Kitchen cabinets are made up of many different parts that all work together to create functional and beautiful storage solutions for the heart of your home. Understanding the components that make up cabinetry can help you select the best options when remodeling or building a new kitchen. Here are some of the main elements that compose kitchen cabinets.

Cabinet Boxes

The cabinet box forms the basic structure of the cabinet and is usually made of plywood or particle board. The cabinet box includes:

  • Sides: The vertical panels that form the sides of the cabinet. These may feature decorative routing.
  • Top and bottom: Horizontal panels that form the top and bottom of the cabinet box. These are usually wider than the sides.
  • Back: A vertical panel that encloses the back of the cabinet. This may be a thin panel if the cabinet is installed against a wall.
  • Face frame: A frame attached to the front edges of the cabinet to conceal the box. It provides stability and a mounting point for doors and drawers.

The strength and quality of the cabinet box impacts durability, weight loading, and structural integrity. Dovetail joinery and plywood construction are hallmarks of well-built boxes.

Cabinet Doors and Drawers

Doors and drawers form the front of the cabinet and allow access to contents. They are mounted to the cabinet’s face frame or box.

  • Doors are hinged panels that swing open. Full overlay, partial overlay, and inset are common door styles. Materials like wood, MDF, and glass are used.
  • Drawers slide in and out on tracks or glides. They can be constructed from wood, MDF or metal and feature heavy-duty roller mechanisms for smooth motion.
  • Handles and knobs go on doors and drawers to ease opening. Different styles (bar pulls, cup pulls, wire pulls) and finishes provide design flexibility.

The style and materials for cabinet doors and drawers have a significant impact on kitchen aesthetics and functionality.

Interior Storage Components

The interior parts organize contents and make items easy to access. Popular options include:

  • Shelves create storage layers. They may be adjustable or fixed. Glass, wood, wire are common materials.
  • Drawer organizers like cutlery dividers create dedicated spaces for utensils or other items.
  • Pull-out trays provide easy access to contents pushed towards the back of cabinets.
  • Waste bin compartments fit trash cans discretely inside cabinetry.
  • Lazy susans are round trays that rotate for corner cabinet access.

After assessing your storage needs, choose interior components that will enable intuitive use and tidiness.

Functional Hardware

Hardware refers to the working parts that enable smooth cabinet operation:

  • Hinges connect doors to boxes and allow swinging motion. Several styles like overlay, concealed, or soft-close are available.
  • Drawer slides or glides allow drawers to slide in and out on tracks. Ball bearing glides provide the best performance.
  • Pulls/handles make opening doors and drawers easy while adding style.
  • Shelf standards are the metal strips with slots that support adjustable shelves.

Ensure hardware has the strength, style, and finish suited to your cabinets. Soft-closing hardware greatly enhances usability.

Cabinet Construction and Materials

Kitchen cabinets employ various construction techniques and materials:

  • Plywood offers stability and reduces warping. Birch, oak, and maple are common plywood species.
  • Particleboard is an engineered wood product used for economical cabinet boxes. It must be laminated to prevent swelling.
  • MDF (medium density fiberboard) has stability but lacks plywood’s strength. It’s used for door panels and shelves.
  • Solid wood is used for framing and decorative elements. Oak, maple, cherry provide durable beauty.
  • Stainless steel offers a sleek, modern look and withstands moisture. It’s used for cabinets, countertops, and hardware.
  • Laminates apply decorative, protective plastic coatings to wood substrate. High pressure laminate resists scratching, impact, and moisture.

Cabinet quality correlates closely with materials and construction techniques used. Talk to your kitchen designer about the best options for your budget and style.

Specialty Kitchen Cabinetry

Beyond standard cabinet boxes, some additional specialty cabinetry adds function to your kitchen layout:

  • Appliance garages allow you to hide small appliances like coffee makers and toasters behind a door.
  • Pantry cabinets provide copious tall storage for food items with either doors or pull-out shelves.
  • Wine racks safely store wine bottles horizontally in cubbies, slots, or sliding trays.
  • Microwave cabinets situate the microwave in a dedicated spot with surrounding storage.
  • Sink base cabinets contain the kitchen sink and feature doors, drawers, or tip-out trays for storing cleaning items.
  • Island cabinets offer storage and seating when placed in the center of kitchens. They are accessible from all sides.
  • Trash and recycling pull-outs tuck garbage bins out of sight when closed.

Consider how specialty cabinets like these can enhance your kitchen’s utility and workflow.

Kitchen Cabinet Components FAQs

What are the standard kitchen cabinet sizes?

The most common kitchen cabinet widths are 12″, 18″, 24″, 30″, and 36″. Standard depths are 24″ or 25″ for full-depth cabinets and 12″ for shallow cabinets. Standard heights range from 30″ to 42″ for wall cabinets and 24″ to 36″ for base cabinets.

How much weight can kitchen cabinets hold?

On average, standard kitchen base cabinets can safely support 50-75 lbs when properly installed. Wall mounted kitchen cabinets have a similar weight capacity. Heavy-duty cabinets with reinforced frames and hinges can hold up to 200 lbs. Shelves typically hold 15-25 lbs.

What are the different grades of kitchen cabinets?

From budget to luxury, the grades are: economy/stock cabinets, semi-custom, custom, and premium/high-end custom. Key differences are materials, construction, sizing, accessories, and customization options.

What kitchen cabinet brands are best?

Top cabinet brands include Wellborn, KraftMaid, Thomasville, Wood-Mode, Canyon Creek, Omega, Merillat, Marsh Furniture Co., Crystal Cabinet Works, and Fieldstone Cabinetry.

What is the most popular kitchen cabinet color?

White kitchen cabinets remain the most popular cabinet color choice, at about 50% of new kitchens. Shades of gray are growing in popularity as an attractive neutral option, followed by various wood tones.

What are the best materials for kitchen cabinets?

The best cabinet materials are wood (oak, maple, cherry), plywood, and MDF combined with quality joinery and hardware. Solid wood provides durability and beauty for frame fronts. Plywood construction prevents warping. MDF is used for smooth door panels.


The components you choose for your kitchen cabinets have a major impact on their appearance, organization, and functionality. Carefully consider cabinet construction, door and drawer styles, hardware, and accessories to get cabinets perfectly suited to your space. Understanding cabinetry elements will help you upgrade or remodel your kitchen with optimal results. With high quality materials and attentive design, your dream kitchen is within reach!