Division 6 vs. Division 12

When is a Cabinet More than Just a Cabinet?

Specify Division 12 for your peace of mind.

For many people, a cabinet is a cabinet is a cabinet. You might think: how different can casework be from one type to another-one producer to another?

When thinking about institutional grade casework, a box is not just a box-a cabinet is not just a cabinet. Besides the function, it serves there are many variables that will impact how satisfied you will be when your project is finished.

The experience you and your clients have with a casework project goes beyond the box: You rely on your supplier to deliver the same quality and look consistently over the entire project in all its phases. You have to be confident that your manufacturer has the capacity to produce high volumes when crunch time comes towards the end of the project.

Specifying Division 12 Furnishings takes the guesswork out of your specifications and gives you the confidence to focus on the aspects that make your design unique, knowing that your manufacturer has the strength to support your vision.

Would you like to learn more about why Division 12 makes a difference for you? Here are 12 reasons why you should specify Division 12 for your casework projects.

Division 6 vs Division 12

Top Benefits to Choosing Architectural Casework and Specifying Division 12

In the depths of project completion, you face thousands of decisions. The good news, however, is that making specification decisions about your project’s cased goods does not have to be difficult. There are a few key factors that can point you in the right direction for choosing between Division 06 “Millwork” and Division 12 “Engineered Casework”.

Casework vs. Millwork

The Architectural Woodwork Institute establishes that, “The main difference between millwork and wood casework is that millwork is usually bespoke, and built to solve a client’s specific needs. Casework typically–but certainly not always–refers to prefabricated or modular pieces of furniture.”

Division 06, as categorized by The Construction Specifications Institute’s MasterFormat®, includes items like architectural woodwork, rough carpentry, and wood trim. Division 12 occupies the casework category with items including specialty casework, education casework, and healthcare casework.

While both millwork and casework can refer to cabinetry, the specification differences can have lasting impacts on your design practice. Choosing the correct division can ultimately save you time and money while ensuring a quality completed project.

Why Choose Division 12 for your casework?

Factors such as consistency across projects, clarity of specifications, and longer warranties make up some of the major benefits of choosing Division 12 – Engineered Casework. To break these benefits down farther, listed below are twelve specific reasons for specifying Division 12 and how they make your job easier and more efficient.

1. Consistency & Repeatability

The first benefit to choosing engineered casework over millwork is the consistency of your design solutions. By removing the extra work of specifying and detailing that goes into millwork, engineered casework opens the door for simple solutions to be used again and again. This repeatability establishes simple and seamless cabinet construction across your project and portfolio. Especially, if a large project includes several phases, consistency is critical to the overall experience of your design.

2. Interchangeability

Machined for modular flexibility and interchangeability, engineered casework eliminates the hassle of parts and pieces construction that requires extra time in both design and construction administration phases. This kind of flexibility built into a design offers your clients simple solutions across their project, developing familiarity and comfort.

3. Testing

Published and readily available testing data is a bonus to engineered casework solutions. Product longevity, durability of construction, and hardware coordination come into question with the infrequent testing of millwork construction and components. In contrast, lasting performance, appropriate hardware, and overall engineering are elements of the standard and readily available engineered casework testing. As the architect, you can now select a basis of design that falls within the Architectural Woodwork Standards.

4. National Reputation

An overlooked benefit of specifying Division 12 engineered casework is the reality that behind the manufacturer is a longstanding nationwide reputation. Establishing this kind of notoriety takes time and maintaining it takes dedication. This filters down through a company and helps ensure quality at every step of the process, from design to specification to installation.

5. Clear Specifications

The blurriness of custom millwork interpreted by independent builders is frustrating for all involved. In contrast, clear specifications benefit the entire project team. Owner, architect and contractor benefit from standard and recognizable specifications with less confusion, minimized paperwork, and fewer project changes. Eliminating guesswork, engineered casework offers clear readily available specifications for products in specific industries such as laboratories, healthcare, and educational facilities.

6. Cataloged Library

Commercial projects directly benefit from the complete catalog offered by engineered casework. Categorized and organized individual cabinets and assemblies optimize your decision-making process through both aesthetic and functional requirements and benefits. Large institutional commercial projects require large institutional solutions and being able to find that solution easily removes the customization required for bespoke millwork.

7. Liability for Performance

When cabinets are built per architectural details, the liability of performing the design falls onto the architect. When a casework assembly is engineered for specific market and institutional needs, the liability for the performance for that piece shifts to the factory that produced it. Enough said there.

8. SEFA Certification

Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association (SEFA) established in the late 1980s “advances the goal of creating a safe “Laboratory Grade” environment.” SEFA has established ten recommended practices for the production and management of various laboratory equipment, including casework and casework systems. The assurance that a product you are specifying can comply with these certification requirements guarantees a smooth process of approvals for you and your client.

9. Warranty

To keep this short and sweet, a lot more can happen in five years than one. With a minimum five-year warranty for engineered casework, your client is guaranteed both a long-lasting product and a peace of mind. Comparatively, most millwork items are warrantied for only one year.

10. Volume

Large projects demand large capacity manufacturing. While a typical millwork shop may only produce fifty or so cabinets a day, a Division 12 manufacturer produces 15 times that amount or more. When casework is often one of the final installation items, timely delivery and shorter lead times keep your project moving along easily and on time.

11. Financial Stability

The last two years have taught us that anything can happen. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the manufacturing industry lost about 1.4 million U.S. manufacturing jobs during the early days of the pandemic. Having seen this reality first hand, being able to rely on the long-standing tradition and financial stability of a manufacturer cannot be overstated.

12. Customization

All design elements and decisions for custom Division 06 millwork rest on the designer. This leaves little room for standardization across those decisions. With a vast selection of standard pre-engineered cabinets, Division 12 manufacturers simplify the design process while simultaneously offering personalization and custom capabilities. You can have your cake and eat it too!

Division 12 Outweighs Division 06

These twelve benefits support the reality that architects can save time and money while simultaneously designing quality spaces. Offering your client timely, reliable, customizable, reputable products for their space does not have to generate hours of detailing and coordinating. With a Division 12 manufacturer partner, quality intent and quality products align. With all of those decisions to make, the choice in specifying Division 12 is simple.

Download our Casework Construction Specification!

Division 6 vs. 12

12 Reasons Why It Matters to Your Project.

Division 6 aka: “Millwork” Division 12 aka: “Engineered Casework”
1. Consistency & Repeatablility
Depends on architect’s specification and details for construction. Manufacturer is agnostic with regard to construction consistency between jobs. Consistent cabinet construction, appearance and performance from job to job, phase to phase, etc.
2. Interchangeability
Each cabinet is built individually with parts/pieces that typically are not interchangeable. Built on an assembly line and has modular flexibility/interchangeability.
3. Testing
Testing is rarely done on cabinet construction or hardware. Published test data meeting minimum standards for strength and durability. Also, to assure lasting performance, all hardware and construction is fully tested and pre-engineered down to the type of screws and size of screw holes. Engineering is all based around AWS quality recommendations.
4. National Reputation
Cabinets are typically built by local shops that do not have a national reputation to uphold. Nationally recognized manufacturers with product sold nationwide through exclusive dealers with certified installation crews.
5. Clear Specifications
Cabinets are specified using AWS standards which often leave room for builder’s interpretation. Has various CSI specifications available for products representing general casework, laboratory casework, healthcare casework, educational casework etc.
6. Cataloged Library
May or may not have a database or library of cabinets and their assemblies. Rarely are cataloged. Complete casework line of individual cabinets (with catalog#’s) as well as assemblies.
7. Liability for Performance
Build cabinets per architectural details and specifications leaving the liability of performance on the designer. Casework product line fully engineered for different market segments (e.g. general casework, laboratory casework, healthcare casework, educational casework, etc.) with cabinets designed for specific institutional needs (ie: teacher wardrobe, nurse server units, lab stations. ADA, etc.) Liability for performance rests with the factory.
8. SEFA Certification
May or may not comply with SEFA 8 certification. Can comply with SEFA 8 certification if required.
9. Warranty
1 Year warranty. At least 5 year warranty.
10. Volume
A typical millwork shop has a maximum capacity of approx. 50 cabinets a day. A Division 12 manufacturer can easily produce 750 cabinets a day or more. Since casework more often than not is one of the last trades installed, the capacity your supplier can deliver is crucial for a timely completion of your project. In the race against time you want a high volume manufacturer at your side.
11. Financial Stability
Especially for large or phased projects you need to rely on a financially stable organization that has been in business for a long time. Make sure that a smaller millwork shop isn’t overextending itself with your project. Most Division 12 manufacturers have a long tradition and are specialized in building and project managing large scale projects. Company size and history help with financial stability.
12. Customization
Since specifications and designs fully depend on designer most cabinets are custom built. There is little standardization in Division 6. Large selection of different standard cabinets that are pre-engineered. Additional custom capabilities allow to create custom and personalized environments.

Which Division is Right for You?

Division 12 takes casegoods to the next level. Choosing the right quality involves truly knowing the difference between Millwork and engineered Casework – and there are a lot of important aspects to understand. Feel free to download our PDF chart so you can review it and let us know if you have any questions.