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The KCMA is a non-profit group that regulates the standards for kitchen cabinets across the nation.

What is the KCMA, and Why Should You Care?

by Krista York

If you’re interested in getting your kitchen cabinets painted, you may have seen or heard a phrase floating around. It sounds something like “Are your kitchen cabinets KCMA certificated?” 

Chances are you don’t even know. In fact, you don’t even know what that means, or what the KCMA is. Well, today we are going to demystify this for you. Let’s explore exactly what the KCMA is and why their certification matters for your kitchen cabinets. 

What is the KCMA?

The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) is a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to set quality standards for kitchen cabinets. They also advocate for the industry at large. They aren’t a regulatory body, but having their backing can go a long way in giving a product legitimacy over the competition. 

For a product to be KCMA certified it means the product has been tested to ensure a high level of quality and durability. There are two certifications that cabinets must meet. 

The first certification is the KCMA Quality Certification. This means that a product has successfully completed a rigorous battery of tests simulating years of typical household use.

The KCMA performing rigorous tests on cabinet finishes.
Photo from the KCMA website.

There are numerous quality assurance tests cabinets go through for KCMA approval. However, we are mostly concerned with the finish tests. The KCMA labs will put several years’ worth of stress on cabinet finishes to see how well they hold up. Some of the tests include:

  • Being set in a hotbox at 120 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours.
  • Cycling through the hotbox and a coldbox set to -5 degrees Fahrenheit five times, sitting in each for one hour at a time. 
  • Subjecting the doors, front frames, drawer fronts, and end panels to substances such as vinegar, lemon/orange/grape juice, and ketchup.

The substances sit for 24 hours, and the cabinets must not show “appreciable discoloration, stain or whitening that will not disperse with ordinary polishing and no indication of blistering, checks or other film failure…” according to the KCMA website. That’s especially important if you plan on painting your cabinets white. It also shows that KCMA-approved finishes can be cleaned with traditional household cleaners.

The second certification is an Environmental Stewardship Program. This program takes a holistic approach to manufacturing, examining the process from growth and harvesting of raw materials to manufacturing the end product. It is the first and only program of its kind. 

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