From cabinet construction lingo to kitchen cabinet parts names, you’ll likely come across some unfamiliar cabinet terminology as you work through your kitchen or bath renovation project – probably a few design and remodeling words you may not know, either. So, we packed our glossary with all the cabinetry terminology and definitions you’ll ever need. Plus, we’ve included simple explanations for common remodeling jargon. Before you know it, you’ll speak cabinets like a pro.
A plant that has inspired architectural design for centuries. Both Greeks and Romans carved stylized acanthus leaves at the tops of columns. The acanthus design, still popular today, is used as ornamentation on molding, corbels and other detail work.
A specialty finish that gives cabinets the well-worn appearance of heirloom furniture. This lived-in look is created using over-sanding, edge rasping, dry-brushing and flyspecking (where tiny drops of paint are randomly, but carefully, spattered on the wood). An oven-cured Premium topcoat completes the rustic look.
Prized for its rustic, yet refined, appearance, Alder tends to have pale, pink-brown to tan undertones in its coloring and features several distinct characteristics, including open and closed knots, burls, mineral streaks and small cracks.
A decorative panel that gives appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers and freezers, a furniture-like appearance so they’re more integrated into the overall kitchen design.
Decorative wood pieces added to some cabinet door and drawer styles in order to add definition and refinement. An applied molding most commonly appears on the inner edge of a door’s frame, outlining the center panel, sometimes with detail designs such as rope molding or beading.
An arch-style door features a rounded, as opposed to square, shape at the top of the door’s center panel. Also referred to as a Roman door style
A material, commonly tile, used to cover the wall space between kitchen countertops and wall cabinets. In the bath, a backsplash may only extend a few inches above the countertop. Backsplashes are popular because they are both decorative and functional.
A built-in bench that is made of low cabinets anchored to a wall. Often used in kitchens, a banquette creates a spot for dine-in functionality and can also offer additional storage.
These cabinets sit beneath the countertop and are installed on the floor, as opposed to wall cabinets, which are installed at eye level. Base cabinets tend to offer the most storage, often including shelving or other storage elements to maximize the space.
A decorative design element created by carving or routing an edge of a board to have a distinct profile. This detail adds dimension and shadow lines, which can be further accentuated by glaze finishes.
A cut that is made at an angle.
A cabinet where part of the interior is obscured because of its placement between two other perpendicular cabinets. Swing-out shelving options make storage space easily accessible in these corner cabinets.
A burl is an abnormal tree growth, which leaves an unusual wood grain pattern. Burls can be caused by a variety of tree stressors, such as injury, fungus or insect infestation. Once considered unusable, burl wood is now sought-after for its unique, eclectic look.
A technique that gives wood a welcoming, worn appearance. To achieve a look of aged fine furniture, the wood is first over-sanded. A darkening stain is then applied to the corners and raised areas of the doors and drawer fronts to complete the burnished effect.
Commonly seen on stained-glass windows, caming is the metalwork found between glass pieces. Caming is used to create a decorative design pattern on glass cabinet doors.
Cherry is an elegant, multicolored hardwood, which may contain small knots and pinholes. Natural or light stains accent these color variations for a distinctive look and feel. Cherry wood naturally darkens (mellows) over time, adding to its rich, dynamic appearance.
Using more than one type of finish. For example, the base cabinets may have a dark finish, and the wall cabinets a light finish. Or part of an all-white kitchen, like an island, will have a bold color to create a focal point.
A construction technique for door frames. This intricate joint creates a seamless decorative profile on the inside edge of the frame and a 90-degree connection where the wood joined together, as opposed to the miter-cut joint, which is at a 45-degree angle.
A decorative bracket that can also provide support for shelves, counter-tops or other materials.
A nonabsorbent, engineered polymer used in sink and vanity base cabinets to help protect against damage from spills and leaks, while also making cleaning easy.
In general, any type of decorative molding that is applied to the top of wall cabinets. Crown molding can be used to transition from cabinet to ceiling or to hide accent lighting.
Trim molding with a square repeating pattern resembling teeth.
A woodworking technique used to join pieces of wood together at a right angle. Commonly found in cabinet drawers. Known for its resistance to pulling apart, this joinery involves cutting a series of trapezoid shapes, called tails and pins, where the edges of the two boards meet so that they fit together like a puzzle piece.
Metal rails that allow a drawer to slide easily in and out of the cabinet. Rails may be located on each side of a drawer box or underneath the drawer’s bottom panel. Masterpiece uses bottom-mount slides that can support up to 90 lbs. and includes a soft-close mechanism to prevent unintentional slamming.
The process Masterpiece follows to ensure consistent quality in its cabinetry finishes. The system includes four key principles: selecting the highest grades of renewable American hardwoods; using state-of-the-art sanding machines, plus hand-sanding to ensure smoothness; meticulous application of stains and paints; and finishing cabinets with a two-layer, proprietary topcoat for unparalleled beauty and protection.
Boards composed of wood fibers and/or particles that have been bonded with synthetic resins under heat and pressure. Engineered wood is dimensionally more stable and offers a smoother bonding surface with laminates.
EverCore doors and drawer fronts are made from super-compressing wood fibers into an extra-solid material that is more resistant to expanding and contracting with the humidity when compared to natural wood. The super smooth surface is then painted to a crisp, grain-free finish. Additionally, EverCore is often more affordable than other natural wood options.
The wood pieces located between the door and the cabinet interior. Since at least part of a cabinet’s face frame is visible, it is usually made of the same material, and finished using the same techniques, as the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
A narrow piece added to cover gaps between two cabinets or between a cabinet and another space, such as a wall or appliance. Often these pieces are scribed to fill the uneven space created by an out-of-plumb wall or irregular material, like stone. Filler strips match the material and finish of the cabinetry for a cohesive appearance.
After raw wood is cut and sanded, finish is applied to create a desired look and feel. Paint and stain are the most common finish options for cabinetry. Application may involve additional steps, such as glaze or highlights. Masterpiece offers several distinct finish options each with a protective topcoat to help ensure durability and beauty
When the center panel is recessed from the cabinet frame, as opposed to raised. A flat, or recessed, panel cabinet door is a popular look and common in several design styles.
In kitchen and bath design, a floor plan is a two-dimensional drawing of a room from above. The drawing depicts the overall layout of all architectural elements and physical features, like windows and doors. By first plotting out the floor plan, your designer can then begin to indicate the number and types of cabinets you’ll need to complete the space.
Parallel grooves or routings in wood added for decoration. Typically found on columns and decorative filler strips.
Used as an alternate finish to paint or stain, a thin layer of solid-color material that’s applied with intense heat to adhere to the cabinet’s exterior. See also, Thermofoil.
A cabinet-building method where doors and drawers of each cabinet fit snugly together when closed, leaving very little of the cabinet face frame showing between. This creates a more seamless look and feel that gives prominence to the door and drawer style.
In cabinetry, furniture legs may be used to support a counter-top overhang on a kitchen island or enhance a base cabinet run to have a more furniture-like appearance.
Similar to a U-shaped kitchen layout with cabinetry on three sides and continuous counter space, the G-shaped version also includes either a partial fourth side or kitchen island. This added cabinetry provides the most storage space of any kitchen layout option, but depending on the kitchen size, can make the room feel more cramped.
A common kitchen layout option where the work spaces face each other on parallel walls. These kitchen layouts maximize the storage and work space in a small area.
A finishing material that is applied after a piece is stained to further enhance carved details, and add depth to stain color.
Cabinetry designed with door and drawer fronts that extend one-half inch beyond their opening, which leaves more of the cabinet face frame visible. The half overlay is typically more affordable than full overlay where little of the cabinet frame is left showing.
Hickory is a strong, open-grained wood known for its grain pattern and dramatic variation in color. It’s not uncommon to see doors or parts of doors that range in color from light cream to a dark reddish brown when finished in a light or natural stain. Darker stains even out these color variations, while knots and burls still show through in the finished wood. Hickory is a popular choice for those who like a robust wood look and blends in well with a variety of design styles.
A finishing technique where glaze is applied with a brush to the recesses of doors and drawer fronts after a coat of base paint. This hand-applied technique adds a rich accent without changing the appearance of the overall base color.
A piece of furniture created with cabinetry that is used to display, serve and/or store. Also known as a buffet server or china cabinet.
In cabinet making, I-beam construction features wood that extends from the front to the back of base cabinets for added support and to ensure cabinets remain square during installation. Noted as a mark of quality, I-beam construction makes the cabinet stronger versus less effective and inexpensive methods such as stapled corner braces.
As a tree trunk grows and expands, the places where the branches form and then fall off leave a mark, or a knot. In wood cabinets, these knots are a prominent characteristic in most wood, leaving a circular mark, which varies in size, that the grain flows around, creating unique, interesting patterns.
A professional who focuses solely on planning and designing kitchens, offering guidance on the floor plan, aesthetics, storage solutions, decorative enhancements, lighting and much more. A kitchen designer works closely with clients to understand their needs and then develops a design plan, taking into consideration the desired look and feel, the functionality of the space and the budget for the project.
An L-shaped kitchen layout, is created from continuous counter space on two adjacent and perpendicular walls. The benefit of this kitchen floor plan is that it provides the cook with an efficient work area, along with an open space to interact with others while in the kitchen. Often this layout is designed to flow into a nearby room, creating a larger, open feel.
The format that sets and determines the locations of your appliances, countertops and cabinets within your kitchen, thereby establishing work zones and the natural flow of traffic in and out of the room and seating areas. There are five basic kitchen layouts, each offering its own benefit: G-shaped, L-shaped and U-shaped kitchens, along with the single wall and galley options.
A storage accessory that uses a rotating shelf unit to maximize the space in otherwise hard-to-reach areas, such as corner units. Lazy Susan’s can include a single- or double-tier design, depending on the available space.
Maple is one of the hardest woods and appears mostly off-white in its raw state. Hard maple is somewhat uniform in appearance, making it ideal for smooth, clean looks. It is usually straight-grained, but can also be wavy or even curly. Hard maple may contain light hues of yellow-brown and gold, along with occasional mineral streaks.Noted for its even-toned wood, maple is a popular choice in both traditional and modern kitchen designs.
An engineered wood offering an extremely tight and smooth surface. Exceptionally stable, MDF is the favored material for laminating with thermofoils and melamine.
Naturally occurring streaks in wood caused by mineral deposits formed as the tree extracts nutrients from the soil. Common in many wood types, these mineral deposits cause blackish-blue streaks in the grain. Mineral streaks are often considered appealing in wood cabinetry, as they offer authenticity and character to the cabinetry’s look and feel.
A construction technique that joins two pieces of wood, each cut at a 45-degree angle, to form a right angle. One advantage of this joint is that it conceals all end grain at the joint.
A vertical or horizontal element that separates pieces of glass in a frame. Often decorative, mullions can be made from a variety of materials, including wood and metal.
The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) is the leading, non-profit global trade organization representing those in the kitchen and bath industry. The organization was established in 1963 and offers a variety of resources for consumers and professionals.
Oak has a rich-textured, wavy grain pattern that ranges in color from light to medium brown. Its timeless look and feel is a popular choice in a variety of different kitchen and bath designs.
This decorative profile is a refined, curving shape that resembles a backward-facing “s.” An ogee is often used to enhance the edges of traditionally-styled moldings, countertops and cabinet doors.
A line of cabinets from Masterpiece engineered with universal design principles. These cabinets offer consumers a balance of beauty and accessibility.
An engineered wood made from wood chips and binding materials. Particle board is often used in a cabinet’s skeleton, or box, along with shelving or other cabinet components that are not part of the outward-facing appearance. Particle board is a less expensive option when compared with plywood. However, particle board is heavier and less resistant to dents and scratches, making plywood a more desirable cabinetry material.
In kitchen design, a peninsula is an extension that adds counter-top space, storage and/or seating by creating a perpendicular extension from base cabinets that are anchored to the wall. As opposed to a kitchen island, which is a stand-alone piece, a peninsula is connected to the main cabinetry on one side.
A manufactured wood made from thin layers, or plies, which are glued together to form a board. Plywood tends to be a more expensive option in cabinetry construction when compared with particle board. However, plywood is lighter and more resistant to dents and scratches, making it a more desirable cabinetry material.
In cabinetry, a profile is an intentionally-shaped edge, often found on the door frame surrounding the center panel. Profiles come in a variety of shapes and level of detail to create different styles.
A specialty cabinet designed to maximize storage space, by making that space more accessible. Instead of swinging open a door and reaching in, all the internal shelving and storage is attached to the cabinet door and extends out from the cabinet on glides, operating like a drawer.
In remodelling, the punch list refers to a list of items, such as fixes and repairs necessary before the project is considered complete and the contractor is paid for services. For example, items on the list may be that scuffs on baseboards are touched up with paint, a cracked switch plate is replaced, appliances are reconnected properly, etc.
Quartersawning refers to the method of cutting wood, often oak. Boards are cut through the radius of the rings, which means more of the wavy grain and flaked patterns appear on the wood face. The quarter sawing wood appearance is popular in Arts and Crafts design.
In cabinet design, the rail refers to the horizontal wood pieces on the top and bottom that make up a cabinet door frame. These connect with the vertical pieces of the door frame, or stiles.
When the cabinet door’s center panel is slightly higher than the wood frame surrounding it, as opposed to a recessed panel. Panels are often bevel cut and/or profiled on each side to accentuate the raised effect.
When the center panel of the cabinet door frame is flat, or recessed from the frame, as opposed to raised.
A three-dimensional, computer-generated model of the room as planned. Since a rendering shows all elements of the space, including location of appliances and cabinet door styles and colors, homeowners see how the kitchen will appear once complete. (Or make changes before final orders are placed.)
In cabinet design, a roll-out tray is a shelf that functions like a drawer to make storage items more accessible, particularly in hard-to-reach spaces like bottom cabinets.
A decorative enhancement carved in a round shape resembling a stylized flower. It typically appears in traditional designs where two pieces of decorative trim come together.
In remodeling terms, rough-in refers to routing the plumbing, electrical, HVAC and other lines to the spaces where they’ll be used, but not connecting them or hooking them up.
Uncluttered design style reflective of a society called Shakers, who prized simplicity in dress, speech and manner. Shaker-style cabinetry is square, unornamented and has a flat recessed center panel for a clean look that adapts well to many styles.
Originally used as siding or on walls inside rooms prior to the invention of plaster or drywall, shiplap refers to flat planks milled with opposing edges so that they overlap. This joint leaves only a small shadow line between each board. Today, designers use shiplap to create a modern, yet rustic appearance and is used most often on walls or kitchen islands.
A kitchen layout type where all the workspace, including the appliances and the sink, are located along one wall. This approach can be useful especially in smaller homes.
In cabinet design, this refers to a cabinet door without any frame or center panel. This door style is popular in modern and contemporary design styles for its sleek look.
A dropped section of the ceiling that can be used to add architectural detail or hide plumbing, wiring or HVAC ducts. Soffits are often found in older homes between wall cabinets and the main ceiling.
This door style features a square center panel, as opposed to an arch top.
In cabinet design, the stile refers to the vertical wood pieces on the sides of a cabinet door frame. These are joined to the horizontal pieces, or rails, to make the door frame.
A cabinetry finish in which a durable, solid-color material completely encases the door and drawer fronts. The material is adhered to the wood using intense heat and pressure. Thermofoils are popular choices for laundry rooms and mudrooms because they are easy to clean and offer more resistance to moisture.
A type of wood finish that offers all the color and brightness of paint without entirely concealing the wood’s natural character.
The recessed space between the base cabinet and the floor is called the toe kick. It is designed to allow space for your feet so you can stand closer to the countertop.
A horizontally-mounted wall cabinet with hinges on the top of the frame, so the door opens up instead of out. A top-hinge design allows for ease of use in reaching the space.
A kitchen layout with a continuous countertop and cabinets on three sides, forming a U. The U-shaped kitchen is the most versatile layout for kitchens of all sizes.
A design concept that ensures people of all ages, sizes and abilities can comfortably and safely function in a space.
On cabinet door panels, a V-groove is the result of carving lines of beveled channels with sharp bottoms into panels to create visual interest.
A decorative piece, often arched, placed at the top of a bookshelf or a toe kick of a single base cabinet to accent the open space behind it. Valances can also be used to connect two upper cabinets above a sink or as an extension hanging below a wood paneled exhaust hood.
A cabinet that houses the bathroom sink(s), along with storage space. Vanities come in a variety of sizes, dimensions and configurations.
In cabinetry, a thin piece of wood (or other material) that is applied on top of a substrate to give it a desired look. Veneers are often made from more expensive or rare wood and placed on top of a common wood type to offer an extravagant look without the high cost.
On cabinet door panels, a V-groove is the result of carving lines of beveled channels with sharp bottoms into panels to create visual interest.
A finish technique designed to create the look of heirloom cabinetry that’s been well-used and gently worn. The wood is first distressed and over-sanded. Several coats of heavily pigmented stain are then applied followed by another round of over-sanding on the corners and edges of doors and drawer fronts.
Cabinets attached to the wall and installed at, or above, eye level. Sometimes called an upper cabinet.
An exclusive, soft-close hinge design that reduces slamming doors. A standard feature on all Masterpiece cabinets.
The pattern and texture within wood formed by growth rings of a tree. Grain patterns can be tight, fine and uniform or coarse and wavy depending on the type of wood and how it is cut.
An area that is designed to serve a specific purpose in the kitchen. For example, a Baking Zone may feature a pull-up mixer stand for convenient appliance storage and a portion of the counter at lower height for kneading dough. Work zones are highly customizable and are a modern approach to kitchen design – largely replacing the concept of a kitchen work triangle.
When an insect larva bores into wood, the resulting opening is known as a worm hole. These small holes are often revealed when old wood is milled. Certain finishing techniques feature man-made worm holes to create a vintage, aged look in the cabinet.