Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Comparing Cabinets & Dealers

At 09:58 AM 2/17/2005, you wrote:
Hi,My husband and I are in the process of building our own home, and are serving as the general contractor ourselves.
We are looking into two brand name cabinets...Schrock and Starmark.

Are you familiar with these brands, and if you are, can you tell me what you think of one better quality?

Is one higher priced?
If you are familiar, maybe you could tell me which one you would use.

Any and all input would be great.

I found you through "".
Thank you in advance for your time.

I am not particularly familiar with either product.

I suggest you go to my web site and read over the article on Cabinetry.

Download the Cabinetry – Quality Standards - Cabinet Estimating Formula PDF.
print-friendly version of this article.)

Compare the product prices using the three cabinet formula.

Also compare the cabinet manufacturer's specs to see which has the thickest shelves, sides, top & bottom, drawerboxes. Which has the best drawer slides (rated in lbs. of load). The best finish (catalyzed varnish).
If the manufacturer's literature doesn't give these details you will have to ask the dealer for them (there will be a page in the manufacturer's catalog).

Then you will know which is the better value (on paper at least).

The intangibles, like:
good service, standing behind their product, delivering what they promise, etc., can only be learned by asking an honest dealer.

If the dealer is not honest, you will never know until you have a problem...then it is too late.

Check up on a dealer by asking them for some referrals to customers who had problems. Call the customers and ask if they were satisfied with the resolution?

Good luck,

Refrigerator: Cabinet Depth or Not?

At 08:25 AM 4/7/2004, you wrote:
We are looking for refrigerators.
Do we need to purchase one that is cabinet depth only?
Any other size restrictions I should be aware of?

The plan makes provision for a deeper refrigerator, if you prefer, by optionally building a recess in the stud wall behind to fit the refrigerator back about 3".
That is not enough to make most standard fridges look built-in though, since they are usually 30" or more deep.
We can also cover a deeper model with wider panels on each side, but that doesn't fool anybody. It still will look massive.

With some kitchen plans you absolutely need a cabinet-depth fridge, but with Plan B any depth can be accommodated.

It is most important to get an Energy Star refrigerator to minimize your use of electricity.

I personally like cabinet-depth models because they are shallower and I don't lose things in the back.
The things you can't store are the things that go green and fuzzy or slimy anyway.

I also prefer freezer-on-the-bottom models; although, unfortunately, they don't offer ice & water through the door.

Sone level (noise) should also be an issue you check out since noisy refrigerators are very annoying.
If it's noisy when new it will only get worse as it ages.
Also, don't tolerate a noisy fridge under warranty.
Make 'em fix it.

Interior fitments are also a concern, especially with side-by-side models.
Be sure to choose the model that offers the most flexibility in storage, rather than getting locked in with bins and shelves that are too specific and not flexible.

Glass shelves are nicer to keep clean because spills don't migrate down.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Q&A on LED Undercabinet lights

At 02:25 PM 8/29/2006, you wrote:
I am looking for under-the-cabinet kitchen task lighting via LEDs.
Do you sell such?
If not, can you direct me to a proper source.
Thank you very much.

I do not sell product, just curiosity, knowledge and talent.
Permlight makes LED undercabinet fixtures.
You can buy them on the web, which means they will not be shown in any stores.
I don't think they are quite ready for prime time.
The concern is that they are sizing the fixtures to conform with Title 24 (California's Energy Code), to be interchangeable with fluorescents, without regard for the amount of LIGHT they produce for the comparable amount of wattage.
LEDs are assembled with arrays of tiny lights to make a lamp (light bulb).
I think they need to have enough LEDs in the array to produce a comparable amount of light.
Otherwise we designers need to put more fixtures up to get an adequate amount of light on the surfaces in a kitchen or bath.
I am still using fluorescents myself, though I am monitoring LEDs with great interest.
Randall Whitehead, the lighting designer in SF who inspired most of my interest in lighting, is using the downlights on some projects.
Nancy McCoy, another well known Bay Area lighting designer is currently not using them and, like me, waiting for further improvements.
She thinks they will be usable in a year or two.
Permlight has a new showroom in Martinez, CA...just opened last week.
Another maker is RSA (Cooper).
Other manufacturers in my file are Cree, LumiLeds, Nichia, Osram, Seoul Semiconductor.