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New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post)

Posted by marciew (My Page) on
Thu, Apr 10, 14 at 17:20

We are in desperate need of any suggestions! My daughter gutted her kitchen in November & used a local cabinet maker. She contracted for custom cabinets with melamine cabinet boxes with solid wood doors and drawers of painted or stained maple. She chose a medium cherry stain and on first inspection, she thought they looked fine. (I have to add that she is young and was going through a high risk pregnancy at the time, so her full attention was not on the cabinets.) Now that a few months have gone by, some of the cabinets are peeling. When she emailed the cabinet maker about it, he told her that he couldn't get the cherry stain to look right, so he took it upon himself to use a laminate or veneer (she's not sure which) instead of the stained solid wood doors & drawers. From a distance, the cabinets look OK but on closer look, they really look fake & cheap. Here are a couple of pictures. The cabinet maker offered to either replace all the doors & drawers with solid wood in a contrasting color (my daughter can't imagine what that would look like) or to fix the current cabinets where they're peeling. She is afraid that if they are coming apart & look this bad now, what will they look like next year? She really hates her new kitchen the way it looks now. Does anyone have any other suggestions for this disaster?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

I would go for the replacement, and ask for samples to see how different the replacements would be from the boxes. (He's talking about replacing ALL the doors and drawers, right? Not just the one that are peeling now? She needs to insist on that.) It looks like she has full overlay, so a slight difference in color from the boxes might not be at all noticeable. If she has any side panels those would need to be replaced as well.

Hopefully she has her paperwork and has some information about a warranty, etc.

I wish her the best of luck, with her cabinets and her baby!


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

That is, in my opinion, reprehensible. He told her she was getting the maple that she paid for and when it starts failing, he fesses up that actually, he used something else entirely.

I would demand my money back and tell him he is lucky she isn't suing for him not providing what she paid for.

Then I would find a new cabinet maker to replace all the fronts.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

This isn't just a warranty situation (it would be if she had contracted for veneered or laminated cabinets and they were peeling, but she contracted for solid wood and didn't get that. I think she should ask for all her money back and start over unless she can get this cabinet-maker to give her what she contracted for in the first place (is he capable of doing that?).


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

I hadn't seen TexasGem's response when I wrote mine!!


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

I agree, that is straight out fraud if the contract called for solid wood and he substituted veneer.

She should demand that he replace all the doors and drawers with solid wood per the contract.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

The cabinet maker is willing to replace all of the doors and drawers with solid wood but said he cannot match the boxes, so he said they would have to be in a contrasting color and he suggested red. We can't picture that at all. My daughter asked him if he could paint the boxes white or cream, and then she would have him replace all the doors & drawers in white or cream so everything matched. But he said that paint won't adhere to the veneer or laminate boxes. Is it unreasonable to ask him if there's a different type of wood door/drawer that he could stain to somewhat match the boxes?


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Are the boxes and frames a fixed color? Was that spelled out in the contract? Besides using an inferior (and failing) material on the doors and drawer fronts, now he is saying new ones can never match the boxes. If all this had been disclosed before contract signing, your daughter could have taken her good money elsewhere.

It's bad enough she has to go through this (with a new baby!) but to say now they have to be two-toned (seriously?!!) is adding insult to injury.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Have him remove his goods from her home. Start over with a reputable company.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

marciew said: "But he said that paint won't adhere to the veneer or laminate boxes."

I'm sorry, but that is not your daughter's problem, she obviously never gave permission for him to use laminate on anything. If she contracted for solid wood frames and laminate he is in breach of contract and should give the money back or replace the whole lot with the right cabinets.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

marciew said: "But he said that paint won't adhere to the veneer or laminate boxes."

Then he's obviously not up to date with newest paint technology and adhesive primers. What else is he missing? Obviously how to apply laminate. OH - how to stain maple. That's why they make prestain conditioners...

WHICH is not her problem, as I agree he should remove his goods from her home and refund her money in full.
A PIA for her, but this is a huge fraud.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

it's not easy to remove the cabinets if there is granite on top and a backsplash behind.

Also on slab style drawers real wood laminate on mdf is not a bad choice because it is less prone to warp.

Unfortunately that's not what your daughter contracted for and the carpenter doesn't seem to have a knack with laminates. Has he ventured any guesses on why those drawer fronts are so abraded along the edges?

That being said getting new doors and drawers would be the easiest path. I would hire a "forensic cabinetmaker" to come in and examine the cabinets. You can ask neighbors and friends if they know a good carpenter - there's also Angie's List. You can pay for an hour of his/her time and he/she can look at the boxes and make sure that they are level and sturdy enough to accommodate new drawer front and doors.

If they are then I would ask the original carpenter to replace every drawer front and door to your daughter's satisfaction with the caveat that if she is not satisfied with the work he will pay to have new doors manufactured and installed by another company.

I think you have to give your carpenter a chance to make things right. I also think you have to figure out the difference in price between solid wood and laminate and try to get him to refund that money.

If he agrees get it in writing.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

But the carpenter has already said he can't "make it right" and that the homeowner will have to have bi-tone cabinets if she wants wood fronts. I'd still ask for my money back. He screwed up big-time.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

I think what the carpenter probably means is that the boxes are melamine (which is what the homeowner agreed to) and the remade drawers and door fronts will be wood so, yes, they are not going to match perfectly, but I am guessing he can get pretty close.

I agree that it would be nice if the homeowner's money could be refunded so she can start all over again, but short of taking the guy to court, what are the chances of this carpenter giving a full refund, And even if he's taken to court and loses, she would still have to get the payment out of him. And she has to live with the peeling kitchen while she's waiting for a result.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

If it is just door/drawer fronts though, depending on how many of them there are, she could do small claims court and be successful without having to pay out court costs...

If the rest of the structures are fine, new drawer and door fronts only, with a "cabinet forensic carpenter" she could get an idea what it would cost for just replacement of those parts. And, it might be low enough in certain states (with a higher small claims limit) she could pursue it that way.

All this, of course, depends on what she has in ACTUAL WRITING (emails count). What can she DOCUMENT?


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Another ''custom'' guy who totally ISN'T and should not be labeling himself as such when he produces such hack work.

Get back what money you can and start over. I'd have ZERO confidence in the quality or structural integrity of the boxes themselves if he produced such crap doors. I'd wonder if he understood proper joinery methods for the material selected. No point at all in trying to get new doors if that's the product he produces.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Maybe she could call in a professional cabinet company, third party to look at them and give her some advice and determine the quality of the boxes to see where she stands and proceed from there. If the boxes are good quality and there is granite on and backsplash, difficult to remove sink and faucet and a new baby in the house, she needs to know these things before she can make an informed decision. She could get a court judgement against the guy but getting the money out of him is a whole other ballgame. People disappear, they go bankrupt, they just don't pay and you eventually have to drop it because you have to move on. It's so unfair. I'm guessing she doesn't have a lot of extra time with a new baby so I do hope a happy compromise will present itself. It sounds like the melamine boxes paired with wood doors were not something he had a lot of experience with or he would have known this was going to be a problem before he said he could do it. It seems like paint would chip too though and I would not want red cabinets!!! …All the best to her and you for a speedy remedy for this situation. Whenever I have tried to save money at least on contractors, it seems like in the end it cost me twice as much! Sad but true...


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Those current drawer fronts look like melamine to me, not wood. What I can't figure out is why they are abraded along the edges and corners. How did that happen? Also I can see that the drawers are not aligned. The top drawer of the cabinet on the right needs to move to the left a little bit - could be just an adjustment of the hardware.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

That is awful, how big of a project is this...can you take a picture from further away?

Looks like melamine to me, which when done right looks fine....but this was not done right, and more importantly was not what she ordered

There are many ways to proceed:

Have him produce samples of the actual door that he is saying that he will make

Hire a new company to make a new kitchen (you can ask for your money back but will most likely never get it)

Litigate (even with a judgement it is a pain to get your money back, and may never get your money back!)

Best and cheapest solution is to get him to make samples, approve them and have him replace the fronts


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Thanks to everyone for their ideas. My daughter would be completely happy if he could get as close as possible to matching the boxes/frames on solid wood doors & drawers. And if he has to use a higher grade wood to achieve the look, my feeling is that he should do that without charging any more money, right? I just wonder if it's even possible to get close to matching.

ajc71-here's a photo taken from further away. It doesn't look bad at all from a distance but when you get close, they're all abraded at the edges & it looks horrible.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

And here's another picture of how they look close up.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

I'm so sorry about this. I know your daughter just wants it fixed at this point, given her life circumstances, but encourage her to hang in there to get it done right.

So, this guy both lied to her and did a shoddy job? What makes her think he'll suddenly develop integrity in his work ethic, and fix this correctly this time?

I'd pull out every stop to get my money back. Then, give that money to someone who can do it right, and honestly.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

It's despicable. I have a faux wood medicine cabinet that looks better than that. All that awful wear in 4 or 5 months?!!! I don't even see how that's possible.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

linelle-This wasn't wear over 4 or 5 months. It looked like this when it was completed. My daughter showed him the edges & how bad they looked right away & he said he would "stain" the areas. But it looks like all he did was use a marker which made it worse as you can see in the first picture I posted.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Peony4 hit the nail on the head.

This man has already proven that he is NOT trustworthy or capable of doing decent work, I wouldn't trust him to touch the cabinets and, if you insist on staying with him then NO, he should absolutely NOT be charging any more money.

I understand the desire to get it done and to work with someone familiar but honestly, what is your daughters reasoning for sticking with him? She does have a contract with the details spelled out, right?


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Duplicate post

This post was edited by marciew on Fri, Apr 11, 14 at 12:12


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Beyond the delaminatiion, the drawer and doorfront aren't aligned and it looks like the drawer is rubbing against the door which might be why they are coming apart.

You have mentioned replacing what you currently have with solid wood doors and drawer fronts, but that is something you might want to reconsider. With slab doors and drawer fronts, if you do solid wood you would most likely need battens on the back of the doors because large expanses of solid wood are prone to warping, especially in a kitchen environment. A good alternative for solid wood slab doors is MDF with real wood veneer. Or if all the doors and drawer fronts need to be replaced you can switch over to a different style, like shaker, where solid wood can be used more easily.

If you have a moment would you be able to take a picture of the interior edges of one of the boxes? I am afraid if the doors and drawer fronts are delaminating, then the edges of the boxes might be doing the same thing.

This post was edited by jerzeegirl on Fri, Apr 11, 14 at 12:19


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

People who don't know how to apply laminate and use a laminate trimmer properly shouldn't do it. This is a complete do-over. With someone else.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

This wasn't wear over 4 or 5 months. It looked like this when it was completed.

I have no words.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Definitely a melamine and someone without the equipment required to do the job

Easy for all of us to say to hire someone else to do the replacement, we are not the ones who are going to be paying for a new company to make them and install them....and then trying to chase the original guy down to get a refund


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

I hear 'ya ajc71. Is it really that easy to get a full refund? Not that the OP's daughter doesn't deserve it. That move was, as others have already stated, despicable. But she likely shelled out quite a bit of dough to have those cabinets built and installed and I'll bet the guy she used isn't still sitting on that money. I understand that the OP's daughter had some other issues going on at the time that divided her attention, but if the poor quality of these cabinets was apparent from the beginning, that was the time to address that issue in order to get the most desirable outcome. She may be stuck with compromising now. Not because she should, but because they guy likely won't have the money to refund her. If this is his standard quality product, I can't imagine he'd have a full bank account.

This post was edited by jellytoast on Fri, Apr 11, 14 at 18:29


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

I'm with all the others about a refund. Too many things are wrong with the cabinets and the install. Basic stuff, that tells me not to trust any of the workmanship. I hope it works out :/


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Many years ago my parents had to have brand new windows replaced because of shoddy workmanship. It took them years of fighting but they finally won a settlement. If she needs to have those replaced right away make sure she keeps track of every penny and work on getting it back.

I know the guy did a crap job, but it does seem like the correct next step to give him the chance to make it right. However, your daughter should not incur ANY additional cost and she should also lay out her standards bluntly right up front. For instance, "I expect the doors and drawers to match as closely as humanly possible, and I expect them to be installed properly so that all open and close as they should and are also properly aligned."


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

The original choice of solid wood with exposed melamine boxes was an odd one that the cabinet maker should've discussed. The visible sides should've been wood veneer so they could be stained to match the doors/drawers.

It looks like replacing the whole thing would be a PITA given that the kitchen is done. A possible solution is to to get the solid doors/drawers, but also get wood panels to cover the exposed box sides. You can do a thin plywood (.25") sheets for minimal impact, and those could be cut/scribed to fit in with existing moldings. You could also do false door fronts on sides where you have room for the depth of the door.

The edges of the plywood would have to finished with either veneer tape or preferably a thicker custom edge banding. The downside is that the fronts of the boxes will still have the non-matching melamine edge, but they won't show except when doors/drawers are open.

I would consider covering the exposed sides to be extra work; it should've been built into the original contract but apparently wasn't. All of that said, given the incredibly crappy unprofessional original work, I would have serious doubts about this cabinetmaker being able to do a decent corrective job.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

BTW the rough/peeling edges look to be due to dull tools. Classic chipout caused by a dull saw blade or not using a zero-clearance insert in the saw. Or more likely the cabinetmaker used the wrong type of blade entirely, e.g. a cross-cut blade, or maybe a combo blade instead of a melamine blade.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

Imo the key to whether this is a total re-do or replacing drawers front and doors is whether the boxes are sturdy and square. No amount of tinkering with the fronts of the cabinets will work if the underlying structure is shoddy. I think the homeowner really needs a second opinion to get the answer to that question.

When I was researching my Tampa kitchen, I went to a place that boasted custom cabinets. Turns out that what they do is buy the boxes from one place and the doors from another. They then assemble the cabinets and call it custom. It was a real eye opener that there was no real craftsman involved, just an assembler of parts.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

marciew:

Unfortunately your daughter shares some blame here by paying any balance in full despite being aware of the unacceptable workmanship and materials.

Any judge in this case is going to ask why she did this and ask if she has given the cabinetmaker a chance to make amends. Giving him a shot is the first order of business.

Good luck.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

I disagree with T's post, especially the word "blame". Her daughter shares none of the blame for crappy workmanship and lying. And paying the bill can easily be chalked up to "honesty". Sorry, you're off the mark on this one.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

sjhockeyfan:

The last column I wrote was about telling customers "no". I think the next one may be about customer denial.

Of course I feel sympathy, but as my previous posts bear witness, I'm not afraid to be contrarian. I will not tell folks what they want to hear, even if everyone else does.

I looked at this the way a trial judge would look at it. He will assess blame and he will insist on giving the contractor a chance to make it right. Those are not popular positions here, but they are realistic.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

I would ordinarily agree that a contractor must be given the chance to "make it right", that's even the law in some states. Not so, however, where the contractor outright lied, and is clearly not the slightest bit capable of doing the laminate, let along the wood, cabinets. No judge will give this particular contractor a second bit at the apple.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

I understand where trebouchet is coming from as far as my daughter paying the contractor in full. Before she did, she said that she didn't like the way they looked & I reminded her not to pay him in full until she was satisfied. When she showed him the edges, he said he would "stain" the edges where she pointed out, and he did touch them up. However, I think he just took a furniture marker and colored in.around the edges as you can see from the first picture I posted. She assumed that was the best that could be done & she was just so glad to be done with the renovation, she paid him & decided to live with it. But once she had time to take a good close look at everything, the more upset she became that she paid him in full. This contractor has an excellent reputation locally and we're really amazed that he would have done something like this and risk his reputation.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

I agree with sjhockey. He has proved himself incompetent and is fully responsible. He has more marks against him for taking advantage of her.

Many years ago I took a hack to small claims for ridiculous workmanship. The judge said nothing about having him fix things and awarded a full refund.

Contractors are not relieved of their responsibilities, or relieved by judges, because a customer is naive and honest.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

What an awful thing to have to deal with and I hope this isn't taking away any of her joyful time with the new baby. Hopefully something workable can come out of it.

The idea of making sure the cabinet boxes are solid isn't a bad one just in case the bad work isn't just cosmetic.


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RE: New Custom Cabinets Peeling-Help!(retitled from previous post

If the carpenter cares about his reputation, then, voila, you've got leverage. There are a number of outlets to let people know about the quality of his work, Angies List being one of them. However, that is the card you must not play until you are sure that he will do nothing to correct the situation or cannot correct it. Your daughter wouldn't have to say a word - the photos will speak volumes!

I do think that you need to give him an opportunity to correct the problems. Let him know what you think the problems are - I would start by photographing all the problems with the cabinets and send sending photos to him with a detailed explanation of all the issues and what corrections you expect. (that's why I think calling a "forensic" carpenter would be useful in helping you detail issues that might not be easily seen.)

If he really cares about his reputation, he most certainly wouldn't want photos of this shoddy work to get out.


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