I went through the same process a few months ago and settled on Simpson
You get the benefits of plywood, no finishing required and end up with a
tougher finish than melamine.
I've built about 10 base cabinets so far and have no complaints.
It is on the expensive side, I paid $54/sheet for 1-sided 3/4".
The suggestion to use Simpson's laminated plywood seems like a good one.
I'd strongly urge not using any processed material like MDF, particle
board, etc. in any area where water can get to it. I've had trouble
with cabinets located a long way from sinks because of very slow leaks
that went undetected and resulted in swollen MDF. All of my MDF is
laminated on all surface with Wilsonart. We like the appearance but I'm
unhappy where water comes in contact with it.
Another alternative for the interior carcass is Baltic birch.
Wyatt Wright wrote:
I used melamine for my own kitchen cabinets although I never used it
for a customer's kitchen because I worked in a high end market and the
thought of melamine boxes is anathema to most designers and such.
I used it for myself because it is plenty strong, is easy to work with
and is easy to keep clean.
I use the same joinery techniques for melamine as I do for plywood
boxes. The RTA fasteners are fine. I use biscuits and pocket screws.
It sounds like you are going to use a faceframe and that will work
equally well in both materials. I chose to use a Euro style of
construction and purchased pre edgebanded melamine to use with full
An alternative that you may want to look into is pre finished maple
ply. It comes with an epoxy acrylate finish and is available in
widths to suit carcase construction, so that you will only have to
crosscut to length. This is also true for the melamine.
Both the maple and the melamine come in widths suitable for drawer and
shelf construction and the drawers can be put together with biscuits
and pocket screws very quickly and the drawer has great strength.
Half inch pre finished maple is available for backs and drawer
I like the melamine boxes. The interior is easier to see into because
of the white finish and the inevitable spills are easily wiped up.
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker
Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania
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Yes Plywood and or better yet, Lumber core would be a better choice if you
want it look good with out having to baby it.
If you realize that a better material will be better in the long run and the
small cost difference is of no concern by all means go with the better
material.. Melamine han its place but IMHO you want to work in a kitchen and
not stand back and just look at it. A friend and I some times do repairs to
kitchen cabinets on homes that are up for sale. The homes range in value of
the low end up to the $500,000 mark. Shamefully the builders use the
Melamine cabinets in these expensive homes and after 4 or 5 years the
insides of most these cabinets look no better than the cheap entry level
homes. Plus the seem to have door problems as the face frames dont stay
attached to the carcuses very well. But, that may be factory quality
Don't sweat the finishing. I did not finish the insides of my lumbercore
cabinets, 14 years later they still look pretty good inside. Remember, you
are probably going to put clean dishes in them so dirt is not gong to be
that big of a problem. I trimed the edges of the lumber core shelves with
oak, stained and 1 coat of varnish on that trimmed edge.
Maybe, you have to very careful not to bump or bang the edges as the edge
will damage easily. You may find yourself redoing some pieces. That will
require more time and more mmaterials. And, this stuff is pretty heavy in
comparison to plywood or lumber core.
If you are careful with it, it should last, but as I mention earlier, for
what ever reason the shelves on the factory built cabinets sometimes will
swell a bit and the inner core will expose itself.
It can be built strongly but my experience with these Melamine cabinets is
that fasteners strip easily and things start to sag. The kitchen is a place
you you use 2 to 3 times a day, Build it out of materials that will hold up
to daily wear and tear.
Well, the insides were already pretty ragged in 1990 when we moved in.
We have painted them (inside) twice since - when we first moved in and
after a kitchen fire. (I lit the burner under a frying pan of left
over oil instead of the espresso pot about 6-7 years ago. Not bright
on my part, but it was early in the morning and the frying pan was on
the burner we usually used for the coffee pot. I came out of the
shower to a horrible smell, but to damage that paint couldn't fix.)
They need painting again, but they will get replaced. I also had to
reinforce the serious sags on the bottom shelves with pieces of 1-by
and put supports nailed to the centre style to hold up the other
I have been intending to replace them since we moved into the house,
but, you know . . . :-)
Replace "no" with "yk" twice
in reply address for real email address
I built all of mine in 4 stages. With the completion of each stage I would
remove the old and put in the new in usually about 1 day so. The kitchen
was only inoperable for about 4 or 5 days during that year that I spent
building all new cabinets
I built my kitchen's cabinets ~7 years ago. I'd recommend plywood as
it's lighter and doesn't sag and fastens better (among the other
responses posted). I used 3/4 for carcasses and 1/2" for shelving.
I did use melamine for base cabinet bottoms; yes, even under the sink.
Makes a nice quick easy to clean surface, and on the base cabinets,
it's well suppported so sag isn't a problem. So far neither the sink
nor dishwasher has pee'd and there's nothing under the cabinets to
promote dampness as the piping goes thru the wall. Should the sink
"have an accident", I'll simply yank out the 36x24 piece of melamine
and replace it.
Finishing is gonna be a royal pain. You are gonna get real tired of
it. Invest in a sprayer if you're gonna do your own finishing rather
than buying a prefinished material. I wish I had. Like someone else
said, with the amount you're saving making your own cabinets, it's
well worth investing/splurging on some tools to make life easier.
On 11 Jul 2003 12:03:06 -0700, email@example.com (Wyatt Wright)
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