web analytics

Ladder Base versus Integral Base

July 19, 2011   |   Kim G. Badger   |   0 Comments

As discussed in the previous article, there are several different methods of cabinet construction available to a millwork manufacturer or woodworking shop. However, within each of these methods, there are variations to consider such as back depths or recessed bottoms. We will look at two different variations in the article, ladder base and integral base, and their practical applications.

Ladder base:

A ladder base configuration utilizes a “box type” cabinet which is then installed on a separate ladder base.  The advantage to this configuration is flexibility when dealing with floors that are extremely out of level.  Cabinets must be built square so that doors and drawers work properly.  Counter tops must be level.  This configuration allows the installer to install the ladder base first, and then to shim to create a base which is level. The cabinets are then mounted on the ladder base, ensuring a level counter top and square drawers that will not bind.  An oversized finished base is then “scribed” to the angle of the floor and then applied to cover the ladder base under the cabinets, completing the installation with a finished appearance.

In addition to using this cabinet construction method with unlevel floors, it should also be used in wet areas and where longevity of the cabinetry is a concern. For instance, in a house or an installation that is to be long term.  The reason for this is that the plywood ladder base will absorb moisture from say mopping, or a spill, with little damage to it.  In the intregral base method, the actual side of the cabinet makes contact with the floor and the core is exposed to such moisture at the bottom edge. Another advantage to this method is that replacement of the ladder base is much less expensive than replacement of the entire cabinet.  In short term commercial applications, were the norm is to renovate or replace every 5 years this issue is of little or no concern and therefore the integral base system is widely used.

Cabinet side of a ladder base construction method

Integral Base:

This configuration utilizes the sides of the cabinet as the members of the base.  The sides extend down below the bottom of the cabinet and create the base required.  This is used in areas where the floor slope is minimal and only a slight shimming of the cabinet themselves is required to achieve a level counter top.  A finished base is applied on the integral base face that finishes the project.

A quick check of your project construction site floors will help you determine which method you should specify for your project.  Both configurations are widely used and the cost differences are minimal, although ladder base is the more expensive of the two.

 Rabbet and dado integral construction method illustration

Edge Band and Face Frame

I must at this point talk a bit about edge band and face frame, because the method of cabinet construction directly affects how the edge band is applied and utilized. Edge band is the treatment of the edges of the cabinet members with finish material as the core is exposed.  This treatment can be as little as painting the edges, or as extensive as making a hardwood frame or “Face Frame” and applying it to the exposed edges of the cabinet.  The treatment applied to these edges is directly related to the grade of cabinet you are specifying and therefore affects the cost of the project.

I have also talked a bit about edge band requirements per cabinet grade in my article Understanding AWI Cabinet Grades. You will also find a link to Section 400 of the AWI Standards Book where you can find detailed information on all aspects of cabinet construction. Edge banding and face frames is an extensive subject itself, that I will elaborate on it in a future post.

Tags: ,

Category: Cabinetry, Industry Articles

Comments (0)

There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.

Leave a Reply