Are Chinese Cabinets Any Good?

I looked at one internet ad that boasts that you can get kitchen cabinets for your 10×10 two sided kitchen for $1800. They have ¾” thick drawer and door fronts, dovetail drawers, plywood carcasses, and they are made in China. So what’s the catch? The worst thing I have read about Chinese cabinets is that they use formaldehyde based glues, and that the plywood may delaminate in three years.

While I think that such a thing can happen, I have never run into this after using Chinese cabinets on projects for over five years. My recommendation for you if you want to use Chinese cabinets is to use common sense. First, buy from a shop that has been in business for more than a year. These aren’t hard to find. Secondly, look for basic quality: good finish, quality hardware, etc. Finally, avoid assemble it yourself cabinetry unless you really want to do it. Assembled cabinets may cost you 20% more, but they are still way cheaper than regular cabinets.

Chinese cabinets are inexpensive for basic reasons. Chinese labor is dirt cheap, they don’t offer a million finishes, they don’t offer every cabinet size available, and the finish quality won’t rock your world. Also, don’t expect to recognize the species of wood used in the cabinet, even if they call the finish “oak”. It isn’t oak as you know it.

These are bang for the buck cabinets. I have no problem recommending them, as long as you understand that they are not to be confused with better American made ones. However the Chinese cabinets will cost about 25% of what most American made cabinets cost, so….. You get what you pay for.

Blu-ray Schmu-ray: Are you ready for 4K?

Most of us aren’t even up to speed on 3D TV’s in our home and already they are showing 4K sets. I am sure most readers are getting that old eye-glaze right now, but for those of you figuring out your next TV buy is 4K anything to get excited over? I mean, what is 4K anyway?

Essentially 4K TV has about four times the amount of pixels on the screen as Blu-ray does. We are talking super sharp resolution here. But is 4K ready for prime time yet? Yes, but only if you have an extra $20,000 or more to spend on a TV, and need a huge screen. Once you bring it home your only other concern will be that there is no 4K media available: discs, downloads, broadcasts, nada. These new sets will up convert a Blu-ray disc though to 4K, but that’s it.

Bottom line? Wait. By the time we get the 4K media the sets will be cheaper and better. But if you can’t there are some high end TV salespeople who would love to talk to you.

LED Bulbs – Yes, there is a difference in quality

I went to a great seminar about LED lighting and learned some very interesting things about LED bulbs: that is, why cheap ones are cheap and expensive ones…. well you get the point. It’s all about the color of the light.

Without launching into a bunch of technobabble let’s just say the lighting color standards for LED lights are a little loose. For example, let’s say you want to buy a bulb that has a 3000K color temperature. Bulb A is $19.95 and Bulb B is $49.95 and they are both 3000K, so save the money and go with the cheaper bulb, right? Not necessarily. The standards for what constitute a 3000K bulb allow bulbs that vary in color from each other in a visible way to be all called 3000K. Guess which ones are more precisely near the standard? The more expensive bulbs are usually closest to the listed standard.

How does this happen? When LED chips are manufactured each one is tested. Based on the results of the test they are sent to one of about ten different bins based on how close to the color standard they are designed for that they come. The closest to the color standard command a higher price and go to high end lighting suppliers. The ones farthest away end up in your uncle Bob’s baseball cap with led lights built into the brim.

Why should you care? Let’s say you have a ceiling full of LED lights. If you want the color to be consistent between each bulb then you want to buy the best bulbs so that the color matches. If these bulbs are going to light your garage then you may not be so picky about the quality. I have less expensive LED bulbs in my outdoor lights and they look fine.

Ultimately, I think technology will resolve this issue. But for now, be warned. These bulbs last a long time, and you don’t want to live with a mistake for years!

Where Details Are An Art, Not An Afterthought