Going into showrooms and looking at new cabinets can be an exciting as well as overwhelming
experience. But knowing what to look for can help insure your satisfaction when your job is complete.
On more than one occasion when I was on a job installing cabinets purchased from a showroom,
customers would ask me what I thought of the cabinets. They were asking me this question because
they were clearly having reservations about the quality of the cabinets they had been sold. The
problem is they were asking the question too late because, at that point, taking them back is no longer
an option. The reason they were having reservations is because their expectations of what they were
getting were different from what they actually received. Expectations are formed during the shopping
process and had they gone through their shopping process differently, they could have better aligned
their expectations to their actual purchase.
Also, on more than one occasion, I had been installing cabinets that I thought were absolute garbage
and the customers never inquired about my opinion of their cabinets and would usually rave about
their beautiful new cabinets after the installation was complete. The point is that to some people, a
cabinet is a cabinet and they are just happy to have new ones at a good price. But others are more
concerned with what they are getting for the money they are spending and whether or not their
expectations are being met. If you are the type of person that is likely to not care what your installer
thinks of the cabinets, then you probably don't need to read any further. However, if you are the type
of person more concerned with the details of what you are purchasing then you should keep reading.
Most showrooms have some displays of cabinets and a rack of door samples. Looking at a cabinet is
better than just looking at a door sample because you can actually see the cabinet. But most displays
have a counter top and this prevents you from seeing the actual cabinet construction. If it is possible
you should have the salesperson show you a cabinet without the counter on so you can see how it is
constructed. If this is not possible, then you should at least get a written description or a brochure
from the cabinet manufacturer that clearly details their construction methods. What to look for I have
detailed in the cabinet construction section. But if a display with a counter is all that is available then
open the doors and look at the interior to make sure it is to your liking. Open the drawers and note the
drawer construction and slides they are mounted to. White or almond color epoxy coated roller slides
are the cheapest. Ball bearing slides that are mounted on the sides of the drawer box are better and
concealed undermount ball bearing slides are typically the highest quality of slide. A cheap drawer
box will be made from 1/2" thick particle board material and stapled together. A box made from
plywood or solid wood that is at least 5/8" thick will be much stronger. If the drawer box is wood then
feel the box to see if the finish is smooth or gritty. If the company took the effort to make their drawer
boxes nice then they are likely to make a nicer cabinet as well. One caveat, many companies offer
different grades of cabinets at different price points. But often these higher grades turn out to be the
same cheap cabinet box with upgraded drawer boxes and drawer hardware. So nice drawers doesn't
necessarily mean you are looking at a quality cabinet.
If the only thing on display in the showroom are door samples for the line of cabinets you are
considering then you should be careful. I have seen some nice doors on some very inferior cabinets.
A door sample will show you the style and color and sheen level of finish but not much else. If you are
looking at purchasing cabinets with lazy susans, trash pullouts, spice pullouts, pullout drawers or
pantries, etc., you should get details on these as well. A lazy susan can be made from plastic (often
referred to as polymer) or solid wood and plywood, which is much nicer. Some trash pullouts are just a
wire frame with a basket mounted inside while others are made of solid wood. Some high end pullouts
are made from stainless steel. If these items are not on display then ask to see a brochure or catalog
with color pictures of these items. You should also be aware that displays in many showrooms don't
change that often and may not reflect the current offerings. Don't just assume that what you are
seeing in a display is what you are going to get. In the end, if you have gone through these steps and
asked a lot of detailed questions it is likely your purchase will not come up short of your expectations.