Friday, August 28, 2009

Painted Cabinets vs. Thermafoil

Oh the joys of thermafoil cabinets......just kidding.  Now that you know how I feel about them lets get down to business.  I cringe when I hear about thermafoil cabinets because they just are not real.  If you get to know me and read my posts you will start to figure out that I am a girl who likes wood, real wood.  I love the smell of sawdust.  I love walking into the shop and hearing the saws cutting the wood.  I enjoy touching the smooth wood just after its been sanded, and I love being able to see the character of the wood with the grain and knots.  Just call me old fashioned but I will give you specific reasons why thermafoil just doesn't work. 

Firstly thermafoil is essentially partical board with a thin coated veneer heat wrapped around it.  This is a profound invention and intelligent I might add because who would think to make a "foil" that "looks" like wood and stick it on to particle board.  Interesting and yet confusing because thermafoil costs more than real wood products.  It does take time and energy to create this type of material for use and the extra time costs money. 

Secondly, if you scratch thermafoil it cannot be touched up.  For example, wood is real so when you get a knick you can sand it and refinish it.  With the foil wrapped door you can't touch it up.  The foil is like a 1/16" thick of veneer which can peel off when its scratched.  Because it is not wood you cannot sand it and you will end up having to replace the door. 

Thirdly, the colors of the veneers of these foils change over time with the trends.  Just like finishes on different woods are more popular at different times these foil colors go in and out.  I have an example of a client that came into our shop last summer.  She had a small fire in her kitchen and the flames burnt up the foil quickly on some of the doors leaving the bare particle board showing.  She brought in the doors frantic to replace them.  When we found the foil samples we could buy, her color was no longer made and no longer in stock.  She was stuck with a kitchen of foil wrapped doors some that were damaged and no way to repair them.  This gives you the homeowner only one option; REMODEL.  You will have to gut out that entire kitchen of cabinets and start new, unless you can live with bare wood particle board doors. 

Lastly there is the cooking element to the problem.  When you boil water on the stove it emits steam from the pot sometimes causing humidity and water drops to accumulate on the cabinet doors above the stove.  I could see how over time that the foil wrapped around the cabinet door could start to peel from the seam. 

I saw a whole kitchen refaced with this type of laminate glued onto the frames of old oak cabinets.  The seams that appear at the corners were coming up only 2 months after the installation of the whole job.  This startled me to the least and made me think about how the cabinet is fabricated.  I just like it when things are made well, and durable.  I also like knowing that if one of my boys puts a hole or dent or scratch into my cabinet, I can still fix it. 

Until next time, this is the Girlfriend on your Side  April Morse 

Monday, August 24, 2009

How to get an "Apples for Apples" Cabinet Quote

How do you know you are getting an equal comparison quote from your cabinetmaker.  Many cabinet makers use different materials, different grades in material, and various guides and hinges, plus or minus a few other things it takes to make up an accurate estimate.  I am going to give you a list of all the items you will need in order to get an accurate quote from a cabinet maker. With this list you will make sure when you are pricing your cabinets that the quotes are indeed comparable. 

1.  Firstly, decide the wood species you want to use.  Make sure the cabinetmaker is using a high grade of lumber and plywood.

2.  Secondly, find out what the cabinet boxes are made out of.  Are they made with maple melamine?  Is the grade on the melamine high?  These things make a difference, because then you can find out if the materials your cabinetmaker is using are reliable. 

3.  This may sound like a dumb question but I am going to tell you to ask it.  Do the cabinets have backs?  If the cabinet maker makes the cabinets with out backs RUN don't walk in the other direction.

4.  Fourthly, what type of hardware does the cabinet maker use?  What brand name is his pitching.  Take his expertise, because the hardware he works with the best is what he will recommend.  With hardware I mean, hinges for the doors and guides for the drawers.  I would also make sure the guides are full exstention because then you can have full access to everything in your drawer.  Also make sure you have fully adjustable hinges on your doors.  They all need to be able to adjust up, down, and side to side. 

5.  What type of door style do you like?  Make sure you pick one out because this could mean the cabinet maker is guessing what type of door style you want and that can cost you money.  Always remember, the door is the most expensive part of the cabinet. 

6.  Are the cabinets finished by your cabinetmaker?  Is that included in the bid or is it separate?  Make sure of that before your final decision.  When your cabinets are finished in the shop you don't have to deal with a painter spraying laquer in your home.  A lot of cabinetmakers have cabinet finishers outsource their work so make sure you have contact with the finisher.  Is it the color you want?  Make sure you get a sample.  Also, find out how many coats of stain they put on your cabinets and if they use a sealer on the top coat. 

Well I hope I didn't overwhelm you, but if you need an accurate estimate, these are the questions to ask each of the cabinetmakers that quote your job. 

April Morse-The girlfriend on your side

Saturday, August 22, 2009

To Refinish or Not? That is the question.

Are you planning to remodel your kitchen?  Do you plan to buy new appliances and put in new counter tops?  Are you thinking of saving money by refinishing your existing cabinets?  You might want to investigate whether or not you actually will save money by refinishing. 

Refinishers are making a big turnout during this time in our economic season and that is because it seems to cost less to refinish your cabinets than buying new ones.  If you can refinish your cabinets yourself you can, and will save a lot of money.  But if you decide to hire someone else to strip and refinish your cabinets you are going to pay a hefty price for it.  Refinishers will also offer you to change the style of your doors which can change the entire look for your cabinets, but that will also add to the cost.  If you have ever stripped down any type of wood furniture you know the time and energy it takes, and that it is not easy.  That is why it does cost a lot to have someone strip and refinish your cabinets.  If your cabinets are in good shape, you like the design, and you are not putting on new countertops I would definately suggest refinishing because it will save you money. 

If you are going to put in new countertops and new appliances I would definately suggest getting a quote for refinishing your cabinets versus ripping out the old and bringing in the new.  You might be surprised! 

-Look for my video coming up next week where I talk about a refinishing project of my own!

If you can imagine it, we can build it......  April Morse