Door style panels on ends of cabinets or flat panels?

susanlynn2012November 11, 2011

Door style panels on ends of cabinets or flat panels? Which is preferred and why did you choose one over the other. Any pictures? This is something I never noticed until asked which I preferred.

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To further confuse you, when opting for "door panel" style at the end of a cabinet, you can achieve the look in two ways, either by: (1) using an integrated panel or (2) by having a door type piece (w/o handles or hinges) mounted to the flat space. With the integrated, it's about an inch recessed compared to the rest of the line of cabinets.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 5:17AM
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Hi. I prefer an integrated panel. I think it looks cleaner. It looks like the panel a part of the cabinet. In my kitchen, that is what I have. But in my daughters' bathroom, a panel was attached to the vanity afterwards. To me, it looks like an afterthought. I would post pictures but my floors are being stained so I can't get into the house.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 7:06AM
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I don't think one or the other is preferred. It depends on what you like and the look you want. Sometimes, it will just look better to you one way or the other.

Ask the kd to generate some three d views of one way or the other and to generate the pricing as that always helps me make a decision.

You don't even have to do the same thing for all the end cabinets. If some of the ends don't have a lot of visibility, matching skins will inexpensively finish them.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 9:03AM
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I am reserving judgement on the end panel until I see if it is needed. My cabinet supplier told me that it would not be a problem to order one after the fact.
I have surface mounted doors on another cabinet run where I had the back of a cabinet next to the front of a cabinet and the surface mounted doors look just like the doors of the real cabinet next to it.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 9:41AM
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Depends on the style. If you've got a more elaborate door style, fancy corbels and those 3" column-fillers and crown molding and more ornate trim, then you definitely need the door-style ends. If you're doing a more sleek design (say, shaker-style) with no crown molding, keeping the trim panels very low-key is appropriate, and I wouldn't bother with the door-type trims.
Kris_ma raises a good point about being sure you're aware how far the door trim will/won't protrude, but usually an end panel isn't actually flush with other doors to compare to, so it may be a moot point.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 9:45AM
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We chose door panels. It just made sense to me. The old kitchen had a flat panel and it looked boring.

This is the best pic I have of the end panels.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 9:48AM
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For a kitchen with a detailed door, having the sides match the door is always a better look. I prefer the integrated cabinet end where the door profile is built into the cabinet itself in place of the plain plywood cabinet side. It's a more finished look and not all cabinet lines offer that. Second choice would be the applied faux door. If you go with this option, you will need to order the flush finished cabinet ends or order a skin to flush the cabinet side as the door will not apply well without that.

Another option in some lines is the simple "flush plywood" finished side which comes from the factory with the beauty wood plywood matching stained and finished flush for the side. That is my preferred finishing method for a simple door style kitchen, like a simple shaker kitchen. You could also choose a beadboard skin or ply side if your line offers that and it would be appropriate for your design aesthetic.

All of these options are more expensive than the cheapest option, which is applying a veneer wood "skin" to the cabinet side to finish off the recess and give it the actual "beauty wood" appearance. Beware of the "cheapest cheap" option which is a "vinyl or melamine print skin" as those will not age like the rest of your wood and you will be able to tell the difference in a few short months.

All of these options will have different labor costs associated with their install, so although an integrated cabinet door might be the most expensive finishing choice, it will cost less in the labor department than having to have a door field applied. It's the same with the skins vs. the finished plywood sides. It's usually a financial wash between the labor vs. materials to have the skin installed vs. the flush plywood side, so I choose the flush plywood side and save on time and money for the install. It's also a much better choice for anyone who is DIYing an install, as skins do take some effort to make look "right" and aren't a good choice in the hands of a novice DIYer.

I'm sure no one dreamed that there were so many choices! That's just one nugget of knowledge that even an average KD can bring to your design.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 10:06AM
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Thank you kris_ma, emy315, bmorepanic, kellied, empet, and jodi_in_so_calif for your input that I really appreciate.

Thank you Jodi for the pictures of your beautiful kitchen showing me both types of end panels. I love how your island matches your doors giving it that extra style. I also love how the upper cabinet has that recessed matching panel to finish the look. I also love your back-splash the stain on your beautiful cabinets and the pulls. You have such a stunning kitchen that I never get tired of seeing.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 10:13AM
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Thank you GreenDesigns for you input and teaching me a lot. This is all knew to me. I had no idea there were so many choices in buying new cabinets.

I must have the Printed skins on my builder grade oak cabinets that I have now and want to replace. The side panels are a type of skin to match the doors and are wearing badly. My sides surprised me when they started to wear that they are such a think wallpaper to match that it is so cheap looking. I can't understand how builders can get away with putting such cheap cabinets inside townhouses that they charge so much for that my townhouse cost as much as a house but had the square footage, style and location that I wanted so it is what I chose. I love my home but I keep finding all these shortcuts Hovnanian took when the builder constructed my townhouse that I bought when it was 7 years old. I guess if I was the original owner, I would have had choices on upgrades.

My cabinet side would be a bottom cabinet that is seen when entering the open kitchen. I have no room for an Island and the top cabinets are flush with the L-Shape walls with no cabinets above the half wall separating the kitchen that only has cabinets below. I was surprised when kitchen cabinet designers at stores were asking me these questions since I never thought about it before.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 10:24AM
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We put the door panels on ours...our kitchen opens to the family room and I wanted that finished look. They aren't integrated.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 11:43AM
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Just MHO but I think it finishes a kit to have the ends finished off. In my last house before we redid the kit I hated the plain ends and back of island.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 12:46PM
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Nini804, I love your kitchen so much. The style of your doors, the finished look (you are right that it looks so nice) and all the light that you have. Thank you for sharing.

eandhl, thank you for your opinion and from the pictures, I seem to like the finished look.

Anything is better than I have now with my builder grade oak laminate cabinets. I know I have seen worse but I need cabinets that have usable space (I now have too many blind corners I can't reach and doors opening up with nothing inside to organize my kitchen stuff) and that I like the way they look.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 3:39PM
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We did matching ends on our upper cabinets. I think it looks more finished off.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 3:49PM
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Wow, those end panels really make it! Have you posted your kitchen? If not, please do!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 4:28PM
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kalapointer, You are so right that the end panels really enhance your cabinets. So I guess certain cabinet designs look more finished with matching end panels. Please share all of your kitchen if you have not done so since I would love to see it.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 10:21PM
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I also struggled to come up with the best solution re end panels.
Since I like very simple lines,
I decided that I wanted the sides of my upper cabinets flat.
I was afraid that the inset panel design would look too fussy on the sides of the upper cabinets.
In the end, I think it would have been fine either way.
Many people with my cabinets probably would have chosen
to wrap the inset design around to the upper end panels.

My upper cabinets:

But I decided to do the end panels on the lower cabinet
and the island. These were not applied to the cabinet;
the lower cabinets were built this way.

My lower cabinets:

Hope this helps! Best wishes for your kitchen remodel.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 10:17AM
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Circus Peanut

We made our own end panels to match the doors in the house, rather than the doors of the cabinetry. Turned out great and I can recommend trying different looks to get away from the 'too many doors' look Francoise feared on her uppers.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 10:48AM
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Francoise47, the plain side matching panel looks perfect with your upper cabinets. I love the matching door panel on the lower cabinets. You did a great job that is very pleasing to the eye with the beautiful inset style cabinets you chose. I love your kitchen.

circuspeanut, I'd love to see a picture of how you did the finishing on your cabinets since it sounds so nice. I am beginning to feel any type of finishing looks nice rather than the builder grade matching wallpaper I have now that I hate so much. :)

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 12:26PM
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Definitely end panels if you do a painted finish especially white. If you go with stained cabinets you can easily get away without them if you wish (definitely saves some $$). We found this out the hard way--when looking at our white w/ pewter glaze kitchen cabinets without end panels, they looked like the particle board stuff from Lowe's, while our stained island & bathroom vanities without panels looked just fine. It has to do with the grain showing through the stain giving the cabinet end some dimension & movement which you lose when you do painted cabinets. I'll see if I can post some pics of the stained ends later on; the painted ones have panels on them now! Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 1:34PM
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Hi Lynn

We have door style panels on the ends that are visible (from the family room)
and used flat panel ends on the cabs that are not as visible (to save on cost). The flat panels are on the upper and lower cabs to the right of the stove.

We have three door panels on the peninsula base. Of these "doors", only one (closest to the sliding glass door)actually opens to a cabinet in the peninsula. The other two are just for looks and symmetry.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 5:19PM
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Mydreamhome and Laurie_2008, thank you! That makes a lot of sense and now I want a door style panel for that one cabinet that can be seen all the time since is is visible from the family room and when walking in the kitchen.

Thank you Laurie for the pictures which really helps a lot.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 5:39PM
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francoise47, I was wrong. Not in every case do I now think cabs look unfinished if they don't have panels. Your cabs look perfect just the way you did them.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 7:05PM
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Dear eandhi. Thanks! Sweet of you to say that.
Panels or no panels is a hard decision and it seems there is no one right answer.
I do think some people would think mine would look better with panels on the upper cabinets.
But, yes, I like the plainer look just fine. No regrets. And it did save some money.

This was one of my many inspiration kitchens and helped me decide not to do panels on the uppers.
Looking at a lot of different kitchens does help one figure out whether panels are the way to go or not for the look one is trying to achieve.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 7:21PM
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Eandhl, the end panels on francoise47's cabinets above the counters match the paint perfectly band are flat and look like part of the furniture like my Durham solid Maple Furniture with the distressed sand white finish that look the same and look very nice that I have in my bedroom.

I think when you buy the cheap white furniture in the department stores, the sides do not look like furniture panels. I also love how francoise47 finished the sides of the cabinets below the counters to match the doors, added legs to the island, and how she added crown molding giving a gorgeous look!

We are all learning with pictures. I thank everyone for posting. Anyone else that wants to share, it is helping us all. I love seeing all the beautiful kitchens with different styles.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 7:23PM
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I have integrated end panels. I have them on both sides of my window and at the end of a cabinet run that is exposed. I really like the finished look.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 8:45PM
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Enduring, I love the style of your cabinets and it does look nice having integrated end panels with your style cabinet and wood and stain choice. It does give it a finished look. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 10:26AM
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Ours are integrated. We only have a peninsula end (lowers only). The other end is the fridge, which is boxed in and that is a door-style panel too. I think they look good.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 11:04AM
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Prospect711, Thanks for letting us know that your are integrated. This is all new to me. I never knew there were so many decisions that need to be made when doing new cabinets.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 1:01PM
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Circus Peanut

lynn, I'm away from my photo album at the moment and don't have any recent photos, but here's a shot from during dusty construction that gives you an idea. (We didn't put panels on the uppers, either; just left them plain wood as Francoise did.)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 4:03PM
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CircusPeanut, Thank you for sharing to show me. I think I like when the bottom cabinets are finished and so far I feel it look nice when the upper panels have a finished off flat side panel. I love the reddish stain on your wood.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 4:32PM
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Oh, good question Lynn! This one completely escaped me during months and months of working out the details of my plan. There was a KD involved, but, um, they hadn't the rudimentary skills that GD is mentioning, I don't think. grrr.

So she never mentioned and I completely missed the issue on the end of one of our runs. It is plain. And I am not sure whether I care; I just ended up putting a piece of furniture against it along the end and I think it's OK. If I had it to do over again I'd probably finish this end.

The KD did insist on finishing a side panel underneath an overhang. I thought it was silly but she was so adamant I let her do it. I'm glad I did; she was right about that.

And then my uppers. I had to fight quite a bit with the KD to keep these plain. I wanted them plain so as to be able to stick kids' artwork on the flat panels. Not that I have yet, still -- there's no wall space in our house between too many windows and cabinetry and furniture. I'm happy with this decision.

I definitely think reasonable minds can go any and all ways here. The key just is to think about it in advance. I hadn't realized this was an issue, but it is. Good for you!

Here's some pictures of the relevant locales: ... actually, I think i can use just this one shot:

You can see on the far right that the lower panel is not finished. I have placed a weird, ugly old wooden cabinet of my grandma's against that which serves as a liquor cabinet. It's just the right length and so perhaps it was meant to be that this was not finished. You can make out how the uppers are smooth with no finishing, and this is true on all of them, all of the sides. I like that way, aesthetically as well as functionally. We overgooped the windows and needed to go sparser on trim elsewhere (like overcooking the steak on one side and needing to leave it raw on the other side to make up for it). For us, here, in this kitchen, the cleaner look is better. It would have been too done-done otherwise.

Maybe you can just make out underneath the overhang in the foreground that there is a false door-like panel behind the stools on the right. The one to the left of the pants on the chair is an actual drawer. (This happens to be a complete kitchen-favorite thing too. There is a huge deep cabinet underneath the overhang in which goes wrapping paper and presents. I love that thing. An occasional hide-and-seeking child goes there as well).

On the upper over the island you can see a schedule taped to the wall. The insides of that set of uppers are also flat, also available for stuff-hanging. I really wanted that functionally. It gave the KD hives to think about as it doesn't conform to some learned rule, evidently. (so what I want to know is, why didn't she finish the end of the cabinet run then???).

HTH - again, I think what's important is to think about it, to know stuff like what GD mentioned (I still haven't quite figured this out but it's moot for me now I think), and to look at tons of photos to somehow bootstrap a sense of what *you* want. I don't think the rules are really the way to go; feeling your way into what you want is.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 5:04PM
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Aliris19, thank you for the pictures. I wish I cold give myself credit for some of these questions but they came about due to pricing three kitchen cabinets from three places and I need to make up my mind ASAP so I can get this project started. I have another installation meeting this week to find out the cost of installing the cabinets I just changed to and the kitchendesigner at the store was trying to find me some more organizers to add to save $1600 instead of $1400 by spending $234 more! He brought up the side panel and I was so used to seeing my unfinished side (my cabinets do not have the flat finished look of your cabinets which despite your cabinets not having the door type of matching finishing, they still have the straight matching side that looks nice) so I let him add that and then a few other finishing touches to save more. The other two places never brought it up but their cabinets are the shaker look so a finished flat panel would not look bad. I never reallyt thought about it and I thought it looked like a fake door but then seeing these pictures, due to the door being raised, it does look nice.

The cabinets I prefer are the beaded inset square panel but the cost is more and I have to find an installer to see what they cost. I will not have all the pull-out drawers and lazy susans I will get with the cheaper store. All cabinets will be 100% plywood unless I change my mind yet again. I had no idea there was so much to learn first before buying new cabinets.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 6:39PM
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Nini804-Your kitchen is beautiful! Would you mind telling me what granite/marble you have? We are on the hunt and having a hard time.

Thank you!!!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 10:08AM
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Lynn, we went with finished panels for the ends of both runs and on the ends of the islands. Here is a pic.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 10:15AM
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francois47, love your kitchen! Can you share what color you painted your cabs and also what your counters are?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 10:24AM
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We did not do end panels, mainly because the additional cost was very significant, and I chose to spend it in other areas of the kitchen. I dont miss them. With all the crown molding, and intricate window trims, it might have been overkill for us.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 10:55AM
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Our cabinet fronts are very simple so we did both uppers and lowers. But only have one upper that needed an end panel.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 1:19PM
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brianadarnell, the finished end panels look so nice! I love your kitchen from the beautiful cabinets to the gorgeous floor, backsplash and granite as well as all the light you have in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 7:44PM
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Designov, I visited your post regarding your gorgeous new kitchen and due to the recessed doors that I love since I have been wanting the cabinets that you bought and the crown molding and the overall look, I felt it looked beautiful just the way it was with the matching end panels that were just not door style panels. I felt it looked pretty and finished and gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 7:48PM
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Joyce_6333, the end panels look very nice on your pretty hickory stained chestnut cabinets with that gorgeous natural character hickory floor. Thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 7:57PM
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At looking at all the pics - I think it really depends on the cabinet door style. I do have door style panels on my ends, also on the peninsula and island. It was more costly, but my door panels are pretty busy.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 3:50PM
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Hey All, I am new to this board... I have a question regarding the installation of the Door Style Panels... I don't know if Liquid Nails is the best way to go or if I should be using 1 and 1/2 inch brad nails... Don't want to ruin the side panels, so anyone's input would be helpful...

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 9:55AM
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If you don't get responses, you should start a new post with a specific heading asking how to install cabinet side panels.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 10:51AM
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