Woodworking Professionals Count on KCMA’s Severe Use Specifications for Cabinet Building

The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association’s (KCMA) Severe Use Specifications offer professionals in the woodworking industry a sense of assurance that the cabinets they produce are built to endure demanding conditions.

Developed in 1993 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the specifications were established to address issues surrounding the longevity and durability of cabinets installed in multi-family housing units and other situations where the chance for structural abuse can be high. KCMA formulated its own specifications program after this with HUD approval and the program has since undergone four revisions.

Specifications Used in Multi-Family and Subsizided Housing

Severe use cabinets are made with specific materials and construction techniques that make them very durable,” stated KCMA CEO Betsy Natz. “Cabinets that achieve KCMA-certification for severe use have already satisfied the ANSI/KCMA A161.1-2022 Performance & Construction Standard for Kitchen and Vanity Cabinets. Severe use certification takes the performance requirements a step further, helping to extend the service life of the cabinetry and reduce unnecessary landfill waste.”

The KCMA specifications are primarily used in multi-family and subsidizing housing situations as well as college dorms and any other housing situations where there can be an extensive level of abuse to the cabinet unit. Cabinets that are certified for these types of housing must abide by the following requirements to be approved:

  • Cabinet Boxes: must be built using either sold wood or exterior grade plywood and all parts of the structure in contact with the floor need to be pressure treated. The face frames of the cabinet must be ¾” thick solid lumber.
  • Doors: constructed with solid wood or seven-ply A-1 plywood and equipped with a reverse edge to allow easy opening by the hand without requiring door/drawer pulling. The door hinges need to ensure full opening of the doors.
  • Drawers: Made with French dovetail or mortise and tenon construction and boxes must be 11/16” minimum thick solid lumber. The drawer faces must be the same construction type as the doors.
  • Hang rails: Need to be ¾” x 3 ½” x full width of the cabinet and produced with solid lumber. The rails’ end panels must be a minimum of five-ply exterior grade plywood.
  • Shelves: Set into dadoes cut into the end panels and braced behind mulls. The shelf base cabinet bottom must be at least ½” thick exterior grade plywood and the backs a minimum of ¼” exterior grade plywood.

The KCMA severe use specifications exist to ensure that cabinets used in multifamily and subsidized housing developments meet the needs of all the stakeholders,” said Chuck Arnold, vice president of Standards & Certification for KCMA.  “Our members who achieve KCMA severe use certification are committed to providing quality cabinets that are designed to be long-lasting and have minimal maintenance requirements.

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