It is a generally accepted fact that kitchen and bathroom renovations provide the best return on investment and increase the value of any home. And let’s face it, who doesn’t want a new kitchen with all of the latest storage options and soft closing door and drawer features that are available today? But, with the multitude of choices available, how is the average consumer meant to decide which company will provide the highest quality cabinetry worth the investment of their hard-earned dollars? Few people have the desire to become a cabinet expert. What they do want is their dream kitchen and a no hassle purchase that they can be confident in.

Until recently, there was no nationally recognized cabinet certification for kitchen and vanity cabinet manufacturers, leaving consumers to educate themselves on specifications such as hardware and materials when trying to determine which company would provide them with the best quality product. Most consumers have enough trouble narrowing down the esthetics and layout of their kitchen without the added stress of deciding which drawer slides to choose. And recognizing quality cabinet construction while looking at an empty display in a kitchen showroom can be nearly impossible. With this in mind, the Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association (CKCA) resolved to create a certification program for Canadian kitchen and vanity cabinet manufacturers that would enable the average consumer to make an informed purchase without having to earn a Master’s degree in cabinetry. (The CKCA is a national association that strives to promote the interests and conserve the rights of manufacturers of kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities and related millwork, as well as their suppliers and dealers, throughout Canada.)

Known as the CKCA Construction and Material Testing Standard for Kitchen Cabinets and Vanities, the program was developed by a cross-Canada technical committee from a wide variety of backgrounds. To ensure that the certification was not only reflective of the cabinet manufacturing industry’s capabilities, almost two thirds of the committee consisted of non-manufacturing representatives including the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), BC Housing, and the Ministry of Environment. In addition, the committee also had representation from the WoodMark quality assurance program, the participating testing facility, and hardware, finishing and panel suppliers.
Companies interested in certification must submit specific samples of their cabinetry to rigorous testing at a well-established testing facility. These samples are specified by the CKCA based on their common usage in average consumers’ kitchens and bathrooms. Tests are designed to determine cabinet strength and durability through a variety of methods. For example, doors are hung with weights up to 29.5 kilograms depending on the door height, and drawers are slammed shut 25 times with an extra applied force of almost 2 kg per centimetre, outdoing even the best family fight. Unless the end user stores his excess gold bullion or bowling ball collection in his kitchen cabinets, any approved cabinet will safely store grandmother’s precious china. Failures during testing are resolved only through improvements to quality and subsequent retesting, raising the quality bar for Canadian and foreign cabinet manufacturers alike.
This new certification provides manufacturers with a never before established benchmark for the quality of their cabinetry. Much more than that however, this program will enable any consumer to make a confident and educated decision as to the quality of the cabinets they are preparing to invest in and have in the heart of their home for the next several years.

Claire Honey is a project manager for the Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association (CKCA). The CKCA is a national association that strives to promote the interests and conserve the rights of manufacturers of kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities and related millwork, as well as their suppliers and dealers, throughout Canada. For more information on the CKCA visit ckca.ca.

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