Plywood Cabinet Boxes and other options

One of the most common methods of customizing your kitchen cabinetry is choosing a plywood construction upgrade. As a relatively inexpensive method of achieving a look that says, “these are not your run- of- the- mill cabinets”, plywood is widely considered to be a stronger, more durable product than the composite wood materials used in most standard cabinets today.

It is important to remember that when you upgrade to a plywood cabinet the sides are no longer automatically finished. You need to specify if there are any exposed cabinet ends in order to have those sides finished.

Plywood is usually preferred by manufacturers that want to offer a higher end cabinet and still offer them at an affordable price. Plywood is much more durable than particle board and also much more water resistant. Instead of being made from wood chips, it consists of wood sheets that are compressed together and then veneered. Plywood is also much easier to drill and screw into making the assembly much easier.

Kitchen cabinets consist of many different materials: particle board, MDF, plywood, and solid wood all of which have different characteristics, so it’s important to know what you are buying and to be educated on the different types of materials. Most manufacturers still use solid wood (maple, cherry, oak, hickory, alder, walnut, pine) for the cabinet face frames and doors. Since it’s not economical to use solid wood for the entire cabinet due to availability and cost, manufacturers have  an alternative wood for the cabinet sides and backs turning to particle board or plywood to keep costs down and still affordable.

If the cabinets aren’t noted to be plywood construction, they are usually the cheaper, less durable particle board.

 

  • Cabinet faces: Solid wood is used for cabinet parts visually seen by people such as the face frames, doors and drawer fronts.  There are a variety of solid wood choices used for cabinet doors. Cherry is more expensive than maple which is more expensive than oak in most cases. Solid wood is more expensive than plywood which is more expensive than particle board.
  • Cabinet body: The cabinet box is usually made from plywood or high- quality particle board for the flat sections which don’t need to be shaped, such as shelves, cabinet sides or drawer bottoms. Stiffness and strength are important factors since cabinets are expected not to bend or sag and be able to support a heavy load. The best choices for strength are plywood and higher- quality particle board.  Shelves made of  lower quality particle board formulations, especially where not reinforced, may sag. Plywood case cabinets are more expensive than particleboard case cabinets.
  • Cabinet frames and doors: Are commonly made of solid wood, usually a hardwood species, or  medium density fiberboard (MDF),particleboard or plywood with a laminated surface coating. The panel in a door could be hardwood veneer over plywood set into a solid wood or MDF frame. MDF can be coated with flexible veneers such as thermo- foil or can be painted. It can also be covered with wood veneer or laminate. Natural wood offers a variety of color, grain, pore pattern and smoothness of finish. Transparent grain- revealing finishes including shellac, lacquer, or polyurethane are used for durable finishes, and often include degrees of clear stain to lighten or darken natural wood. Finishes can be applied by brush or spray and comprise many separately applied layers.  Built up layers in glazing or highlighting is often desired as distressing the wood cabinets is another finish option to create an “antiqued” appearance.

  • Plywood Cabinets:   One of the most common methods of customizing your kitchen cabinetry is choosing a plywood construction upgrade. As a relatively inexpensive method of achieving a look that says, “these are not your run- of- the- mill cabinets”, plywood is widely considered to be a stronger, more durable product than the composite wood materials used in most standard cabinets today. TAKE NOTE:  It is important to remember that when you upgrade to a plywood cabinet the sides are no longer automatically finished. You need to specify if there are any exposed cabinet ends in order to have those sides finished.
  • Plywood is usually preferred by manufacturers that want to offer a higher end cabinet and still offer them at an affordable price. Plywood is much more durable than particle board and also much more water resistant. Instead of being made from wood chips, it consists of wood sheets that are compressed together and then veneered. Plywood is also much easier to drill and screw into making the assembly much easier.
  • Kitchen cabinets consist of many different materials: Particle board, MDF, plywood, and solid wood all of which have different characteristics, so it’s important to know what you are buying and to be educated on the different types of materials. Most manufacturers still use solid wood (maple, cherry, oak, hickory, alder, walnut, pine) for the cabinet face frames and doors. Since it’s not economical to use solid wood for the entire cabinet due to availability and cost, manufacturers have an alternative wood for the cabinet sides and backs turning to particle board or plywood to keep costs down and still affordable. If the cabinets aren’t noted to be plywood construction, they are usually the cheaper, less durable particle board.

  • Particle board:  Particle board is commonly used for the sides and backs of cheaper cabinets with a lower quality of construction. Particle board is made up of tiny little wood chips that have been compressed and adhered together with some type of glue. Particle board does not have the strength that plywood does and over time will chip more easily during normal wear and tear. Particle board will also tend to swell up if it is exposed to water for a period of time. Cheaper particle board is made with a very low quality glue that you would use for home projects, however some particle board is made with an industrial style glue and will hold up much better. One of the pros with particle board is that its easier to mill and form more consistently. A lot of manufacturers will use a higher end particle board for the cabinet shelves since the precision is better than  plywood.