We live in an era of excess, that of choices. Starting with your morning cuppa at the café around the corner, where you have a bewildering range of options between latte and frappe, with cream or without, sugar or no sugar, brown sugar or white, hot or cold. It’s a wonder we get through our day without losing our sanity.
If you are in the process of doing up your home interior, you must be getting more choices thrown at you than ever before. If (like most people) you are not aware of the inside of a piece of plywood while looking at it from the outside, we presume, you must be getting very befuddled. We’re here to uncomplicate your life and tell you what your designer is talking about. Let’s start by talking about the cabinets and shutters.
What is a Cabinet?
A cabinet is the body or carcass of your modular kitchen. It can be made of plywood, MDF, particleboard and a host of other materials.
- When you are choosing materials for the cabinets, you should be mainly looking at quality and durability.
- The front of the cabinet is fitted with a shutter, which can be made of different materials from the carcass. Your shutters are the most visible part of the kitchen, so they need to look good.
- Keep your overall colour palette and design theme in mind when making your choices. It also goes without saying that they should be durable and sturdy as well.
From low-cost to high-end, here’s the lowdown on the most popular material choices for the cabinets and shutters.
Kitchen Cabinet Materials
This is the most common material used for cabinets, and if good quality plywood is used, your kitchen will stay in mint condition for a long time. Plywood comprises of thin layers of wood veneer glued together. A cross-section will show you these layers, with the grains alternated for added stability.
Several grades are available, including commercial-grade plywood, boiling waterproof plywood (BWP) and marine-grade plywood. Since the kitchen is exposed to humidity and high temperatures, you should opt for only BWP or marine grades. Ensure that the cabinets are made of sufficient thickness so that they can bear the weight and stay structurally rigid. Plywood that is at least 18 mm thickness is advised.
2. MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard)
MDF is an engineered wood made from wood fibre, resin and wax. It is dense, strong and durable and the surface can be easily shaped into grooves or mouldings. It has several advantages that make it a good choice for kitchen cabinetry, including the fact that it does not warp, and is eco-friendly and cost-effective. MDF is available in several grades, including some exterior grades that have a higher resistance to humidity.
3. Pre-laminated Particle Board
Pre-laminated particleboard is made of wood fibres that are pressed and glued and finished on the surface with a layer of laminate. This is the most cost-effective material but is also the least durable. As it is glued together with resins, it may not be the most environmentally friendly option either. It has low resistance to moisture and tends to swell up if moisture enters through any crack on the surface. If cost is not an issue, then it is better to opt for more durable materials.
4. Solid Wood
In olden days, all furniture used to be crafted out of wood, but due to environmental concerns, most people opt out of this now. If you do not mind paying a high premium on the price, you could consider having your cabinets and shutters made out of wood. Another option is to make only the shutters out of wood and use more eco-friendly material for the cabinet carcass.
- Rubberwood is a comparatively eco-friendly material and can be stained to look like teakwood, rosewood or other expensive varieties that are not readily available.
- Do take care to buy only the best quality material, as cheap wood that is not seasoned well will warp and bend easily, and may have many knots and imperfections on the surface.
- Also, you should note that real wood is tough to maintain, as it needs frequent polishing to maintain its texture and appearance.
Kitchen Cabinet Shutter Materials
Decorative laminates are machine-pressed onto MDF, plywood or particle boards and come in a range of colours, textures and finishes. When it comes to contemporary style, laminates give you the most amount of flexibility and can suit different décor themes; ranging from wood look-alike finishes to bright solid colours.
A veneer is a very fine slice of natural wood that is pasted on a coarser wood or plywood substrate. As the surface is completely natural, it gives you the same appearance as solid wood but at a fraction of the cost. Veneers can be polished and sanded, just like real wood.
3. Natural Wood
If you’re willing to cough up the high costs, you can opt for natural wood shutters. While teak, rosewood and walnut look and feel beautiful, they are not easily available nowadays and as a result, are prohibitively expensive. Yellow teak or rubberwood are cheaper options that can be stained to mimic the more expensive varieties.
4. Painted Polyurethane
MDF shutters can be spray painted using high-gloss auto-coat paints, and then covered in a clear polyurethane finish that is waterproof and durable. The variety of colours available can make your choice difficult. Stick with your overall colour palette, and remember that lighter shades will open up a smaller space and make it look fresh and bright, while darker shades will make it appear smaller than it is.
5. PVC Membrane Laminate
- A polyvinyl chloride (PVC) skin is moulded all-around an MDF board at very high pressure to create a membrane shutter.
- The PVC wraps itself seamlessly around the grooves and mouldings on the shutter and even around the edges, resulting in a highly durable board that will not easily get damaged.
- Depending on the finish you choose, this can suit budgets ranging from economical to costly.
- Again, the range of options available is very attractive, and you can go for a wood finish or choose from a range of colours.
We do hope this article has helped to cut through your confusion so that you can make the right choices for your home. If you’d like to know more, do contact us on HomeLane so our interior designers can work with you on creating your dream home.