Cabinetry can be fabricated from many different materials. For every budget there are different materials that can be used in the manufacturing process. One of the most common questions that we hear from perspective clients is “are your cabinets made with solid wood construction?” Let’s take a look at what that really means and how your construction materials can affect the quality and longevity of your cabinetry.
Face Frames and doors / drawer fronts:
Typically, these components would be made of solid hardwood when constructing a custom cabinet. Species such as maple, cherry, oak, and walnut are traditionally used. Oftentimes, a stock cabinet manufacturer will use particleboard covered with a thin wood veneer on the door center panels in an effort to reduce cost to the end user.
If you’re purchasing painted cabinetry, the decision becomes a bit more complex. While solid hardwood doors may be appealing, they can be susceptible to hairline joint cracks in the finish over time. This is due to the natural expansion and contraction cycles that wood goes through seasonally. Another alternative is to use MDF (medium density fiberboard) on the center panels of your painted doors. While this may seem like an inferior choice at first glance, MDF is in fact a very stable and durable material when used in the proper application.
Cabinet boxes / casework:
Unless you have an unlimited bank account and 6 months to wait, there really is no such thing as “solid wood” cabinet boxes. When cabinet manufacturers make this claim, what you are getting is a cabinet box that is constructed using an all plywood core. These panels are typically covered in a thin veneer of hardwood to match the cabinet doors. Stock cabinetry companies often use a particleboard core in their cabinet side panels. This core is then covered with a thin vinyl coating that is SIMILAR in color to the cabinet doors.
So what makes all – plywood construction so great and are there any alternatives that are just as good or better?
At Goebel Cabinetry, we are constantly researching, evaluating, and testing materials in an effort to make our cabinetry better. We have found that a blend of plywood and MDF core materials give us the best results. Plywood is light – perfect for items such as shelves and backs. MDF tends to be more stable and warps less making it perfect for items such as long refrigerator side panels. An exciting option we’ve started using is a product called COMBI – CORE. This core consists of a plywood center sandwiched between two thin layers of MDF. The end result is a light, stable panel with perfectly smooth veneers.
Drawer Boxes / Roll – outs:
These will always be solid hardwood in a well-constructed cabinet. A dovetailed joint is frequently used, but mortise and tenon construction is also acceptable. Even stock cabinet companies frequently offer an option to upgrade to all wood drawer boxes. Beware of purchasing any cabinetry using vinyl coated drawer boxes with particleboard cores. They almost inevitably fail over time.
Cabinetry construction is certainly a big part of your decision when selecting a cabinet manufacturer. That being said, don’t get caught up in the hype when certain companies scream “If your cabinets aren’t solid wood, they’re inferior!” Your best bet is to have an open discussion with your cabinetry supplier about what materials are being used and more importantly why. The answers may surprise you.