How about a cabinet revamp?

Last Updated 23 May 2013, 12:49 IST

Revamping your kitchen cabinets need not necessarily be an expensive affair. There are many varieties of wood and finishes you can choose from. There are also ready-made shutters and cabinet doors available in the market, writes Anuradha Muralidharan.

Anita lived in her ancestral home, a beautiful bungalow in the heart of the City. Unfortunately, the bungalow came with several challenges — one of them being her kitchen. Old fashioned but sturdy, it had stood the test of time for over thirty years and was a functional kitchen. But, Anita really felt the need to have a smart looking kitchen. Her cabinets, especially, looked old but the good news was that they were solidly constructed, perhaps even more solidly constructed than most modular, pre-built cabinets today. Because the cabinets were strong, Anita, who was on a shoestring budget, decided that it made sense to just change the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.

For Anita, refacing her kitchen made sense. But in cases where the existing cabinets are falling apart, where metal cabinets are rusting or there are other structural issues, refacing may not be an option. However, if it is possible to opt for refacing, there are several decisions, some mundane and some plain annoying, that need to be taken. For many, the primary option is to opt for manual refacing, i.e. hiring a carpenter to remove the old shutters and make new ones. However, today there are ready-made options which, while taking the manual labour out of your hands, still gives you the option to customise your shutters. 

Manual refacing

*When hiring a carpenter, there are several factors that need to be taken into
account. Some of the questions you need to ask yourself are:

*How reliable will his work commitment be?

*Will he complete the job on time?

*Would the budget be overshot?

*Will the final output be sleek?

Presuming that one does have a good carpenter and decisions like the time frame and budget have been agreed upon, the next set of decisions involve identifying the right material. Most often, when it comes to furniture solutions, carpenters advise customers to opt for plywood, high-density fibre board (HDF) or block board. All the three have their advantages and disadvantages.

Plywood is a strong wood made from many thin layers of peeled wood glued together, so it has more strength compared to block boards, medium density fibre boards (MDF) and HDF. Plywood does not have grains, can be painted upon and polished. On the flip side, it warps and is more expensive than HDF/MDF. However, the finish, if it is of veneer and polish, could be damaged by moisture over time. Its disadvantage is that it can peel into layers after extensive use.

Blockboard is a type of board made of wooden pieces inserted between ply of hardwood which are bonded together under a high pressure and temperature. Block boards are light in weight and come with a high strength. Block board is easy to handle and work with. It is used for several site applications, furniture and door manufacturing which requires high utility. Its only disadvantage — it is comparatively more expensive.

High density fibre board is similar to low/medium-density board, but it is denser and stronger. It is made by compressing wood fibres mechanically. The high density board lends a smooth and uniform finish wherever it is applied. It does not have any grain and can be finished by applying paint on it. This kind of wood is a great solution for indoor furniture, wall paneling, furniture, room partitions and doors.

Once a decision on the type of wood is made, the next decision is related to the look and finish. A lot of times, wood is covered with laminates because the latter enhances its appearance. Laminates are available in various textures, colours, and in 1mm and 1.5mm thickness. Companies today offer a wide range of innovative designs, exclusive array of textures, and special value-additions like post-forming and anti-bacterial options.

After selecting the type of wood and lamination, the rest lies in the hands of the carpenter. It is a matter of waiting now.

Ready-made refacing

Today, there are options available which circumvent the long route required for manual refacing, i.e., identifying the right carpenter, the right material, lead time and cost. There are companies that offer ready-made options in shutters and cabinet doors. The carpenters from these companies take measurements; they take very little time to complete their task. In terms of cost, ready-made refacing options might cost approximately Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 more than the manual refacing option, but the advantages are many; this is a good option for those who are stuck with old-fashioned kitchen cabinets, who like the idea of a modular kitchen but do not want to spare the budget for the same. 

However, in India, we still prefer the manual option, because it is a tried and tested method. However, it is likely that if companies offering readymade refacing created more of a buzz, then customers would probably start looking their way. Once the trend does start, it is likely that it will be a long time before it changes or stops.

(Published 23 May 2013, 12:49 IST)

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