If you read the title and thought, "What? You can DO that?' Boy, do I have a story for you!
A little about our white shaker style kitchen:
- it was designed by an architect
- custom cabinets, oversized doors
- installed in 2008
- in sad shape today: dings and faded paint and gouges and water damage and drawers that slide out when kids run by
Over the weekend, our kitchen guy came over to listen to my complaints. He explained the situation to me. Simply put,
"You get what you pay for"
Our contractor negotiated and squeezed the kitchen installer. The contractor insisted on a kitchen for X price. So we have MDF doors (without a melamine backing) and a laquer finish. There are three problems with the quality:
1 - The edges of the mdf shaker doors are sharp, so paint doesn't really stick. Over time, the process of keeping the doors clean (dirt collects in the shaker detail at the bottom), is wearing away the finish.
2 - A laquer finish is not as strong as Polyurethane. Poly would have cost $6-7k more. The kitchen installer recommends to all his clients with children to invest in the poly finish. We didn't have children at the time...
3 - Melamine backing would have enhanced the durability. Our doors aren't warping or anything, so neglecting this detail has not hurt us... yet?
At the time, we were completely unaware of our options. The price we paid for the kitchen seemed awfully expensive to us. I am not sure what mark up padded the numbers.
If we had dealt directly with the kitchen installer, we might have understood our options, and what we were getting for what price. Plus the entire kitchen budget would have been allocated towards the quality of the cabinets.
As it stands, our kitchen could use a new coat of paint. Going poly will require new doors. Ironic, I know, but we still aren't choosing to invest that much in our kitchen. We can buy another 5 years with a few coats of laquer (and two new doors where there is water damage) for a reasonable price. The kitchen guy suggested I go back to the contractor to discuss it. I left a voice mail for the contractor.
We have two other options: Shop around for other painting quotes, or DIY. Let me know what you think of going the DIY route? I would be doing it by myself. Do you think roller marks vs spray would lessen the percieved value of the doors?
Anyways, the moral of this very long blog post is:
- work with a kitchen installer directly, cut out the general contractor. Call me if you want a referral, I trust our guy, we were just clueless 5 years ago. Of course your contractor doesn't WANT you to do this!
- Invest in your doors!
ps. I feel like this was our dirty little secret. I don't like to complain about our home. I am still in love with it! I really want to maintain it! Maybe this is not realistic when you have kids? I never thought a custom kitchen would be in the pooper after 5 years. If we decide to do nothing, just let it erode (also an option) we will invest in new doors when these finally go. Actually, that's why DIY is appealing, it's a patch until we are ready to invest in the house again.
pps. how is your latest reno holding up?
ppps. there is no shady blog-related you-scratch-my-back-I-will-scratch-yours conversation going on behind the scenes. I would use this cabinet maker again, if we ever renovate again. We were overwhelmed the first time around. Renovations are not for the meek!