Modular vs Built in place kitchen cabinets

Page 1 of 2  
Planning my kitchen rebuild and at the last minute I'm reconsidering if building modular cabinets is really the way to go or if I should just build them in place. I've built stand alone cabinets before and I'm familiar with the process but it looks like built in place cabinetry would use a good deal less sheet material and who doesn't like to save money. But I'm not familiar with building cabinets in place so it would be something new to learn. What do you guys think?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Buy an upper end set of cabinets at IKEA. No, I am not kidding. That stuff is totally credible. Use their on-line planner and be done with it, then blow the rest of your budget on a quartz countertop. Biggest bang for the buck...IMHO. Then, use the time you save, building a nice armoire or hutch to feed that woodworker beast inside of you.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Robatoy:

Ikea has a poor reputation. Unfortunately the closest Ikea store is 150 miles away, a bit too far to go see if we like their cabinets. Looking at their website I only see one style of cabinet, Akurum.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
When I started in the trades in the early 70s, built in cabinets were the rage. We built library walls, nooks, built in hutches and display cabinets. From time to time depending on who I was working wtih at the time, we also built kitchen and bath cabs as well in place.
Later I was assigned to another cabinet guy that used to run a cabinet shop. We built everything in modules. They were easier to build, easier to install, and easier to finish.
I haven't built anything in place since unless there was no other choice.
I like Rob's idea of buying finished cabinets. For most folks, even if they can build them they ruin their work with poor finishing.
Ahhhh... and finishing in place. If you do it correctly you will be disassembling all of your work anyway, so why not build it and finish it in pieces? Finishing one modular drawer bank at a time is much easier than the entire side of a base section that is in place.
Think of managing your spray, the fumes, the drift, etc., that will go through your house and A/C system. (Of course, I am assuming you wouldn't brush a kitchen full of cabinets, including doors, drawers, interiors, etc.)
Prefinished cabs handle all that or you. If you don't like IKEA or others, try to find a local cabinet distributor of finished cabinets and see what they have. There is actually a lot of nice stuff out there these days.
Robert
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

IKEA has different qualities, that I have seen. I am no fan of IKEA, but I was surprised at the consistent quality and finish of their kitchen cabinets. A client of mine buys and flips expensive condos in Toronto and always has the kitchen all ready for one of my countertops. (Well, the new guys will be doing this now)
There are other choices that a dealer can bring in for you.
Having said all this, it all comes down to the installation. A mediocre set of cabinets installed properly is a better deal than high- end materials banged together and finished poorly.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 5/14/2010 7:33 AM, Robatoy wrote:

You bet ... houses settle, wood expands and contracts, and walls move, so here is the reality of the situation:
The square, well built, "modular" cabinet box, shimmed level and properly hung on non-square walls, walls that are going to move a bit sooner or later during the life of the house, will still be square after said wall movement, and all the parts, doors, drawers, drawer fronts will have a much better chance of surviving wall movement and still fit like new.
Component pieces of built-in cabinetry on that same set of walls are going to move with the walls, in differing amounts according to their location, to the detriment of ALL parts fitting together like they did before the inevitable movement/settling.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 4/15/2010
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Swingman:

Okay, good argument, thanks. The cabinets I have now are built-ins that I believe are original to the 1960 house and they are coming apart, I believe due to house movement.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You said a mouthful there. I painted out the most inexpensive solid wood line that HD sold a few years ago (I don't think they sell the line anymore - they were unfinished white oak) for a contractor friend of mine and they looked like a million bucks. They were very well made cabinets (surprise!), and were installed, trimmed, and adjusted by his ace.
On the other hand, I have seen way too many cabinet replacements where the modules were just ruined. Misplaced screws and nails, no attempt to level the cabinets on the floor, not a wedge to be seen on the backs of the uppers, trim in the wrong position, etc.
Unless I just need one or two I never build them anymore. My favorite cab guy does it too cheap, and he's good, too. But he doesn't install. I have gotten a lot of work form him troubleshooting poor installations and in some cases rehanging his products.
He won't install anything any more. He can't find guys that meet his standards and he told me it was too hard on him to see his nice cabinets hung poorly.
BTW, a couple of years ago I put in a whole kitchen of Kraftmaid cabinets. I was surprised at their quality, and the trims matched the cabinets exactly. They were well made throughout, the hardware was nice, and were finished inside and out. When I go them hung, I touched up the visible hanging brad holes in the moldings and was finished. They looked really nice, and as you said, they spent the money on some green granite. With the reddish colored cabinets they had, it reminded me of Christmas, but it still looked great. More like a library than a kitchen when the lights were dimmed.
Cost savings of not using me and my buddy as a tag team of custom cabinets and custom finishing: +/- $2500.
They were happy to apply it to their $6K granite bill.
Robert
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

We owned a second house a few years back. It was a mountain cabin that had been designed and supervised by an architect for a client. I was surprised to find that the cabinets in the kitchen, baths, laundry room and pantry were all Kraftmade box cabinets. It was almost impossible to tell except for a couple places where there were filler boards. The quality of the Kraftmade cabinets was very good and probably better than most custom cabinets that would have been made in local shops.
Interestingly, we are in the process of trying to purchase a 1-story home here (health issues) and the cabinets in it are also Kraftmade. I had the opportunity to talk to a custom home builder and he told me that if he had to make a guess, that box cabinets could be found in virtually all of even the most expensive homes, with only library shelving and custom units like entertainment centers or media room built-ins etc. coming from custom shops anymore.
--
Nonny
On most days,
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 5/15/2010 1:53 PM, Nonny wrote:

Around here most of the high end custom home builders use site built cabinets, from kitchens to closets, because, bottom line, they are cheaper when factoring in labor, materials and installation costs.
That's whats so sad about walking into one of these "high end" homes up for resale four or five years later and seeing the results of all that eye candy trim with gaps in it (none of the guys ever heard of coping and inside miter), warped doors that won't close all the way, and drawers that don't fit.
Damn thig is that people either are incapable of seeing it, or refuse to see acknowledge it.
<Strange meaning of "high end" in real estate agent speak these days, at least around here.>
Not to be argumentative, but while Kraftmade are indeed some of the better, factory made boxes, I can spot them a block away.
I've heard it remarked on many an occasion, that, after having now owned kitchen cabinets hand crafted with high quality materials, like the ones Leon and I put in houses, folks, who used to walk through HD and think how good the Kraftmade cabinets were, now think they look "cheap" ... and that's a quote. And I agree ... after building/seeing/using/owning hand crafted cabinet boxes and components, Kraftmade simply no longer looks like "quality" goods.
I also agree that for most, if the choice is between built-in kitchen cabinets, or 'factory made' cabinet boxes and components like Kraftmade makes, Kraftmade is one of the better ways to go these days ... then again, ask me how many millions of dollars worth of houses just our kitchen cabinets alone have sold, some more than once. :)
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 4/15/2010
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<snip>

Me too, though they're better than the not-much-above-contractor-grade stuff in this house. The thing that impresses me about Kraftmade is the thought that goes into, um, "gadgets". Some are neat, some useless. Why would I want built-in spice racks? OTOH, some of the pan storage is quite well thought out.

I think they look cheap, even from a distance. Maybe they're "too perfect", like plastic. I'm also not a fan of plastic components. I've had a fifteen year old kitchen when these pieces start to dry out and break.

Isn't it illegal to sell a house more than once? ;-)
BTW, we took a half-day to go through the Ikea in Atlanta a while back. THeir stuff makes Kraftmade look great. What a pile of plastic junk! ...wouldn't last five years.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 15 May 2010 15:26:23 -0500, " snipped-for-privacy@att.bizzzzzzzzzzzz"

Depends on how often you go through your spices and/or if they're exposed to light. Spices deteriorate very quickly (taste wise) when exposed to light over even a few months. The cure is such things as your built in spice rack in a drawer or some other light blocking method.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I guess I just don't consider spice racks to be furniture, which cabinetry is. I'd rather buy a spice rack to go *in* the cabinet than being held hostage to a stupid spice rack.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I agree with your comments. When I started working for my Dad, back in the 1950's, cabinets came from 3 sources: 1) from a local cabinet shop, 2) from the lumber yard in a box or 3) were built on-site by the trim carpenters. The high end homes were always from the local cabinet shop. The typical homes were built on-site and the homes just slightly better than trailers were built using lumber yard box cabinets.
Naturally, that's changed over the years with shifts in wages, availability and even customer expectations.
I now live in Las Vegas, where most homes in most subdivisions are built by national contractors based on 4-6 floor plans per neighborhood. The homes may be built on spec, but if a customer buys during construction, they can pick colors etc. I'd say that 99.9% of all these houses are built using cabinets built somewhere else and shipped to the wholesaler in boxes. The choices are usually either white Melamine or wood/vinyl veneer over particle board/plywood in some wood color. This is common in even homes costing $300k to $500k or more. "Wood" cabinetry is a term the RE agents use here to mark the difference between Melamine and stained Birch or Oak veneer cabinets. I don't ever recall any agent even commenting whether cabinets were custom made and not from a box.
In the more expensive homes, the cabinets are still from a box, but "quality," means that the rails and styles of doors, along with face framing, is from solids and not particle board with a wood veneer. You also find that the more upscale homes, while still having box cabinets, have more fancy things like appliance garages, swing-up appliance shelves in lower cabinets, lazy susans in corner cabinets, pantry, microwave shelves and rolling pan shelves.
I also absolutely, totally, agree with the sentiment of others about cabinets that are custom built (job site) inside the home- usually by trim carpenters, being junk. I don't think that I've ever seen ones that last nearly as long as even inexpensive box cabinets and they almost always have a crappy finish. The best cabinets, IMHO, are still the ones where a cabinet maker comes to the house, measures and returns with cabinets he's made and finished in the controlled conditions of his shop. The best installs I've seen are almost always where the cabinet maker himself does the installation of his cabinets.
I don't know where you are from, but here in Las Vegas, the big thing is granite for kitchens and marble for baths in the upscale homes, and granite for kitchens and ceramic tile on bath counter tops for the middle grade ones. Occasionally, if money is tight, a buyer will have the default tops of 4X4 ceramic installed, and have plans to remove it eventually and replace it with granite. Corian, Silestone and similar synthetics are almost nonexistent here and laminate tops are equally scarce for some reason.
While off the subject of cabinets, flooring here is subtly different than it was in NC, IN or other places I've lived. Here, carpet is used in low traffic areas and where sound control is needed like a bedroom, but the general living area of a middle-upscale house is typically ceramic or clay tile, laid with a 3/8" grout line, or Travertine laid with a 0 grout line. Where I grew up, you might have a small tile area by the front door or garage entrance, but then wall to wall carpet elsewhere. I'm not sure if that's a sign of the times or what.
--
Nonny
On most days,
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 5/15/2010 4:27 PM, Nonny wrote:
<snip of good stuff>

Indeed! The absolute best of all possible worlds! <BSEG>

Pretty much the same here.

Here, mostly hardwood's throughout, with slate, or some other natural stone, in the master baths, with same or travertine in the guest and other baths. Lots of natural stone outside ... porches, breezeways, sidewalks, etc. Rarely see concrete flatwork in these areas. Rarely see carpet anywhere in the main house, but quite common in MIL/maid quarters.
With the exception of bathrooms and closets, which are the all 'full monte' cabinet ammenities you can generally cram in, I tend to leave about 70% of the built-ins (entertainment centers, books cases, etc.) left to the imagination of the buyer on a spec house, that way we can build/trim out exactly what they want ... lately I'm surprised at the number of folks wanting full bookcases again ... for years they were out of favor. Same goes with wainscoting on dining room and den walls. Some folks love it, others hate it.
Then again, there is always someone who will love the house, no matter what its got in it, where it is (on the railroad tracks), and in spite of all the agonizing over color schemes, and what "features" will or won't sell, in the design stage. :)
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 4/15/2010
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Speaking of bookcases, something I always wanted in a home was a loft library. Ideally, a rectangular great room would have 18' to the lower part of a cathedral ceiling, with a 4-sided open loft about 9' up, scabbed onto the wall, with a width of about 5' on two sides, 6' on a third and 10' or so on the outside wall end of the great room. On the inside opposite end would be a spiral staircase between the loft and great room; the loft would have 4 turned wood columns to support the interior opening and railing all around. The loft on the exterior end of the great room would have the second of a double fireplace, matching the one below in the great room. All walls would have book shelves, while the end loft would have couches and chairs/TV etc.
Outside of the woodwork, I don't think it'd cost as much to build as the rest of the home. Framing would be pretty standard, with the exterior walls and 4 columns taking the load. The loft would double as a stiffener for the great room walls, preventing bowing from the roof load. If I was doing it for myself, I'd use prefinished hardwood floors, with inlaid carpet runners.
--
Nonny
On most days,
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Nonny:

Thanks to everyone for the advice but I won't be buying premade cabinets and have already started building my own. The only bummer is that my shop is too small for full sheets of plywood so I have to pare them down with a circular saw. Maybe my first project should have been a panel saw.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 5/18/2010 4:11 AM, Mac Cool wrote:

Have you made yourself one of these <http://www.benchnotes.com/Skillsaw%20Guide/skillsaw_cutting_guide_boa.htm ? If not you might want to.
Note that that's just one version--googling "circular saw guide plans" will get you a number of other variations on the same theme.
Also, instead of the clamps shown, a couple of Irwin Quick-Grip Minis work a treat for holding the thing in place while cutting.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

That plan assumes that you can trust the factory edge. This is the problem with all of these guides; getting the straight edge straight. I have a set of Emerson clamp guides that work well up to 50" (though they don't self-position like the above guide). I have aluminum guides for that, but they're a PITA to use (making sure the joint is straight).

Irwins are great light duty clamps. I have a few XPs that are great for assembling stuff before the glue dries, too.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 18 May 2010 05:30:54 -0400, "J. Clarke"

I might just build one of those, too. I'm using an aluminum sectional straightedge now, like http://fwd4.me/On6 , and it requires an offset to be scribed in each time. A "drop 'n go" guide would be quicker, easier, and give better edge support to reduce splintering.

"Works a treat" has been going around lately. Where's it from? Is i' a new Pomicism, mate?
-- Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. -- John Adams, December 1770 'Argument in Defense of the Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials'
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.