Garage Cabinets – 5 Features to Look For
Quality garage cabinets can be made from either wood or metal. When you start considering specific brands, however, there are 5 features you really need to look for. The things you need to pay attention to are:
- Drawer construction
- The quality of the hardware
- The type of finish on the cabinets
- Variety of cabinet choices the manufacturer offers
Each is covered in detail below.
When looking at cabinets; whether for the kitchen, bedroom, or garage, the first thing I look at is the drawer material and its construction. Light duty drawer construction is my first clue that the rest of the cabinet will probably be built to the same light duty standard.
You already know that the drawers in your storage system will hold the brunt of the load. So if a manufacturer does not build a heavy duty drawer, what are the chances the rest of the cabinet will be built to last? (Answer: slim to none). Drawers need to be well built to avoid frustration and remorse down the road.
Metal cabinet manufacturers usually provide a bent sheet metal drawer box that has welded corners. Keep in mind one of the big differences between low cost and higher cost metal cabinets is the thickness of the steel used in constructing the cabinets/drawers. If the metal is too thin you may be disappointed by its performance once you actually start using the drawers.
There are a few wood garage cabinet manufacturers that build high quality drawers, but I am sorry to say, the majority are notorious for building lousy drawers. Most of the drawers I have seen are glued and nailed together. I would be willing to bet that all of us, at one point or another, have had to deal with the frustration of trying to fix a drawer built this way. If you have dealt with this before just ask yourself “do I really want to add more lousy built drawers to my home?”
If you are looking at wood cabinets, and you should be in my opinion :), look for a well-built wood drawer. Obviously the time tested dovetailed drawer box is the best choice. Both our brands, Redline Garagegear garage cabinets and WorkSpace storage cabinets use nine ply birch plywood (sealed with a catalyzed conversion varnish) to build our dovetailed drawer boxes. Plywood is more stable than solid wood and a better choice when considering the extreme conditions that can occur in a garage.
Quality of the Hardware
No part of your storage system will experience as much use as the hardware. It may seem like a minor component of your full storage system; but door hinges, drawer slides, and fasteners do most of the work. So when you think of it that way, does it really make much sense to skimp on hardware?
Manufacturers of mass produced garage cabinets generally choose to use cheaper hardware to save on cost. Cabinets that are sold through retail stores require high markups to cover the expenses of the store. Manufacturers need to produce cabinets at the lowest cost possible so retailers have room to also make a profit and still offer something that is affordable. Consequently, it ends up costing you when the hardware starts to fail.
Because WorkSpace cabinets (sold direct to the customer online) and Redline garage cabinets (sold through dealers) are not offered through traditional retailers with large markups, we do not have to go cheap on the hardware. We can use high quality hardware that is guaranteed for life.
In fact over the years we have easily supplied tens of thousands of hinges and drawer slides with only a handful of failures. Do you really want to spend your time chasing down replacement hinges?
Quality of the Finish
Whether your cabinets are made of wood or metal, it is the finish that will determine if your system will stand the test of time. Below is a list of commonly used finishes, their benefits, and where they are commonly used in garage cabinets.
Liquid paint can be used on nearly any material including steel, aluminum, and wood. Just about any color is available but you are limited to a matte or gloss finish. The major downside to liquid paint is durability. While there are some good urethane or solvent based paints they are still very susceptible to scratches. These types of liquid paints typically coat the sheet metal used in fabricating aluminum cabinets.
Anodizing is an electrochemical coating applied to the surface of aluminum. Its purpose and benefit is to harden and color the surface. This finish is generally used on the extruded frame of aluminum cabinets, or on the pulls of some cabinets.
Thermofused melamine is a coating that is applied to a wood or resin based substrate. The sheet of material is commonly referred to as simply melamine. The finish makes the wood much more water resistant and easier to clean. Additionally, it adds a layer of scratch resistance to the material; making it a better option than liquid paint. Melamine is available in a variety of colors and textures which makes it a good choice for cabinets.
Keep in mind, that melamine is kind of a generic term used in the wood industry. Some manufacturers use a vinyl coating which has a similar look and feel as melamine but does not have the same scratch resistance.
Powder coating is definitely the best of all the finishes listed. Its benefits include many color and texture choices and superior scratch resistance. Most people think that only metal can be powder coated, but that is not so. Today wood can be powder coated and achieve the same durable finish as metal.
WorkSpace storage cabinets and Redline Garagegear cabinets are fabricated using thermofused melamine for the cabinet box and powder coated wood for the doors and drawer fronts; which are the areas where you need the most durability. The advantages of a powder coated wood door are many but the main benefit is mass. The wood is 34″ thick and the material is dense, so it has very high impact resistance compared to either aluminum or steel cabinets. And they will not dent because of the benefit of a powder coated finish.
Variety of Cabinet Choices
If you have ever stopped in at the big box store looking for garage cabinets, you will immediately notice that the selection of cabinet sizes and colors is very limited. To be organized you must have a place for everything and if you are limited by the manufacturers or retailers offering you may be compromising your objective which is . . . getting organized. Retail stores from a inventory standpoint simply cannot carry a deep selection of cabinets. They must concern themselves with inventory turns and floor space, and for good reason, retail space is expensive and they need to produce considerable revenue to cover the cost of that floor space. Online stores are much the same as large retailers; their offerings are going to be limited.
Another option is to have a local kitchen cabinet shop build cabinets for you. With this option you should be able to build a storage place that fits the things you need to store. While this might be your best option if you have several obstacles in the garage to go around, the down sides to custom could be cost, lead time, and lack of experience in building cabinets for a garage.
Our approach is a little different than big box stores or a local cabinet shop. We build to order and ship in 5 days or less. We have an extensive cabinet offering with several color choices. This unique approach to manufacturing addresses all of these issues (Limited cabinet selection and colors choices, Long lead times, and of course price)
How Good is the Warranty?
This is a very important feature that you should pay close attention to. A storage system that is being used in the garage will be exposed to a variety of harsh elements as well as a good deal of use and abuse. If a garage cabinet manufacturer is unwilling to warranty a product they have built specifically for this area, can you trust that their system is going to last?