Woodworking has many facets, from making furniture to sculpting wood decorations. Not all projects require you to use wood though, in some you can replace it with engineered materials. Pressed wood is pretty commonly used in cabinetry. Particle boards in particular are used for making cabinets and hanging shelves. This is because real wood is very heavy and it can be hard to make things that can hang off a wall. This is where particle board can come in handy, however, is particle board good for kitchen cabinets? In this article, we will go through all there is to know about particle board cabinets.
Particle boards are good for kitchen cabinets because of being lighter than wood and plywood. They don’t put a lot of strain on walls and can be easily carried around without too much effort. Also, particle board is not good with furniture that gets moved too much. Since kitchen cabinets stay in one place, this makes the particle board ideal for them. Not to mention it is very cheap compared to wood and plywood.
Kitchen cabinets are essential for any household. Since they are there to stay, people often consider making them out of durable wood. However, hanging something as heavy as wood on your walls can be a daunting task. Not to mention, no one will be inspecting your kitchen cabinets to see what they are made out of unless they are planning on buying the place.
Using something lighter and much cheaper like particle boards is a great idea. You can make the cabinet doors out of real wood and the body out of particle board to save on costs as well. This way you can still have an aesthetic element to your kitchen cabinets without making a hole in your wallet.
Pros and Cons of Particle Board Cabinet
A lot of the time people construct kitchen cabinets out of pressed wood. They either use MDF or particle board since they can be less costly and much more reasonably priced. Not to mention particle boards are very light and easy to work with. They can be hung or fitted to walls without any problems with fasteners. Here are some pros and cons of particle board cabinets:
- Lightweight: It is lightweight compared to MDF and real wood. The lightweight helps in managing it, cutting it, and fastening it.
- Flat and Square: When it comes to wood, there are many unpredictabilities. It can warp, it needs to be sanded and finished. It also needs to be square before you can start using it. However, particle board is always going to be flat, it is going to be squared, and if you buy laminated boards, you don’t need to finish or sand it before installing it.
- It is very cheap: Compared to wood, plywood, or MDF, particle boards are very cheap. You won’t break the bank when you buy particle boards for your kitchen cabinets.
- It is readily available: Wood can be hard to source, not to mention some species of wood are not available in many regions. Compared to that, particle board is readily available at almost every wood store and can be purchased in bulk.
- Environment friendly: Particle board is made out of all the trimmings and shavings of wood that might have been thrown or wasted. This makes particle board environmentally friendly as it is made from wood waste.
- Very susceptible to moisture: Compared to wood or plywood, particle board is very weak to moisture. It swells up whenever it comes into direct contact with water. This is why it is very important to make sure the particle board does not come into direct contact with moisture.
- Small life: Particle board has a small life compared to wood and plywood. It has a life of around 5-6 years after which it starts to fall apart and requires attention. Wood and plywood on the other hand, if taken care of, can last for decades before it needs to be replaced.
- Unable to endure heavy loads: Particle board is not very dense so it does not have a huge flex span. Not to mention it is not very durable compared to other options. So if you plan on placing heavy pots or pans on the particle board cabinets, you should put ample support underneath them so that they do not bend and break.
How Long do Particle Board Cabinets Last?
Particle board has a decent life span, however, it is very small when you compare it to real wood. Depending on the region you live in, if it is too humid, the particle board might not last long if it is exposed. As long as the veneer or laminate is intact, it will be able to survive. That is not the case with wood or plywood. Real wood, when swollen due to moisture, can be dried out, sanded, and refinished.
However, once a particle board is introduced to moisture from any source, whether it is high humidity in the air or direct contact with water, it will swell up. The swelling does not go down even when it has been dried. This is due to the chips of wood used in it becoming loose. So even if it dries off, it does not go back to its original shape.
Though if you live in ideal conditions, i.e. low moisture and humidity in the air, and you keep care of your particle board furniture, it will last for around 5-6 years without any problems. Once the laminate starts chipping off, you can always just repaint it after sanding it lightly and applying a primer coat. Not to mention, even if the particle board cabinets have outlived their life span, you can always replace them again as they don’t cost as much as wood or plywood.
What is a Better Alternative to Particle Board Kitchen Cabinets
Particle boards are very reasonably priced compared to real wood. So finding something cheaper or in the same price range is very unlikely. However, you can always find a middle ground between both of them. The better alternative to particle board is plywood, which is comparatively cheaper than solid wood, but more expensive than particle board.
With plywood, you have all the properties of real wood because plywood is made with layers of veneers glued together tightly. These veneers are usually made of mixed species of wood to cut the cost.
Plywood can be treated as real wood, so you can sand it, and finish it with oils, stains, and other synthetic finishes. It is also pretty flat, however, it can warp, so you have to be careful about that.
The other better alternative is to go for a stronger pressed wood, MDF. MDF stands for medium density fiberboard, so it is a lot denser than normal particle board. The chips in this board are fine and smoother. However, that also means it is heavier and also expensive. This is due to the production cost being higher than the particle board’s production cost.
How to Maintain/Care for Particle Board Kitchen Cabinets
There are a few ways you can maintain and take care of particle board to make it last longer than its usual time frame. If you are talking about kitchen cabinets, the veneer or laminate can peel off or be chipped. In the case of veneer, if it is not chipped or scratched all the way through, you can sand it slightly and then refinish it with something durable like polyurethane. This will not only seal it but also create a durable layer of finish over it.
If you have a laminate top particle board and it has chipped and peeled off, you can just remove the laminate cover entirely, sand the particle board lightly, apply a primer on it, and paint it. The paint keeps the particle board protected from moisture. Using enamel or latex based paints, create a layer over your particle board that will last for quite a while before you need to repaint it again.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
What are cheap cabinets made of?
Cheap kitchen cabinets and drawers are made of particle board. It is the cheapest of all the pressed woods and is mass produced by manufacturers to make cabinets. IKEA and other big brands also use particle board or MDF for their cabinets, cupboards, and drawers. They even make coffee tables and other furniture out of particle board.
Which material is long lasting for kitchen cabinets?
Solid wood and plywood are long lasting for kitchen cabinets as they both are real wood and not pressed or manufactured. There are instances of wood lasting for decades before they start to give up. With maintenance and care, these wooden cabinets will outlast any particle board or MDF cabinets you install in your home.
Which material is not recommended for the kitchen?
Wood that has not been finished is not recommended for the kitchen, since water spills are quite common there. Similarly, pressed woods that do not have a laminated or veneer top are not recommended for the kitchen either. Laminate and veneers protect pressed woods like particle boards from moisture. Plastic is not a great material for being used in the kitchen for too long as well since there is bound to be heat residue from cooking things in the kitchen as well. Plastic deforms and melts due to heat.
Particle board kitchen cabinets are quite common in a lot of households. It shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg to install kitchen cabinets in your home. Using particle board is the best way to ensure that you do not end up burning a hole in your pocket when working on cabinets in your household. Pressed wood like particle boards last a long time before it needs to be taken care of or replaced. In some instances, where there is not a lot of humidity in the region, particle board cabinets can last for up to a decade with care and maintenance. You can use the money that you save from using particle boards on other furniture and projects.