Anyone benefit from lifetime cab warranty?

breezygirlJuly 24, 2011

I was just reading Piglet's thread about choosing cabs and about her rule that the cabs she chooses must have a lifetime warranty. I never heard of a lifetime warranty or that cabs even had warranties until about a year ago here. I've lived over 40 years and never once used a cab warranty or ever heard anyone using one. In fact, my cab maker and I never discussed a warranty.

I get why someone people think warranties are important. Some of my major purchases are made with warranty benefits in mind. But has anyone actually gone to their cab maker/manufacturer 20, 15, or even 10 years later and used the warranty for an issue?? How important is a lifetime warranty?

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I can't imagine that most people get any use out of it, at least after the first 5 years. If a cabinet falls apart in that time, yeah, the homeowner is going to want some answers from the cabinet company. But 10, 15, 20 years? I think most people have either 1. forgotten that their cabinets even have a warranty, 2. moved to another house anyway, 3. gotten tired of the look, or 4. cut their losses and paid for new cabinets.

However, this is "most people." If I had a lifetime warranty and something went awry, you can bet I'd use it. I don't know if it would be something I'd require up-front or pay significantly more to obtain. Is a cab with a 25-year warranty going to be constructed THAT different than one with a lifetime warranty?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 4:00PM
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lifetime warranty is only good for the lifetime of the company. Now a days, I would not count any company being there for very long. So look for examples of their work and quality, pay with credit card, so you have recourse and do not look for some paper that says lifetime warranty.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 5:02PM
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My spider sense tells me that Ikea's lifetime warranty is a marketing way to reassure people that this is good wood, built well.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 5:18PM
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Sophie Wheeler

All any warrant is is a measure of the confidence of the manufacturer has in their products. Hardly anyone ever receives satisfaction from a flooring warranty, or a furniture warranty either, but the fact that a manufacturer is willing to stand behind their products for that long is a testament to how confident they are that they have a good product. You have to balance that out with the actual longevity of the company so far. If Kraftmaid offers you a lifetime warranty, you can bet that they will be in business 15 years from now to fulfill that warranty. If JoeDon's Cabinet Shop has only been in business 3 years, then you've got far less chance of receiving any warranty service 3 years from now, much less 15 years from now. Even though JoeDon may have a beautiful product, statistically, Kraftmaid is a better bet. However, you may pay for for that surety with Kraftmaid.

And, the only things that are covered by a warranty are manufacturer's defects. Most of those will be apparent in the first 6 months of usage, not years down the road. And the reason that you have issues down the road is usually due to normal wear and tear or abuse, not a manufacturer's defect. An example would be a corner base cabinet with the 2 hinged doors. If you aren't careful closing the door, you can scratch the adjacent door on the handle side. And if you lean on the door a bit while you are trying to find something in the interior and over time the hinges start to come lose, that's abuse in both cases and wouldn't fall under any warranty coverage.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 11:45PM
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You all make excellent points. I just found it interesting that a lifetime warranty would be a must-have for someone else when it never even occured to me to ask what/if any warranty my cab maker promises. My cab maker is a decent, honest, patient, hard working man who does excellent work. I trust him that if something happens with a cab 6 months he'll come fix it. I don't think that makes me naive. I've been through enough and seen enough during this reno to not trust everybody.

Has anybody with a lifetime warranty ever gone back to their cab maker/manufacturer 10 years later and used that warranty?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 1:26PM
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I never thought about a warranty for my cabinets. I think I remember that there was one but had forgotten. I think I am going to double check as I do have an issue with 2 doors that have hairline cracks on the inside stile and worry it will continue to the outside.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 2:43PM
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Hi all,

I'm the Piglet the OP referred to, and I just saw this. Just to explain my rationale with my rule. I currently have 13 year old cabinets that had a 5-year warranty, and which are falling apart. The drawer heads are pulling off, drawers don't slide well, the doors are unevenly yellowing (one bright white next to a yellow one). The shelf pin of one shelf broke, and then the other when we opened the door, and the shelf tilted out, spilling the contents from way up high (2nd shelf from top in 42" cab). My husband caught the shelf and some dishes, but the rest fell out, hit me, the counter, the floor, SMASH. It gouged our laminate countertop (the only damage to it in 13 years!).

In our remodel, I just wanted a lifetime warranty. It helped me to limit my choices in cabinets, and I needed that. I am sure that there are LOTS of great cabinet makers without a lifetime warranty, but I suspect that there are very few BAD cabinet makers WITH a lifetime warranty.

Please don't take my "rule" as having much importance. It just helped me to limit my choices, and it gives me peace of mind. I really don't think it's necessary, especially if you have faith in your cabinet maker.

I hope this helped,


    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 12:39AM
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Poor piglet!!!! Ouch. That sounds pretty dramatic.

Otherwise, what Holly said.

I think Breezy has an interesting question about whether anyone has personally experienced calling up a company 22 years later and saying "ah, ahem, there seems to be a problem here...". The chances of that are so slim to begin with, and the company responding? FWIW I had a little doo-hickey break from the bottom of an IKEA loft bed approx 6 years after purchase. They were *Willing* to replace the doo-hickey, but there were none to be had. I'd worry about that with IKEA cabinetry... a little; that is, if there were something major as mentioned, it would have been caught earlier. Else, it's unlikely to matter much (and/or the claim would be disallowed).

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 1:08AM
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Hi Piglet.

Thanks for the explanation. It makes sense to me why you'd value a warranty like that. Like I mentioned in the OP, I had never heard of a cab warranty until I came here so I was fascinated by someone who has had a life experience that led them to make not only a warranty but also a lifetime one a requirement for purchase. I wondered if I was missing something.

I hope you found the right cab line for your needs.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 1:28AM
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I'm skeptical about lifetime warranties. I bought a suitcase once with a lifetime warranty (Tumi). After several years of business travel, it had accumulated various small issues like the tabs on the zippers breaking. I sent it in for warranty repair paying shipping to the factory. After a while I was notified that almost all the repairs had been denied. The warranty was for "defects in materials or workmanship" and not for "abuse or normal wear" and they were claiming all most all the problems were the latter. I called and the woman on the phone claimed that defects in materials and workmanship show up in the first 6 months or so and anything after that was abuse or normal wear. So I said then your "lifetime" warranty apparently really meant 6 months. I argued with her enough to get most of the repairs covered.

Funny thing, the one thing that I would have accepted as normal wear and my problem was that the wheels and feet were worn but that is the one thing that they repaired without question.

I read warranties now and find that most lifetime warranties have the "defects in materials or workmanship" provision. I understand that some honest companies feel the need to protect themselves from abuse of their warranty, but the provision puts you at the mercy of their good will on doing a repair. Unconditional lifetime warranties are a rarity.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 2:03AM
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When I chose my custom cabinet maker, he was very forthcoming with his warranty. I didn't even have to ask. He said it was a lifetime warranty as long as he's in business, even if I sell the house. They've been in business for 40 years (started by his father) and it's mostly been by word of mouth. He said it was easy for him to stand behind his product, because the hinges and slides both carry a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. He said he's never had a problem working with his distributor replacing the few items that did break. Since they build all the boxes and do all the finishing, he "knows" his work will last.

Frankly, I don't foresee any issues with my cabinets. The boxes are all 3/4 plywood, drawers are solid maple dovetail construction and doors are all solid cherry panels. I've been taking liberties testing everything since they got installed. My contractor even told me that my cabinets are some of the best he's seen in his 25 years in the business.

So I get why the offer of a lifetime warranty can be so valuable. Peace of mind goes a long way. It wasn't a requirement of mine, but I truly appreciate knowing about it.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 12:56PM
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We did have occasion to question how good the lifetime warranty on our engineered wood floor from HD was recently. From the beginning (10 yrs ago), the floor was softer than it should have been for a "hardwood." Yes, some hardwoods are sort of soft and some softwoods are pretty hard, but to consumers of flooring, hardwood means actually hard. Anyway, in the course of our reno, we did ask about it. Interesting and instructive answers.

1) HD no longer carries that line
2) They do deal with the manufacturer, but can't get a hold of them for weeks on end
3) Oops, lost your original receipt.
4) Actually, to claim on flooring, one needs to have had 100% compliance, provable, with the care instructions. I'm assuming no actual shoe ever crossed the floor, it was cleaned with the gentle sweep of butterfly wings twice a day, and no animal was ever allowed on the surface. If one complied with those items, I'm sure there would be more.

So we were better consumers this time and did a whole lot more research before choosing that floor's replacement.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 1:28PM
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