Closet Construction | How To Pick a Company to Organize Your Closets
Chapter 5 Closet Construction Specifications
Closet construction specifications are tricky. They are tricky because the average consumer who is interested in buying almost any product is typically at the mercy of the sales person who is providing information about the product and the reasoning behind why their specifications and ability to organize your closet are superior. If you missed our last Blog Entry about sales and sales strategies, this may be a good time to go back and catch up. My goal is not to make anyone a true closet expert here in the next five minutes, but rather to point out some specification considerations that are important and easy enough to discern so that you can evaluate the specs in a proposal that you are entertaining in a meaningful way. Here goes.
Board Type, Thickness and General Info
Closet organizing systems can be made from many different materials. The best choice is a thermofused, melamine laminated, industrial grade particle board. Unless you are planning on doing your job in either pre-finished or custom finished veneers, melamine laminated board is typically the best choice. Veneers are very costly, harder to work with and, because they are natural products, harder to match in terms of grain and color. I will not go on about veneers because they make up a much smaller segment of the market place, but I am available to discuss that type of product on an individual basis with anyone who has an interest.
Quite often the melamine laminate is thermofused to a particle board substrate. It is important that the laminate and board be thermofused rather than cold rolled or pressed in another fashion because otherwise the durability can be an issue. It is virtually unheard of for melamine that is thermofused to delaminate and the abrasion and impact resistance qualities are quite good for a closet system type of application.
While some companies use ½” or 5/8” thick board I strongly recommend ¾” thick board. Companies using thinner board will tell you that it doesn’t matter, but it does. I could use anything and I use ¾” because it is stronger, more rigid and shelves deflect less over any given span. Also, the extra 1/8” purchase available for screws and fasteners improves the integrity of the system significantly. I recommend a particle board substrate because it is both economical and stable.
I don’t recommend using a painted particle board or even plywood due to clean ability factors as well as the fact that in a painted wood product the grain can rise and snag fine fabrics potentially causing damage to your garments.
The majority of custom closet construction companies utilize a PVC edgebanding material that is .018”. That is eighteen thousandths of 1” thick. In my view, that is not a particularly good choice. It is commonly used because it is quite inexpensive and readily available but it does not provide sufficient protection for the edge of the board. It is far better to find a company that uses 2mm or 3mm edgebanding. This thicker material is much more robust and protects your investment from unsightly chips. It is also less likely to peel. Melamine laminated board is quite durable and wears quite well in applications where it’s use is intended, however the “chink in the armor” so to speak is the edge. When the edge is protected by a thin edgebanding it doesn’t take much to cause a chip and a thicker edgebanding will really help maintain the appearance of the product over its lifespan. Most closet companies that use the thinner .018” edgebanding material will never point this out so it is up to you to ask how thick the banding is and make sure you are getting the superior product.
Most closet companies use European style 32mm hardware today to assemble their systems. Some still screw the product together. It is highly recommended that you only entertain proposals to organize your closet from closet construction companies that use 32mm hardware. It is a much more useful fastening system as the product can be modified after initial installation more easily, and with less potential damage to any of the parts. This is particularly significant when you want to make changes in the design of your system after the fact.
Drawer slides should be full extension, ball bearing type and should be rated a minimum of 70 pound capacity for typical drawers, and 100 pound capacity for drawers that will bear a heavy load, holding such items as photo albums or your coin collection. File drawer slides should be a minimum of 100 – 150 pound capacity depending on the size of the drawers.
Insist on concealed European style hinges for all doors (a soft close feature is a nice touch) and metal door/drawer handles or pulls rather than plastic ones. Sometimes decorative hardware such as pulls can be glass or acrylic but for a simple installation metal is better than plastic.
It is a good idea that the closet system, if it’s floor mounted, be situated on adjustable leg levelers rather than furniture wedges. First, the adjustability factor is good to have and sometimes the wedges can move or slip and your closet will suddenly be out of level. Two screw in levelers on each vertical panel (not necessarily counting the one at the highest point on the floor) make for a better way to go.