Which cabinet upgrades are worth it?

CT_NewbieJuly 13, 2013

Hi! I'll be seeing some KDs tomorrow. Just wondering which upgrades you thought were worth it?
*Poplar upgrade to maple for painted white cabinets? One company charges 10% more for maple
*Some other unspecified "paint ready wood" upgrade to maple?
*Particle board or furniture board boxes upgraded to plywood? One KD said the particleboard was just as strong as the plywood so he didn't think it mattered since it was on the inside
*Particle board shelves upgraded to plywood? I think that same KD felt that the plywood was more likely to warp than the particleboard
*Is there a difference between a vinyl vs. a veneer for the shelves and inside of the cabinets and if so what is the difference and which is better?
*Stock white vs. choosing a paint color white. I don't really have a preference but wasn't sure if a chosen color would be easier to match down the road. Some companies charge an upcharge for picking a non standard paint but Rutt does not

By the way, can anyone explain if Plain and Fancy's furniture board is more like particleboard or MDF? I'm guessing it's the former

I feel like particleboard has such negative connotations that I'm leaning towards plywood and maple upgrades. However, I don't really know that much about it. This is a big reno and I"m hoping it will last 20 years (or at least 15) Plus, we have abusive toddlers, though they haven't really dinged our current cabinets because we gate off the kitchen and only let them in for eating. However, in the new house we won't have those gates and the kids will be over age 3 so in theory, they should be better behaved. But now, they try to swing on the refrigerator door (which is thankfully too heavy to open) and they sometimes try to swing on the gate when I haven't locked it

Thanks so much!

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The "worth it" component depends so much upon your situation. If you're going to stay in the home for 15-20 years, your new cabinets will look old and dated no matter what you do today. It doesn't really matter if you use particle board, MDF or plywood from a sturdiness aspect. My old cabinets were 25 year old particle board, and were still in a great functional state when removed. They were ugly as sin though. :-)

If you live in a high-end neighborhood and plan to sell or ever have to sell due to unforeseen circumstances, prospective home buyers will expect plywood cabinets. In that case, having particle board or MDF will have an adverse impact on your ability to get top dollar for the house.

My advice is to look for upgrades that make sense for your family in your neighborhood. For example, don't put money into fancy embellishments if none of the houses in your neighborhood have them and you won't enjoy them.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 8:23AM
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The price range that you are looking at shouldn't have "upgrades". It should all be top notch construction quality without having to pay to upgrade it. All should be standard. The only "upgrade" that should be offered is the ability to customize the wood, the sizes, and the finishes. That's the only "upgrade" that's an upcharge at your price point. Or, it should be. If you're dealing with a custom company that wants to charge extra for all that you listed, then I wouldn't deal with them at all. A minimal level of quality is expected for high end products. You don't pay the nickel and dime upgrade game if all you produce is top quality. If they are used to producing lower quality nickel and dimed products, then they don't have enough expertise to accomplish what needs to be done here.

When you walk into a Ferrari dealership, you don't have to ask them for leather seats and something other than a 4 cylinder engine. They only offer the finest quality materials crafted into the finest quality machines. It's assumed that that is what you want or you wouldn't have walked into their showroom.

This post was edited by live_wire_oak on Sat, Jul 13, 13 at 9:00

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 8:54AM
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Particle board doesn't have the snob appeal that plywood does . Plywood is better, yes. But, A 10% upcharge seems ridiculous to me as they base that on the job price and not just the wood price. The labor doesn't really change. Well, particle is heavier:)

If using particle board,I'm assuming they mean melamine which is a very tough surface for cab interiors.
Plywood would probably be a pre-finished ply which is also a strong finish.

Anyway, one of the main detrements to PB is that you really can't get it wet. You could do the uppers in PB and the lowers in ply.

Poplar will bang up a little more than maple.

All that said, I think the bottom line to the quality and longgevity would be who is building and installing not really the materials used.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 2:54PM
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Thank you all! those were useful pointers. Just to clarify, the poplar to maple upgrade was 10%. The particleboard to plywood upgrade cost was a lot less. There was a third option for the melamine that was less expensive than the particle board.

What is a little odd is that the Plain & Fancy estimate came in a lot higher than the Rutt Regency. Part of it was that P&F just did an estimate based on linear foot (whereas the Rutt person measured) but even if we deduct a few thousand for not paneling the refrigerator and another few for not paneling the hood, it is still substantially more. I think one person on another thread had thought that P&F would come in lower than Rutt. Maybe he/she was thinking of Rutt Classic. Or maybe the Rutt person was discounting more than P&F to get the business since they also have a contractor that's giving us an estimate

I don't think we'll need Rutt Classic because it seems like the options they offer for that line are not relevant to us (e.g., different wood, stains, inside drawer accessories out of mahogony or walnut vs. maple), They did look nice but weren't really important to us. But feel free to enlighten me if I missed something.

Still waiting for one more quote from Brookhaven/Woodmode.

The local cabinet maker came in at almost twice the cost


This post was edited by CT_Newbie on Sat, Jul 13, 13 at 17:15

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 5:11PM
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You made no mention of soft-close technology on all drawers and doors. I'd consider these to be the only true upgrade options at that level. Everything else is as livewireoak stated.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 5:43PM
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I almost went with Rutt Regency but switched to Rutt Classic at the last minute. It was probably an extra eight thousand dollars, but I figured in for a penny, in for a pound. I did stained walnut cabinets, not painted. The Classic came with walnut interiors in all the drawers (or cherry if you want). I have to admit that I just drooled over them and that is what put me over the edge. Actually, the showroom had the walnut drawers in painted cabinets. There were lots of other little things like the hinges, which were more refined-looking on the Classic. The door catches were nickel rather than plastic. There is no lip on the front of the wall cabinets--it is absolutely flat. The hinges are cut in. The tolerances are tighter. The sink cabinet comes with a built in sink mat with lots of litle recesses that hold water in case of a leak.

I think that a number of these upgrades on the Rutt Classic are most relevant for inset cabinets as opposed to overlay.

There were probably other differences too. I just can't remember them all.

By the way, I didn't price out specific upgrades. I wanted what I wanted, then tried to negotiate the best price. I added a knife insert, a spice insert, cutlery trays and drawer dividers (all walnut). My KD added little things without even telling me because he knew that I wanted a finished furniture look, given that the kitchen is visible from other rooms. So there is a trim piece around the perimeter of the counter cabinets, a trim piece between the upper and lower part of the pantry cabinet, finished off bottom molding around the peninsula, etc. He priced it at $x and I just negotiated him down some. I think I have made up the discount to him with recommendations which have earned him other jobs. Plus, I sent a note to his boss raving about him. Sorry for getting a little off topic at the end here.

I posted my kitchen pics a while back. You should be able to find them easily. Sorry, don't know how to link from iPad.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 5:55PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Soft close is standard in most medium grade cabinets. It should never be an upgrade for a high end line. If it is, then the line isn't upper end.

Take a page from nycbluedevil here. Figure out what you want first, and then see if it can be had. Worry about the price secondarily. At the higher end, you're getting a good product no matter who you choose. And you won't be able to compare off the cuff estimates with actual bids for a real design. That's apples and oranges. Just adding in a compound molding and finishing some of the cabinet ends can add 25% to a plain quote for boxes, which if that is what one is quoting and the other is quoting, won't match.

Decide which line you like the best and go with them and give less credence to "price estimates". Price is impossible to nail down without an accurate design FIRST.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 6:36PM
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I would have at least the sink cabinet in plywood. Otherwise, particle board is perfectly fine. Definitely don't skimp on inserts, lazy susan, blind corner pullouts, etc. They make the the kitchen functional and look customized.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 7:37PM
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Will my husband will tell you he wanted no particle board, dovetail drawers and no plastic lazy Susan's, my favorite upgrade was the beveled corners on the two upper cabinets that are on either side of the sink. I just love the way it looks, it makes the space look wider and not so closed in. Oh I also love my pull out spice cabinet.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 9:26PM
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Thank you all! First of all, I think they all do come standard with soft close and full extension. I will double check. Secondly, we don't want any special stain, we just want white matte cabinets and we want the hinges on the inside so we don't care what they look like so I think we're OK with the less fancy line. (Yes, the walnut against the white for the drawer inset looks better than maple but not to the point where I would pay $8K more.) If I had gone with wood vs. white painted, I think the Classic might have been more important.\

NYC Blue Devil, you are far more a culinary connoisseur than I. But you've given me a good "checklist" The Rutt KD put most of the insets you mentioned for me in her design so its built into the price. I'm sure I'll get a little further into it. Right now we have a butcher block for our knives that sits on teh counter. I think it also self sharpens so I don't necessarily need a cutlery drawer, unless it is for steak knives. I was thinking of putting the steak knives in a regular utensils drawer. She seemed to think that any differences in insets were minor relative to the cost of the cabinets that she quoted.

Did you get a MSRP price and then the price you were charged? Did you just ask for a discount when you were done and if so, what was reasonable 10%

She also mentioned a line called Quality. Any feed back on that one?

Thank you thank you everyone.

Will post more later as my laptop is running out of battery

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 9:29PM
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bullydosmom, that is a neat idea! not wanting to hijack this thread, can you email me the brand of your cabinet that you can get the corner like that? I have not seen that before.
thank you

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 9:49PM
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MSRP - on cabinets it is a pretty meaningless figure. Brand x sells at 60 off, y at 35 off, z at 10- all with the same mark up. Often less expensive brands have what appears to be a higher discount but there are no hard and fast guidelines.

Discounts and negotiations with regular dealers are not common but happen. I don't, ever, my margin is tight and I keep it absolutely consistent with no padding. The rare times I've run a promo it is 5%.

Quality Custom Cabinetry is a hi end brand, typically more than P & F, not sure abou Rutt since they've changed ownership and added the lower line. I carry QCCI.

Scrappy- that is called a clipped corner. It is available in many semi custom brands and all others as you move up in price.

This post was edited by jakuvall on Sat, Jul 13, 13 at 22:25

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 10:23PM
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I think I have said this before. In my view, doing inset cabinets with concealed hinges is a huge mistake. They are large and unwieldy inside the cabinet. Why are you so determined to do inset if you don't want to see hinges? Personally, I think that hinges are what help create the charm of inset cabinets.

At the Rutt price point, asking about charges for extras is just silly. Your KD is right.

I keep my steak knives in my utensil drawer too even though we designed the knife insert for both steak knives and prep knives. I don't love the knife insert (some of the larger knives stick out a bit too much) but I hate keeping things on the counter. The spice ramp is really great, however. And my utensil drawer was designed well. It holds both sets of my cutlery, one on each side with the middle for serving pieces (and now my steak knives).

No, I did not see the MSRP nor did I ask for a specific discount. I just kept asking at several points whether he could do better and I knew when to stop. Everyone has to win in a negotiation. He knew I wanted him to sharpen his pencil. I knew he wanted to get the business. He knew he was going to get the business, since I had to pay a retainer for him to come out and do the measurements that allowed him to do the detailed plans in the first place. I liked him and he liked me. We developed trust. That's how we did business.

I did not play KDs off against one another. I went to three cabinet shops in Manhattan with a rough idea of my design. I got three estimates. One for Signature at a local place in my neighborhood. Signature was her top brand. Then I went to two other shops that sold both Rutt and Signature. The first place was ok but I thought the shop was a bit unappealing, which spoke to me about the KD's design capability. The second and third places were much higher end and I felt more comfortable with their expertise. It came down to personality of the KD at each. The estimates were really just to figure out what order of magnitude i was going to be dealing with. i knew perfectly well that the estimate would vary considerably from what I would end up with.

I have never heard of Quality. The only other line I even considered was Signature. Their custom line, which is relatively new, is meant to compete with Rutt Regency.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 10:50PM
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Thanks for the pic Bull! We must have been posting at the same time.

HI NYC, I know your perspective on going frameless if I don't want the hinge. However, we like the frame part, we just don't like the hinge. We can't be the only ones who like this combo as I've seen it in the showrooms. True, there is the space difference which makes us think about frameless but we think we will have plenty of space/cabinets so it won't be an issue. But I will ask about a frameless option, just to compare and if the inset with hinges inside hinders anything

For the record, she did not say it was silly to ask about upcharges. She merely said that any difference in what we wanted inside the cabinets/drawers wouldn't make a huge difference in the price. So I am NOT expecting there to be a big difference in her estimate and what we end up with. I hope that is not being naive. I tried to get a sense of what would really add to the budget and if I needed it. The example she gave was having a separate smaller cabinet above the main one vs. one big door.

Thanks for the negotiation tips.

Sidenote: On the spice ramp, is that the vertical pullout drawer that goes on the sides of the range top? Do you find that the spices get too hot? Two KDs suggested putting them in the top drawer (regular wide one, not the tall narrow one) next to the stove top. I was wondering if I'd be able to tell which spice was which from just looking down at the top (though I guess you do get some of the side view and typically put the spices back in the same place.)

Jacuval, thanks for the input. The P&F quote I got was a lot higher than the Quality quote too. The Quality and Rutt Regency prices were similar for the same design. I wonder if it was just that P&F Dealer. When I went into the shop that sold P&F with the KD I was not impressed with, the example he gave was closer in line to the Rutt pricing. At the time, I didn't have my exact kitchen measurements but seemed to think that his example was only slightly smaller than my kitchen. I didn't go back to get a quote from him since I knew I didn't want to work with him


This post was edited by CT_Newbie on Sun, Jul 14, 13 at 0:41

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 12:07AM
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My spices are in a spice ramp--a wide top drawer. Bottles are arranged in alpha order with labels facing up. No issues.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 7:28AM
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That's the second time I've run into P&F pricing being like that. AFAIK it would be dealer markup unless things have changed at PF.

Wellborn bought Rutt from Viking 8 yrs or so and added Regency since. QCCI was always a competitor with Rutt even before Viking had em so I'm surprised a bit there but often a slightly more expensive brand can price well against another lower one for a specific kitchen. It is good your KD took a look at that, due diligence, I do that just in case.
Can't say more since I'd be highly biased and don't have a clear idea of what they do to reduce the cost of Regency from Classic..

The example she gave about what could increase price would be consistant with how I do initial pricing, make allowance for a complete kitchen to avoid surprises, is reliable.
FWIW, I like the sounds of your KD :-)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 8:08AM
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bullydosmom, I just love the style and color of your cabinets making me wonder if I really want off-white cabinets or cabinets with a cherry color. Can you share more information about them? Do you have any posts on your beautiful finished kitchen?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 12:18PM
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It was implied previously, but not mentioned explicitly, but maple is a harder wood than poplar, so if you are concerned with dings, it will provide a little more resistance. That is a functional upgrade.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 4:06PM
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Thanks NYC. That makes perfect sense.

Jaku - thanks for the insights. I was wondering that too - about the markup given the other P&F Dealer's pricing. The second P&F dealer I went to had been featured in various local newspapers/magazines so he probably felt he could command a higher markup

Thanks for the clarification Gooster.

Thank you everyone even if I didn't mention you by name. I'm sure I'll have more detailed questions once I decide on a KD and hopefully, I can post the layout too. I wish I had more time to devote to this. Too many things breaking down in the old home that need to be repaired and now I'm dealing with a pool issue in the new home and running out of negotiating leverage since we are so close to the closing.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 10:30PM
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