Myth Busters – Home cabinets are the same as those used in commercial applications.
Esthetics and price are the primary decision considerations by homeowners in their selection of kitchen cabinets. In today’s economy, those two have often become the main criteria for commercial buyers too. Consequently, with the downturn in home building and remodeling, the multitude of small cabinet shops that prospered doing custom work in homes have been looking at commercial opportunities for survival. Cabinets for convenience and retail stores, schools and restaurants look very similar and if anything, even simpler to construct. That thought process leads us to this edition of…..
Myth Busters! Common wisdom says that a laminate cabinet is not much more than a box with an access door on one side. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter if it goes into a home or into an institution or business.
In most cases, kitchen cabinet manufactures and shops, build a standard box to which different types and colors of laminate are applied. The doors and to a lesser extent the
hardware are the areas used to differentiate their product lines and are where most of the cost is invested. The box itself is usually constructed of particle board that is cut and assembled using glue and wood staples. When lined up next to each other and with a countertop screwed down on top of them, they make what feels like a pretty solid, stable counter. Add a panel door or one with inset panes of glass and they accomplish their goal of looking nice and being reasonably priced. Most also holdup long enough in a home that the decision to replace them is driven by a desire to redecorate rather than a failure of the cabinet itself. But home owners don’t open and close the doors and drawers 50 times a day 7 days a week. They don’t clean the floor the cabinets sit on with a hose, and don’t polish it with a 200lb. radial buffer. Home owners don’t put a slushie machine, soda dispenser, roller grill or mini refrigerator on top of them. And in a home they seldom get hit by a bussing cart or a hand truck laden down with cases of soda.
EMI makes commercial cabinets. While they look good, their real beauty is concealed beneath the laminate. For most jobs we start with Marine plywood rather than particle board. This is more expensive but where particle board will suck up the water used to wash the floors each night and in a short time expand and begin to break apart, Marine plywood resists the water and stays solid. Our cabinets are assembled using dowels in the joints. The two pieces are drilled and a dowel pin is glued into one of them. Glue is then run along the joint and into the dowel holes on the other piece. They are then pressed and clamped together until the glue sets. That alone would make for a structurally sound joint, but we then screw the joint together. This is the RIGHT WAY to build a commercial cabinet and while it is not exclusively ours, there are many commercial cabinet manufactures that do one or the other but very few who do both. Our cabinets will remain square. A couple years of getting banged on nightly by that floor buffer will show the difference.
Finally, exposed edges are sealed with our 3mil edge banding. As I tell people who come here for a plant tour, when I first started at EMI and heard about the advantages of the 3 mil edge banding I had to prove it to myself. I took a
piece of laminated marine plywood and tried to pry the edge banding off using an Exacto knife. It would not come off. The bond was stronger than the wood itself.
There is a substantial difference between cabinets made for home use and cabinets designed and constructed for commercial applications. Myth busted! Unfortunately, cabinets using home construction and materials will initially look similar and cost less. The differences in the EMI commercial cabinets will start to show in a year or two when the home version’s core starts to swell and the laminate begins to pull away from the particle board. Even if the initial cost differential was double (it’s not) the expense to your business in time and disruption for replacement would be much greater. Don’t be fooled. There is a difference and the real savings is realized when you purchase the right product the first time, EMI.