I spent most of the day on the road today. Just under 8 hour of travel for a 2 hour meeting. The journey was for a meeting with our client BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, ID. We met with the GC (General Contractor) and their sub-contractor, and BYU-I to discuss the millwork for BYU-I’s new housing project. Anderson Cabinetry and Millwork; brought a cabinet section for us to see and discuss its construction and to clarify some of our specifications for the project.
When first considering cabinetry, you have to decide on the type of cabinets you want to use. The two general types are called “face-framed” and “frameless.” This is a website I have used in the past to help communicate to clients the difference: Tony’s Custom Cabinets. We are using the generally less expensive and more common type of frameless for this project.
One of the points of discussion on this trip was around wood species. We have selected and specified cherry wood for all the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. The Owner has requested the darker stain and cherry can achieve that without going to a more expensive walnut or mahogany species. Because of some past poor experiences with cherry, the GC has been concerned about the cherry wood spec. and wanted to discuss other species options. One of the ways wood species are ranked are by their hardness scale. This scale is called the Janka Rating System; the higher the number, the higher the pressure in pounds it takes to mar the wood. Cherry is a hardwood and is rated 950. For comparison, Maple is 1450, and Mahogany is 1500. On the other end a lot of cabinets in home right now are made of Alder wood (or knotty alder) and it is only 590. So Cherry is a good option for cabinets; Not the hardest, but a good option. After discussing options it was decided to stay with the spec of Cherry wood… For which I was grateful. By the time a contractor is usually on board and the building of a project begins, there have already been loads of conversations to get us to the specifications we have arrived at. It can get really tiresome to rehash everything every time a new player comes into the mix; but I can see how important it is for that to take place. It make sure we are all consistently on the same page. It is also a REALLY good thing that the contractor is a team player and brings up items for discussion. So in the long run, it is worth the practicing of patience!
Another item that we discussed that often comes up when discussing wood cabinets, is if we should be using a plastic laminate or melamine material in its place…to look like wood. This is a real discussion point for many people in the construction world. Architects and Designers can really be against “fake” materials, while manufacturers, builders and suppliers can see their maintenance benefit and potential cost savings. The idealist in me HATES faux plastic laminate – a material copying the real thing. Yet the conservative and practical side of me understands this debate; and it will constantly be debated. To me there isn’t a one solution answer. It needs to be discussed with the client and balanced and weighed in every projects design scale. It’s too big of a topic here to tackle, but for BYU-I and their housing project it may make sense for certain locations to be made of a material that can take more abuse than a natural product would normally take. I believe it’s important to lay it all out for the client and let them make the decision that is best for them.
Though this was a long drive for such a short meeting, I consider myself quite lucky to be able to be there and jump at the chance to go. Idaho is where I grew up and BYU-I is one of my alma-maters (well, Ricks College is really…Go Vikings!) Those two things have formed a lot of who I am and how I think, and I am glad to be giving back in this small way… And being able to go to lunch with my parents is a big plus too.