KITCHEN MATERIALS AND CONSIDERATIONS
Cabinets and countertop material have a wide range of options to choose from.
Cabinets are typically made of wood, MDF, Laminate or Thermofoil.
Wood options can be of various species such as Oak, Cherry, Maple, Birch, etc. Each has a unique grain, colour, and style. If you are considering a kitchen makeover or your building a new home, you will have many wood options to choose from, depending on your available budget.
While wood options are typically on the more expensive end, Thermofoil and Laminate are product materials that can offer more budget-friendly prices. Combinations of material can also be used to balance costs with design preferences. For example, the cabinet boxes can be mostly made out of laminate while cabinet doors and drawer faceplates can sport a higher-end look with real wood or painted MDF.
The general design of the house can also drive your decisions regarding the choice of materials to be used. For example, an ultra-modern house may not benefit from wood grain stained cabinets simply because the look may not go well or flow with the rest of the house design.
High-quality hardware makes a great deal of difference in both conveniences of use and longevity of cabinet doors and drawers.
Cabinet dimension considerations
Standard sizing for kitchen cabinets are:
- Lower cabinets are 34 1/2″ height and 24″ deep.
- Countertops add 1 to 1.5″ to the height making the final height approximately 35 1/2 to 36″
- The width of cabinet boxes will depend on kitchen design and available space and can vary between a few inches up to 36 inches
- Larger widths can be built but it is not typically recommended for cost and practicality reasons
Upper cabinets can get different heights depending on the ceiling height and the design of the kitchen, but accessing the very top parts may require step-ladder. The depth is usually 18 inches, and the width usually follows the lower cabinets for the best final look and proper arrangement.
For high ceilings, if upper cabinets are not boxed at the top, they become a dust collector; If you prefer, the cabinet maker can build cabinets to the ceiling with moulding at the very top to connect the cabinet to the ceiling, finishing the look. This will also give you additional storage for items you want accessible but which are used less often.
The distance between the lower and upper cabinet is usually around 18 inches but can be slightly more or less depending on the ceiling height and kitchen cabinet design.
Kitchen Islands can have different dimensions and may serve various purposes. Smaller islands often act as a general preparation and working area, doubling as a kitchen table. Larger islands may accommodate kitchen sink, cooktop, dishwasher, microwave, wine cooler, extra storage or other purposes. The kitchen island will have a similar height as the lower cabinets, approximately 36 inches with a countertop.
For walking space and to ensure you have enough room to open all the doors, including those on your appliances, you should have at least 36 inches distance between your lower cabinets to the island, but ideally, 48 inches for homes with enough space.
Countertops come in many different materials, styles, and types. Natural stone, man-made stone, wood (commonly referred to as butcher blocks), laminate, and the more industrial style of stainless steel and tile. For ultra-modern homes, some people choose concrete countertops.
We recommend avoiding tile countertops as they tend to collect dirt and staining between tiles, on the grout. Certain natural stone products like marble are also susceptible to staining from food-spillage and occasionally discolouration and cracks caused by thermal-shock from hot pots.
Some countertop materials require regular maintenance to keep them looking new and fresh. The homeowner should carefully consider the implications of practicality over the visual appeal with an eye toward long term use. Every counter looks great when it’s first installed, but some can be permanently marred by hot pots and spilled red wine.
High-quality hardware (cabinet door knobs and handles) makes a great deal of difference in both conveniences of use and longevity of cabinet doors and drawers. An important consideration regarding hardware is choosing a single-hole mount versus a double hole mount. Should you ever wish to change your hardware you will need to get a set that matches the drilled holes in your cabinet doors.
Kitchen appliances such as the dishwasher, microwave, fridge, oven, sometimes a second oven, cooktop, hood, coffee maker, and certain food processing appliances can all be built-in with enough physical space and budget.
There is a broad range of appliance manufacturers with different quality levels, sizes, features and price points. For example, a gas cooktop can range from $2,500 to $25,000, installed. Your available choices will depend on your budget and the quality you’re looking for, which should generally match the overall look and feel of the home. If you’ve gone very high-end on all your other finishes, you probably won’t want a $500 white electric stove in your kitchen.
For a modern linear style kitchen, the depth of the fridge and cooktop/oven should not exceed the standard 24″ depth of the cabinets. With a fridge, for example, less depth can mean less storage, however, fridges today can now come with a wider profile. That means you can recover the storage space in your fridge, but you’ll use a wider swath of floor space for it to fit.
While tile and ceramic floors are both traditional and convenient for the kitchen area, most luxury homes opt for hardwood or heated marble floors. Hardwood floors can be higher maintenance as water spillage must be addressed almost immediately to prevent the wood from extensive damage. Consider this if your kitchen is one of the main points of ingress/egress from the home to the outside world. You may be tracking in snow, salt, water, and tiny rocks stuck in the soles of your shoes all of which can damage hardwood floors over time.
Reliable plumbing work in the kitchen is a must, the last thing you want is a leaking sink drain or a loose dishwasher connection with the potential to damage cabinetry and floors beyond repair. MDF is particularly susceptible to swelling if it suffers water damage.
Our designers have the knowledge and experience to help you make all the smartest and best choices for a kitchen you will love for years. Call us for a free consultation.