When embarking on a kitchen remodel, it’s easy to be enticed by budget-friendly options. However, the familiar saying holds when it comes to kitchen cabinets: You do indeed get what you pay for, and as an American, there’s something special about purchasing things made in the USA. In this article, we discuss the key differences between American-built cabinets and those made overseas.
Chinese Cabinets vs. American Cabinets: An Emerging Trend
Chinese-manufactured kitchen cabinets have gained popularity due to their low cost and the convenience of online purchasing. However, the lesser price comes with significantly lower quality, affecting the lifespan and functionality of your kitchen cabinets. In contrast, American-built cabinets offer superior quality and durability.
Evaluating Materials: The Heart of Cabinet Quality
One of the main distinguishing factors between American and Chinese cabinets lies in the materials used. Chinese cabinets are typically crafted from plywood, while American-made cabinets are constructed from particleboard or medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
Chinese manufacturers opt for plywood due to its durability during long shipping journeys and resistance to moist environments. However, plywood is prone to warping over time and often includes formaldehyde, which can weaken the glue used to bind the layers of wood together.
Conversely, American-made cabinets use MDF, crafted from wood fibers, resin, and wax. It is denser and stronger than plywood and offers a smooth, paintable surface without visible wood grain. This results in a clean, polished look, making MDF an excellent, affordable alternative to solid wood.
Environmental Implications: Safety Matters
One should pay attention to environmental regulations, or lack thereof, in the manufacturing process. Chinese regulations regarding chemical and glue usage in cabinets are less stringent than those in the U.S., raising concerns about potential exposure to toxic substances.
American manufacturers are regulated by laws such as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA). These ensure products are safe for human health and the environment. Chinese manufacturers are considering similar regulations, but once these are implemented and proven effective, the safety of their cabinet production remains questionable.
Paying Attention to Craftsmanship: A Study in Details
When evaluating cabinet quality, the construction techniques are telling. Chinese cabinets often employ staples for assembly, whereas American manufacturers use pocket screws and glue, resulting in sturdier, longer-lasting products.
Moreover, modifications are often required for a perfect fit when installing kitchen cabinets. Chinese cabinets, mass-produced with less quality control, may deviate from the intended dimensions and require adjustments. The necessity of cutting plywood complicates the installation process, increasing the risk of damage. On the other hand, American-built cabinets, commonly made-to-order by smaller, quality-focused companies, can be adjusted more easily and maintain their strength.
Evaluating the Warranty: A Measure of Long-Term Value
While the average kitchen remodel lasts about 30 years, most inexpensive cabinets come with a five-year warranty or, in some cases, no warranty. American-built cabinets often have a lifetime warranty, underpinning their superior quality and longevity.
At first glance, American and Chinese cabinets may appear comparable, but a closer examination reveals the stark differences in their construction and quality. Remember that a low, upfront cost can often lead to higher long-term expenses. Invest wisely and choose American-built cabinets for a kitchen remodel that stands the test of time.
Still looking for more inspiration and ideas for your kitchen remodel? Please take advantage of our complimentary design services, where we can help bring your vision to life or provide you with various excellent design options. Contact us now to schedule your free kitchen remodeling consultation.