Which Kitchen Cabinet Material Is Right for You?

When it is time to pick out new cabinets for a kitchen, most people start by picturing the color and cabinet style they want. However, it is also important to take into account the material the cabinets are made out of. There is a huge amount of variation in kitchen cabinet materials, and the type of material you pick has a big impact on your cabinet’s looks, durability, and cost. Understanding the different kitchen cabinet types can help you choose the right one for your house.

Hardwood Kitchen Cabinets

Wood kitchen cabinets have been a favorite for decades. Cabinets made of hardwood have a beautiful, all-natural look and texture. With a variety of grain patterns, textures, and colors, it is easy to find the right look for your kitchen. Hardwood is also durable and long lasting. When it is scratched or stained, the surface can be sanded down to remove the blemish.

Hardwood might have several perks, but it does have a couple potential downsides too. The main issue is simply that hardwood is very expensive. It can almost double the cost of your kitchen renovation. Solid wood is also extremely heavy, so it is only an option for very structurally sound homes. Another thing to be aware of is that wood will expand and contract with changes in humidity. This can cause warping if your home’s climate fluctuates a lot. 

Plywood Kitchen Cabinets

Plywood is another type of wood kitchen cabinets, but it has a slightly different construction. Instead of being one solid sheet of wood, plywood is made by gluing thin wooden layers on top of each other to make the plank. Since the wood sheets are layered at alternating angles, plywood is strong, flexible, and does not warp. Plywood tends to provide the look of hardwood while being more affordable, more lightweight, and more moisture resistant.

The primary drawback of plywood is simply that poorly constructed cabinets can look a bit odd. Due to the different material thicknesses, you can end up with gaps or holes if the cabinets are not installed by a quality kitchen cabinet installer. You should also keep in mind that plywood cannot be as easily repaired if it gets deep gouges in the surface.

Particleboard Kitchen Cabinets

Particleboard is another type of wood composite. It is made by pressing wood chips and shavings into a flat sheet of wood. This creates a very affordable and lightweight cabinet material. Almost all particleboard cabinets are painted or covered with a wood veneer, because the basic material can look a little unsightly. 

Particleboard is still decently strong, but it can sag if excess weight is put on it. Usually, particleboard works best in kitchens where you will not be storing a lot of heavy items. Another potential problem is that particleboard will discolor and degrade if it gets wet for a lengthy period of time. 


Fiberboard Kitchen Cabinets

This type of kitchen cabinet goes by many names, including engineered wood and MDF. Fiberboard is very similar to particle board, but it uses even smaller pieces of wood. This results in a uniquely strong material that does not warp or shift. When it  comes to kitchen cabinet cost, it is hard to beat MDF. This material is extremely affordable to purchase, and since it is easy to work with, installation costs are lower too. 

MDF has the same sagging problem that particleboard does. If you overload the cabinets, they may start to droop a little over time. Since it is less dense than solid wood, MDF is also more likely to be dented or chipped by things like heavy pots and cans of food. The material emits more formaldehyde and other VOCs than other materials, so it is not the most eco-friendly option.

Laminate Kitchen Cabinets

Laminate is a synthetic material that can be used to create kitchen cabinets. Most laminate kitchen cabinet types consist of layers of resin, paper, and possibly wood.  It can be colored and textured to look like wood, or it can have a smooth, glossy surface. Laminate scores points in any kitchen cabinet materials comparison due to its affordability. Typically, laminate is the cheapest option available, so it is ideal for low-budget remodels.

For most people, the downside of laminate is simply that it is not wood. Laminate will never have all the subtle texture and variation of wood. Instead, it tends to look smooth, flat, and minimalistic. The durability of laminate will depend greatly on its quality. High quality laminate can be just as durable or even more durable than wood. However, low quality laminate has a tendency to peel and crack.

Thermofoil Kitchen Cabinets

Thermofoil is one of the newest kitchen cabinet types. Thermofoil does not actually have any foil in it. Instead, it is a sheet of vinyl that is fused together with high pressure and adhesive. The end result is a seamless, smooth surface that has consistent color and an even texture. Thermofoils other perks include being affordable, lightweight, and stain resistant.

Thermofoil has some potential issues with heat sensitivity and chipping. Manufacturer caution that homeowners should not install thermofoil next to high heat appliances, but there are heat shields you can get to protect your cabinets. If it does get damaged, you cannot easily repair the problem. Unlike wood cabinets, thermofoil cabinets cannot easily be painted a different color if you change your mind on the finish. 

Ultimately, all of these materials can be a great choice. The best option really just depends on how much you want to spend, how long you will use the cabinets, and what you want them to look like. If you still  do not know which material you want, Scroggs Construction Services can help. Our team is happy to discuss your renovation plans with you and go over your different kitchen cabinet options. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation.

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