SHOP PRODUCTS
Houzz Logo Print
samantha111_gw

cabinet construction - plywood box v. particle board

Samantha111
12 years ago

This thread turned up on a search. I posted to it but it doesn't show up on the board for some reason. So here it is linked to be able to continue. I had another question on it.

Here is a link that might be useful: plywood VS particle board

Comments (29)

  • powertoolpatriot
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Usually it is the doors that are MDF.
    I've built and installed a lot of cabinets and plywood beats particle board everytime. Plywood is lighter, easier to work with, is less susceptible to humidity, and lasts longer. Particle board is cheaper.

  • David
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    You should specify cabinet boxes made of plywood instead of cheap particle board.

    Plywood is less susceptible to water damage than particle board and has greater strength.

  • Related Discussions

    Particle Board versus Plywood boxes - does it really matter?

    Q

    Comments (4)
    My husband does lawn maintenance on several lots and properties for a high end home builder. I met with the local cabinet company that supplies this home builder with all it's cabinetry work and the salesman shared with me a lot of the ways the home builder saves money and still provides a "high end" kitchen. The most important thing was that the builder uses particle board instead of plywood on everything but the end cabinets. He does full extension drawers on some, but not all cabinets. He doesn't even use the soft close hinges or drawer slides. I have seen several of the model homes from this builder and they are stunning, especially the kitchens. If the cabinet company offers a warranty on it, then all the better. I really don't think it's something you'll spend a lot of time thinking about once they're installed. Therefore, I would think you'd be fine with the particle board, except maybe doing the ends, sink cabinet, or the heavy drawers in plywood, as previously mentioned. HTH!
    ...See More

    Plywood or particle board cabinets?

    Q

    Comments (3)
    There are some places where it may make sense to do plywood (e.g., cabinets where there is danger of contact with water---even high quality particle board won't do well with a leak). However, particle board and MDF are more dimensionally stable, and of course are cheaper. For what it's worth, my parents put in both high-end cabinets with plywood boxes and low-end particle board cabinets (custom in the kitchen, IKEA in the laundry room) when they did their remodel three years ago. While they are enjoying both, they were surprised to find that the plywood boxes had problems in summer humidity that caused some sticky doors and such, while the particle board didn't react. Not a huge issue, but just underscores that one isn't always better than the other.
    ...See More

    Do you have plywood or particle board boxes on your kitchen cabs?

    Q

    Comments (5)
    I've remodeled two of my own kitchens. I can honestly say that I prefer the vinyl interiors....especially if the cost increase is an issue. I recommend that you beef up the EXPOSED ends of your cabinets with matching end panels or integrated doorstyle end panels. Some cabinet lines offer a 'plywood end' option as well, where the interiors are still vinyl and the cost increase is minimal. Why do I like the vinyl? I found it easier to clean and I just am not sure the wood veneer interiors was worth the extra $$$ for me. I would use that money to upgrade elsewhere....nicer appliances or countertops.
    ...See More

    cabinet construction - plywood box v. particle board

    Q

    Comments (9)
    I see this thread goes back to 2009. Maybe things have changed a bit? The references to 'particle board' are interesting. The cabinet shop stated that MDF is not particle board. They are two different materials. That particle board is the cheap or poor product. She said it's high density fiberboard today and very strong. Not something to be concerned about in terms of durability. The off-gassing didn't come up but that's an important point. Certainly plywood also offgases but maybe not as much? I think the water damage issue is another important consideration. For painted cabinets, she says they do MDF so the finish holds up to humidity changes. I don't understand why she talks about it being high density but we were saying "MDF" not "HDF". I don't know if this painting method is used just for the doors or if getting painted means the whole cabinet basically must be fiberboard. (I believe the frame and some other parts are always solid wood). She did say plywood upgrades are available. On all wood, warpage is a serious consideration so I'm not sure why that's considered so much better.
    ...See More
  • caryscott
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    This is a never ending debate that has no definitive answer. If you are going with frameless there is a viabke argument to be made that particleboard is a better choice for this method of construction. As was pointed out a whole host of very high end European cabinet companies like Siematic use particleboard and MDF in their cabinetry. Generally you don't make a cabinet out of particleboard the same way you would out of plywood - construction methods take into account the different properties of the two materials (anyone who with even a passing familiarity with PB would know that so be wary naysayers who don't know anything about using the product). Not many manufacturers construct the boxes out of MDF but many use MDF doors for painted finishes for its uniformity and stability. There is no one "right" answer so go with your comfort level.

  • ww340
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I had brand new cabinets built for our river house last year. Nine months later the house flooded. The cabinets were totally submerged under water for just over 24 hours. I am talking 7 feet of water.

    The cabinet doors and faces survived. I had one extention made for the cabinet next to the frige, because it was too short. It was made out of plywood and survived.

    Every inch of MDF had to be replaced. It absorbs water and then swells. It won't dry out fast enough to survive like wood. All wood trim and doors survived throughout the house.

    The flood mitigation people say that people lose cabinets to all sorts of household flood issues when the cabinets are MDF. Plywood almost always survives according to them.

    The cabinet maker built everything back with plywood. He is the same cabinet maker that built my new kitchen in the main house.

    He didn't even ask, he built it out of plywood. Even though we will never flood from the river as high as we are here. He now feels that kitchen cabinets should be plywood due to water risks within the house.

  • antss
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    "Plywood almost always survives according to them. "

    Almost is still a risk.

    How many people's homes flood like that?

    Should I plan my life around that "maybe"?

    What about a fire? You can get fireproof construction too, but I don't hear anyone yammering on about that!

    Isn't that what insurance is for?

    Do you really want cabinets (out of any material) that have been flooded? Remember they are likely to mold/mildew no matter how "dried out" the disaster co. got them.

    Bottom line is one material is not always better than another. There are cheap plywoods that will warp and delaminate when wet just like particle bd./mdf will fall apart when wet.

  • kateskouros
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    no one can possibly say particle board or mdf is comparable to plywood with a straight face. plywood is wood. particle board/mdf are manufactured products which contain resins and glues and (in the case of mdf) formaldehyde.

    not in my house.

  • beaglesdoitbetter1
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Agree w/ kateskouros. I would never put anything, from cabinets to furniture, in my house that was made of particle board or MDF. Even our closet organizers are plywood, albeit 1/2 inch instead of 3/4.

  • dee850
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Plywood is also a manufactured product that contains resins, glues, and formaldehyde. Unless you go the extra mile to get "eco" plywood like Purebond, you have exactly the same issues of this sort with plywood that you have with MDF or particle board. There may be other reasons to prefer plywood, but this isn't one of them.

    Here is a link that might be useful: How plywood is made, from Wikipedia

  • beaglesdoitbetter1
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Good point dee, it is important to get formaldeyhde free. US made too.

  • dee850
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Agreed, beagles - I wish it were more widely available in lower price ranges. The regular stuff can be sealed (so can MDF and particle board), but it's nice to just use formaldehyde-free to begin with if possible.

    And I say that as someone who will probably end up going with Ikea cabinets (particle board) due to budget. If I could afford it, I would absolutely use eco-plywood.

  • weedmeister
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Calling 'plywood' wood is like calling a ham sandwich 'ham'.

  • chiefneil
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Folks on this board love, love their plywood cabinets. Personally, all of mine are industrial particle board. I've perfectly happy with them and will continue to use particle board in future kitchens and other cabinet projects whenever it's the best fit for the requirements.

  • sombreuil_mongrel
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Plywood is wood, period. It is sheets of veneer laid in opposing alternating layers and glued together under pressure. If you could dissolve the glue you could take it apart, and still have veneers that have their own essential integrity. What do you have if you dissolve the glue from particle board? Sawdust & small chips. Zen enough for you? Plywood still has the "is-ness" of a tree in it.
    However, being and essence aside, my top reason for preferring ply is that it's stronger per pound than the alternatives. Which means you can have equal or greater strength at much lower weight. A lighter cabinet can hold more stuff without breaking; if some portion of the strength of the cabinet is being used to hold itself up & together, then lighter translates as better, because the usefulness of a cabinet is to hold stuff. Plywood cabinets are therefore more efficient storage vessels. Platonic ideal enough for you?
    Casey

  • colorfast
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    It is a personal decision. I do feel plywood is more durable, but I think you can still have a nice, usable kitchen with IKEA or other MDF cabs. We seriously considered MDF.

    Comparisons to Europe miss their mark. One reason Europeans went to particleboard is that they don't have as many sources of wood of their own like we do. They cut down their forests centuries ago. They went to particleboard and MDF for economic reasons, not as a design statement. If you go to Italy, there are marble floors everywhere, even in the budget hotels. Why? Marble is plentiful there. Anything wood is considered a luxury.

  • michoumonster
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    in my current kitchen, i went with mdf sides on all of the cabs except for the sink base. this saved me about 15% which was a significant savings for me as we were renovating the entire house. 6 years later, the cabs have stood up over time, with the exception of one base cab drawer that is right next to the dishwasher. i should have also ordered that cab in plywood, but totally did not think of it at the time. another consideration for plywood versus mdf is how good your contractor is at cab installation. my contractor made a couple of mistakes installing and had to redo. the mdf is not as forgiving with re-dos like redrilling holes, etc. as plywood is. however, all of that is hidden in the non visible sides of the cabs, and did not cause any adverse affect to structure, so it ended up being fine in the end.

  • davidro1
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    ditto live_wire_oak

    Mold can be invisible for a long time. After any insignificant basement flood, a basement's wood floor will breed mold and produce bad air forever and ever. The veneer layers of plywood are worse. Any leak or humidity.

    = = Don't use petty arguments like how well one product will stand up to being flooded or water damaged.

    OSB is a good term to use when you want to web search.
    Oriented strand.

    Please keep in mind that kitchen cabinets do not have to be built more solid than the house itself.

  • kompy
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    LMAO Live_Wire_Oak! Ditto everything you said! I am going to save that post!! Written wisely and brilliantly! "Reeeeeeeeeeeeel wood!!!!" LMAO!

    I had one client (my friend's parents!!!) come in and say, "I've been to one other showroom but NOT going there, they tried to tell me that I didn't need to upgrade to an all wood box!!! They didn't know what they were talking about!!! What do YOU think??" Even risking losing the job, I told him that I agreed with what the other store said. I did end up selling them the all wood version of P&F, but he got what he wanted and was honestly willing to pay for it.

    As a KD in the industry for almost 30 years now....when re-doing my own kitchens, I always opt for the best finish possible over best box! You're right...the finish is what will show wear and tear more than the box. Ever seen a 12 year old Aristokraft kitchen?

    I loved what you wrote: " The only real long term wear difference that anyone would be able to tell down the road is for the doors, NOT the boxes. That's where most of the difference in cost between cabinets comes from. P&F just have absolutely lovely finishes. And that's why I went with furniture board boxes in a brand that offered better finished doors than a budget line. ....I only wish I could afford top of the line cabinets. But it would't be for "better" boxes!"

  • Samantha111
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    On the plywood being lighter notes, one KD said that the cabinets are less stressed hanging, holding, etc. (I realize this was said already.) I'd think this would be a big consideration even if both are strong. I'll be living with a dated kitchen 30 years from now. Will furniture board last that long or would plywood be a better bet for the long haul? I also see that the box on Shenandoah isn't as thick as many are requiring. The backs are only 1/4" and the sides and bottoms are 3/8 inches. It doesn't say what the drawer bottoms are but they aren't thick. Shelving is 3/4 inch. I know the KCMA has been through this but would lighter be better for wanting the cabinetry to last at least 30 years? My main area will be 36" uppers/lower drawers. I think that would be the one to worry about. There's also a cast iron sink going into a 33" base. And who knows maybe the butcher block countertop (very heavy) on that same span of six feet. They've got it covered?

    That KD did the upgrade for his own cabinets because it is lighter for holding its own weight and because he liked not looking at images of wood grain on the shelving. I think he said he also thought it was a better product.

    Mold needs a moisture source to survive and grow. I wouldn't think minor residual damage where mold had grown (inevitable because spores are everywhere) would be an ongoing problem or source of continual odor in a cabinet.

  • Marc12345
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    For what it's worth, my cabinets that I took out were made from particle board. They held their place fine but when it came time to renovating, a few cabs fell apart when removing and handling. After trying to refinish them we ended up replacing them - this wasn't the only reason, but it was a contributing factor.

    With that said, I can't make any guarantees that plywood would've lasted any better. I think they would have, but there's now way to be sure, and whether they would've been reusable without repairs.

    30 years is a long time. If that's your minimum standard, I don't know how to advise from there. With those demands you should be very concerned about not just build quality, but finish quality. And I'm not sure you'll find it with Shenandoah. I know of few instances of people replacing cabinets because they fell apart, but I know of many instances where cabinets are replaced/refinished because the finish wore off and damage occurred. And most of the time, cabinets are refinished 15-30 years anyways based on style alone.

  • northcarolina
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    FWIW, our cabinets are 20-25 yrs old and they are still sturdy and in good condition. I am 99.9% sure they are particleboard or MDF or whatever version of that was being used back then (I'd have to take one off the wall to know for sure). I have no idea whether MDF or plywood is "better" but I just thought I'd add my experience. In case it matters, our cabs are frameless. I do have a hard time believing the cabinet salespeople who tell me that particleboard cabs will fall apart, when ours have lasted this long with no problems. I can well believe that there are different grades of these products, though.

  • dee850
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Along the same lines as northcarolina above, my current kitchen cabinets are mdf with wood face frames, built in place over 30 years ago. There is a small area of water damage next to the dishwasher, but they are otherwise in fine condition. They were not well designed (all half-shelves and blind corners), but they are still quite sturdy.

  • Samantha111
    Original Author
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I seem to have gotten confused on the Shenandoah construction thicknesses. For one, sides are 1/2". So disregard whatever I noted if you're considering this line.

    Funny, I'm looking over these nearly 40 year old junkers that are still standing. They were even uninstalled and shuffled around 30 years ago. The cheap wood grained laminate doors had been replaced. The sides and back seem to be a 1/4" particle board type product. Some of it also looks like luan but is painted and might be particle board. One shelf is loose and I can see the particles on the box side. Particle board 3/4" shelves chipping along the edge but strong. It seems to be solid 3/4" framing for the faces and hanging rail. They are still standing and doing their job! The side panel on the sink base has popped out and it's really bad construction otherwise. The boxes were painted and doors replaced so they don't look as bad as all that. The painted raised panel replacement doors have held up well for nearly 30 years. They look to be solid wood. The only real damage to the finish is on the raised panel edge of the two drawer fronts under the counter. They've lost finish and are chippy because the counter's drip edge doesn't project out far enough. I'm very surprised to see that situation on a lot of store display installations. The cabinets are just about even with the 25" counter edge. That's bad news for finishes. I'll be getting 26" counters for a good drip edge to protect the finish below.

    Right, the finish will probably not last 30 years and I'll have to deal with repainting whatever I get. I doubt the stains these days hold up that long either. A lot of them look layered and baked on like the paints to me. But hopefully the cabinets themselves will be decently built and still holding together well. I don't know why that would change unless someone was hanging on the doors or overloading areas with very heavy items, as livewire mentioned.

    The older builder type homes from 40-50 years or so ago seem to get there. They can just look dated at this point.

    Maybe they all do this but Shenandoah is calling their mdf type cabinets 'engineered wood' which I think is misleading since it makes it sound like standard construction is plywood.

  • kompy
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    One more thing I should add:

    While I have no problem with vinyl interiors that usually come with a furniture board constructed cabinet....I ALWAYS upgrade the EXPOSED exterior end panels. It can be just a plain wood veneer end, an applied door or an integrated matching doorstyle.

    It's funny how many homeowners don't realize their cabinet end panels are not wood. It looks so real, but for minimal cost, I think it's a better decision to save on the box construction....and get the integrated end panels. Or upgrade to a better cabinet manufacturer with a better finish.

    I would also like to point out that in my last house I DID upgrade to the all wood box with wood interiors....no furniture board at all. The cost to upgrade for me wasn't that much, so I did it. After a few years, I did have some shelves delaminate a bit. I also found them harder to clean. Spilled soy sauce stained them....spilled honey jar was very hard to clean.

  • ideagirl2
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I agree with WhiteRiverSooner, whose particle-board cabinets were destroyed by a flood but her plywood survived. Particle-board cabinets will also be destroyed by things like a plumbing leak or the dishwasher flooding. The damage will be less extensive than it would be if your entire neighborhood is hit by a flood, obviously--only the cabinet(s) right near the leak will be wrecked, as opposed to all of them--but it is expensive and supremely inconvenient to have to rip out and replace one or more cabinets from a finished kitchen. And it's something your homeowner's insurance probably won't cover.

    Particle board is just VERY vulnerable to water damage--that's why it's not recommended to use undermount sinks with laminate counters: because laminate counters are almost always built on a particle-board core, and just the water splashing from the sink, if it gets into the formica seam, will destroy the counter. (Unless you get a formica counter over a plywood core, of course--then you're fine.)

    Kitchens are wet places. They're second only to bathrooms in that respect. So that's something to factor in no matter where you live; if you also happen to live in an area prone to flooding or hurricanes, that's an additional risk, but the basic risk of water damage exists in every kitchen.

  • suzanne_sl
    12 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Our local community college has an outstanding Cabinet and Furniture Technology program (Cabinet & Furniture Technology Program ). During the second semester our assignment was to make a piece of furniture with doors and drawers. I made a toybox with a fixed top, a door on the right for books and two drawers on the left. I used mahogany for the face frame and top and veneered mdf for the side panels and back. The door and drawers faces are mahogany and the drawer boxes are mdf with melamine veneer. This leaves some exposed mdf edges. For the shelf on the drawer side, I cut a slice of mahogany and glued it to the raw edge of the mdf shelf. For the drawer tops I got a roll of edge grain stuff (forget what it's called) and ironed it to the raw edges. It works great using the same iron I use for quilting.

    Those who are saying that mdf is a perfectly viable material for cabinet construction are absolutely right according to this Cabinetry program; use the right material in the right place with the right techniques and you will have a superior product - and these guys are definitely wood snobs! They teach both framed and frameless cabinetry making and their graduates are employed for high-end jobs. They get all dewy-eyed over finely wrought hand-made chairs made from lovely woods. They use mdf in appropriate places.

    I recently bought el-cheapo plywood from HD to make shelving for camping trips. I would never consider using that stuff for kitchen cabinets, but it was fine for camping. I also bought lovely laminated birch plywood to make a portable bed (portable is a relative term here!) and I'd use that for cabinets without hesitation. The veneered mdf I used for the toy box was perfect for that use. Each of these materials has its place.

    And then there's the flooding question: years ago my in-laws had a washer hose break in the night. When they woke in the morning, there was standing water throughout the 1300 square foot house. Their lovely 40 year old oak plank floors were destroyed. Floods are floods and not a good measure of the goodness of plywood vs. mdf.

  • happy8765
    9 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Having trouble picking a color white or coconut with gallio ornamental granite. These aren't the door fronts. I'm getting schrock Morgan door. I have to put my order in tomorrow.
    The lighting isnt too swift. Any opinions?

  • ardcp
    9 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    lwo- one of the reasons i felt fine with not upgrading to ply was all the gw experts saying not to bother. not to say i now disagree but the medallion cabs i just had installed had more damage to the non ply sides. there were chunks missing from the corners and you can see how rough and crumbly the bottoms of the upper cabs are. i am wondering if apc would have been better? although to be fair, there were problems with the flush finished ends too and those are ply
    kompy- "Ever seen a 12 year old Aristokraft kitchen?" i had a 15 year old aristokraft kitchen and you are so right, the boxes were fine but the finish was peeling away at the bottom edges of the wall cabs and just looked gross! i figured if the mdf boxes and drawers held up for those cabs then ply probably wasn't necessary. they had stapled drawers too and those also were functioning fine.

  • Rozanna Murayama
    5 years ago
    The White adds the pop of color you need with backsplash, counter top and floors.