Melamine vs Plywood For Kitchen Cabinets

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Plywood boards and melamine have quickly become popular options for cabinet fixtures, with many homeowners using them as an affordable option for cabinet shelves and cabinet fronts. They're a versatile material that can be used in several different variations (from minimalist design to a traditional wood-heavy theme) without interfering with the rest of the surroundings and can be an excellent way to make sure that your cabinets fit in the rest of the room.

But which of these wood products work better for kitchen cabinets? Ultimately this is up to your preference since both materials can perform so well, but the simplest option for you to choose would be plywood. Melamine boards still have plenty of merits that your kitchen cabinet can enjoy, but plywood construction can edge out these benefits long-term.

Why The Material Matters For Your Kitchen Cabinets

The material for your kitchen cabinets is important because it doesn't just make your cabinets look pretty - it also helps preserve the things you put inside of them. Cabinet manufacturers always recommend choosing the best material possible for your cabinet front or cabinet box construction, since it can translate to significant cost savings and reduced upkeep in the future. Quality plywood cabinets or melamine cabinets can last you for many years, aside from looking aesthetically pleasing.

Given that there's a lot of potential application for the wood product you're choosing - from cabinet doors, cabinet boxes, cabinet fronts - the quality of plywood or melamine that you'll be using has to be perfect for your ideal cabinet. Not only do they give them dimensional stability and prolonged resiliency, but they'll also match well with other kitchen fixtures that you have.

What Is Melamine?

Melamine is a general term that can be used to describe two things:

  • A melamine coating is a layer of resin that's applied to particle board, wood board, and other similar finishes
  • A melamine board is a layer of resin that's been reinforced with wood chips, wood scraps, and other bits and pieces

Melamine has a wide range of applications, from Formica laminate countertops to protecting sheets of wood glued together. If you're planning on using melamine for your kitchen cabinet, here are two things to keep in mind:

Coating vs. Board

Melamine boards are the more popular option for kitchen cabinet construction, but it's also possible to get a melamine coating for a pre-existing hardwood or plywood cabinet. Which one you'll get will depend on your preference, but some cabinet makers will recommend that you use a coating for your kitchen cabinets instead of a board.

This is because melamine coatings have high water resistance and general tolerance to temperature shifts, which can be important when dealing with the perpetually-changing temperatures in your kitchen. It can also be layered on top of water-resistant materials like a plastic furniture board for better results.

Overall Weight

Melamine is a composite material - which means it's made of several different materials combined. This can be an issue since using a lot of melamine boards in your kitchen cabinets can make them heavier, which means you'll need additional reinforcement or support to make sure that they don't fall down or be too heavy to easily open.

If you're thinking of using melamine boards, never store heavy dishes or other similarly heavy objects inside of them. The weight over time can warp the boards and make the entire cabinet more unstable, and can even damage the cabinet box if you aren't being careful.

What Is Plywood?

Plywood is traditional for most cabinet boxes since it's a highly versatile product that can be changed easily according to your needs. It's this versatility that's arguably plywood's greatest asset, since most kitchen cabinets need hardware like knobs, handles, hinges, and other fixtures to function properly.

Most designs of kitchens (or homes in general) also have a bias towards plywood cabinets, as it's a classic, aesthetic look that's easy to build around. As an easily accessible material, you have plenty of options in how your cabinet doors will look, which can help you get more options for designing around your kitchen.

Here are two things you should keep in mind when using plywood:

Wood Density

Plywood isn't a very dense material, which means you can cut and change it to whatever size or design that you want. While this means that you can use it in many ways, it also means that it won't stand up to heavy impacts, unless the structure has been reinforced. You may need extra reinforcement if you're looking to put heavy items in your kitchen cabinet or make hanging cabinets if you don't want to accidentally bump them.

But since it also isn't very dense, you don't need much in terms of tools, hardware, or equipment to install or hang it. Most plywood planks can readily accept standard screws or hinges without too much effort, which makes them more DIY-friendly.

Surface Finish

As it's sourced from wood, your plywood cabinets may not always look that aesthetically pleasing at first. Wood has grains, knots, and other imperfections that may require sanding or painting over to match the rest of your kitchen. Unless you're fine with the appearance of your plywood kitchen cabinets from the beginning, you may need to do some extra work on them.

This can be a particular issue if you're dealing with antique cabinets, which are mostly made of wood and can be difficult to replace. In these cases, it may be better to take the entire cabinet apart and replace the plywood that you need individually or have your cabinets worked on by a cabinet maker or refurbishing expert to ensure any hardwood or plywood doesn't break.

Which One Is Better?

Male hand choosing cabinet or countertop materials

While both materials can be easily used for kitchen cabinets, using plywood can be slightly advantageous compared to melamine. Not only does it work well with most of your already-existing kitchen fixtures, but it's far more versatile and resilient than melamine boards or coatings, especially if given a little bit of care and upkeep over time.

It has a far more durable surface compared to melamine boards, which can be great if you're looking for a layer of wood veneer for the finish or simply want a uniform surface for your kitchen cabinets. They're also easier to handle and transport for cabinet assembly, which can make renovations like refinishing easier to do.

Quality Kitchen Cabinets, Flooring, And Other House Installations With Zothex

Melamine and plywood are both excellent choices for cabinet construction, but for kitchen cabinets that go through a lot of wear and tear, plywood may be a better choice. That doesn't mean that melamine is still not a cost-effective option for cabinet components - especially for building cabinets that are open-air. But if you're still not sure about which material you should be using for your cabinet construction, it's best to consult a professional.

With our extensive experience in dealing with solid wood furniture, furnishings, and flooring, Zothex can help you get the cabinet that you want at affordable prices. From plasticized coating to modern particle boards, we have all the materials and options that you might need for your next big kitchen project.

Call us now at (916) 925 - 1958 to learn more about our products and services.

Read More: How To Refinish Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

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