While there are dozens of factors that separate top quality from lower quality the first indication of high quality is the thickness of the cabinet door. Because thin lumber is less expensive than thicker lumber, almost all low-end door manufacturers save money with the thin stock.
The difference between thicker and thin doors is in the depth of the face detail. The thinner the door, the less depth between the face of the door and the point where the panel secures into the frame. A door using 3/4-inch material will have 20% less depth, which is obvious in the finished product. Thicker doors start with 1-inch thick material and produce a door of slightly over 13/16-inches. This extra 20% of face depth produces a door with significantly more detailed face molding pattern and adds a much richer look to the cabinets.
Possibly an even more concerning cost-saving practice among lower quality manufacturers is the practice of using lower quality (cheaper) materials.
It's a valid assumption that a manufacturer cutting costs by using thin material will also be cutting costs by using lower quality lumber. It's actually difficult to recognize lower quality woods in a set of cabinet doors because all the doors use the same woods and there will be no superior quality doors to compare against. But when a kitchen of low quality woods is compared to a kitchen of superior, color matched, woods the difference is striking. The doors using lower quality woods will have noticeable color mismatches and mineral streaks, where the top quality doors will be of uniform color.
Other areas where the differences in quality are seen is in machining and finish sanding. Both of these areas will have a large impact on the final appearance of your finished kitchen. Poor machining and sanding will telegraph scratches of machining nicks through the finish. While staining is usually more forgiving of poor sanding, painted doors will magnify even the slightest scratches or blemishes.
Things to look for in selecting a door manufacturer include (CabinetDoors.Com policies follow each question) :
What is the thickness of the finished door?
(CabinetDoors.Com doors are a plump 13/16 inches thick)
What is the thickness tolerance from one door to the next?
(Each door will be within 15/1000 inch)
What is the size tolerance (industry standard is /16-inch to 1/8-inch)?
(While doors are within 1/64 inch when completed, we guarantee 1/16-inch
because humidity fluctuations will expand or contract all wood products)
What is the final sanding grit used in the doors?
(Doors are wide belt sanded to 180 grit then hand sanded)
Are the cross-grain scratches produced in wide belt sanding removed?
(Cross-grain scratches are removed with a Timesavers Orbital)
Are the doors hand sanded during final inspection?
(each door is hand sanded during our detailed quality inspection process)
If you don't feel comfortable with your door suppliers answers to these questions it may be a good idea to look for another manufacturer.
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