Folks who move into pre-built homes often find that cabinetry comes in sets and is fully installed. Whether in the kitchen, the laundry room, the bathrooms, or similar, everything is matching and attached and put in place ready to be used. Colors are in sync, the right wood is used for every panel, door, and accent, and all of the woodwork operates as a system. This nature of home building, Peter Grenier finds, can also create unrealistic expectations about how woodwork can be replaced after the fact.
Over time, things change with cabinetry. New Hampshire has plenty of examples, being a state with thousands of homes that can easily date back hundreds of years while also including neighborhoods with fairly new subdivision buildings. First, wood ages. Wood is a natural material, even if prepared with stains and chemicals to provide a finished surface. Ultimately, it dries out, becomes older from its initial production form, and it slowly continues to deteriorate. Peter Grenier points out, that the human eye doesn’t see the change immediately, but if one were to compare two identical cabinets that were 10 years apart, the difference would be apparent.
Secondly, coloring is affected by exposure to light, particularly sunlight. Peter Grenier, working in construction and restoration, has seen hundreds of cases where wood changes color with age and sun exposure, darkening, and graying. Much of the work done with staining and finishing is to give wood that vibrant, alive look, but naturally, it dries out and goes the opposite direction. This particular change is what makes it so difficult to match old cabinets with replacements after their original installation. The coloring simply isn’t consistent from one module or unit to the next when set next to each other.
Finally, cabinet manufacturing changes over time as well. While, at first blush, one might think one cabinet set isn’t that much different from the other, in reality, the styles, cuts, and form may have changed dramatically. It’s a common problem people like Peter Grenier face in restoration, especially for cabinet styles that are older than ten years, that the previous models have been discontinued and replaced with alternative styles. While it is possible in the antique world to develop close proximities, that takes a lot of deep skill and work, as well as generating a higher cost for the manual effort involved. Most New Hampshire homeowners might suffer from sticker shock when faced with the possible invoice for that kind of effort, quickly switching to the idea of a full replacement (which actually, in some cases, would be the lower expense of the two options).
In Peter Grenier’s opinion, if folks are thinking about a renovation and the current cabinetry is not a family heirloom or particularly unique, consider replacing it entirely with a new system. The work will cost a lot less, even with new units, and the look of a New Hampshire home will appear uniform, clean and correct. Peter Grenier can only speak from experience, but his history comes from working on thousands of build projects in different age categories as well as regional locations. And many have relied on Peter Grenier for that insight as a result.