Here are some basic knowledge about the wood choices used in custom-made kitchen cabinets in general. Although solid wood remains a popular choice for cabinet parts, traditional-style solid-wood cabinetry is more expensive and many consumers opt for cabinets that incorporate particle board or plywood to reduce costs. Pricing for solid wood cabinet doors depends on the wood species used. Similarly, solid wood is more expensive than plywood, which in turn, is more expensive than particle board or similar sheet goods.
Firstly, cabinets are made up of six-sided wooden boxes or “carcases” closed on five sides with a door on the sixth.
The cabinet body is usually made from plywood or high-quality particle board, particularly for flat sections that do not need to be shaped, such as shelves, cabinet sides, or drawer bottoms. As consumers will want their cabinets to retain their shape over time, avoid any bends or sagging while continue to support heavy loads, plywood is the best choice. On top of that, plywood also has the benefit of being less susceptible to warping from moisture. Shelves made from particle board, if they are not thick enough and not being reinforced, may sag or deform in the short term. Plywood carcases are normally installed with screws and nails while particle board carcases do not hold screws or nails as well and therefore, are typically joined with glue, groove joints, or mechanical fasteners. Generally, plywood-carcase cabinets are more expensive than particle-board-carcase cabinets.
Solid wood, medium density fiberboard (MDF), particle board, plywood, or a combination, can be used for cabinet frames and doors. These wood may include lamination or a surface coating over these core materials. European-design cabinet doors are made from solid wood. Only solid wood and MDF can be edge-shaped, while this would not be possible for particle board as well as plywood. MDF, once shaped, can be coated conformally with flexible veneers or can be painted. It can also be covered with wood veneer or high-pressure laminate but only if the edge profile is square or approximately so (to within the veneer thickness).Various transparent grain-revealing finishes including shellac, lacquer, varnish, or polyurethane. A built-up finish may optionally utilize diverse pigments, dyes, bleaches, glazes, or wood fillers that may highlight contrasting colorants. Finishes are widely applied by spray and may comprise many separately applied layers.
One should be noted that solid wood and plywood are durable and strong but are definitely more costly. In case of damage, solid wood can be repaired by a qualified furniture refinisher, other than the manufacturer, to achieve a perfect match to the surrounding finish. Veneered MDF and particle board components, if damaged, must be replaced by the manufacturer. If water reaches the core, particle board especially will swell irreversibly. Therefore, it is never advisable to use particle board for kitchen as well as bathroom cabinets which are highly susceptible to water. MDF and particle board are good choices for other cabinets. If they are well-constructed by your carpenter, kitchen cabinets can at least sustain well for 15 years before the next remodeling.
To learn more about plywood, particle boards and solid wood, you can refer to our page on types of wood used in furniture.