One could argue that cabinets are among the most integral parts of a kitchen. After all, you need storage space! But, cabinets aren’t just for storage. They also play a key role in the aesthetics and flow of your kitchen area, and choosing the right cabinet materials to fit your needs is one of the first steps to take when remodeling your kitchen.
Because your cabinets are a central focal point in your home, it’s important to keep them in top shape and ensure that they can withstand the daily wear and tear they are bound to endure throughout their lifespan.
What Materials Are Kitchen Cabinets Made Of?
Kitchen cabinets are typically made from wood and wood-like materials. This can be anything from hardwood and plywood to particleboard and fiberboard. Whether you choose solid wood or wood-based kitchen cabinet materials largely depends on budget and personal preference. However, kitchen cabinets aren’t all exclusively made from wood. Depending on the atmosphere and aesthetic you wish to achieve, you might opt for glass cabinets.
Arguably the most durable material for kitchen cabinets, hardwood is solid wood. Some hardwood types, such as hickory or maple, will resist scratching and denting more than softwood species like walnut and mahogany. However, the former will cost more due to durability and overall quality.
Cherry wood is a domestic hardwood with an intricate grain pattern and warm, rich color. It’s a trending material right now for those looking for a sleek, rich, warm kitchen atmosphere. Other types of hardwood available include birch, beech, oak, mahogany, and teak. While hardwood cabinets tend to be the most durable of the cabinet construction materials, they often come at a hefty cost.
Another solid wood type, plywood is a glued and laminated wood that is overlaid with a hardwood veneer. However, it’s important to note that there are different grades of plywood. Grade A plywood is a bit cheaper than AA, and grades B, C, D, and E will be less expensive. The four lowest grades will each have a lower-quality appearance.
There is also a shop grade or economy plywood, which is the least expensive and lowest-quality option. However, a good cabinet maker can usually work around their defects. Of all the options, Grade AA plywood is considered the premium level and will be the most expensive of all the types.
Fiberboard has gained a reputation among consumers as a more cost-effective cabinet material, largely known for its use in IKEA and big-box-store furniture and cabinets. It’s made from recycled fibers, resin, and wax pressed together under high pressure. It offers good strength and has a smooth surface, making it ideal for painting. However, fiberboard also is not as strong as plywood and hardwood, and it is susceptible to damage from moisture.
Wood veneer is a thin layer of solid hardwood peeled from a log. The veneers are very thin and usually glued and pressed to particleboard or fiberboard, creating flat panels. It is more of a finish material than actual cabinet building material and is known for being lightweight and inexpensive. However, veneered cabinets allow for beautiful finishes.
Particleboard is in the same family as fiberboard, but it is low density rather than medium density. It is made by pressing together recycled wood products and forming them into sheets. Then, it is finished with a layer of laminate or wood veneer. Particleboard is among another common cabinet materials found at stores such as IKEA.
While it is inexpensive, it’s not very durable. It is among the weakest cabinet building materials and does not take well to moisture.
Other Common Materials
While the kitchen cabinet materials listed above are the most common, they aren’t the only ones on the market. Consumers can buy high-gloss cabinets, which are cabinet construction materials covered in a gloss coating. These come in many finishes to achieve the specific look or aesthetic one desires.
Other modern kitchen cabinet materials include aluminum, stainless steel, glass, and polyethylene. Aluminum and stainless steel cabinets add a contemporary and/or futuristic vibe to the room, and they are durable. However, they also are prone to scratching and fingerprints.
Polyethylene cabinets are made from the same materials used in the boating and pool construction industries. They are known for maintaining their vibrant colors despite exposure to the elements, especially sunlight and water. Glass cabinets are a good material of choice for a chic, luxurious look, and are the best choice for displaying china, silverware, and more. However, they also are fragile in the kitchen cabinet materials comparison.
What Is Considered the Best Material?
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, plywood and hardwood have the best reputations for high-quality cabinets. Their durability and aesthetic qualities are often unmatched in the kitchen cabinet materials comparison. However, they also are more expensive than other modern kitchen cabinet materials for these very reasons.
PEDINI Miami, which sells luxury Italian cabinets, offers many styles of cabinets that are made from higher-quality materials like glass, solid wood, and even aluminum. Cabinets can also be arranged in a variety of layouts, completely customizable to each kitchen setting.
What Materials to Avoid
You’re investing in your home when you replace your cabinets or remodel your kitchen, so it makes sense to invest in the best possible kitchen cabinet materials. For this reason, it’s best to avoid cheaper and lower-quality cabinet materials like particleboard. Particleboard is not dense and is prone to sagging and damage from moisture. It also doesn’t hold screws very well and is among the least durable of materials.
Similar to particleboard, fiberboard is a material you should, at the very least, treat with caution. While denser than particleboard, fiberboard is still made from a hodgepodge of recyclables. Like particleboard, fiberboard does not hold screws well and also is susceptible to water damage.