Kitchen Cabinet Materials – The Best Choice

kitchen cabinet material-the best

So whats the best choice of kitchen cabinet material in your kitchen renovation? There are certainly many factors to consider. So let’s look at some of the materials commonly used in kitchen cabinet manufacturing today.

If you have done any investigation at this point or even just looked on-line, you will see lots of differences in the look and appearance of various kitchen styles and designs. One very significant aspect to this is what the cabinet frames and doors are constructed from. 

Historically cabinet frames and doors were made with hardwood or softwood and then plywood. Today it is still common to see these materials but also MDF and particleboard with various overlays. So, what’s the difference and why should you care as long you like the look and they fit your price range? Let’s look at some of these examples and give you an overview of what makes them different.

The Basics

We should start with the very basics, what is hardwood and what is soft wood. Softwood comes from evergreen trees, like cedar, pine, spruce and fir. Hardwood comes from deciduous trees, these are tress with leaves that fall off each season. Some common hardwood species used in kitchens are: Oak, Maple, Cherry, Birch and Ash. These materials all have distinctive characteristics in hardness, grain, and color. Because of these distinct properties they can lend a completely distinctive look and feel to the cabinet door and drawers.

I mentioned plywood, particleboard and MDF earlier, they are similar in that they are all used in manufacturing kitchen cabinets. They come in a sheet and can be fabricated into cabinet doors of various shapes and styles.

Kitchen Cabinet Material

Plywood is constructed from both hardwood and softwood and is made by peeling or slicing a logs veneer. After the veneers are processed they are dried and graded. From here they are layered in opposing directions with glue and are heat pressed to form a sheet. Most commonly a 4’ x 8’ sheet, however it is made in 10’ and 12’ lengths depending on the application.

plywood-kitchen cabinet

Particleboard and MDF are similar in that they are both made from wood fibers and are known as composite core products.

  • Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is made of very fine wood fibers that are glued and compressed under high pressure. It has a very smooth surface and has greater screw-holding power than particleboard, the other composite material. It is less expensive than plywood, but more expensive than particleboard.
  • Particleboard is a combination of wood chips, shavings, fibers, and adhesives. It differs from medium-density fiberboard in appearance, since its larger wood chips are in the core, and smaller, finer chips are on the surface. It’s heavier than plywood, but not as strong.
particleboard plywood-kitchen cabinet

These materials are all ideally suited to kitchen cabinet construction. Because they are uniform in their shape and size, they are very stable and can be finished in many ways. These materials all can provide you with the perfect solution for your kitchen renovation.

  • Want to know more about how hardwood plywood is made and the various grades....check out CHPVA here

The Choice is yours!

So how do you choose the right product for your kitchen cabinet materials? In many cases it comes down to the application, your budget, the style and feel you are interested in. For example, there are two basic styles in cabinetry, they are framed and frameless. The two types look different and can have a big effect on the cost of the construction and materials used. When it comes to cost you will find that kitchen cabinets constructed from solid hardwood frames and hardwood doors to be most expensive.

Because MDF and Particleboard can be coated with veneers, painted or thermofused (thermally fused) with vinyl as well as easily shaped, these are typically less expensive. The traditional cabinet construction with plywood cabinet boxes, hardwood frames and solid hardwood doors is the top of the line and the most expensive.


What materials you chose will depend on many factors of course. How long will you stay in your home? How big is the budget? Is this a laundry room cabinet or the center piece of your home? Are you concerned about heavy wear and tear? Do you want a natural wood finish or a painted frameless style cabinet? There are obviously several considerations in choosing your cabinet material. Whatever direction you go its best to be informed on the pros and cons of each type and why and what you are spending your money on. Next time we will look at some of the other components in choosing your new kitchen cabinets.

Whatever the scope of your kitchen renovation you can find lots more help here in our article on kitchen remodeling planning 


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