Kitchen Cabinet Materials: What Are Your Options?

Are you looking to install new kitchen cabinets? What materials should you use? Read on to learn about the different kitchen cabinet materials.

Homeowners remodel kitchens for a variety of reasons. Often when you buy a home, you’re not fond of the previous owner’s taste in kitchen finishes. Sometimes it’s a matter of making your home more appealing to prospective buyers.

Whatever your motivation is, updating cabinets can take your kitchen from ho-hum to stunning.

Keep in mind, you have options when selecting kitchen cabinet materials. Whether you’re on a budget or looking for something a little more high-end, learn more here about the best materials for cabinets.

The Timeless Beauty of Wood

Homeowners love hardwood for several reasons. Wood comes in a range of styles with a variety of qualities and finishes. It’s also durable and easy to repair.
The Timeless Beauty of Wood

Popular hardwoods for kitchen cabinets include:

  • Red Oak
  • White Oak
  • Cherry
  • Maple
  • Birch
  • Pine

Each hardwood has its own attributes that make it an excellent choice for cabinets.

For example, maple is scratch and crack resistant. If you’re on a tighter budget, oak is relatively inexpensive. Birch has a lovely smooth texture and holds stain well.

When you choose wood, you have the option of buying stock, semi-stock, or custom cabinetry. Stock cabinets are ready-made and the least expensive option.

Custom cabinets will cost the most, but you’ll have complete design freedom. If you’ve never attempted kitchen cabinet design you can learn more here.

You can offset the higher cost of hardwood by using it only for the face, frame, and door fronts. Using medium-density fiberboard or wood veneer parts won’t take away from the durability and can help keep costs down.

Go Sustainable with Plywood

If you’re interested in sustainability, consider plywood.

Plywood is an engineered wood product and an ideal example of a sustainable material. The manufacturing process of this material usually results in less wood wastage and no depletion of any resource.

When searching for sustainable wood products, choose plywood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This certification guarantees ethical manufacturing. It also ensures the manufacturer doesn’t use formaldehyde as an adhesive.
Go Sustainable with Plywood
The key to sustainable plywood is knowing the source. Look for locally sourced and produced products that come from sustainably managed forests.

If you like the look of natural wood, you can buy plywood sheets made from hard and softwoods, bamboo, or a combination of different wood species.

What About Particleboard?

Another engineered wood product, particleboard is a common material used for kitchen cabinets, especially for interiors and drawer bottoms. You may also hear it called chipboard.

Particleboard is made with recycled wood products like sawmill shavings and wood chips. They’re pressed into sheets and sealed with either a laminate or a wood veneer.

While particleboard is expensive, it’s also less durable than other materials.
Select the highest quality particleboard you can find. Also, be aware that particleboard doesn’t handle moisture well so be careful about exposure to liquids.

Medium Density Fiberboard

If you’re budget-minded, you balance cost and quality. For a cabinet material in between plywood and particleboard, consider medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
Medium Density Fiberboard
MDF is a composite material made from recycled fibers, wax, and resin. material. Like plywood and particleboard, the materials are pressed together and sealed using high pressure. The fibers in MDF are smaller making it strong and durable.

One disadvantage of MDF is that it isn’t as durable as either plywood or hardwood.

Laminate Isn’t Only for Floors

If you want a modern, updated look for your kitchen, you may enjoy laminate cabinets.
Like wood, laminate comes in prefab, semi-custom, and custom designs. As far as cost, pre-fabricated laminate cabinets are the most cost-effective option. Semi-custom is a little more expensive and custom costs the most.

Laminate makes a durable cabinet, although it’s a step below wood in terms of both strength and durability. Laminate cabinets are also easy to clean with a damp sponge or cloth and a water-based cleanser.

The main disadvantage of laminate is the chip factor. When laminate gets chipped, the repair isn’t easy, and you may end up replacing the damaged door or frame.

Many homeowners overlook this disadvantage because laminate generally costs much less than wood. If you like the contemporary look and the lower cost, laminate may be ideal for you.

Ever Heard of Thermofoil?

If you’re looking for a cabinet with a flawless, smooth surface, put thermofoil on your radar.

Thermofoil can replicate the look of hardwood and does a better job of it than laminate. Don’t let the name deceive you—you won’t find foil or any other metal in this material.

What you’ll find instead, is a thin layer of vinyl adhered to medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

Choose thermofoil for your new kitchen cabinets and you’ll enjoy several advantages.

The material is non-porous and isn’t affected by exposure to water. It’s stain-resistant and easy to keep clean. Generally, you can buy thermofoil cabinets for an inexpensive price.

Like laminate, thermofoil can chip and can also suffer from delamination and peeling. The material is heat-sensitive as well and it’s suggested that you don’t use high heat appliances next to the cabinets.

Also, be aware that long-term exposure to tobacco smoke will discolor the finish of cabinets made from this material.

The Contemporary Feel of Stainless Steel

Once only found in commercial kitchens, stainless steel is now stealing the show in many home kitchens.

For the homeowner who wants a modern or industrial design, stainless steel is an attractive and practical material. Unlike wood, it doesn’t expand and contract making it ideal for damp areas. It’s durable and easy to clean.

With stainless steel cabinets, you’ll never need to reface, paint, or repaint. You won’t worry about warping. These cabinets come pre-assembled making installation easy.
The Contemporary Feel of Stainless Steel
Two things could steer you away from this material. They require a bit more maintenance than other cabinet materials. You’ll need to apply oil so that they maintain their sleek sheen.

Stainless steel cabinets and frames are more expensive than most other materials.

Excited to Choose Your Kitchen Cabinet Materials?

As you can see, there’s an option for every taste and every budget when it comes to selecting new cabinetry for your kitchen.

Whether you enjoy the traditional look of hardwood or you prefer something more contemporary like laminate or stainless steel, you can find kitchen cabinet materials that work for your style and budget.

If you enjoyed this post, we have more articles on kitchen ideas and home improvement in our archives. Check them out!

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