Before choosing stock or semi-custom cabinetry, it’s a good idea to look for two labels that indicate your potential purchase has passed certain quality tests.
The KCMA certification label, for instance, indicates that the cabinet has successfully passed five quality tests established by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA).
While developed by KCMA members, the standards are codified by the independent American National Standards Institute (ANSI), under the performance quality standard ANSI A161.1.
Ask if your cabinets’ door hinges, drawer slides, finish, heat-resistance and weight-bearing abilities have been quality tested, according to ANSI standards.
The Five Tests…
The numerous tests for cabinets can be divided into five main areas; here are some test descriptions.
1. “The Heavy Lift”: Here’s where cabinet shelves and bottoms are loaded with 15 lbs. weights per square foot for seven days. The end result shows if the shelves and bottoms experience joint separation or cabinetry or mounting system failures. Other tests include dropping a 3 lb. ball onto a cabinet floor 6” above the surface of the cabinet floor. The object is to test the floor’s sturdiness against common kitchen impacts, such as dropped cans.
2. “Slides, guides and other stuff”: This test requires drawers to be open and closed 25,000 times while containing a 15 lb. weight. While the frequency is more than most households will experience, a passing grade is earned if the drawer slides continue to operate and the drawer integrity remains intact.
3. “Don’t Worry, I Got This”: In this test, cabinet finishes are coated with common household corrosive substances, such as vinegar, coffee, alcohol and mustard. Cabinets whose surfaces can be cleaned and aren’t discolored, peeling, or blistering pass the test.
3. “Big doors swing on little hinges…”: Doors are swung with 65 lbs. of weight on each door. The door is slowly operated for 10 cycles, from 90 degrees to 20 degrees, and returned to the 90 degree position. The weight remains on the door for 10 minutes. After the weight is removed, the door must show no visible damage and connections between the cabinet and the hinge, and the door and the hinge must exhibit no visible signs of looseness.
5. “Somebody fan me…”: Cabinets are exposed to extreme humidity and to wide temperature fluctuations of heat and cold. If the cabinet shows no evidence of discoloration or evidence of blistering or other finish failures, it passes.
And is it sustainable?
The Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) label certifies sustainable processes throughout the manufacturing process. Implemented in 2006 by KCMA, the program ensures the manufacturer has met criteria for low-formaldehyde-emitting components, sustainably harvested wood components and for energy conservation and active recycling of post-industrial products.
Products with the ESP label certify sustainable cabinet manufacturing practices.
Cabinet selections seem endless to the average consumer and the choices can be confusing. However, an awareness of industry standards makes research easier and enables you to consider or discard options much more efficiently.
An independent kitchen designer, such as me, can also assist you in the selection and design of your new, beautiful kitchen. Please reach out to me for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 215-860-5059. I’d be happy to help you!
Sources: The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturing Association website: https://www.kcma.org
Besides certifying that cabinet manufacturers meet durability and safety standards, the multi-faceted KCMA, founded in 1955, provides cabinet makers with business development opportunities, education and research and advocacy.