There comes a point in every homeowner’s life when they realize that their vision for what they want their custom closets to be is beyond what they can do on their own. For some, this comes early, long before the first screw is backed out or the first shelf is hastily removed. For others, the moment comes in the middle of demolishing their old closet and they are confronted by questions and building codes that are beyond their depth.
In a time like this, you need to be able to turn to a closet design and installation company you can trust. Your house is your biggest investment and while your closets aren’t necessarily its beating heart, they are a critical part of making a house feel like a home.
It’s not enough to simply whip open the yellow pages and dial up the first closet contractor you see in alphabetical order. To find a company you can partner with requires a discerning eye, and a willingness to ask more in-depth questions such as:
Do You Use Industrial or Furniture-Grade Particleboard?
Industrial-grade particle board tends to be thicker, which means it holds screws better and is of higher quality. It is a common substrate material used in a lot of cabinet boxes, drawer boxes, and shelves. All things experience a lot of wear and tear over time.
Being able to answer a question like this on the spot will also give you a decent barometer of just how knowledgeable they are. If you hear a response like “Let me get back to you on this,” and then you don’t hear anything back, you can assume they are likely using furniture grade.
While it’s not a deal breaker, it’s something you should keep in the back of your mind. Especially if the project you have in mind is drawer and cabinet-intensive.
Do You Install Wall-hung or Floor-Based Closets?
Floor-based closets tend to provide you with more versatility and style options. This can be an important factor if you have a more elaborate design in mind. It also helps support deeper sections as well as different types of base treatments such as moldings or continuous bases.
How Deep Are Your Standard Shelves?
If your project is going to be shelving—intensive, but you aren’t necessarily looking for custom shelving units, then you may want to prioritize a closet contractor who offers deep shelves and standard shelves. Ideally, you want shelves that are 14” to 16” which is handy with bulky clothing items like sweaters and sweatshirts.
How Do You Construct Your Standard Drawers?
For something as seemingly simple, the engineering of closet and cabinet drawers can be complex. Techniques and materials matter as do hardware styles. You want to know if they use full extension glides and robust hardware. Here again, the type of particle board uses as the substrate material can also be a factor.
How Many Finish Options Do You Offer?
Finishes are truly what take the entire closet project to the next level. Ideally, you want to know what colors they have for key materials like melamine. You also want to see an extensive color palette with custom color options readily available.
Do You Have a Showroom?
A showroom space is about more than just showing off what the closet contractor has to offer in their basic packages. A well-stocked, comprehensive showroom is also a place to let you explore your imagination as you carefully cultivate your vision for just what you want your closets to become.
Most people who spend an hour or two in a custom closet showroom walk away with their knowledge expanded and a more evolved vision for their closet project(s). It also helps you get a better understanding of how simple things like hardware and cabinet pulls can affect the final price. You’ll walk away stimulated, as well as at ease with price transparency.
Do You Use Plastic or Metal Hardware?
When it comes to things like drawer handles and cabinet pulls metal is always going to be better than plastic because it is more durable and longer lasting. Though plastic hardware isn’t necessarily a deal breaker.
If you want to use a standard cabinet or drawer style from a closet contractor but want metal hardware, you can usually supply it yourself. This lets you explore what the local hardware store might have that best suits your vision. Just make sure that the closet contractor reduces the price for you providing the hardware.
What Type of Clothing Rods Do You Offer?
You might be surprised to hear that the world of clothing/closet rods is extremely diverse. Many people find oval or round-shaped metal rods are better than wooden ones since hangers glide easier on them and wood can scratch.
What also matters here is that they offer selection. If they just offer round, wooden clothing rods, chances are good, you’re going to find a lot of the other material selection options to be basic.
Do You Do Your Own Fabricating?
The best closet design contractors have their own fabricating services on-site or handle the majority of their fabricating in-house. Not only does this give them and you better quality control, but it also helps reduce the overall cost. Closet design contractors who outsource most of their materials and fabricating end up taking on a lot of extra third-party markup costs, which then get passed on to you in the final bill.
Do You Handle All Your Installation?
Here again, you want to prioritize a closet design contractor who is handling the majority of their own installation, without having to turn to third-party contractors. This way they are responsible for quality assurance at every step of the process. It also reduces the third-party overhead markup costs that will inevitably get passed on to you.
It’s fine if the closet designer brings in their own third-party electricians, plumbers, and other specialists. These are usually people with special skills, and most experienced designers have spent years finding the best of the best in each field to make sure the job gets done right the first time.
Do You Offer a Warranty or a Satisfaction Guarantee?
Ideally, you want to partner with a closet design contractor who takes pride in their craftsmanship and material selection at every step of the process. This should be reflected in a robust warranty or some sort of satisfaction guarantee.