Guide to Kitchen Unit Materials

Kitchen Units are made of two parts, the cabinet and the door.

The best quality kitchen cabinets and doors, and therefore the most expensive, are made from solid wood. However, most kitchen units are not. Instead, they are made from other materials or a combination of many other materials. The combination of materials helps to produce cost-effective, strong, and durable kitchen cabinets that last for many years. The most common materials used for cabinets and doors, in addition to solid wood, are MDF, plywood, and particleboard.

  • Solid Timber – There is no doubt that kitchen cabinets and doors made of solid wood are the best luxury you can get. Solid timber is either sprayed to the colour you desire or simply lacquered. The main benefit of solid wood is its durability and the higher quality finish.
  • Plywood – Plywood is an engineered wood. Today many of the top brands manufacture their kitchen cabinets and doors using plywood. Plywood is made out of thin panels of wood which are then glued together to form a piece of wood board. Plywood is strong, reliable and should last many years.
  • Particle board – Even though this material is slowly being marginalised, there are still manufacturers that use it. Particle board is made out of wood chips that are connected together with glue and then pressed together to form one big wooden sheet. Particle is less robust that solid or ply wood.
  • Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) – This material is very similar to particle board. The only difference is that it is made out of wood fibres. MDF is finer than particle board but much heavier which it makes it more difficult to install.
  • Stainless Steel – Stainless Steel cabinets are generally found in more industrial settings such as restaurants and catering departments. As you can imagine these are extremely robust and are occasionally used in contemporary style homes.

Any exposed parts of the cabinets and doors are then covered with laminates, wood veneer, or other materials. The two most popular are listed below:

  • Wood Veneer - Wood veneer is a thin layer of wood which is treated with varnishes, stains, and other types of finish. The wood is then glued to the MDF, plywood, or particleboard. If choosing a wood veneer, thickness, grain pattern, and colour should be taken into consideration. Some popular choices for wood veneer cabinets include pine, birch, oak, maple, and cherry.
  • Thermofoil - Thermofoil is a very flexible vinyl which is usually applied to cabinet boxes, drawers, and doors. Thermofoil is extremely easy to clean and durable enough to resist chipping and cracking. However, high heat sometimes causes thermofoil to discolour over a period of time. Hi-gloss is an example of a thermofoil.