Brookhaven with standard particleboard or upcharge plywood?

AlyBMarch 10, 2013

We have been looking at Brookhaven cabinets for our kitchen, but my DH is very concerned about the fact the cabinets come standard with "furniture-grade particleboard" boxes. Apparently you can switch to plywood boxes with Brookhaven for an upcharge. Has anyone done this? Do you think it is worthwhile? Am I better off just going with Wood-Mode vs Brookhaven if I'm going to pay for plywood upcharge anyway?

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Run a google search and you'll find this topic addressed quite often. Opinions run both ways. Some feel particleboard is fine others wouldn't consider anything other than plywood. It all comes down to how you want to allocated your budget.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:29PM
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Unless things have changed since I sold it the upgrade only applies to the side, not the shelves or bottoms. We discouraged it. Wood-Mode would cost you more than the upgrade. My own kitchen is BH frameless particle, 9 yrs now.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 9:47PM
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Jakuvall -- my KD is discouraging it as well, which is why I'm seeking other opinions from those who have or have not done it. Can you provide any more details (other than budget issues) for why you would discourage it?

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:50PM
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Oh -- and Realism. Somehow I'm not surprised you're chiming in here since you seem to be on a mission to discourage new posters from posting in this forum. If I thought my specific question was adequately answered by prior threads, I wouldn't have asked it. But that's not really the point -- if the thread doesn't interest you, or you think it's all been said already, then why are wasting your time reading it? Move on!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 12:02AM
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AlyB, here is a prior thread involving particle board Brookhaven cabinets. I believe that reading it should answer your question.

Here is a link that might be useful: A Recipe For Disaster

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 12:22AM
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AlyB-we discouraged it because we did not think it worth the cost. We had the physical properties for both from the Plywood association. Except for bending under load (shelves) the particle they use wins. If you believe that ply holds up better in catastrophic or long term leaks then upgrade the sink cabinet.

And yes it also wins in screw holding IF the screws are properly predrilled and installed according to the tests. As to the other thread- when I sold it they just began to offer drawers wider than 36". I have a lot of kitchens out there with a lot of very full drawers with zero failures. When I knew we were using wide drawers for pot or dishes I upgraded the bottoms to half inch (an unlisted but readily available option). That prevents bending, hance deflection and evens out the stresses on the sides keeping them in sheer.
My take on the drawer failure there is that - screw could have been slightly off and/or two screws should be used along with half inch bottoms. . Had that been plywood it still would fail if the screw was off it would delaminate instead of blow out.
The mainstream brand I carry offers wider drawers, they automatically have heavier glides and beefed up installation and that brand is plywood standard. I do not consider it better than BH.
But the drawer upgrade is a good idea.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:16AM
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I have always thought my cabinets were 100 percent wood and was really surprised when we changed the counter tops and discovered the bases are particle board. With the wood I am seeing nowadays I am thinking that particle board is better. It won't warp and from what I can see from our kitchen it has never ever been a problem and I can say nothing bad about it. All of our doors are wood, but our bases are PB. If it is less and considerably so I don't see any reason not to do the particle board to help with costs, no downside really, it's been 15 years since installation.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 9:06AM
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Don't waste your money on plywood. Also, while super wide drawers are becoming increasingly popular, I don't recommend them for any application. It's a recipe for long term failure, not matter the material. Plywood does have less deflection, but if you're going to store all of your cast iron in one drawer, that should be 30" or smaller, with the 150 lb guides. I never spec any drawer wider than 36" and have never had a problem long term with any, no matter what the box material construction.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 9:45AM
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I would never buy anything but a plywood cabinet, having recently done our kitchen with them.

It's not just the strength, moisture resistance, lighter weight or fewer glues used. It's about the look and feel of the interiors of the cabinets and shelves (our shelves are all 3/4" plywood).

The finished birch veneer interiors are beautiful and there is no comparison to a plastic melamine interior. The natural grain is impossible to replicate and the richness of real wood can't be duplicated in dead plastic.

Now, I don't know what the upcharge is on the cabinets. I recall when we were pricing out the 'big box' stores semi-custom offerings, it was an insane 25% or something nutty.

I found a local cabinet maker and did full custom cabinets. It was cheaper (really) than doing run-of-the-mill semi customs from Home Depot/Lowes etc. Really. And that was without a 25% plywood upcharge.

My 'upcharge' on our cabinets for plywood was a grand total of $800 on a $16,000 cabinet quote. Just the difference in material cost. Well worth it.

No way I would have shelled out $4K for the equivalent upgrade in a brand name cabinet, which is why I spent more time looking around at custom options.

I have no hate for particle board - I'm all about the right material for the job. Our doors are MDF as they are painted and we didn't want cracking that is inevitable with pieced together wood doors. I wanted cabinets that would last a lifetime (or two) and that a future owner could simply reface with fresh doors if they chose to. Mine will. Particle board will not.

Do some looking around and find a local custom cabinet maker that doesn't have a massive showroom or fancy 'kitchen designers' in the front wearing diamond rings telling you where to put your knives and forks. I designed my kitchen with the guy who made the cabinets, and his partner who also makes the cabinets installed them - on his own. No big high-rent fancy showroom. Just a few hard working skilled woodworkers.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:10AM
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BH framed cabinets are doweled, likely the most reasonable doweled frames on the market. Doweled frames will outlast any pocket hole frame cabinet as will the KCMA cert fully catalyzed varnish. By a few decades. Took out one 28 year old BH kitchen that was in exceLlent kitchen. (Only one I ever took out)
Edited to add: In BH the ply upgrade does not get you veneer interiors. OTOH exposed finished sides are veneer regardless of construction

This post was edited by jakuvall on Mon, Mar 11, 13 at 15:11

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:41PM
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My post was recipe for disaster.
I don't think plywood wood have prevented the problem.
I think it is important to put additional reinforcement screws in place and possibly some type of anchor.
BH would replace the box with plywood but to get it out was problematic - so we are putting an inner drawer inside the bigger drawer to offload the weight.

I have friends with BH and the cabinets are 10+ years old. I don't know what I think yet - I am less than a year out and still have punch list items.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 7:23PM
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Thank you all for your responses! a2gemini -- I was following your thread (and your kitchen!) all fall. We are not planning on any wide drawers, nor do I plan to store particularly heavy items (other than pots) in my drawers so I was less concerned about that than the cabinets overall. We're waiting on a quote to go with Wood-Mode rather than BH, a comparison for BH with the plywood upcharge, and are also pricing another company. I already have my kitchen design done through the BH/Wood-Mode dealer and I have a great relationship with the KD so I'm really reluctant to take my business elsewhere unless it will be a massive difference in cost for a superior product. We are going with mostly painted finish on the perimeter cabs plus a stained island.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:34PM
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Based on this forum and my cabinet rep, I did not "upgrade". I am getting frameless Bellmont 1900 series cabinets, which uses concealed hardwood dowel joinery on their boxes, which I'm hoping is what Jakuvall means when he says doweled. I've read several places that the stability of PB is actually more desirable for frameless cabinets.

Even the owners of the company I'm working with went with PB even though they could have easily got plywood. Yes, I know they can replace their home cabinets every few years if they want with the discount they get. But if they're doing their own kitchen instead of a client's, they're not getting paid. And I know what they charge for install, I'm sure they'd rather get paid!

Seems like neither option is an obvious better or worse choice. I chose to save the money and move on, they will be much better than what I have now either way!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:07PM
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I think you are smart. I would much rather have other upgrades to the cabinets such as rollouts, better hardware, soft close, crown moulding, light skirt, things like that than solid wood cabs. It's just not that important to me and for us it was the absolute right decision. As I mentioned before I had always thought ours were solid wood from the look and durability of them but they are in fact particle board.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:23PM
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Alyb - sounds like you are in good shape.
Will be watching :-)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:47PM
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