Kitchen cabinetry manufacturers build cabinets from a variety of materials, but for the typical consumer it can be difficult to see the difference between the variable qualities of different cabinets. Similar designs and colors can make most cabinets look alike, although they're likely very different. When choosing cabinets, you can limit your options by focusing specifically on the material. Most cabinets are made from one of the following materials: solid wood, plywood, thermofoil, melamine, particle board, medium density fiberboard, or stainless steel.
Solid Wood Kitchen Cabinets
Without a doubt, solid wood is the most durable and luxurious cabinet material available. The name speaks for itself. A solid wood cabinet is constructed of genuine hardwood from all sides: the top and bottom, and the shelves, doors, and back panel. Solid wood is usually the best cabinet option. Solid wood is extremely durable, and even with heavy use, solid wood cabinets will continue to look new years after installation.
Thermofoil Kitchen Cabinets
Another top-of-the line cabinet material, thermofoil is a very thin layer of a vinyl film used to cover high-quality wood surfaces. It is typically used to cover doors; in kitchen cabinetry, thermofoil can cover cabinet doors as well as side panels.
Plywood Kitchen Cabinets
Widely used in modern kitchen cabinetry, plywood is simply engineered wood. Most top brands manufacturer kitchen cabinets from plywood. Plywood cabinets are made of large, flat pieces of wood. These "plies" are cut thin and then glued together to form a larger, solid piece of wood Plywood is strong, reliable, and can last many years. Plywood is mostly used in kitchen cabinetry for shelving, cabinet boxes, and doors.
Particle Board Kitchen Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets can also be constructed from particle board: many small pieces of wood pressed together with adhesive glue and formed into one solid board. Particle board is losing favor as a cabinet material, but some brand name companies still use it. Particle board cabinets are a bit heavier than plywood cabinets and more water resistant. Spilled water will not cause cabinet fragmentation in a particle board cabinet - the cabinet will simply dry-out! Particle board will not last as long as solid wood, but you can find particle board cabinets in many older homes.
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) Medium density fiberboard is similar to particle board. Both are made in the same way, but MDF is made out of wood fibers instead of particles. These fibers are placed together under pressure and formed into a single board panel. MDF offers a finer texture then particle board, but the material is much heavier - a big disadvantage during installation. MDF is used to make doors, shelves, and cabinet boxes. This type of material is widely used today for kitchen cabinetry, but it is not the most popular option.
Stainless Steel Kitchen Cabinets
Commercial spaces require the durability of stainless steel, so these cabinets are typically installed in restaurant or hotel kitchens. Stainless steel cabinets are usually available in one or two modern designs. Sometimes, in order to create a specific decor, a stainless steel cabinet can be painted.
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