There are many decisions you’ll be making when remodeling your kitchen. The most important is what kitchen cabinets to buy. But not all cabinets are created equally; there are material differences for cabinets that greatly affect the longevity and durability of your cabinets.
The highest quality cabinets are made of solid wood. There are many options for which type of wood to choose from, but that’s not what we’re focusing on here. Wood cabinets, as a material, is a classic, high quality option. Due to their weight and to lessen cost, wood cabinets are typically built along with other high quality materials. But that doesn’t mean they are no longer a high quality choice.
Wood cabinets are known for their longevity and durability. A huge benefit is that most damage that can occur overtime can be easily fixed by either you, or a professional. As far as being built with other materials, because wood can expand and retract, it is usually used on the face of a cabinet. Then, other materials (particleboard, plywood, etc) that don’t expand and retract are used for the box, this reduces the effects and keeps your cabinets fitting well and looking their best.
Wood cabinets are quite beautiful. Each panel will vary, adding to the appeal. There are many options to pick from. Such as: oak, maple, hickory, and more.
There are some disadvantages to wood cabinets. The biggest one is that it is a high demand, high cost cabinets to choose. Another is the warping. Depending on where you live, you may still see some warping even with various wood products that are less likely to warp.
If solid wood cabinets aren’t in your budget, there are other options out there that still last and have their own beauty.
Plywood is a higher quality cabinet material, but not as much as solid wood. It is made by layering wood piles and adhesive to create boards. Because of this, it is a very strong material that doesn’t have the same issues as MDF and particleboard. This also makes it more expensive than MDF or Particleboard. Although plywood comes with a higher price tag, it has numerous benefits that create a long-lasting beautiful kitchen. For high quality cabinets, you will see plywood being used for the box and solid wood for the face of the cabinets. There are several reasons why this is.
Plywood is moisture-resistant, highly durable, and flexible. The flexibility makes it easier to construct and install the cabinets. Based on how it’s constructed, plywood has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of the engineered wood options. Much like solid wood, damage is easily repaired.
When the boxes of the cabinets are being made, various thickness of plywood are used. The thinnest pieces are used on the back, while thinker boards are used elsewhere. The biggest drawback for plywood is that is can be inconsistent, meaning there are gaps within the layers that can make it more difficult during install.
One of the engineered wood options, particleboard is typically used for the boxes of cabinets. This is because it is a lightweight, cost effective material. Particleboard is made of particles of wood that are compressed together with adhesive. Therefore, there is no grain and it can’t be directly painted or stained. In order to make it aesthetically pleasing it is covered with a surfacing material such as wood veneer.
The price of the particleboard varies as there are higher and a lower qualities to choose from. The lower quality, the less study it’ll be. Also, it is not moisture-friendly. Meaning it can degrade and discolor when exposed to water. Also, particleboard can sag if too much weight is put on it. So, if you know shelves and drawers are made with particleboard, keep in mind how much you are are storing in your cabinets.
Another engineered wood option, MDF is made much the same way as particleboard but with smaller wood pieces. It has a higher density than particle board. Also, just like with particle board, has no grain. MDF can be either covered with a surfacing material, or because it has a smooth finish, can be painted. This material is also used for the box construction of cabinets.
MDF has some great benefits. It is strong and durable; as well as being resistant to expanding and contracting. Despite it’s benefits, it is considered a lower quality material. This is because it is prone to sagging when overloaded. As well, depending on which brand of MDF board you get, formaldehyde gasses are emitted from the boards. This is because of the use of urea-formaldehyde adhesives.
Metal cabinets are not often seen as they are usually in industrial style home or in professional kitchens. If contemporary/industrial is the style you are looking for, metal might be the perfect choice for you. Metal cabinets are also a great option for high humidity conditions as it can’t warp. Sometimes, you will see that only the face of the cabinets are metal and the interior is still made of wood or engineered wood. The one down side of metal is that it can get scratched and dented. As well, it’s harder to keep metal looking clean as you’ll see every fingerprint and smudge.
When you get into the realm of using other materials other than solid wood, such as particleboard, surfacing materials are used to create not only better aesthetics but also a protective covering.
Made from the fusion of poly resin and paper, Laminate cabinets are made the same way as laminate countertops, but thinner. Laminate is a surface material and covers engineered wood. It is highly affordable, making it great for a smaller budget. Also, laminate makes cleaning a simple process. Depending on the quality, laminate can last. If your cabinets are covered with a lower quality laminate, you may see cracks, chips, and scuff marks.
When you hear melamine, you usually think of dishware, but this material has other uses. It is made by combining melamine resin and paper into thin sheets. Melamine is a surface material that is used because it makes it easier to keep your cabinets clean as well as waterproof. For this reason, you will find the inner side of drawers and shelving are coated in melamine.
Another surface material option, thermofoil is a vinyl film that is applied over an engineered wood. Thermofoil is typically applied to either MDF or particleboard cabinets, making it an affordable option. Just remember that MDF and particleboard can sag and be damaged by water. You can get thermofoil cabinets that resemble wood, but you’ll usually see them in white or another light color. This surfacing material is less prone to damage and is easy to clean.
The most well known surface material, wood veneer is a great alternative to solid wood door cabinets. They give you a classic looks without the price tag of wood. You can get a wide range of cabinet qualities that use wood veneer for aesthetic purposes. If it’s in the budget, make sure that your cabinets have decent quality box materials so that you reduce sagging and possible issues from water damage.
Shakespeare Home Improvement Co. is Lancaster, PA’s premier kitchen remodeling company. We offer StarMark Cabinetry. This company makes high quality, custom wood cabinets. They offer hundreds of different styles and colors for you to choose from. Contact us today for your free estimate! We will provide you with kitchen design drawings and work along with you to create the kitchen of your dreams.