Customers will often come into my store who are doing a kitchen remodel and ask about countertops. When I ask if they are getting new cabinets with the new countertop they often say... "Yes, they are getting built by our contractor/local cabinet shop." Unfortunately, it is usually too late for me to tell them why that isn't a good idea. This short article will spell out the case for using manufactured cabinetry over locally built cabinetry.
What do I by "manufactured cabinetry"... Perhaps I could have picked a more glamorous word. A manufactured cabinet can include your in-stock prebuilt cabinetry, your semi-custom cabinetry and your custom cabinetry. The big difference with a manufactured cabinet facility is the increased volume of cabinets built compared to that of a local shop.
Manufactured cabinet facilities are more than 100,000 square feet. To justify that investment they have to build a lot of cabinets and do it quite efficiently. They utilize computer systems, robots, automated saws and special spray booth designs to get the cabinetry built at a competitive price. For example, Canyon Creeks finishing area takes up more than 10,000 square feet of floor space and their "Pater Noster" finishing system cost more than $30 million to design and put together. I have included a video of what that looks like below.
Most often a manufacturing facility will use the same or better materials than a local cabinet shop. The biggest difference is the finish applied to the cabinetry. It is fair more superior to the finish a local shop uses. To make the finish more durable a manufacturing cabinet facility will use a catalyzed sealer. They use positive air pressure to keep all dust out, use ovens to bake on the finish.
So as a consumer some important questions to as the local cabinet shop are... What does their finishing booth look like? How do they keep the dust out of the finishing area? Do they bake on their finishes? Do they use a catalyzed sealer?
What happens if that catalyzed sealer isn't utilized? Generally, any other type of finish starts to fail in 5 years or less. Most often around the sink area, where there is water. Hands get wet in the kitchen and we will open cabinets. Hands get oily and we will touch our cabinets. Cleaning sprays can also cause a finish that isn't durable to break down.
Starmark cabinetry's finishing process flyer -- STRONG AT THE FINISH
The other big difference is a written warranty. Most manufactured cabinets offer a 5 year to a lifetime warranty. The life time warranty is more common these days. Generally, local cabinet shops do not offer a life time written warranty. Another important question to ask a local shop... What is your warranty? Is it written? Then you have to decide if that local business is going to be around to support such warranty.