2.jpg
there's a gap on the base cabinet inn the lower left, second one in.
I guess that's one of the benefits of him posting those big ass pictures. ;)
R
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Correct. I bought the unit a year ago and these photos were taken at that time:
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/k1.jpg
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/k2.jpg
It could be that gaps were visible but definitely joints weren't going apart.
Again, here are the new photos:
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/1.jpg
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/2.jpg
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OK, thanks everyone for responding. I really appreciate your comments and suggestions.I will try to approach the seller for a warranty since he had renovated the kitchen before I bought the appartment.
Apart from joints coming apart, the doors don't shut properly (as if the wood was bended somehow) - there is a gap in the lower part, while the upper part seems to be aligned correctly. Here is a picture which shows that:
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/k3.jpg
(not the best picture but it should give you an idea)
Lukasz
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Jerzy wrote:

Where did you get the idea that an owner warranties a house he's sold? If it was a latent and concealed condition, not picked up during the inspection (you did have it inspected, didn't you?), and the owner knowingly concealed that information, then you'd have a case. But this was a readily visible problem, so you don't.
If the refrigerator had died, the sink started rusting through, or something similar, would you expect the previous owner to pay to fix it? There are new home warranties, but used homes don't have one unless you pay for it. I'm assuming you didn't or you wouldn't be looking to the previous owner.
As others here have pointed out, your cabinets were doomed from the start due to their construction. A good home inspector would have noticed those gaps and pointed out the problem. The gaps are clearly visible in the pictures from a year ago, so it would have been pretty hard for the inspector to miss the gaps seeing them in person. So either your home inspector wasn't very good, or you didn't get an inspection.
In any event, you have just bought yourself a learning experience. You can try shaking a tree to see if anything will fall, but you really don't have a case. My advice would be to start investigating the cost to replace the cabinet doors. You'll need to have that information/estimate even if someone does, miraculously, decide that they owe you something.
Here's a link to give you some idea of a cabinet door cost. make sure that you factor in delivery, and finishing. http://www.woodtradition.com/catalog/item/1575776/1044243.htm Other manufacturers sell prefinished doors which is probably a better way to go. They'll send you finish samples upon request.
Another thing I just noticed in this picture:
http://lukaszanddaria.homedns.org/k2.jpg
See those big filler strips where the cabinets turn the 45 degree corner? I don't think the cabinets were custom made, so much as site built on standard boxes. Those are awfully large filler strips and entirely avoidable with custom cabinets. If the space behind those filler strips is inaccessible, the cabinets were definitely not custom made.
R
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Not the owner, but the manufacturer if there is still a warranty. Prior to selling me the apartment he renovated the whole kitchen, and yes the place was inspected. As I said, at that time joints weren't falling apart and the wood was not bended (all doors shut properly). As someone already pointed out it is the manufacturer's fault.

No, I don't know what you mean.
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Jerzy wrote:

Manufacturer is a euphemism. They were built by a carpenter. If you're saying that it's the builders fault, maybe yes, maybe no. What's your opinion on the situation if the owner directed the carpenter to build the cabinets fast and cheap? Is the carpenter still responsible? It's not as cut and dried as you seem to think. I'm also not sure why you would assume that the warranty is transferable, but since I don't know where you are and what your state's laws are in that respect I can't comment.
It's not a small job, nor expense, to replace all of the doors and regardless of what your state's laws indicate, I doubt the original carpenter will rollover willingly. I think you have an uphill battle on your hands if you decide to sue, but it's your time and money.

Spaces between cabinet doors that are just blanked off - no access. It's a sign of fudging to make standard sized cabinets fit. As standard manufactured cabinets come in 3" increments, there's no reason to have a filler piece larger than 1 1/2". You have filler strips that are substantially larger than that.
As the buyer it's up to you to verify the quality and condition of what you are buying. You noticed the gaps when you bought the place. Have you ever seen cabinets anywhere else with gaps in the corners before? They're very rare as most all kitchen cabinets are built correctly, with tried and true methods, except for DIY cabinets. As far as the inspection, if you didn't realize what those gaps indicated, your inspector should have. A large manufacturer will have a warranty policy in place and indicate whether it is transferrable or not. A small time outfit, like the guy who built your cabinets, won't have any such policy, will have no warranty reserve fund, and as far as he's concerned you'll be a Johhny-come-lately trying to steal his profits.
I'm not trying to bust your chops, I'm just pointing out a few things. You asked for professional opinions, and that's what you're getting. I'm not a cheering section - I just call them as I see them.
R
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John Grossbohlin wrote:

I'm not going by the earlier photos, John. I'm going by the corrected ones and what he wrote. Now assuming the OP can differentiate the years, something doesn't add up. You can't straighten it out, as you have no more information than I do. Only the OP can clarify the situation.
BTW, somebody else mentioned the odd location of the pulls. It really is weird, right on the edge of that bevel.
R
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The work looks a nicer when you see the whole kitchen, not just the close-ups of the corners.
I know you can order custom maple doors from http://www.hardwoodstore.com . The price is pretty reasonable, especially for flat panel doors like yours, but you'll have to find someone who can match the finish for you.
Good luck.
Jerzy wrote:

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