So, you’ve decided to get new cabinets—congratulations! The first step to any renovation is honing in on an idea and deciding to go for it. But when it comes to cabinets (whether they’re in your bathroom, kitchen, or elsewhere), you’ll have to decide on some details. Sure, you might have an idea of what style you want your cabinets to be and maybe you’ve figured out the best color but you’ll also have to settle on a material type.

“Although colors and shapes heavily influence the feel of a room, the surfaces matter as well!” says Semihandmade BOXI Product Specialist Sophia Gomez. “The best way to be certain on a material is to order samples, and get a feel for things in person. Tactile texture is just as important as visual texture, and both can impact the overall experience in any room.”

Ready to figure out the best types of cabinets for your space? Here’s everything you need to know about Semihandmade’s material options.

Sage Green Kitchen Cabinets

Photography: Kaleigh Gamache; Design: Oak Trail Home

What are Thermofoil Fronts?

Semihandmade’s Supermatte fronts are made of thermofoil—basically, a thin layer of vinyl that is adhered to MDF (medium-density fiberboard), a material that is made of resin and recycled wood fibers. The manufacturing process for MDF, Gomez explains, makes it resistant to absorbing moisture, so it’s unlikely to warp—which isn’t always true of solid wood cabinets. 

“Exposure to heat, moisture, and sunlight forces wood to expand and contract—it will warp, crack and cup otherwise—which is the reason for using veneer or MDF,” Gomez says. “Despite what may have been the case 30 years ago, solid wood cabinet doors aren’t so common anymore, nor are they considered the standard.” Thermofoil fronts are also easy to clean, since you don’t have to worry about water absorption. 

Black kitchen cabinets

Photography and Design: Yellow Brick Home, featuring Semihandmade Supermatte Black Shaker fronts

What are Veneer Fronts?

If you love the look of wooden cabinets, but affordability is a key concern, then wood veneer fronts, like Semihandmade’s popular walnut fronts, are a great option. These fronts are made of MDF, but have a very thin layer of hardwood applied to the front (as opposed to the vinyl that’s used in thermofoil fronts). So, you get the look of real wood, at a lower price and with less demanding upkeep.

Semihandmade Walnut Kitchen Cabinets with Graphic Backsplash

Photography: Bethany Nauert; Design: A Vintage Splendor

What are BOXI Cabinets?

Semihandmade’s fronts are perfect for people who already have IKEA cabinets, but those who are starting from scratch and want a more custom look may be interested in BOXI by Semihandmade cabinets. All of the cabinetry from this line comes pre-assembled and ships in 10-12 weeks. 

BOXI fronts have a similar matte appearance to thermofoil ones, but with one added eco-friendly benefit: They’re made with recycled water bottles. “About 25 bottles are reused and recycled to create one medium sized door,” Gomez says.

Picking the best type of cabinet for your renovation may take some time, but thoughtful deliberation will help you narrow in on your best option. After all, Semihandmade offers more than 40 colors and styles—so there’s plenty to choose from.

Wall of white kitchen cabinet storage

Photography: Molly Rose Photography; Design: Anita Yokota

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Renovation

We don’t believe that renovations should be daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, people, and products to achieve your goals. It also helps to ask the right questions: How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen? How do I find the right general contractor in my area? Where do I even start if I’ve never remodeled before? This is where we come in. Through hard-to-believe before and afters, first-person renovation accounts, and step-by-step DIY projects, we demystify every aspect of remodeling and give you a ton of full-house, bathroom, and kitchen renovation ideas. Semihandmade was built on a strong make-it-yourself spirit and we’re carrying that legacy beyond DIY kitchen cabinets (though we’ll certainly touch on those too) by bringing you a ton of weekend projects for novices (have you ever tried making your own planter?) and experts (try your hand at a full-wall media center). What do people really mean when they say a house has “good bones”? Before and after projects show first-hand what’s possible in a transformative remodel. How do you make the most of a narrow galley? Should you swap your upper cabinets for floating shelves? What would it look like if you opened up your small kitchen? Renovation ideas abound in our spotlighted projects. A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.
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