Common Cabinetry and Built-In Mistakes

Cabinetry and Built-In

Whether you're re-facing, replacing or adding an entirely new built-in storage unit, you're adding a very valuable asset to your home. One of the most common concerns among homeowners is storage space. This goes for existing homeowners as well as prospective ones, so added storage drives up your resale value as well.

In addition to value, added storage and cabinetry greatly increases the amount of enjoyment you get out of simply living in your home. This might sound like an overstatement, but stop to think how annoying it is to have your things crammed into a too-small cabinet. We've all had those moments of opening up a cabinet that's been stuffed full, only to have items come tumbling down and crashing on the floor. Having a place for everything makes living in (and organizing) your home much simpler, which in turn makes it more enjoyable.

Any cabinetry project can go wrong, however, resulting in uneven surfaces, doors that don't close properly and many other irritating situations. Unfortunately, these situations are often the result of extremely simple mistakes. However, because the mistakes are simple, it's also simple to avoid them and end up with beautiful and functional cabinetry.

In this article, we'll take a look at some of the most common mistakes made during the planning and installation of cabinets and built-in storage units. We'll also give you tips on avoiding these annoying (and costly to replace) errors.

Choosing Cheap Materials

Often, when homeowners are shopping for new cabinets, they make the mistake of choosing the least expensive option in the store. This is understandable in today's uncertain economy, but it's also something you really should avoid.

Extremely inexpensive cabinets, cabinet fronts and built-in materials are of a much lower quality than those priced just a bit higher. Many cheap cabinets feature particle board. While this material definitely has its uses, most experts recommend avoiding it. Particle board is more likely to sag over time if heavier items are placed on it. In kitchens, particle board will also absorb odors.

You don't have to purchase the most expensive product in order to end up with cabinets which are solid, dependable and attractive. In most cases, a mid-range product will do just fine. If you're having trouble deciding, ask your contractor or a knowledgeable home center employee. They will have recommendations based on feedback they've received from previous clients and customers. You can also read reviews online for another perspective.

While the initial cost will be a bit higher, quality cabinet materials pay off down the road. You won't have to think about replacing your cabinets for a much longer amount of time, and you'll have fewer worries about collapsing shelves.

Poor Hiring Decisions

Perhaps the biggest mistake made during any type of home improvement project, hiring an inexperienced or disreputable contractor can truly be a nightmare. Inexperienced workers, even those with the best intentions, simply may not have the skills necessary to do a quality job. This can result in a host of structural errors that you definitely don't want to deal with. Before making a hiring decision, ask how long the contractor and workers have been in the business. If possible, ask to see pictures of completed projects.

As with any home improvement hire, it's essential to make sure that your potential contractor is properly licensed and insured. Regulations vary greatly depending on where you live; in some areas a cabinet project requires a permit while in others it does not. Check with your city offices to determine if this is a step you and your contractor need to take.

Be wary of bids that seem too low to be possible. These ultra-low bids are a red flag. Contractors offering incredibly low bids are usually cutting corners in some way. Some use cheap, poor-quality materials. Others don't carry enough insurance or don't obtain the proper permits. Worst of all, some use that low bid to lure you in, only to request an up-front deposit and then disappear. You can avoid all of this by obtaining several bids, asking relevant questions of each contractor, then choosing a mid-range bid which seems reasonable for the amount of work and quality of materials you're dealing with. Always obtain a written contract, work order and payment schedule, as well.

Following the Latest Trends

We all want our homes to look up to date. However, there's a world of difference between keeping up to date and slavishly following design trends. Yes, those pictures in decorating magazines are gorgeous. However, before you commit to a wild color palette like black and purple with a full-wall mural, think long and hard about it. Kitchen cabinets are usually intended to last no less than fifteen years. Built-in storage structures are intended to last even longer, since they're usually used less frequently. Do you really want to live with a trend for that long? Not only will it make your home look dated very quickly, but it can become a true

eyesore if you get tired of it yet still have to look at it every single day.

You can avoid this common mistake by sticking with traditional classics. Solid wood is undeniably beautiful, and will still be beautiful years down the road. Instead of choosing a wild color scheme for more permanent items, pick trendy accessories and decorative objects. This will let you create a beautiful and modern kitchen that can be changed as the trends fall out of favor...which they always do.

In your kitchen or any room of your home, woods and basic, neutral colors are your best bets for cabinetry and built-in units. They blend well with any color scheme and won't limit your future decorating options.

Ignoring the Floor

Unless you're doing a full-scale remodel, you're probably not changing your floors at the same time as your cabinets. It's important to pay attention to your floors, especially when dealing with kitchen cabinetry.

Together with cabinets, a kitchen floor forms the overall feel and visual style of a kitchen. If they complement each other, this is great. If they clash, it can create a room that's at odds with itself. Since your flooring is one of the most permanent aspects of your home, this is a much bigger problem than, for example, clashing cabinet and paint colors. Paint can be redone easily as a DIY project - flooring usually can't.

Don't worry about matching things up precisely; just use samples and pictures to ensure that the cabinets you choose are in harmony with your floors.

Poor Placement and Generic Design

One of the most common complaints of homeowners is that their cabinets are not convenient. Since you're working on a cabinet project, this is the ideal time to fix this issue. If you can't afford custom cabinetry for an entire kitchen, consider the items you use most, and create custom storage for those items. Even a few custom pieces can make living and working in your kitchen much more enjoyable.

With all the custom options available today, you can literally create a kitchen designed around the way you live. If you do a great deal of cooking, you'll want your most-used utensils, pots and pans within easy reach of the counter or stove. If your children sit at a kitchen island or table to do their homework or art projects, consider putting in storage dedicated to these purposes. As they grow older, you can certainly find new uses for these custom pieces.

There are options available which have been specifically created for just about any kitchen activity you can think of. Spice racks, storage for oddly-shaped and very large pots and pans, and space-saving cabinets with revolving interiors are just a few of the choices available to you.

Remember that all the customization options available for kitchen cabinets can be worked into built-in storage in any area of your home. Revolving storage, for example, is often very convenient in a bathroom shared by several household members. While every single cabinet does not require the extra expense of customization, a home will certainly benefit from some personalized storage. Consider how you use (and would like to use) your storage to determine which areas would benefit the most from personalized design.

Sloppy Installation

Even a very small degree of improper measurement can throw off an entire wall of cabinetry. If this type of mistake is not recognized and corrected in time, you can end up with cabinets which look crooked, hold your items on a slant or are not properly secured to the wall. The consequences range from broken dishes to severe injury from a falling cabinet.

If you notice that something looks crooked during installation, don't hesitate to speak up. It's your home, after all, and you have a right to expect proper installation. This is important in all areas, but especially so in the construction of a built-in storage unit. These units usually begin with cutting out a portion of the wall. If those cuts are off by even a small amount, the entire unit will be crooked and unstable.

Installing new cabinetry and built-in storage does a great deal for your home. By avoiding simple mistakes during planning and installation, you can end up with a beautiful new addition instead of a hazardous eyesore.

Posted by: Diane Sheppard
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