How to Choose Your Kitchen Cabinet Materials

Given how much space and budget kitchen cabinets take up in a kitchen remodel, you want to make sure you are picking the right material to go with your style. While our previous article on kitchen cabinets focused on cabinetry trends, in this article, we hone in on the kitchen cabinet materials.

Solid wood vs. MDF vs. Plywood

When deciding on kitchen cabinets, you have many cabinet material options to choose from: solid wood, medium density fiberboard, plywood, and others. Here is a what you need to consider for each material:

Wood Cabinets

1. Solid wood


Solid wood cabinet interiors are strong, and offer a very high end appearance. Part of the appeal is the solid wood itself which is perceived as the highest quality option, and another part is the beautify joinery options available when working with solid wood.


The natural beauty of solid wood does not come without disadvantages. Since solid wood expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity, it is prone to warping and cracking. It can also be exposed to moisture damage and bug infestation. If you want to protect your wood, it is best to apply a waterproof finish and to maintain it regularly. It is also usually the most expensive option.

2.Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)


MDF is an engineered wood product, made with a composite of wood fibers, resin and wax. It is a cheaper alternative to solid wood. Although MDF will expand and contract, it does not warp or crack like solid wood. MDF boards can be made to be highly water resistant with proper sealing, for places like bathrooms, and can come in larger sizes than solid wood.


Unlike solid wood where you can sand down any scratches, when you scratch your MDF cabinets, they cannot be repaired. MDF also does not handle heat well, so avoid using them for outdoor furniture. If MDF does get wet, as can happen if a kettle is boiling regularly under a cabinet, it expands substantially.

3. Plywood


Plywood is an engineered wood product, made by layering and pressing thin sheets of wood veneer together into one piece. Plywood that’s used for cabinets is normally sanded down smooth but can still have a consistent wood grain showing. It is less prone to water damage than MDF, and it is very strong.


Plywood tends to be more expensive than MDF, but less expensive than solid wood. The layers are typically exposed on the edges, so they require a finish or some sort of decorative moulding to obscure them. It is also harder to cut plywood nicely, since it splinters easily, so customization options are more limited than they are with hard wood.

4. Other Materials

Other materials that are worth mentioning are particleboard and stainless steel.


Particleboard is an engineered wood product, a panel made with wood chips, particles and an adhesive. Particleboard is not nearly as strong as plywood or solid wood, but is sometimes used in cabinet construction.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel cabinets look very contemporary, but are rarely used in homes. They are a great option for moisture-filled places since they don’t expand and contract like wood. This feature has made stainless cabinets popular in professional kitchens. One downside is that they can be difficult to clean, as they show fingerprints and marks quite readily.


Contact JMG Builders for your kitchen remodel

Cabinets can play a large role in unifying your kitchen design. We hope this article helped you learn the different materials and options that are available to you.  When you’re ready to start, get in touch with our kitchen remodelling experts to discuss your options!

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