Toronto Custom Cabinetry

By: Kvorka Custom Cabinets  09-12-2011
Keywords: Kitchens, Wood, Doors

Kvorka Custom Cabinets does not resell or distribute other companies' kitchens, there is nothing custom about a cabinet picked off of a shelf or rack. Some of our competition have made a name for themselves taking a $15,000 regular kitchen off of the shelf and mounting $45,000 worth of trim on it and calling it a ‘designer kitchen’. Call it what you will, at the end of the day it still came off of a shelf. Kvorka Custom Cabinets creates cabinet solutions to fit your home, it is the same with custom tailored fitted clothing; it just looks right when it when it was made to fit you. Your kitchen should be the same way. In fact, chances are your kitchen is the most expensive room in your home. Having the choice of a 12” or an 18” wide cabinet when you really need a 15” cabinet is not going to allow you to get the most out of your space and at the end of the day chances are you will have spent as much as you would have on a Kvorka Custom Cabinets kitchen. 

How to pull off a successful kitchen reno.

If you do anything for 20 years, chances are you have learned some tips and tricks to make something go faster and smoother. Here are some things to look for and answers to questions you may have.

Q. How do I pull off a successful reno?

A. References, references, references. An ounce of prevention is worth ten pounds of cure. Cheapest price is irrelevant if your job is botched or just left in a state of disarray or incomplete. Take some time, make some time and get ahold of some references say last two customers.  Word of mouth is still by far the best way to go.  Chances are if your guy turns out to be a plumber, cabinet guy, electrician and HVAC, he is none of the above and is licenced and insured for none either. Again this can be all checked with references and therefor avoided.

Q. You mention that your stains are wiped as opposed to sprayed, what is the difference?

A. At Kvorka Custom Cabinets our stains are wiped on to our hardwood doors. The action of physically wiping pigment into the doors serves two purposes. First is to bring out the depth of the grain in the doors. The warmth and glow of solid wood doors comes light and dark tones of the grains. Some woods such as maple have very little discernible grain whereas others such as oak have very strong grain striations. Spray staining tends to produce a very dull uniform toned door lacking all of the natural tones of the wood. Spray staining tends not to penetrate the wood as deeply and leaves ‘spray shadow’ where the raised centre panel fits into the outside frame of the door. It shows up when cleared as a light coloured ring around the centre panel and is more noticeable the darker the colour of the door is.  Wiped stains also penetrate deeper into the wood. High production kitchens with sprayed stains often have doors damaged before the owners even get to use their kitchens. The finishes are very susceptible to marks or scratching and the marks become instantly visible as the stain pigment often comes off with the protective clear coat. Wiped stains having penetrated deeper into the finish tend to produce a more durable and attractive finish.

Q.  You have mentioned ‘shading’ maple doors, what is this?

A. Shading is a process really used only for maple doors. Maple has a noticeable lack of grain however even in Select Grade A maple there are parts of the wood that soak up stain readily and parts that will not soak up any pigment at all. It is really the only wood of the big three (oak, maple, cherry) that does not evenly soak up pigment. To simply clear coat the door at this point would produce a very unattractive door. To simply spray the stain as stated in the previous question is not the solution. The trick is to stain the door to a shade or two lighter than the desired finish and to seal the wood and stain with a thin layer of clear coat. At this point the door is  lightly sanded to rough up the sealer and to smooth out any small fibres of wood that have been lifted by the staining and clearing process. The door is now ‘shaded’ using a secret blend of wiping stain, thinners and a small amount of clear coat to help adhere the pigment to the to the door. When the door has been brought to the desired finish by gently misting the door, all doors and panels are laid down side by side to check for uniform appearance. Our aim is to get all 40-70 panels and doors in a standard kitchen to be absolutely identical. After this process the door is cleared and the process begins again for the other side. Shading allows for all the grains and natural tones of the wood to show while allowing us the ability to take the door colour to any level of colour, from very light to very dark.

Q. What are glazed finishes?

A. Glazed finishes are not a new thing in finishing, Kvorka Custom Cabinets has been doing them for close to 15 years and have never done the same finish twice. Glaze is an entirely personal, some will look for striking glaze contrast while others will look for a more subtle combination. The door is prepped, stained or painted to the desired finish and then the glazing begins. Glazes can be done on wood doors or MDF doors as well. Glaze can be done in two ways, wet or dry. Wet glaze is essentially a highly concentrated pigment that is usually (depending on effect) wiped onto the surface and excess wiped off leaving a line of pigment in the contours of the door or molding. Dry glaze is sprayed on and then rubbed off to the desired finish. The dry glaze in to simulate a worn look that furniture that has had multiple layers of paint over the years and as time goes by, one layer wears away to reveal another. Dry glaze can also be used to create different appearances in the finish as well.  All glazed finishes need to be clear coated afterwards to protect them from wear and tear. This is a premium finish as this is a time intensive operation with many extra steps. Properly executed, this has stunning results!

Q. Do you do cabinet removal?

A. Yes, yes we do. In fact, we encourage it. It is at this point in a kitchen reno that we get to see all the surprises that might come back to haunt us on installation day. Until the kitchen is out, we don’t actually get to see what we are really dealing with. Surprises in routing of plumbing, prior damage and walls so far out of plumb are just some of the things we run into. We have found houses with wall studs very liberally spaced and homes where special fasteners we needed to secure the cabinets properly. This allows us all a chance to look things over, discuss what needs to be done and mark the placement of the cabinets in your new kitchen so all electrical and plumbing is where it should be on installation day.  At Kvorka Custom Cabinets, we work with you to achieve a first class end product.

Q. What order should the jobs be done in the house? Should I paint before or after the kitchen is in? How about flooring?

A. This is the most often asked question. In a perfect world, the next person after the kitchen representative leaves should be the homeowner. You have invested a good sum of money on that perfectly finished cabinetry. Now is not the time to be throwing up the masking tape and drop cloths over the cabinetry or standing on ladder precariously leaning towards a row of pantries.  Ideally, all wall repairs, drywall, electrical, bulkhead removals, trim and painting should be done first. Any small cabinet manufacturer should be willing to come out to the house at this time and lay out markings for you on placement of cabinets such as built in microwaves for electrical, sink cabinets for plumbing. Plumbing works best when it only takes up one cabinet. Destroying two or three perfectly usable cabinets to route plumbing to the sink cabinets is generally uncalled for.  Finding out on installation day that the microwave outlet is behind another cabinet is just not professional. Flooring should be next. Again we can work with you marking where the cabinets are if you are working on a budget and looking to save the installation of tiles or flooring that will end up underneath the cabinets. Finally, your kitchen should go in. Any kitchen company worth their salt should be able to install a kitchen without damaging or destroying your home.  The less trades people that are through your house after the kitchen is installed the better. If you are having multiple rooms renovated in the home time the kitchen cabinets to be installed as close to completion as possible. Kitchen cabinets often serve as a great work station for mixing paints, cutting carpeting or just general coffee break hangout.

Q. What really helps to boost the appearance of the kitchen?

A. I can’t emphasize this one enough. Trim. A kitchen without a valance and a crown molding are just boxes on the wall. You can have the nicest counters and stunning doors and panels, but without some kind of trim they will ultimately look like boxes on the wall. Even the smallest of crown moldings can completely change the appearance of the kitchen. Trim does not have to be for high end kitchens only.  MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) doors which are one of the most cost effective solutions that we offer here at Kvorka Custom Cabinets benefit highly from the addition of a suitable crown molding and valance and can be done on a budget. The higher end the kitchen or project is, the more elaborate the door profile and trim should become. Dental moldings and fluted columns are examples of elaborate trim moldings.

Q. Handles or knobs?

A. This is personal preference. For people with arthritis particularly in finger joints handles are probably the best solution allowing them to grasp the handle to pull with more fingers than would be able to grasp a small knob. Otherwise knobs have an advantage of having only one hole drilled in the door. If say in 10 years you are looking to change or freshen the look of the kitchen it will be easier to do. Handles with two holes create a hole spacing issue when it comes to replacement. This really decreases the selection of handles with the same hold spacing.

Q. Garbage cans and recycling bins.

A. We don’t recommend door mounted garbage cans and recycling containers. We have found that over the years the weight can wreak havoc on the hinge adjustment as well as the trapped moisture and leaks can adversely affect the finish on the doors. We have come across what we find are better solutions in the form of pull out self supporting units that come in 1,2,3, and 4 container units for all of your recycling and disposal needs. They are fully removable from the pull out structure and have a lid that closes the unit off while tucked away inside the cabinet.

Q. What should I do before I call in a cabinet maker to quote my project?

A.  Inform yourself. Having seen the previous work of cabinet maker is always a plus, word of mouth is often a great way to go. Someone who is enthusiastic about their cabinet guy may be a great indicator and is often reliable. If you can have a look at their project and look in terms of fit and finish. Often moldings are the tell-tale as they are often the hardest part and have to be done on site.  Look at panels and trim and how they fit the wall. Large gaps or copious amounts of silicone are signs that mistakes were made or time was of the essence. A well fit kitchen really should not need silicone around the cabinets or panels at all with the exception of around the sink area. There really are no excuses for gaps.

Have an idea of what you want and how much you are looking to spend on the project. Clip magazines for ideas, colours, styles or finishes. One of the best informed customers we have had a binder literally filled with magazine articles and photos and ideas that she had been accumulating for years. Some of the ideas that were used in that job are still being used by us today, and over 15 years later she is still very happy with her kitchen. With our customers I like to get an idea of what finishes and what materials they are looking at before we meet for the first time. This allows me to bring along some samples of doors, materials, profiles, and finishes that are a lot easier to visualize in hand than from a picture alone.

Have a budget in mind when meeting with your cabinet maker and at the same time look for cost effective solutions. In terms of refacing the cabinets, have a good look at the cabinets first. More than half of the cost of the kitchen is from the doors and panels. Replacing the cabinet doors and counter is most of the value of replacing a kitchen and in most cases, not a very cost effective solution. Sometimes doing it right once is a lot cheaper than doing it in two or three stages.

Q.  Mobility issues and cabinet use.

A. The population is getting older and it is time that cabinetry have evolved to suit their needs. Base cabinets for the longest time have been basically black hole that everything has been shoved into and required routing around on your hands and knees to find items that have made their way to the back of the cabinet. The only cabinet that really needs to be like this is the sink cabinet as a result of the plumbing.  Drawers make 100% usable space and can be designed to accommodate everything from cutlery to pots and pans and make far more sense than a basic cabinet with an adjustable shelf. This is an extremely cost effective solution to making more storage space in your kitchen. There is also specialty hardware available that provide improved functionality.

Q. Why is custom cabinetry so expensive?

A. It does not have to be and if it is prohibitively expensive you are looking in the wrong place. Asking a large company with set sizes and finishes to do “custom work” is not a good idea. Their entire system is not designed for change. Custom cabinetry can be done on a budget, the more intricate and detailed the trim work is, the higher the cost. Custom woodworking means to have the kitchen designed to maximize your use of space with your choice of finishing and trim. This does not mean breaking the bank and can be done very nicely on a budget. There is no reason that you cannot get the most out of your space and budget.

About our cabinetry

Our cabinets are a green solution, our cabinets are designed, materials are sought out and the end product is extremely durable.Our cabinets are designed for the long haul, renovations large or small are not projects that you want to undertake on a regular basis. A custom kitchen should be like a wedding, done once and done right!

We use vinyl covered backing material that is 7mm thick for the backs of cabinets and drawer bottoms providing years of wearable surface. Most of our competitors do not even have backing or use cheaper masonite with a thin painted finish that is worn off after several months.

Our cabinets are screwed together  using specialized cabinet screws, no flimsy dowels or glued joints. All cabinet front edges are colour and grain matched to the colour of the doors so you do not see the white cabinet between the doors.

Top straps of our base cabinets use 1.25” thick plywood straps to tie the top of the cabinet together making for a far stronger cabinet to support even granite or solid surface counters. As a side note, most reputable stone companies will require a plywood surface on top of the cabinets  for granite or solid surface counters to be glued to. Undermount sinks are to placed on this plywood surface and then counter laid on top.

About our hardware

About our paint finishing

Our paint finishing capabilities are second to none. We can match any desired finish or colour. We have an extensive portfolio of finishes that we have already done and are always looking to add to our portfolio. Our finishes provide years of durability from normal wear and tear. All trim and moulding are sealed both sides to prevent warping or cracking.  

Our service

Custom projects need not come with a 'custom price,' we offer very competitive pricing on a superior product in fit and finish. There are no set sizes and every project is a blank slate. We work with you throughout the process from concept to finished project, and the person you are talking to is the one who is making the project a reality. We have no sales team which allows us to understand every aspect of building, finishing and installation process. Our showroom is your home as most of our business was and still is word of mouth!

The information in this article was current at 06 Dec 2011

Keywords: Cabinets, custom cabinets, Designer Kitchen, Doors, Grain, Kitchens, Solid Wood Doors, Wood