Total Lee Cabinets

This page was last updated: January 15, 2013
How do I get started?
    The first step is to call us and schedule an appointment for your free estimate ( Small estimate fee's may apply for long transit distances), before our meeting however, there are a few things you should be thinking about. Such as, the details of cabinet construction. Are you looking for traditional, Full-Overlay, or European/Frameless cabinets?

Traditional Cabinets are the most popular on the market, built with ¾” thick lumber face frames, cabinet boxes are made of  ¾” thick materials, and usually a ¼” back, doors overlay the face frame ½”.

Full-Overlay Face Frame Cabinets are built with a modified face frame. For this construction, the frame members are smaller which allows a ¼” reveal between doors and/or drawer faces. This allows a frameless look for the cost of frame-style cabinets. The cabinet boxes are ¾” thick material, and usually a ¼” back.

European/Frameless has its origins in Europe. Traditionally, kitchen cabinets in many parts of Europe were considered furniture, so when you moved, you took your cabinets with you. Those cabinets were built in modules or small sections for easy transport and set up. The cabinets were frameless, and could be interchanged to fit different areas. The modern, clean look of those cabinets has become quite popular here, and accounts for roughly 20% of the cabinets sold in the US. Without a frame, European cabinets utilize slightly more space than framed cabinets. Due to the tighter tolerances (~1/8” between doors and/or drawer faces) this method demands, the cost for European style cabinets is more than for the traditional method. They are built with ¾” sides, tops, bottoms, and ¼” backs.

Cabinet Materials would be your next concern.

Exterior cabinet material describes the material to be used on all outside surfaces visible to someone standing in the room when doors and drawers are closed. This also includes areas behind clear glass doors or partitions. When it comes to exterior cabinet materials you have a wide variety of species to choose from, i.e.
Price scale ------------------------------------------ (1) lowest priced, thru (5) highest priced.
Alder (knotty, or select) ------------------------ (select = 3), (knotty = 2)
Ash ---------------------------------------------------- (2)
Beech ------------------------------------------------- (3)
Birch (natural, white, and select pink) ---- (natural = 2), (white = 4), (select pink = 5)
Cherry (natural, select pink) ------------------ (natural = 4), (select pink = 5)
Dough fir --------------------------------------------- (4)
Hickory ----------------------------------------------- (3)
Maple (natural, or Select) --------------------- (natural = 2), (white = 3)
Mahogany ------------------------------------------- (4)
Oak (red, or white) ------------------------------- (red = 2), (white = 4)
Pine (select, or knotty) ------------------------- (select = 2), (knotty = 1)
Poplar ------------------------------------------------- (1)
Walnut (natural, or select) --------------------- (natural = 4), (select dark = 5)
Teak --------------------------------------------------- (5)

The materials listed below are most commonly used in the market, there are however a few rare, or exotic materials not mentioned. If you have one of these materials in mind for your project please bring it to our attention and we will work with your choice. If you still need help with your material selection, I will continue with more information about standard materials.

Please check the desired item.

           Conventional custom cabinets

           Full-overlay face frame cabinets


Exterior cabinet material

           Red oak                         White oak                     Cherry                       Hickory

           Natural birch                   Red birch                      White birch                Ash                                    

           Alder                              Knotty alder                  Walnut                       Poplar

           White Maple                    Natural Maple               Pine                           Knotty pine

           Mahogany                        Teak                            Beech                                                  Fill in other material

Interior cabinet material

           Birch Ply                           Maple Ply                     Melamine

           Match exterior cabinet material

Drawer boxes

           T.L.C. standard Baltic birch drawer                            Veneered ply drawer

           Melamine                                                                Solid dove-tailed maple.

Door type

           Square door                                           Arched door

           Square door on base cabinets, arched door on uppers                       ¼” panel door                                       

           Veneered Slab door                                Deco-form door

Door styles

           Traditional                         Country                      Nantucket                       Craftsman

           Contemporary                    Victorian                    Western                          Estate                                    

           Eastern Influence                                                                                        Door description & number
                                                                                                                            (See. www.decore.comm)

Drawer slides

           Blum 230 guide an economical ¾ extension slide.

           Accuride 3832, ball bearing, full-extension guide.

           Blum Tandem, soft-closing, concealed under-mount slide.

Counter Tops

           Granite                             Concrete                         Tile                           soapstone

           Corian                               wood top                         butcher block top


           Distressed cabinets            Yes,            No

           Unstained lacquer Cabinets                                         Stained lacquer Cabinets                                                     

           Unstained Catalyzed Cabinets                                     Stained Catalyzed cabinets

           Glazed Catalyzed cabinet                                            Painted lacquer cabinets


           Yes                    No


           Yes                    No


           Crown molding                                Base molding                               Light molding

                                                                                                                    Other, explain

Cabinet finished ends

           One piece veneered end                                   panel end to match your cabinet doors.

Knobs & Pulls

           Yes                    No                                                                If hardware is known, fill in name & part number

Keyboard trays                                       Yes                       No

Hampers                                                 Yes                      No

Under Counter lighting                           Yes                      No

Wine racks.                                             Yes                     No

Spice rack pullouts.                                 Yes                     No

Trash/Recycle drawer                      Yes                    No

Lazy Susan’s                                    Yes                    No

Tip-out trays                                       Yes                   No

Other options.                                                                                                                                        Please fill in.
Call  now !!!! (619)445-0929
Call  now !!!! (619)445-0929
Alder is a medium brown color, and has two popular uses , the first use is with stain or paint grade cabinets, Alder is one of the better materials to use when looking for an even finish, whether it’s a lighter natural, a darker stained, or even a painted finish, alder has a smooth surface, low variations in wood density, and low deviation of wood color. Which makes alder one of the top selections for painted, and the most popular material for stain grade cabinets. The second most common use for alder is to achieve a knotty rustic look, the market uses knotty alder for a rustic country, or with a slight change in design, a rustic Spanish look. As a final note, Alder is a medium soft wood and tends to be more prone to dents and dings.

Ash is a hardwood, mostly used when the customer desires a lighter cabinet finish with an open grain look, slight color deviation mostly white with few light brown streaks, and knots.

Beech is considered a hardwood, and has a very tight grain, and few small knots. Wood density varies making it unpopular to use with stains.  Usually finished clear, the wood has an amber or light golden look, very distinctive and beautiful.

Natural Birch is a semi hardwood, with tight grain and small obscure knots. This material has a wide range of use, natural birch is used for darker stained cabinets in high traffic areas because of its harder wood density. Natural birch is also used to achieve a cabin feel, due to its variations of white and light thru dark drown grain patterns.

White birch is often left unstained to achieve a very clean, semi white look, and with its characteristic tight grain small knots, and toned down grain pattern, white birch easily achieves this look. When white birch is stained the finished product comes out beautifully whether using light or dark stains, the reason for this is the lack of imperfections in wood density, knots, and light and dark patches, this however does drive up the material cost.

Red Birch is one of my personal favorites, with its red/pink color variations, swirling tight grain pattern, and small knots. This material is used primarily for traditional cabinetry with a clear finish. Material is priced to match its beauty.

Cherry is considered a semi hardwood with tight grain, small knots, mineral stains. Depending on the look your after, cherry can either have extensive pink and light to dark brown streaks in the natural wood, or almost no color streaks in select pink materials. Most people are aware of the many applications for cherry, from kitchens, bars, and studies. Cherry has been used to establish a certain elegance to any cabinet project. Cherry is listed as one of the more expensive materials due to the fact that cherry trees do not grow to be very large in size, which makes the material less abundant.
Select Cherry is considered a semi hardwood with tight grain, very small knots, small mineral stains, mostly pink in color.

Natural Cherry is considered a semi hardwood with tight grain, small knots, mineral stains, color will vary with light to dark brown streaks in the material.

Dough fir is a relatively softwood, with straight grain, and tends to splinter when machined, making it less likely to be used for the manufacture of cabinetry. This material also tends to stain unevenly due to its variation in wood density. I have however, built projects using select clear dough fir and applied a glaze finish, the finished product turned out the way the customer envisioned.

Hickory is a hardwood with open swirly grain, even wood density, variety of knots, and characteristically light and dark patches (busy grain), Making hickory a good choice for a country look, or even a unique look to a standard cabinet project. People are using Hickory more and more in cabinets, furniture, and flooring. One of the reasons for this is that Hickory has a 50 pound density per cubic foot, making it the densest U.S. commercial wood, when dry. Hickory finishes great with clear, or light stain.

Maple is a hardwood with a tight grain, light grain patterns, and mineral stains. Natural maple has knots, mineral stains, and a white base color with light to dark grain patterns, natural maple is traditionally used for paint grade jobs, or projects with a cabin feel. Select maple has very few extremely small knots, mineral stains, and is considered to be white in color. Maple does not stain well because of its variations in wood density, or hard spots. Recommended finishes includes painting, or glazing for colored finishes, or clear finish on select white jobs.

Mahogany is considered a soft wood with porous straight grain, even grain density, and few knots. Color is considered a medium brown tone. This material is typically used for bars, offices, and outdoor furniture. Mahogany finishes well with clear finish, and any of the wide variety of stain shade.

Oak is considered a hardwood with an open grain, lots of light and dark grain patterns, a wide variety of knot sizes, and even grain densities.
Red oak has a slight pink look to it with darker and lighter brown grain patterns. While

white oak has a light gray to white look with lighter and darker grain patterns, white oak is much harder than red oak and is used less frequently in projects because of the considerable cost difference. Traditionally red oak has been a popular material and is used in all types of projects, because of its excellent stain qualities and economical material costs. 

Pine is considered a soft material with even wood density, tight relatively straight grain. Select pine has very few knots and is mostly white in color, while knotty pine is just that, loaded with knots and has more uneven color patterns. Pine is used for cabinets when a cabin affect is desired.
Select Pine has very few knots and is mostly white in color.

Knotty Pine is considered a soft material with even wood density, tight relatively straight grain. Select pine has very few knots and is mostly white in color, while knotty pine is just that, loaded with knots and has more uneven color patterns. Pine is used for cabinets when a cabin affect is desired.

Poplar is considered a soft material with even wood density, tight straight grains, material color has a slight green tint. Poplar is mostly used for paint grade windows, doors, and frames.

Walnut is considered a hardwood with tight swirling type grain, and knots. Natural walnut has medium dark brown colors with light and darker grain patterns. While select walnut materials have a more even medium dark brown with no, to very little variation in grain pattern. Walnut is typically used in higher end cabinet projects where a more soothing, or calming atmosphere is desired.

Teak is considered a medium dense wood with medium dark brown colors, tight straight grain, with small to no knots. One of the prominent characteristics’ with this material is the saturation of natural oil throughout the wood, making its use outdoors more likely. Such as, patio furniture, decking, etc.. Teak is however, also used on indoor furniture and cabinetry to establish the same certain elegance to a project as Cherry or any other exotic material would. 
All materials have their high and low points, some are better used for certain applications. If your still not sure about the material you would like to use, we at T.L.C. can help you with samples and more information to finalizing your decision. When it comes down to making the decision, however, it all boils down to your personal tastes.

Interior cabinet material describes the materials to be used in the areas visible when doors and drawers are opened. The two most popular choices are veneered plywood and melamine. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Plywood has appeal because of its wood look and stronger core, but costs more. Melamine’s surface is more durable and easier to clean, but the core isn’t as strong as plywood. Strength issues are probably not as important in a Kitchen than durability and easy clean up. I build with both materials, depending on the application and customer preference. Most people I deal with want melamine in their Kitchens and bathroom interiors, but for entertainment centers or office cabinets they tend to like an all wood look inside and out. Wood interiors will have a mixture of light and medium colored veneered, usually birch or maple. Melamine is a particleboard with a fused coating of plastic on both sides, the most popular color is white but there are several colors available. How do these products hold up against water? The only trouble I’ve seen is a long-term plumbing leak at the bottom of a melamine cabinet, which isn’t really the melamine’s fault. Plywood also doesn’t do well if it’s wet for long periods of time. Either material is a good choice; it’s up to your personal tastes.

Drawer boxes and Rollout trays may be made of different materials than the cabinet interior.  T.L.C. builds a standard ½” Baltic birch drawer box using a 1/8” tongue and groove to attach front and back to sides, and a ¼” white melamine bottom. Other drawer box choices are all veneered ply, melamine, and solid dove-tailed maple.

Door styles will be discussed at our first scheduled meeting, I have a catalogue for you to browse through styles and detail options. It is recommended however, for you to have a basic idea of door styles; one way to achieve this is to visit where you can browse all the choices available to you.

Hinges are extremely important to the longevity of your cabinets, especially if you consider how many times you will open and close your cabinet door’s over the life of your cabinets. Our standard hinge is the Blum fully concealed, self-closing hinge. This hinge allows for a wide range of adjustability and will allow the door to open 120 degrees. For most applications, this hinge works well. Soft-close devices are also available for these hinges at added cost. Blumotion can be quickly integrated into your standard cabinet hinge, they work for almost any application and utilize the Blumotion braking system to keep your cabinet doors from closing hard, or slamming.

Drawer slides are another important item similar to the door hinge, both are considered the work horse of the cabinet. Our standard slide is the Accuride 3832, ball bearing, full-extension guide. This slide will allow your drawer to be pulled out fully from the cabinet box and allows for drawer loads of up to 100 lbs. Optional slides include the Blum 230 guide which is the most economically priced of the three slides, The Blum 230 economical slide will allow your drawer to be pulled out of the cabinet  box ¾ the length of the drawer, and allows for drawer loads of up to 75 lbs. The Blum 562 Tandem the most expensive of the three. The Blum 562 Tandem is a premium, full extension, soft-closing guide, this guide allows for full extension from the cabinet box, drawer loads of 75 lbs., and as an added bonus the guides are mounted under the drawer which allows the guides to be fully concealed when the drawer is extended.

Counter tops made of Granite, Concrete, or Tile will be manufactured by others; T.L.C. will provide a 5/8” plywood sub-strait required for the installation of these tops. The cost of the 5/8” rough tops will include cutouts for your appliances and sinks (Sinks and appliances MUST be onsite for cutouts) other types of counters (soapstone, Corian etc.) will not require a rough top. T.L.C. can also provide finished wood tops, i.e. Bench seats, desk tops, butcher block tops, etc.

Finishes all wood cabinet interiors, shelves, drawers and rollouts are given one coat of sealer and two coat of lacquer. Exteriors finishes vary from standard lacquer to, catalyzed finishes. The main differences between standard lacquer, and catalyzed finishes are the ability of catalyzed finishes to better withstand the riggers that water inflicts on cabinets. Conversion lacquer, or varnish is recommended in areas such as kitchens, and bathrooms, while standard lacquers are widely used for entertainment centers, and all other cabinets not affected by water. When it comes to staining prices are based on stock stain colors. At an extra cost, we can custom mix colors to compliment existing cabinets you may have, pigmented lacquers with the option of glazing are also available (Colors to match your tastes), Cabinet glazing is used when antique, or distressed cabinets are required. We can also match a color from a magazine or book. We do not however guarantee color matches. Final finishes may vary slightly from samples provided due to a variety of factors such as, variations in wood density, knots, light and dark patches in the wood itself. Although TLC uses the best materials available, all finishes, and especially lacquer finishes, will change color over time when exposed to sunlight. With a stained cabinet, the effect is not as noticeable, but with clear finishes especially on lighter woods, like maple, the color change may not be acceptable. For this reason, we recommend the conversion varnish on clear finishes with lighter woods (maple, birch etc.). Most hardwoods will darken with age—this is normal.

Tear-out can either be performed by the customer or an arrangement for T.L.C. to tear-out can be made. The quote does not include removal of existing cabinets or counter tops unless specifically noted. We are not responsible for wall repairs, patching or touching-up paint after a tear-out. We can haul away all cabinet items removed.

Installation should be performed by the appropriate licensed contractor such as, plumbing, electrical, construction, and installation of appliances. We install only our cabinets, molding, and counter tops, unless other arrangements have been made, and again, we are not responsible for minor paint repair, or touch-up after an install.

Cabinet options to think about: See options page.

  1.Moldings finish a cabinet, such as. Crown, base, light, or other decorative moldings.
  2.Cabinet finished ends can either be made as a one piece veneered side, or a panelized end to match your
            cabinet doors.
  3.Knobs & Pulls can be provided and installed by T.L.C., or you can provide the hardware and we will install, or if                       you're not quite sure about the hardware style you desire, you can install at a later date.
  4.Keyboard trays for your computer desk.
  5.Hampers in your laundry room.
  6.Under Cabinet lighting add a nice ambiance to your room, these lights are either used as a countertop work                         light, or simply as an evening backlight/nightlight.
  7.Wine racks are commonly installed in Kitchen or bar areas.
  8.Trash/Recycle drawer is something we try to install in every Kitchen due to their convenience and cleanliness.
  9.Lazy Susan’s can be installed in both base and upper cabinets.
  10.       Tip-out trays are installed in most sink cabinets and are useful for storing sponges, rags, and small cleaning                           supplies.
  11.Spice rack pullouts are installed in either upper or base kitchen cabinets and can be useful for storing all those                     small spice jars.

     We have reviewed several things. Our hopes are to make it easier for you to decide the options, and styles of the cabinets you desire. Please feel free to PRINT LIST and use the following list to further narrow down your choices. And remember we can further help with your design ideas by using T.L.C.’S 3D design software.