Particleboard vs. Plywood for Kitchen Cabinets


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One of the most important decisions you will make for a kitchen upgrade is the kitchen cabinets. Cabinets are the focal point of any kitchen, and even if you don’t change anything else. New kitchen cabinets will make a significant difference in the way your kitchen looks. Because it is so important, you will have to make quite a few careful decisions. One of these would be the construction material of the cabinet box.

Cabinet boxes may be of solid hardwood, sure, but that is unusual for stock or semi-custom cabinets. Solid hardwood is expensive, so cabinet manufacturers typically use more cost-effective materials for the box. And reserve the solid hardwood for the cabinet doors. The most common materials for cabinet boxes are particleboard and plywood. When consulting with Cabinets City for your new kitchen cabinets, the first thing we will ask you is your preference for one or the other. If you have no idea, the following article comparing the two materials should be very useful for you.


Also known as furniture board, particleboard is a pressboard, am engineered wood product meant to serve as a substitute for solid wood. Particleboard is made from wood chips, wood shavings, sawdust, and resins. Melamine is a cost-effective way to give particleboard a smooth surface appearance. It can also mimic the look of wood or a solid color. This wood sandwich board is then used to make cabinet boxes as well as shelves and drawer boxes.

Most people have an unfavorable impression of particleboard. Because when it first came out in the 1960s, it was so loosely packed that it simple fell apart when it got wet. Technological advances have paved the way to better and more durable particleboard today. There are several grades of particleboard, depending on its quality. The best grade is called furniture board, because it is meant for use as furniture. It is quite strong and dense. It can grip screws better than plywood because it has higher density and less likely to contract and expand with changes in temperature and humidity. These are important characteristics for cabinet boxes because you use numerous screws to keep the cabinet components together, including moving parts.


Plywood is also an engineered wood product like particleboard. However, instead of wood particles, plywood is made of thin lengths of wood (usually lighter woods) or plies glued together, with alternate sheets rotated 90 degrees to form a cross lamination. This makes the material attractive and very strong, appropriate for use with cabinet boxes, shelves, and drawer boxes, as with particleboard. Plywood has a very stable structure, and it weighs less than particleboard. For these reasons, cabinet manufacturers like to work with it. Because it is easier to manipulate and cut with a saw. Plywood tends to be more expensive than particleboard of the same thickness. So, expect to pay a bit more for cabinets with plywood boxes as opposed to particleboard.

To stay competitive (or lower costs), some cabinetmakers use thinner plywood for their cabinets. So, it is important to check that. While ½ inch plywood is enough to make a good cabinet, it makes a big difference in durability and price if a cabinet box is made of ½ inch plywood instead of 5/8 or ¾ inches. You want to make sure you get what you pay for. It is also important to note that plywood is just as vulnerable to water damage as particleboard. Particleboard is denser, so it absorbs water faster. Even then, it is a good idea to keep water away from your cabinets.


The best thing about plywood is that it is a more stable material than particleboard. It can stand a lot more abuse and handling, and it looks and feels more like solid wood. If you want your cabinets to last a long time and you can afford to pay more, plywood is a better option. However, if you have a small budget and you have no particular preference for wood, particleboard cabinet boxes will serve you well. It all boils down to personal preferences and budget. Both materials are durable enough to last a long time if you take reasonable care of them. There is a difference in terms of looks, but the cabinet boxes do not get much exposure anyway. Spend a little more on the material and look of the cabinet door and hardware, and few people will even notice the cabinet box.

If you are still struggling with the many decisions you must make regarding your kitchen cabinets, consult with the professionals. Our in-house designers in Cabinets City can help you make the right decision. We are just the reliable and reputable supplier you need if you are in Chicago, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Hoffman Estate, Elk Grove Village, and surrounding areas. We carry some of the best brands in the country, from RTA to custom cabinets, and at the best prices compared to Cabinets to Go and Advance Cabinets. These include Schrock, Fabuwood, J and K, Forevermark, and Wolf Cabinets, each of which come with manufacturer warranties. We always deliver on time, so you will not have to worry about keeping your schedule to stay in budget.

We can advise you on the best cabinets for your kitchen. Give us a call for a free consultation and quote, or visit our showroom in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. We can give you what you need faster and better than big box stores.

Bayram Gulsen

Bayram Gulsen is the owner of Cabinets City. He always had this passion to redefine cabinetry to be at its best along with his dedicated team and the author of Cabinets City blog: You can find Bayram on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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