Two pack kitchen cabinetry has been increasingly popular over the years, offering a durable and highly customisable finish for the home. With a higher price tag in comparison to laminate and vinyl wrap kitchens though, one does wonder if two pack cabinets really are worth the cost. Well, that all depends on what is most important to you in your kitchen design or renovation project!
What is Two Pack?
Two pack is a type finish that is used for cabinetry. It is essentially a painted cabinet however, the paint is applied in the same labour intensive fashion as one would apply paint to a car for example; the paint is sprayed on to achieve a smooth and even finish. A hardener is also combined with the paint to create a hardened enamel-like finish on the cabinetry making it super resistant to chipping, fading and wearing over time. This two part solution can be customised to suit your own personal colour preferences as well as your preferred sheen level, allowing for high gloss options, sleek matte looks and everything in between.
What is the difference between painted cabinetry and two pack cabinets?
A common cause for confusion when fishing for custom cabinetry quotes, standard painted cabinets are of course different to two pack finished cabinets and will therefore cost much less. When you are asking your Cabinet Maker, Builder or Designer for painted cabinets, it is important to specify which option you prefer as the cost difference between these two options is quite dramatic!
A standard painted kitchen cabinet will consist of an MDF board that is simply painted with a brush (or paint spray gun) using traditional paint (minus the hardener!), making for a cost effective yet still beautiful finish in the home. Two pack painted cabinets on the other hand are applied in a considerably different fashion (as mentioned above, the process is very similar to applying paint to a car!) where certain additives are included with the paint to create a super-hard enamel-like finish on the cabinets. Aside from the obvious material costs, there is also a higher labour cost involved when it comes to creating two pack finished cabinetry; each cupboard or drawer face must be carefully arranged and painted in a highly controlled environment in order to ensure there are no contaminants in the paint, followed by a significant drying process in order to ensure a smooth and even finish.
What quality can I expect from a Two Pack finish?
A good quality two pack finish will not show any imperfections in the paintwork – It should be smooth and spot-free without any speckles, bumps or mottled reflections.
A bad quality job can often show up a textured surface (think orange peel textures!), drips in areas where the paint was sprayed on too thick, dust or dirt embedded in the paint or streaking in the paintwork. Any reflections in the paint work should show up quite clear in a quality job whereas a poor quality finish will show mottled, bumpy reflections.
It is important to note these differences early on in the project to ensure you are satisfied with the end result (before you’ve already spent all your money it!) A good Cabinet Maker will create a sample piece for you where you will be able to not only approve the colour choice and sheen level but also the actual quality of the job before going ahead. As mentioned above, the process of creating a two pack finished kitchen can be quite lengthy and labour intensive so these samples are not usually free; you can expect to pay around $50-$100 for a sample piece to be made up – A small price to pay for peace of mind in my opinion!
The Benefits of Two Pack Kitchen Cabinets
- Hard Wearing: Two pack kitchen cabinetry offers an incredibly hard wearing surface that should not chip or scratch with proper use. Of course, no surface finish is indestructible so any excessive force (especially along the edges of your two pack kitchen cabinetry) or sharp objects can cause scratches or chips to occur.
- Replacing Damaged Doors: The good thing about two pack cabinetry is that you never have to worry about the product being discontinued should you require a replacement. Say one of your kitchen cupboard doors gets a nasty scratch on it after a few years; if you had used laminate or vinyl wrap for example, you would have to make sure to source the exact same colour from the same brand and that is IF it is still available. You may also be required to pay a bit of a premium to have it replaced as normally a Cabinet Maker would have to purchase a certain amount of the same product in order to fix just that one door, making it a potentially costly exercise. Another issue that would arise in this situation is that if you are able to replace the damaged door, the new cabinet face would stand out against the older kitchen cabinetry as all finishes will show some amount of wear or fading over time. Should a two pack kitchen door or drawer face need replacing however, the process is much simpler: The damaged door is removed and a new paint combination is created using your existing cabinetry is a colour reference. The new door will be colour matched with the existing cabinets to take any potential fading or other variations into account to create a much better match.
- Custom Colours & Sheen Levels: Another exciting benefit of two pack kitchen cabinets is that you have the freedom of selecting (or matching) any colour and sheen level you prefer as opposed to being limited to the set collections of laminate, vinyl wrap, etc. As mentioned above, this will also come in handy should you ever need to replace any doors later on down the track.
- Door Profiles & Routered Handles: Two pack cabinetry can be created using any style of door profile (such as the popular Shaker style cabinets for example) you wish. This is also an advantage of vinyl wrapped cabinetry as the vinyl is vacuum sealed around the door’s specific shape or design but the same cannot be achieved with laminates. Another unique option that comes with the choice of two pack finishes is that a routered style handle can be carved directly into the door or drawer, offering a lovely modern look in your new kitchen design.
The Drawbacks of Two Pack Cabinets
- Marks & Fingerprints: Two pack kitchen cabinets can attract scuff marks and finger prints which can be quite the nuisance, especially in bright, sunny spaces where they will be more visible! A semi-gloss finish may help disguise these (as opposed to a complete matte or high gloss option) however, it is definitely something to keep in mind when making your final choice.
- Labour Intensive: Although the process of spraying paint is in itself quite simple and efficient, the additional care in creating this finish is quite time consuming which of course, adds to the labour costs involved. The paint needs to be sprayed on in a highly controlled environment so that no contaminants fall into the paint work and also ensure that all staff are safe (i.e. relevant safety gear and procedures as well as ventilation, etc).
- Costly: As mentioned above, the labour intensive process as well as the customisable aspect of this finish means that two pack cabinets are one of the priciest options when it comes to selecting finishes in the kitchen aside from solid timbers and some veneer products. You will find that most laminate and vinyl wrap options are considerably less expensive (however there are some luxurious collections available in these options too that can cost a fair bit!).
So, is it worth it?
Well, that all depends on what’s most important to you! If the benefits listed above outweigh the drawbacks for you, then go for it! You’ll end up with a luxurious kitchen that is completely customisable when it comes to selecting colours, sheen levels, handles and door styles. If however, the price is of a concern as well as the potential for marking and fingerprints, perhaps vinyl wrap is a better match for you. Vinyl wrap will still allow you to choose a unique door style however, the colours and sheen levels are not customisable and a traditional handle will be needed as routered styles cannot be achieved with a vinyl.
Tossing up between two pack and other finishes for your new kitchen? Checkout our comparison guides for more information:
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