Cabinets- A bit more about options

Last time I talked about the different types of cabinets. Now let’s talk about when is the best time to use them and the types of finishing.

Box Cabinets– J Carsten Remodeling will recommend box cabinets in economy situations where the customer is looking for a good quality cabinet on a smaller budget. Box Box cabinetscabinets come pre-finished (finished at the factory) and lead times are typically 4-6 weeks. Planning ahead of time is a must with box cabinets in order to ensure that cabinets are available for installation at just the right time. Typically, we will want the cabinets on the job site or at a minimum, delivered to the lumber company, before we will start demo.

Customizable Box/ Manufactured Custom Cabinets– We seldom use customizable box cabinets or manufactured custom cabinets. The main reason is the cost of these cabinets is comparable to local custom cabinets even when the cost of finishing is included.

Local Custom Cabinets- This is, by far, the cabinet type we install most often. J Carsten Remodeling has a relationship with a local custom cabinet shop where lead times are typically two weeks. In addition to shorter lead times, if errors or defects are found, we can usually get the problem resolved in 24-48 hours. That would not be possible with any type of manufactured cabinet.

Finishing on Custom Cabinets– For most installations, the local custom cabinets we install site finished cabinetwill be unfinished and then finished on site. This is preferred for two main reasons:

  1. Any handling or installation damage/ scratches can be fixed prior to finishing
  2. Nail holes in moldings (crown molding, etc) can be filled and make the nail hole virtually disappear. This is especially important with enameled cabinets.

There are occasions, though, where pre-finishing the cabinets is done.

  1. In a condominium situation where the association by-laws state that no cabinet finishing can be done on site. Then, we do not have a choice.pre-finished cabinet
  2. In a cabinet & countertop replacement only. In order to minimize the kitchen down time, the cabinets will be installed pre-finished. The kitchen is usable right after installation (waiting for countertops of course)

Good Luck

Jason- J Carsten Remodeling


Featured Project- Mahtomedi Kitchen Remodel

From the day she moved in, Paige hated her kitchen. And, yes, that’s the word she used. Paige loves to cook and entertain, but the design of her existing kitchen left everyone huddled around a tiny cooking area. Paige also had a seldom used dining room and an almost never used front sitting area. On top of that, the current layout had little in the way of kitchen storage space.

After nearly six months and dozens of revisions, plus numerous visits to existing home kitchens, a plan was laid out. It was decided to move the dining room to the front sitting area and double the size of the kitchen.

There were a few obstacles that the new design had created. One of the walls that was scheduled to be removed housed the intercom system, a heat run, and the plumbing vents and wastes from the upper level. The new walls to rerun all these items into, were two- 20” walls. That left almost no space for light switches or structural backing to hang the new cabinets. In addition, the basement was finished, so all the electrical, plumbing, and heating had to be run from the main floor by pulling up the existing sub floor.

The end result is spectacular.

  • Guests can easily place their shared dishes on the expansive island while engaging in casual conversation without crowding the host’s working area.
  • Custom cherry cabinets, Cambria countertops, and the tile backsplash are all contrasting in color, yet are uniquely harmonized with each other.
  • The island – while sizable – symmetrically balances the main wall of cabinets to create a wonderfully spacious work area.
  • An elevated seven foot breakfast bar allows guests to sit and watch the master chef piece together the ingredients for a gourmet meal.
  • Two – three foot lower sections on either side of the elevated bar allow Paige’s two boys to stand and help her make cookies.
  • An ample pantry with pullout shelves houses all the canned goods, breakfast cereals, and baking supplies.
  • A hidden pullout puts the needed spices quickly into chef’s hands to complete the meal.
  • The buffet area, complete with a Wolf warming drawer, is flanked by the existing windows where natural light compliments the new bench seats and open book shelves which give ample room to house cooks books and kitchen knickknacks.
  • The bar area creates a subtle break between the kitchen and the living room, allowing guests to mingle effortlessly from one room to the other.

Paige loves her new kitchen!

Good Luck

Jason- J Carsten Homes

Know your limitations- Part 1: Hiring a professional versus DIY

I don’t change my oil.

I didn’t create my website.

I don’t sow my own clothes.

I don’t farm all the food I eat.

I don’t do a lot of things for two reasons:

1) I realize that I currently don’t have the talent to do something;

2) It may take a long time to learn how to do something properly and I feel my time is better spent doing something I am good at.

As a construction professional, I do a fair amount of work for the projects I have. But electrical, plumbing, and heating professionals all have separate licenses which means they have training that I don’t have. I hire them to do their respective work. I can hang drywall, paint, make cabinets, and install tile, but I choose to hire professionals for these jobs as well. They have the tools and skill sets to get the job done faster and better than I could do it.

Don’t get me wrong. ANYONE can learn to do ANYTHING with enough time and determination. But my point here is to know your limitations and realize that spending more money to have a profession do the work may be better than you spending all your time learning and still getting mixed results.

Good Luck

Jason- J Carsten Homes

Should tile go under your cabinets?

I was asked that question recently on a DIY site – Should tile go under cabinets?

My immediate response was yes. I have a strong background with new construction and without exception, we have always put the tile down and then install the cabinets on top- whether finished or unfinished.

But I started to think about it a bit more and I thought of several examples where putting the tile down after makes sense.

I recently remodeled a bathroom in St. Paul, MN. The existing floor of the bathroom pitched down about 3/4 inch in 8 feet. I could have leveled the floor, but then it would have been impossible to open the door from the hallway. The cabinets needed to go in first so that the tile and the base shoe could hide the difference in floor height. (The cabinets were on the floor on one side and shimmed up 3/4 inch on the other side.)

I considered some other times where it makes sense to have the tile installed after the cabinets:

  • If you are really not sure of your flooring selection and you may want to change it some day.
  • If you are finishing your cabinets from raw wood, not having tile down saves you from protecting the tile from overspray.
  • If you are concerned about damage to the tile before all of your work is done.

Here are some things to keep in mind  when you plan your project:

If the tile goes in first:

  • The total height of the cabinet will be raised by the thickness of your tile and your underlayment
  • If you have floor to ceiling cabinets (double oven or pantry for example), make sure to shorten the height of your cabinets so that you can still install the cabinets without damaging the ceiling

If the tile goes in last:

  • The toekick height will be shortened unless you set your cabinets on strips of wood that equal the thickness of your tile and underlayment.
  • More cutting will be needed to go around the cabinets.
  • Be careful not to damage your cabinet when installing the tile or when grouting. It is much easier to spend a little time to protect the cabinets in the area you will be working then it is to refinish your cabinets.

Good Luck!