The A - Z of Kitchens
Door Construction and Budget
We regularly find that customers who have been to see our competitors are rarely told by them how their kitchen doors are constructed. Many ask us if it really matters.
It really does.
When you are choosing your kitchen probably the biggest factor affecting the cost, resilience and durability of your investment is door construction. From some retailers it can have a bigger impact on budget than a quartz worktop!
Seeing as it can affect cost so much, and affects performance dramatically we thought we would do a longer A-Z on this (which is why it has taken longer to write).
It is the single most important point to understanding whether you are getting value for money.
And yet it is the one that the least is known about by customers and many retailers try to play down – for obvious reasons!
To illustrate this, from a multi-store kitchen retailer (not us!) the price of kitchen ranges varies from £2,000 to nearly £7,000 for a 8 unit layout based on similar cabinets. That’s £5,000 more for the same 8-unit kitchen, but just with a different door style and décor panels.
Doing the maths, as the cabinets from the same retailer are broadly the same, this means that choosing one door style over another costs over £600 more per cabinet! Why does it cost more? What is worth paying extra for on a kitchen door and how much is fair?
What can possibly explain that huge price difference? Gold Plating?
I’d just like to say at this point that we don’t have the same extreme price differences as this real illustration above, which is actually based on a competitors ‘Winter Sale’ prices. We won’t offer low grade, cheap products that will fail quickly, and we don’t overcharge for high quality products. We are just committed to great value for money.
You will find that many retailers make it hard for you to find out what type of door you are considering, but it does pay to ask. When we wanted to find out we had to call their central head office. It wasn’t on websites, or on brochures.
So please see the points below as a potted guide to kitchen door construction. Hopefully it will help you to understand how your product is constructed, and where it fits in the value chain. We hope you find it interesting and if you want to know more then please just get in touch.
One final note is that we find that typically we offer painted and solid wood products at prices similar to the price that others supply vinyl wrapped products. Different companies price things differently - similar prices doesn’t mean similar products!
In this industry more than any other it isn’t true that you get what you pay for!
One-Piece Vinyl Wrap - £
Also known as Foil, Paper, PVC and PET. This is a single piece of MDF, shaped and then applied with a plastic sheet that includes gloss, matt, colours and woodgrain effect depending on finish.
Pro’s – Its cheap
Con’s – It is the most likely to fail. The centre panel glue peels away from the MDF particularly if used near a hob, toaster or kettle. It has set colours and can’t be repainted. If you damage it you won’t be able to repair it.
5-Piece Vinyl Wrap - ££.
This is a shaker style vinyl wrap made from 5 individual pieces of MDF, which are individually wrapped in vinyl, and then assembled.
Pro’s – Its cheap, and stronger than the one-piece. The 5 assembled pieces ‘lock’ the vinyl in place reducing the chances of it ‘blowing’
Con’s – It has set colours and can’t be repaired if damaged.
MFC ‘Cut and Edged - £ to ££££
This is a flat panel door finish that is available in a wide range from super-matt to detailed textured wood. Most of the ‘German’ kitchen doors are made out of this. You can identify it because if you look closely you will usually see an ‘edge’ line where a square cut panel has had a decorative edging strip glued on.
Made from a chipboard baseboard with a melamine facing applied which is usually textured, this has an incredibly wide range of finishes and offers a lot of flexibility. We particularly like it because we can make this to any size and shape in our factory.
Pro’s – The best way to achieve the current trend for textured wood finishes. Durable and hard wearing it cannot ‘blow’. Available in almost unlimited colours and finish, it can even be provided ‘paintable’ for a handpaint finish.
Con’s – Lighter colours, particularly in smooth texture will show the glue-line. It can’t be repaired effectively.
Painted MDF - £££.
A painted finish is always better than a vinyl wrap. It is more durable, normally painted onto a better grade material and can provide wider options on colours. The matt painted options in particular are easy to touch up if you do damage the door. You can paint over it to change the colour. Gloss painted doors have a smoother finish than vinyl wrap gloss doors.
Basic MDF as sold by DIY stores is sometimes used in door manufacture, but usually door manufacturers use a product such as ‘Medite’ – which is a much higher grade MDF. It is tough, resilient and very stable and so makes a great product for flat panels. All our painted MDF doors are made from this higher grade material.
Pro’s – Painted finish, and a robust stable door means that custom colours can be applied, and the door will last a long time. It can be overpainted if you want to change the colour and also repaired.
Con’s – While good MDF is a good product, it still has associations with “Changing Rooms” and doesn’t have a reputation for quality.
Acrylic Doors - ££££.
Acrylic Doors come in solid acrylic such as Parapan, or more usually as MDF doors with a 1mm acrylic sheet bonded to the surface and edged on all sides.
The acrylic itself is a very tough product, which gives a really flat and even shine – more so than the painted gloss doors. The acrylic sheet provides a depth to the door that really enhances it and goes well with a metallic finish.
Pro’s – Gives a great, high gloss finish, can be made custom sizes, has many colours and good metallic finishes. A tough product, if you do scratch it they can be polished out.
Con’s – Costs more than a vinyl wrap or painted gloss.
Solid Wood Shaker Door - ££££
Top of the range shaker doors come in solid wood that is usually painted with a matt or low gloss sheen. They are made as 5 separate components and then assembled together and painted or lacquered.
Solid Wood doors are very hardwearing and durable and will give you decades of good service. For a quality result, if your kitchen style is shaker then solid wood is ideal.
Different finishes are available. For a light woodgrain finish ash is usually the right choice. Oak offers a more pronounced grain. For the purists, a ‘pippy’ oak provides lots of grain and detail with natural dinks and doesn’t hide its natural credentials. For a smooth finish Tulipwood is the timber of choice.
Wood is a natural product and it ‘moves’. Temperature changes and moisture level changes make it shrink or expand and so if there is a painted finish there is a chance that where 2 bits of wood join a hairline crack will appear. These are known as ‘whisper lines’ and are normal.
This is the reason most solid wood shaker doors have a ‘v-groove’ at each corner where the horizontal rails meet the vertical stiles. This masks the whisper lines. Wood grain also helps to mask it.
We offer doors with or without the v-groove depending on preference but if you do go for smooth without a v-groove a hairline paint crack isn’t a defect! It can always be touched up with paint if you really don’t like it!
One final point on ‘solid wood’ is that solid wood doesn’t do thin wide panels well. Because it moves and expands, and has natural curvature and layers within it then a thin panel of solid wood would warp and cup. For this reason the flat panel in the shaker style door is made out of a real wood veneer applied to a base panel, usually MDF but sometimes plywood. Real wood furniture has been made this way for centuries – from Georgian times onwards.
Making wide flat sheets of solid wood is not only a bad thing for the structural integrity of the furniture it is also a terrible waste of good wood. Hardwoods like oak take years and decades to grow. We would rather use it so it’s beauty and strengths shine through and use a good quality MDF or plywood base board where it makes sense for structural and performance reasons.
Pro’s – Beautiful, feels right, will last decades, can be overpainted so you can change colours, and can be repaired
Con’s – Costs more than vinyl wrap, some people don’t like whisper lines.