Need advice about cabinet misorder

Kristen HallockJuly 11, 2013

So we've been without a kitchen now since early April. We are finally at a point to start installing cabinets.

We've realized that the kitchen designer at Lowes did not order flush plywood sides for the cabinets that would have sides showing where molding would be wrapping around the top of the cabinet (at the ceiling). I'm kind of ticked because I paid for the plywood upgrade and now I need to buy skins (veneer panels) to put on the sides of all of these cabinets just so that the crown molding can sit flush against the sides of the cabinet.

Whose fault do you think this is? I think its the KD's fault since he knew I was installing molding since he ordered that for me, and he knew there was an option to upgrade to a flush side, but didnt tell me that was pretty much required in order to install the molding correctly.

At most I am out the money to order 5 39" tall 12" deep veneer skins, 1 skin for a 39" tall 18" deep cabinet, and then the skin for the side of my 24" deep 93" tall pantry cabinet. Do you think Lowes should pay for these? Or is it my fault. I designed the kitchen (with help from here) but I had no idea that I should ask for flush plywood sides.


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IMHO, it is entirely the KD's fault. Of course they are going to have input from the customer in designing the kitchen, but you cannot be expected to know all the details of what is needed to put the cabinets together properly. That is why Lowe's employs people to help you out with those things.

Regarding the cost, you probably would have had to pay more for the flush sides (though maybe not), so purchasing the skins now may not cost you any more than you would have paid had the KD ordered the proper end finishing. But now you have to deal with the cost of the installer putting them on for you. I would ask Lowe's to cover the cost of the panels.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 11:43AM
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Sophie Wheeler

You can always install a bit of scribe molding at the top to cover the gap and call it good if the sides are finished plywood in the same species. That's what is traditionally done in builder grade kitchens. I wouldn't expect to see it in a mid or upper end kitchen, but it's a detail that not that many people will notice once it's done.

It's a bit of a gray area as to the responsibility here. When you design a kitchen yourself and you go in to order it, the cabinet associate there is mostly acting as an order take and not as a designer. (Ask them why they don't use the title of "designer" at Lowes. It's because a "designer" has a professional responsibility to a client, whereas a "cabinet salesperson" doesn't.)

You're working with a box store, which means more footwork on your part to be sure that you actually understand what you're ordering because he probably doesn't. If you asked for plywood sides, that's what he gave you. He probably doesn't understand the difference between how to finish the sides off. But, the onus is on you to understand all of the different options because not only were you acting as the designer on this, you were acting as the installer. A design should always be check by the second set of experienced eyes, which means the installer. He checks the space measurements vs. the layout, and whether or not skins were ordered, and the amounts of moldings, ceiling alignment, and a host of other things that may not be apparent to the novice.

Unfortunately, I think you're going to have to chalk this up to an educational experience.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 11:57AM
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Kristen Hallock

Ok. so we are split 50/50. I am more upset about the time its going to take to wait to get the skins.

And yes, I designed the kitchen layout, but this guy did sit down and go over the details with me and he knew enough to put plywood sides on the ends that were showing, to order panels for the island cabinets, and to recess toe kicks, etc...

I guess I am OK with just eating the mistake. I want to get my kitchen back and I dont know that its worth waiting for the skins. DH has offered to just rip skinny boards of maple to use where the molding will mount to the cabinet.

The original Lowes KD told me that "Contractors just rip pieces of wood to fill that gap" and he also told me that "all kitchens have a shadow line around the ceiling if the molding is going to the ceiling". Which we all know is a crock of you know what!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 12:07PM
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I'm with hollysprings on this. There are many ways to detail a kitchen. Your molding thread proves it, there were several solutions to mounting the molding that work.

It is not a standard that flush sides are ordered for every kitchen with molding, particularly at box stores. And yes lots of times a piece is ripped to be put there.

I do as a matter of course add flush sides....but then also extended ears, wide top rails and do a lot of other mods are SOP for me. I do not allow my clients to become "the designer" even if they think they are because I fuss about details, but that is what we do here, some folks go elsewhere. I do discuss them with clients.

I bring them up because there are often budget constraints and clients need to (hopefully) understand where the money is going. I've lost jobs when they did not understand that the kitchen I'm showing them is welll detailed and the cheaper one they are looking at from someone else is ..well cheaper.

There are plenty of installers who put a shadow line around the ceiling. In really off ceilings it can be the only answer. I don't like it and avoid it but we did do one display that way as an educational tool to allow people to decide for themselves.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 12:32PM
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You've got the perfect storm here with the standard clueless employee, and a DIY GC/installer who isn't fully versed in the minutia either. And, I'm sorry, but based on the other thread, it also seems as if the GC installer didn't really care about those details being right either. Until he did.

You can't have your cake and eat it too. If you're going to design and self GC a job, you have to be prepared to eat mistakes because there was something you didn't know, and didn't know you didn't know.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 1:09PM
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We ordered a Kraftmaid vanity from Home Depot and they had a sample that showed the side panel options. It was hanging on the display with the door samples. The salesperson explained the differences.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 2:29PM
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The KD did not do a very responsible job with your kitchen, imo. So, you already knew how you wanted it laid out, not too uncommon, I'd think. They should have assisted with the order. Do you want finished sides on these?... It's part of the job, any job. Besides, they always try to upgrade! Again, part of their job, a sales expectation from the company

When I bought my cabinets (and I did ask for layout help), I found I had to be an expert. Found lots of mistakes and continually uncovered options/details that should have been presented as part of SOP. I don't think it was because he was untrained, uninformed about cabinetry. Again, his job, not yours. Just lazy. The whole experience was far more difficult than it needed to be for the customer.

The skins are another upgrade for an additional charge, so it would be the labor to have them installed you are out. No? Maybe it's lower cost to order them loose than pre-installed. I would think. I know I considered the option to have my contractor install them instead but forget the pricing details. Went with pre-installed, for which there was a line item pricing detail for the upcharge.

If I'm remembering correctly what they look like without, I would wait for the skins to fill that whole recess for a professional finished cabinetry look. You're not going through all this to end up living with aggravating mistakes or things you don't like.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Thu, Jul 11, 13 at 15:54

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 3:25PM
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I ordered my cabinets from lowes as well, and the kitchen girl (though experienced and very helpfu, I don't think she was a KD) went over the the upgrade to plywood flush sides. It was an expensive upgrade (iirc about $100 for each end) and not necessary for us so we skipped it. If you had looked through all the sample stuff at lowes too all the cabinet door displays have a piece that shows the differences.

And I have to agree with greendesigns. Don't get me wrong, we are doing a DIY on an entire house. But, we know there will be more hiccups along the way because we are doing diy. The kitchen is fully my design, though the girl at lowes helped to fill in some specifics and small pieces I didn't think about. Had we had a more clueless person I expect the mistakes would be more numerous. On that same note though I found the only place that was really receptive to quoting cabs for us to be doing diy were big box stores. The kitchen/ bath store and custom cabinet maker both had the attitude that DIY was a bad idea and beneath them. I fully agree going with a qualified gc and a true KD would have been ideal. But some of us can't afford it.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 3:29PM
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Kristen Hallock

Thanks. I am going to skip trying to get the skins for the sides of the cabinets. I would rather get these suckers installed and get my kitchen back.

Its not a huge deal to me.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 3:43PM
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You did get the plywood sides you paid for though, right?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 3:49PM
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khallock, you won't regret it. I have a bath vanity cabinet with a side like the one's you describe, and I would have liked it much better if it had been flush. Like you, I ordered it from Lowe's, and like you, I didn't know that I had the option of having it flush. It doesn't affect my counter top or any function like yours does, and it is not in a really visible position, but it still would have been nicer looking if it had the flush sides. It kinda gives it a "cheap" look, and it was far from cheap!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 5:15PM
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You can put the skins on after the cabinets are installed.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 8:45PM
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I just ordered cabinets at Lowes and my cabinet salesman suggested I get the furniture ends and showed me the difference so I could make a choice. I had wanted plywood ends on the exposed parts but wouldn't have realized I needed to get flush ends without his advice. I guess I was lucky.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 12:19AM
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