It’s perfectly possible to update your kitchen cabinets when you’re on a strict budget. However, it’s also easy to waste money or lose out on false economies if you don’t plan carefully. For example, an incompetent installer could spoil the look of your new kitchen and even add costs. Even if you’ve spent a fortune on your dream kitchen, the results can be frustrating if you get the wrong person to install it.
Hitch Property Constructions has an extensive range of kitchen renovation Melbourne to take the hassle out of deciding the right furniture that matches.
Think about what you can keep
Before you start to think about getting new cabinets, the first step should be to review how you’re using your kitchen. Changing its layout may mean moving services such as plumbing and electrical connections, which will add to the overall costs. So, if your existing setup works for you, keep it: there are plenty of ways you can update the space without a complete overhaul, and you’ll have more money for the right units.
It’s also worth thinking about whether your current layout could work harder for you. There may be more efficient uses of space that you hadn’t considered or modern ergonomic styles that better suit your way of life.
Consult a kitchen designer to find out what’s best for your space.
Decide between DIY or ready-assembled cabinets
The cheapest cabinets usually come flat-packed and ready to assemble from a DIY store. You can either plan your design from home using an online tool or book an appointment with an in-house designer who will help you to draw up plans. Remember to take accurate measurements of your kitchen before your appointment.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to measure up, some retailers offer design services. A representative will visit you at home to discuss your options and take all the measurements needed. Typically, this comes at a small price.
Pre-assembled cabinets, which leave the warehouse with hinges fitted and doors attached, are the next step up from flat-packed. You can choose to go the DIY route or call on the services of an installer, but either way, there won’t be too much onsite work.
Examine the inside story
Look at samples of your chosen cabinets carefully. It’s easy to focus on the doors, but don’t forget to check inside: the quality of the carcass will be key to your cupboards’ durability.
Pay particular attention to the back panel: some companies use a 3-millimetre board, which will bend easily. Thin and flimsy backing doesn’t provide good protection from fluctuations in temperature, which quite often leads to mould inside the cabinet.
Side panels are generally either 15, 16 or 18 millimetres thick. While the difference between the thickest and thinnest panel may not seem sizeable, an 18-millimetre cabinet will ultimately be sturdier than a 15 millimetre one. Check out our range of kitchen renovation at Hitch Property Constructions.
Know your materials
The majority of DIY and ready-assembled carcasses on the market are made out of melamine-covered particleboard. Some people consider this to be a low-quality board. It isn’t, as long as the density of the boards used is high enough.
If you’re concerned about the quality of the materials in your chosen cabinets, ask your retailer for more information about the products they source.
Whether you have chosen solid wood doors, MD, particleboard or ply for your kitchen cabinets, there are a variety of finishes that you can use to achieve the look and functionality you want. For example, solid timber doors can be simply sealed with a coating of oil, or for a more durable finish can be painted with clear or coloured polyurethane. It depends on your preference.
Manufactured boards, such as MDF and particleboard, can be painted with kitchen-specific paints from any of the big brands or can be coated in two-pack polyurethane. You can even finish such doors off with a layer of melamine, laminate, wood veneer or a vinyl wrap, depending on the look you’re going for. Looking for kitchen renovation Melbourne? Look no further? Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.
But no matter what material or coating you decide on, you still have a choice of whether to go with a gloss, matt or semi-gloss finish for the end product. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to each option.
What is a high-gloss finish?
High gloss is by far the most requested finish among my clients, and it seems as popular now as it was when it was the last trending in the 1970s. It is more suited to a contemporary-style kitchen with flat cabinet fronts than it is for a traditional-style kitchen.
High-gloss finish may also be referred to as ultra-high gloss or 100-per-cent gloss, depending on the materials you are using and the supplier you speak to.
High-gloss cabinet doors have a shiny finish that reflects light, which is one of the main reasons that gloss kitchens, especially white gloss kitchens, are so popular.
Advantages of high gloss
By reflecting light, the shiny finish of these gloss cabinet fronts helps to make space feel bigger and more open than it actually is, making gloss-finish cabinets an excellent choice for smaller kitchen spaces. This light reflection is also a bonus if you are considering a darker colour, as you won’t need to worry about the shade absorbing the light out of your room.
The paler the colour, the higher the reflection of light, which is why white is the most popular colour for gloss kitchens. However, bear in mind that this reflective quality will also bounce light around and reflect other colours within the room on to those surfaces. Colour cast can slightly alter the appearance of the colour of your cabinets. So if you have lots of other colours in the kitchen or a nearby living area, don’t be surprised if those colours are reflected on the gloss kitchen cabinet door surfaces, especially if they are white.
Another great advantage of high-gloss cabinets is that they are really easy to clean, which is always a winner for homeowners with a young family. Use a non-scratch microfibre cloth to clean the cabinet fronts as they will easily pick up any dust particles sitting on the surface of the doors.
Disadvantages of high gloss
Due to the fact that cabinets with a high-gloss finish reflect so much light, fingerprints, dirt and scratches are much more noticeable on them than they are on matt or semi-gloss cabinets. (But as I mentioned, they are very easy to clean so this may not be an issue for you.)
The disadvantage of a dark colour in a gloss finish is that any tiny imperfections on the surface of the doors, such as scratches or finger marks, are much more noticeable than they are on lighter colour gloss doors. You might want to steer clear of darker colours if you have young children or are concerned about having to clean the cabinet fronts more regularly than you would like.
Top tips for a high gloss
Reflections of light on gloss cabinets are much more apparent on higher cabinets than they are below kitchen benchtops because they are more at eye level.
If you would love some high-gloss cabinets in your kitchen but are concerned about seeing fingerprints, consider choosing a high-gloss finish on your upper cabinets, and use either a matt or a semi-gloss finish for the lower cabinets.
Likewise, if you would love to incorporate a darker colour into your kitchen and really have your heart set on a gloss finish, then consider mixing it with a lighter colour. Position the darker colour cabinets at eye level where they are out of reach of sticky fingers (especially if you have children), and keep the lower-level cabinets a lighter colour, which won’t show fingerprints as easily.
What is a matt finish?
Matt-finish cabinets don’t reflect any light at all and look flatter than a gloss finish does. Matt finish is the perfect choice for more traditional-style or country-style kitchen cabinets that have routed fronts – gloss is too shiny and modern-looking for these styles of kitchens.
A matt finish also looks just as good on contemporary-style flat cabinet fronts as it does on more traditional-style fronts, and appears to be growing in popularity. In fact, in Europe, matt-finish cabinet fronts are now more popular than gloss.
Advantages of matt
The main advantage of matt-finish cabinet fronts is the fact that fingerprints, scratches and other imperfections are far less noticeable than on gloss-finish fronts.
This doesn’t mean that there are no fingerprints or marks that show, it just means that you don’t see them as much due to the lack of light reflecting on the surface.
The colour of matt-finish cabinets can look more consistent than gloss ones. This is because there is no reflection of light to make some areas of the cabinet fronts look brighter or darker than others. Notice how the colours in the kitchen pictured here look far more consistent than those in the red and black gloss kitchen above.
Top tips for matt
If you love the appearance of matt-finish cabinets but are concerned that the whole look might be a bit too flat and boring, then consider these two ideas:
- Select a door that has a simple routed profile in it, such as the Shaker-style kitchen pictured here. The profile will cast different shadows on the cabinet fronts, creating a feeling of depth and interest.
- Mix two different colours together to create a contrast and a point of interest
Something in Between: Semi-Gloss
If you are still not convinced as to whether you should opt for a gloss or matt finish for your new kitchen cabinets, then maybe a semi-gloss finish might be the best option for you.
Semi-gloss cabinets combine some of the advantages from both gloss and matt finish cabinets. They have a degree of light-reflective qualities so that light will be bounced around the kitchen. However, because a semi-gloss surface is not as highly reflective as a high-gloss surface, you won’t see as many reflections in your cabinet fronts, and this may give you a more consistent-looking colour. Additionally, you’re less likely to notice fingerprints as easily on high-gloss fronts. A semi-gloss finish is also just as easy to wipe clean as a gloss finish.
Get the lowdown on melamine-covered particle board cabinet doors…
Particleboard cabinet doors are the most budget-friendly. They’re only available in a basic ‘slab’ style because particleboard can’t be shaped or moulded, but you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to design. Thousands of colours and textured effects are now available, such as woodgrains, concrete and slate.
Always check the edging of melamine-covered doors to make sure it’ll stand up to moisture and everyday knocks. PVC or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is the recommended edgings with a thickness of between 1.3 and 2 millimetres
If moisture gets through the joins in your doors’ edging, you may need to pay for repairs later on. Avoid the costs by looking for doors made with a laser or infrared edgebanding machines: these provide a better contact between the two surfaces.
Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) is a composite wood product made from wood-waste fibres connected by resin, heat and pressure. MDF has a higher density than particleboard, which is a plus when it comes to fixing the hinges to cabinet doors as the screws hold much better. What’s more, MDF doors offer more design flexibility than particleboard: for example, they’re often produced with patterns and detail on the front.
Choose vinyl or foil wrap finishes…
The most affordable finishes for MDF doors are vinyl or foil wrap. Both are made by wrapping the front and sides of the door in what’s best described as an industrial-style clingfilm, which offers protection against moisture. Virtually any finish can be replicated onto the wrap, including wood.
Be aware that there are not only variations in the quality of vinyl or foil used, but also the care is taken to apply it to the MDF base. A typical sign of a badly made vinyl-wrap door is what’s known as an ‘orange peel’ effect – small ripples or bumps on the surface of the door.
Or melamine and veneer
Lower-cost cabinet doors are often made from melamine, which is both resilient and easy to clean, making it a popular choice, particularly for busy households. And because melamine is a synthetic material, it can be produced in a wealth of finishes.
If you’re after an expensive timber look without the associated cost, think about veneer. It’s made of thin sheets of real wood pressed onto MDF board and can be stained and lacquered to produce a wide range of looks.
Try a painted finish
Sprucing up your units with a lick of paint can be time-consuming, but it’s a budget-savvy way to get a new look for less. The price for painted MDF doors isn’t necessarily higher than vinyl-wrapped doors. We have a standard-sized painted MDF door range in several different colours and finishes that are priced really close to our vinyl-wrapped doors.
The surface of MDF is super-smooth and perfect for painting – ideal if you want a custom colour or think you might want to update it in the future. The paint will also prevent moisture from getting in through cabinet fronts and sides, so it’s a good choice around sinks.
Always wash off dirt and grease before painting, then lightly sand down cabinets to create a ‘key’ for the paint to stick to. Use an appropriate primer and once it’s dry, apply at least two coats of a suitable paint.
Check for quality
Before you splash any cash, check the quality of your chosen kitchen cabinets. Touch and feel the surfaces and edges of doors to check they’re straight and level. Edge quality makes a real difference for both the appearance and life of your kitchen.
You can also check the quality of doors by simply looking for chips around the corners and edges and any visible scratches. Some panels tend to bend if they haven’t been stored or transported properly.
Update (don’t replace) your kitchen cabinets.
While the focus of any kitchen remodelling project usually involves installing brand new kitchen cabinets, you don’t have to fork over tens of thousands of dollars for new cabinets if your current set is in good shape.
If they’re solid wood especially, a few simple upgrades can make your kitchen cabinets look a lot better – and more up-to-date than they do now.
- Cabinet pulls: Any kitchen cabinets can be updated by replacing the hinges, knobs, and pulls with contemporary hardware.
- Sanding and re-staining: Wood cabinets that are sanded and re-stained to get rid of oily stains, scratches, and a colour that doesn’t fit your design scheme become vibrant components of your low-cost, high-appeal kitchen
- A new paint job: If stained natural wood isn’t the look you prefer, then sand the cabinets and paint them in a colour that appeals to you. While a lot of people choose fancy colour schemes for the cabinets, bright white kitchen cabinets can create a clean and updated look in any kitchen.
If you’re looking to pull off a cheap kitchen renovation, then there are a number of simple hacks you can make use of. Instead of redoing your entire kitchen, you can give it a complete makeover by making some simple adjustments. These include replacing the base cabinets or doors of your cabinetry, creating open shelves, adding splashbacks and feature walls, replacing the benchtop, layout new flooring and adding new tapware. These simple hacks will definitely save you thousands of dollars, while also giving your kitchen a completely new look.