The kitchen is the central part of a home. It is easy to forget that your kitchen is a place of warmth, a place where food is made and where all the family can work together. We tend to forget this and remember it only when we are building our places anew or doing some heavy-duty remodeling.
That is why it is essential to do everything right when you are creating or recreating your kitchen. So before you head out to one of the kitchen companies near wherever you live, learn about the best materials for kitchen cabinets.
Keep reading to learn what options are at your disposal and figure out what works the best with your vision of the ideal kitchen space.
The many types of wood
The classical approach to furnishing your kitchen means picking wooden cabinets. But, all wood is not created equal. There are hardwood, plywood, particle boards, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard, and wood veneer. Each of them comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here they are.
Hardwood - on the flip side, hardwood is precious. Since it comes from nature, every piece of wood will have its unique pattern and texture, making your kitchen like no other. In addition, hardwood is highly durable and can be easy to repair. You should be able to fix most of the issues, such as scratches and stains, by yourself.
On the downside, all of these qualities make hardwood highly expensive. Also, wood is hefty, so you need a solid structure to support wooden cabinets. Finally, keep in mind that not all types of wood are the same - for instance, pine is much softer than red oak, which is far more durable. Even so, all kinds of wood can be sensitive to changes in humidity and temperature, making them warp.
Plywood - a much cheaper alternative to hardwood, is made using glue and pressure on many thin layers of wood.
Pros: unlike hardwood, plywood can resist moisture. It is easy to manipulate and install, making it the most popular material for kitchen cabinets. In addition, plywood can be strangely durable and perfect for drilling, and overall very stable thanks to how it is made.
Cons: you have to make sure that you are using the right thickness for each separate component. Plus, even if everything appears fine on the surface, the production might sometimes be faulty. For example, you might end up with plywood with huge gaps and holes where the makers put the layers of wood together.
Particleboard - for when you want plywood but can’t afford it. Particleboard (or chipboard how it is also called) is made from wood remains such as wood chips and shavings. Laminate or wood veneer is used on top of it to give it a more pleasing look.
One advantage is instantly apparent - this is the way to go if you are on a tight budget. It is both lightweight and cost-effective.
As for disadvantages, particleboard is not very durable. Overfilled drawers can quickly start sagging and even fall apart. It also handles moisture poorly. Particleboard can become warped and discolored if it is exposed to water.
Medium-density fiberboard - a happy medium between particleboard and plywood.
If you have any furniture from IKEA, you have already encountered this type of wood as this is the material they use. Since it is made from smaller fibers than particleboard, it is much more durable and easier to handle. It is also water-resistant, and its slightly grainy surface makes it ideal for painting and customizing.
However, it is not without its downsides. It is not as strong as plywood or hardwood, making it less likely to be a long-term solution for your kitchen. In addition, the way it is made makes medium-density fiberboard the type of pressed wood that emits the highest amount of formaldehyde gas. Keep this in mind if you care about the kind of materials that you bring into your home.
Finally, there is wood veneer - a thin layer of material peeled off from a log. In essence, it is just a lighter and more affordable alternative to natural hardwood. However, its most significant advantage is also its most considerable downside as you will have to combine it with other materials to create a functional kitchen.
Laminate - a cheaper and durable alternative to wood veneer. You can also use it to cover kitchen cabinet doors and drawers or even to create the entire exterior of a kitchen cabinet.
When it comes to this material, you get what you paid for. Cheaper laminate tends to chip and scruff.
Thermofoil - finally, consider foil if you want to give your kitchen a new look without breaking the bank. It is by far the cheapest option that resembles natural wood more than laminate does. Alternatively, you can cover your old kitchen elements in brightly colored foil and give it a breath of fresh life.