Kitchen and Bath Specialists Debate Industry Issues

Frameless Cabinets

Question
I’ve read many posts at other Web sites claiming frameless is better for not losing storage space. I understand you get larger drawers with frameless construction, but I’ve always thought custom inset framed cabinets were easier to design a space-saving kitchen. Depending on the layout, I think frameless kitchens require more fillers due to clearances. I’d like to hear what all of you think about this subject.
– Kompy

Response 1
I think frameless does provide more storage. Part of the service our company provides is going through client’s cabinets, measuring the items they are going to store and devising the proper storage space for it. A 12"-deep wall cabinet in inset will not hold a lot of people’s dinner plates. Particularly in layouts that end up with a lot of 18" wide or narrower cabinets, frameless will allow more items to be stored conveniently. The drawer box openings are not only wider but they are also taller which can make a big difference. I don’t think drawer height is considered enough, but modifying the heights of drawers can maximize storage. The average “pot and pan” drawer of two tall bottom drawers will leave lots of wasted space above the skillets but may not have enough height for a stock pot. Skillets will often fit in a standard (top drawer) height frameless drawer but not in a standard height inset drawer. Pull out trash cans are another example of this. You can fit two 35-quart cans in a 16-1/2" base in frameless, but will need an 18" base in inset. I do think framed cabinets save space sometimes because you can get wider or combined cabinets which aren’t available in frameless.
– Khat

Response 2
When it comes to drawers and roll trays, there’s nothing like frameless for providing an extra 3"-4" plus per cabinet in a smaller kitchen. The only two situations where fillers become an issue are corners and depth shifts (12" next to 24" or more), and you’d probably be using fillers for those situations anyway. What I love about framed cabinetry is the ability to use extended styles rather than fillers on straight runs, because I think it gives a much cleaner, and more custom, look. I also love using other available frame modifications, especially with respect to reveals.
– grayslady

Response 3
I appreciate your feedback. We don’t do a lot of frameless kitchens. I’d say 1% or 2%, and it’s not for a lack of showroom displays. It’s the Midwest.

I never thought about the drawer height before. I tend to design with mostly drawers on the bases, so that is great info. I will now go out in my showroom to measure some drawers!
– Kompy

Cabinetry Displays

Question
Does anyone have any ideas on how to display our different cabinet doors? Currently we use a slatwall system, but still need more room.

I have seen a set up where the doors are displays like pages in a book. Does anyone know if this system can be purchased somewhere or is it a custom fabrication item? Thanks.
– cypress design

Response 1
We use a couple of methods: cleat on wall, tall cabinet with tray dividers on 25" angle, hidden wire shelf holders and the pages-in-the-book method.

All are custom applications dependent on the space in the showrooms.
– boxesonawall

Response 2
Our showroom has recently cleaned up a ‘new’ room and hope to display doors there. We have talked about the book pages idea but don’t know how to approach it. If we can figure this thing out, we can sell it to every cabinet dealer, become rich and retire, right?
– Elizabeth.h.ckd

Response 3
When I see the pages-in-the-book method the cabinet door styles look like they could get damaged. If you do it where the doors would not rub anything, then it would seem to work out.
– MCR

Marketing Tactics

Question
Does anyone have any experience with direct mailings? We are considering doing some mailings to homeowners and/or contractors. Any feedback would be great.
– cypress design

Response 1
We did our first direct mailing this past December. We sent to owners (both local and out-of-towners) to several condo buildings, and waterfront property owners. We included a cover letter, a brochure, and a “coupon” for 10% off. Guess what? Not one call back!
– mccabgirl

Response 2
Three or four years ago we decided to buy one of those listings of home purchases in the area. We dedicated a full year of monthly mailings to these prospects – each month being a different piece.

They say a good return for a direct mailing campaign is about 1% response. After 12 months of it, we had about .25% response, and no sales resulting from it.

I’ve talked to other people who have had success with direct marketing. The one thing they have had in common is they are selling on price – trying to be the least expensive guy in town, and have a pretty hard-sell mentality, but they swear by it.
– ScottFL

Response 3
We have tried the postcard packs and have not one received one call here either! They were primarily mailed to middle- to upper-end homeowners.

I think that so many people are so busy nowadays that we become bombarded with marketing messages, so people tend to filter out much of what they receive.
– Kompy

Response 4
I agree with the “bombardment” phenomenon. We hand-addressed each mailer and did not do bulk-rate postage hoping the envelope would stand out from junk mail.

We’ve gotten a few leads and a couple sales from the newspaper ads we’ve run. It’s a “business and services” page running half-page features and half-page, business-card size ads.
– mccabgirl

MDF Center Panels

Question
Are most manufacturers using MDF center panels on painted cabinetry? I understand the issues of shrinking/lines between door frames and panels, but was surprised to hear MDF is an industry standard for painted raised panel cabinetry. Any feedback?
– jeng

Response 1
I handle three lines of painted cabinetry. Two paint over solid maple. One paints over MDF.
– ScottFL

Response 2
Thanks. I was mainly concerned about issues with solid maple lines.
– jeng

Undercounter Light

Question
What are many of you using for lighting these days; especially under the counter? I’ve been using halogen undercounter lights, which I really like overall, but I thought that maybe I should see what else others are using.
- susanckd

Response 1
I’ve always preferred xenon to halogen – mainly due to the substantially cooler operating temperature for xenon fixtures.

For over-the-sink puck lights, I like the fluorescent xenon lights in a nickel finish. It is available with a frosted lens so the client isn’t blinded if she should look up into the lights. For undercabinet applications, I always liked xenon lights in a brushed silver finish, which I think are really great.
- grayslady

Response 2
I’ve recently been using undercabinet xenon fixtures. It’s phenomenal as task lighting as it eliminates hot spots with almost a flood effect.

The drawback is that the cables are visible. It creates a problem if there’s 18"-high seating in the line of sight.
– ScottFL

Hood Ventilation

Question
A client put a Monogram 48" 1200 CFM hood in her new kitchen. There is a fireplace in the house, and every time she puts the hood on, it takes air and smoke from the fireplace. Has anyone ever been in this situation before? What’s her solution for effectively getting makeup air into the house?
– StephenWangel

Response 1
My parents had the same problem with their hood back in the early-mid 70’s. I remember we had to crack the patio door every time we used the hood.
– Kompy

Response 2
I have a vent pipe to the outside installed with an electrically controlled damper. When the kitchen exhaust fan is turned on, the electrically controlled damper opens and allows makeup air to enter the home.
– grayslady

Response 3
Make up air is a big code issue in my state if you have more than 300CFM. The calculations for makeup air can be done by your HVAC contractor and he/she will take into consideration the water heater, fireplace, furnace etc. to balance everything so you aren’t pulling carbon monoxide into the room.
– sks05

Apron Sink Styles

Question
My client loves the farmhouse sink, but wants to use laminate tops with a beveled edge treatment. Has anyone done this application?
– install expert

Response 1
Trim-in inside edges with a solid surface band complements the laminate. In my upcoming renovation to my own kitchen, I am doing the same thing. It’s nicer to have a farmhouse sink in stone, or the like, but better on the wallet.
– JWgoodrich2002

Response 2
Personally, I’d run screaming from the beveled edge treatment. I’d also strongly recommend a plywood deck for the laminate. For instance, I think that 1/2" solid surface will help – but 1/2" away from the edge, inside a farmhouse sink opening, is still way too close to the water source.
– ScottFL

Response 3
Make sure you use a bevel edge made with water resistant HDF. The same goes for the countertop substrate as well.
– MCR

Response 4
I’ve done two laminate jobs in the past and we used a Corian edge. I warned both clients, and they were aware of the risks.

Both were done 10 or so years ago and I haven’t heard a word from either of them. I’d encourage the client to at least upgrade to solid surface. I would refuse to do a laminate beveled edge around an apron front sink. I doubt it would last a year!
– Kompy

Response 5
Maybe I am missing something. If someone can clarify, outside of the farmhouse sink issue, what does everyone take issue with in regard to beveled edge tops? Secondly, what is the issue with banding the inside edge of the laminate with solid surface and using a farmhouse sink?
– JWgoodrich2002

Response 6
I think the beveled edge issue would be dependent upon your countertop fabricator. We have found one that does an excellent job with beveled edges. Farm sink application requires extra care on the homeowner’s part to make sure no water gets behind the laminate. Explain to your client what could happen and why they should use another material. Let them make the choice. Maybe have them sign off on the laminate if they go that route.
– toekick

Response 7
We recently built a farmhouse sink with solid surface for a self rimming application in laminate. It worked well and looked great at the same time. The cut out would be similar to a slide-in range cutout. The neat part was it would make an excellent replacement sink in a retro fit situation. Remove the dummy drawer front, cut the countertop out in front of the old sink cutout and put the new sink in. Since it was solid surface, we can adjust the dimension to fit different situations.
– dans

Response 8
Fabricate the sink out of solid surface as an overmount application. This is the best, most practical and best looking idea.

You could go into business making these!
– boxesonawall

Sink Cutting Board

Question
I recently saw a cool sink application. The sink was undermount, but the cool part was there was a butcher block cutting board and there was a “lip” or ledge around the sink where the cutting board slid across. The lip continued to the side of the sink so the cutting board is pushed over and out of the way. It looked like a drainboard. There was a hole cut into the drainboard area so scraps and garbage drop through and into the pull-out waste container below. One lady at the show thought it was for compost, but I pointed out you wouldn’t put compost into a regular 50-gallon garbage can and you would certainly have a lid on any compost container, but one could easily be installed if a customer wanted to try that.

So my question is, is anybody using these types of sinks with their designs?
– Tinkerbell

Response 1
These sinks are often made of siligranite and the cutting board slides on it.
– Design Diva

Response 2
What really makes these sinks special is the countertop fabrication.
– Tinkerbell

Response 3
I saw a cool sink application like this in the Meredith Design Idea Center at this year’s Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS).

It had a bamboo cutting board and was mounted on one level of solid surface with a hole cut in it which was underneath the standard countertop height. We spoke with the designer there and you could probably find his name in the booklet they were handing out. Maybe you’ll get more information from him about these sinks.
– susan27

Refrigerator Hinges

Question
At K/BIS this year I noticed the hinging is changing on refrigerator doors. It looks like this is happening with several manufacturers.

I wanted to address this topic in general and also ask how others address the situation where there are panels on the refrigerator doors and a pantry or oven cabinet directly adjacent to that.
– Carolo1

Response 1
We are always very concerned about appliance panels. It feels like you have to be a PhD in mathematics to understand the specs half the time. Or, you do exactly what the specs say and someone inevitably doesn’t like how they look, so you change the panels so they’ll like it better, but then the panels don’t fit. Without being too pushy with them, I try to encourage my clients to avoid the appliance panels as much as they possibly can.
– mccabgirl

Response 2
The panels can be difficult, but there are some clients who simply must have them. I do want to add that the hinging is changing for the better. For a framed, full overlay cabinet, some refrigerator doors can open 110" without hitting the door on the adjacent cabinet.
– Carolo1

Bath Remodeling

Question
I have a customer doing a remodel of the master bath and the husband doesn’t see the need for a tub if it is not going to be used. However, the wife is concerned about resell value of the home if the tub is omitted from the layout.

As a designer I am really on the fence. Without the tub, there would certainly be greater opportunity to do a lot more with the space, specifically increasing the size of the shower (which is currently only 36"x36") and enclose a toilet which is currently sitting in the middle of the bathroom for all to see. Any advice, whether it be pro or con, would be appreciated.
– web459

Response 1
If there is still a tub in another bath somewhere in the home, then I don’t see a big hurdle with reselling. I’m doing more and more master baths with the tubs eliminated, especially when the bath is small.
– ScottFL

Cabinet Installation

Question
On a project I am working on, a run of cabinets goes on the exterior log wall and I was wondering how to proceed exactly. Should we add a cleat to the back of wall cabinets and ‘hang’ the cabinet on a wall cleat, frame and drywall the area behind the cabinets, or try something else.

Any insight or experiences that can be shared with this type of project would be appreciated. Those of you in Western and Mountain states must deal with this frequently, yes?
– Kris

Response 1
It has been some time since I’ve had to deal with logs, but I do know they will shrink. Do not attach uppers to tall pantry or refrigerator end panels. We also notched the log so we could add skins to any exposed ends.
– ootb

Response 2
I think it is important that you hang the cabinets on a framed wall independent of the logs because there is so much movement in the log structure.

I’ve never done it personally, but there is a procedure for building the wall and attaching it to the log structure using moveable connections.
– dcdci

Finger joint issues

Question
I have a client who says that he is very unhappy with fingerjointing showing up in two places in the edgebranding on custom end panels. Has anyone else seen this happen before?
– susan27

Response 1
If it’s glue-edge banded, you could iron it off and replace it with a strip of edge banding cut from solid wood and finished to match.
– MCR

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