A Brief History of Kitchen Cabinets

Built-in kitchen cabinets are a relatively new element in the kitchen. Cabinets were never part of the kitchen construction in centuries past. They were most often freestanding structures like china cabinets or pie racks that could be moved from place to place.

During the twentieth century cabinets became an integral part of the kitchen. Kitchen cabinets were no longer an afterthought or a secondary need. The introduction of small kitchen appliances made kitchen cabinets a necessity in the home.

Cabinets emerged as a main feature of the contemporary home. They were often handmade from solid woods. Various types of joinery became an informal trademark for the cabinetry. Such fine details once indicated precisely where a set of cabinetry came from. It seemed that cabinet makers in nearly every region of the United States had their own style and decorative elements.

As time passed, the “by-hand” creation of cabinets started to decline. Companies began mass producing cabinetry in mass quantities with cheaper materials and cheap labor. There came a division in the realm of cabinetmaking that separated the quality-made cabinetry from the lower grade products.

The division exists today with kitchen cabinetmakers using particle board or MDF. These cheap materials are often covered by thin veneers that will not withstand sanding or any other repair work. These products are cheaper than solid wood cabinetry, but the homeowner is cautioned that you get what you pay for.

Cabinetry of lesser quality may seem like the better deal. Many of these cabinet systems do seem durable and solid. The two primary forces that ruin poorly made cabinetry are general use and the environment. Humidity, temperature changes and too much weight bends or bows the cabinetry over time. Wood cabinets are lasting and durable against these threats. There are also the visual benefits of wood cabinets. Many types of solid wood cabinets will slightly change over time as the wood ages.

Cherry cabinets will subtly darken over time. Maple cabinets are known for the beautiful and unique grains. Oak is a sturdy wood that has pronounced grains, and oak cabinets may even contain what is called a “pin knot.” Birch has been labeled a “contemporary” wood and accepts paints and stains well. Alderwood is like cherry when stained. This is a medium hardwood that has a close grain. Rubberwood is also known as Plantation Hardwood. The grain is straight, but this type of wood is also known to have unusual markings that create visual interest.

The known disadvantages of solid wood cabinetry have been targeted for years. Many makers of solid wood kitchen cabinets have produced designs that are virtually impervious. The engineering of wood kitchen cabinets today goes through a variety of processes.

Just a few of the common treatments include ultra-violet inhibitors to protect against sun damage, heat catalyzed finishes, hand-painted and rubbed stains. The thick sealants and finishes used today are far more durable and lasting than those in the past.

You are certain of installing a lasting and elegant feature when you choose solid wood cabinetry. Your kitchen cabinets will retain their beauty through the years. Solid wood cabinets are an investment that will provide you with valuable returns as long as you own your home.

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