What does a kitchen cost?
That is a hard one, its a bit like asking how much does a car cost? There are cheap ones and expensive ones, both ends should get you from A-B but there are many things to consider. Overcapitalizing, appliances cost, flooring, splashbacks, lighting, benchtops, accessability hardware (corner access, drawers, pantry's, bins etc), size, panel type, and so on, in short $5,000- $75,000.
Definition of some common terms
ABS / Edge tape / Edge strip
2 Pack, 2pak
MDF / Particle Board / HMR
Kicker / plinth / feet
Splash back / Back splash
Waterfall / slab end
Whats better as a panel (melamine/vinyl wrap/2pack)?
I'll let you decided here are some pros and cons of each that we have found (not exhaustive)
Melamine / Flat panel
What is it? - A flat panel that is cut as a door, drawer face, seen panel that is then edged with a edge tape of varying thickness and colour.
Comes in varying thicknesses doors usually 16-18mm
Comes in varying colours, patterns, textures, gloss levels, single sided and double sided
Usually used with matching Edge tape, varying thickness and materials (0.4mm, 1mm, 2mm are common thicknesses, ABS, melamine and plastic are usually the materials it may be made from, ABS being the most resistant to knocks)
Cheap, varying colours, visual textures, physical textures, quite tough, fast turn around time for production (1 step process and no outsourcing) usually double sided colour and texture
Limited colours compared to 2 pack, an edge / join between board and edge strip (glue line) is sometimes noticeable, a flat product so panel has no shape or depth.
Vinyl Wrap / Thermo Laminated
Vinyl wrap and thermo laminated are slightly different but essentially usually a 18-21mm MDF board is cut routed to create a profiled panel be it shaker style or just a simple rounded corner. This raw board then has a plastic/vinyl layer stuck to the board which follows the contours of the routing usually via heating, glue, vacuum and physical pressure.
Cheapest form of profiled door, has varying visual textures and physical textures available, the coating vinyl is quite thick and resistant to blows and scratches, had a warranty of up to 7 years in Australia
Scratches can't be buffed out, single sided product, is subject to "delamination" where the vinyl peels off the board (usually occurs first in areas of heat or steam), limited colour selection available, our experience shows that it is more subject to UV discoloration, gloss is not as glossy as 2pack or even flat panel)
2 Pack / Two Pack Paint
Essentially and automotive paint that is applied to a MDF panel in any colour you choose on as many shapes or faces are required, in any gloss level, to any profiled panel
Any Colour, any shape, multi sided, can be resprayed, or re-polished to remove scratches or dents.
No texture / patterns, less impact resistant than vinyl and flat panel