Selecting your cabinetry can be daunting. There’s a number of things to think of including styles, finishes and ultimately, the overall outcome you are seeking. Our team of experts has broken the task down into twelve ‘key’ steps which will professionally guide you through the process and remove the guess work.
Remember, you should carry them out in the order in which they are suggested. The reason is that each one hangs on the one before.
1. The Style
This one is the most important. What style is your house and what style do you seek? Perhaps your house is post modern on the outside and retro on the inside. Do you want to keep it this way, or do you wish to change the inside to match the outside? These days there’s no hard and fast rules, except – know why you are doing what you are doing! This is also very important for resale. Generally, the best return on your investment will be where you haven’t gone too far out on a limb. If you are still struggling, a good idea is to visit a number of different style display homes in your area, generally they are professionally designed around current trends & styles.
If you are still battling with styles and trying to get your head around what design to use that synergizes with your house theme, there is a great slide you can watch that shows what style of handle goes with what house style here.
2. The type of handle
What type of handle you choose will depend entirely on the style of the room. There are round knobs and square, there’s long handles and short ones or you might even choose to go handle less! As a general rule, the longer your drawers are, the longer the handle will be and conversely, a narrow drawer looks best with a shorter handle. There’s a huge smorgasbord of ideas, collections and styles here.
3. The environment
This is often overlooked. Your location is important, especially if you are near water or windy and moist conditions. Not all handles are equal and the joy of ‘cheap’ can soon become the sorrow of replacement. Ensure that you make your supplier aware of any conditions that are more adverse than normal. Some finishes are more prone to corrosion in these conditions than others. Aluminum handles (which are common) are notorious for pitting in conditions where the environment is unfriendly. Whereas brass and 316 SS are perfect. Another one to beware is painted handles verses electroplated handles. See The finish below.
4. The material
Along with the finish, its important to establish the material. Once again, when selecting the material, be aware of the prevailing environment. Aluminum handles (which are common), are notorious for pitting in conditions where the environment is unfriendly. Whereas brass and 316 SS are perfect. You can read more about materials and their composition here.
5. The Colour
There’s a number of considerations to this one. The colour or tone is important because it needs to mesh with the other rooms in the house. Certain colours go with others. Anything stands out on white cabinetry but not everything goes with jarrah. Satin Brass suits Hampton style kitchens whilst, Graphite Nickel turns heads coupled with warmer tones. Brushed Nickel, Black and stainless look stunning on more neutral colours such as grey. However, there is a plethora of combinations and nothing is arbitrary.
6. The finish
This is different to the colour as it relates to the process by which a handle is finished, or surface treated. Many handles are painted. After hard wear and tear, the paint often wears off. The best finishes are electroplated and have a micronized polish. This is important so we’ll go into a little more detail;
Many door handles today are painted to look like they have been electroplated. That is why the warranties for such handles will generally only be up to 1 or 2 years. If a handle has a warranty of 10 years or more, it will be because it has been electroplated.
Electroplating involves passing an electric current through a solution called an electrolyte. This is done by dipping two terminals called electrodes into the electrolyte and connecting them into a circuit with a battery or other power supply. The electrodes and electrolyte are made from carefully chosen elements or compounds.
When the electricity flows through the circuit they make, the electrolyte splits up and some of the metal atoms it contains are deposited in a thin layer on top of one of the electrodes—it becomes electroplated. This leads to a very strong and permanent surface bonding between the substrate material and the coating. Unlike paint, it cannot be removed or scratched and results in a much better-quality handle.
A Micronized finish is the highest quality of polishing or smoothing that can be carried out on the metal (or substrate material) prior to the final surface coating being applied.
It is a very specialised process and is only used as a methodology on the very best quality handles. A Micronized finish is a much longer polishing process as there are a number of different stages of the process using finer and finer grit grades.
The advantages are that the final product is beautifully finished, is much smoother and is far more corrosion resistant. With many handles, they corrode because of porosity (tiny holes in the surface of the material) that cannot be seen by the naked eye. In poor quality handles, porosity can sometimes even be seen! Porosity allows the moisture from the environment or our hands to enter and because of the inherent acid, the handles corrode. Micronization prevents this from occurring.
7. Other appliances
Don’t forget about the other appliances in your kitchen or laundry! If you’ve got a chrome look, then think chrome or two tone. Its not that other colours don’t go with chrome, just be aware. If the appliances are stainless steel, then think either stainless steel, brushed nickel or Graphite Nickel.
8. Matching in terms of style and finish
Many years ago, this wasn’t important. Chrome in the kitchen or the bathroom didn’t dictate what colour the door hardware should be or the other way around. Today it’s become chic to ensure continuity of styles and finishes. Many designers will go for chrome cabinetry and match that in with two tone door furniture such as can be seen here. The advantage is that the style and finish coalesce to provide a ‘head turning’ showpiece.
9. Continuity of finish
When choosing new hardware, options are key. Variation in finish from brand to brand is inevitable. Company A’s brushed nickel may look completely different to company B’s brushed nickel. It is therefore very important that specifiers and consumers are aware of this when selecting products.
10. The Use
Is your home a holiday home used every 3 months? Or is it just you? Perhaps its you and four others all using the kitchen, laundry and house 24/7 and its heavy traffic. Then think about the quality of what you are buying. Some handles can handle it (no pun intended) and others can’t. That leads to point number 11 – the warranty.
11. The Warranty
In this day and age, when the world is as small as your internet connection, its never been easier to buy online at ridiculous prices and think that you’ve got a bargain. Think again. When there’s no warranty, no checks and balances of Australian consumer law, no office front, no back up, is it worth it? This article suggests its not. Always ask about warranty. If its 10 years or more, you are probably safe. Also, how long has the supplier been around? Ask the question and read the google reviews. The joy of cheap price is soon forgotten while the bitterness of poor quality is indefinite.
12. The Budget
So why put the budget last! There are eleven reasons why and you’ve just read them. Before you can set your budget, you need to know what you are buying, and then and only then can you know how much to allow. Its better to pay a bit more and get what you really need, than to pay to little and for ever have regrets. Happy buying and good luck.