What’s the best material for kitchen cabinets in the USA?

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What's the best material for kitchen cabinets in the USA

Kitchen cabinet materials are as important for your cabinets as any other features you may be looking out for—if not the most important. It is crucial to pay a lot of attention to this when you’re looking through kitchen cabinetry options.

There are several kitchen cabinet materials that you can choose from. However, some are way better and sturdier than others. This article will walk you through some of the most common options you can pick from. We will also show you which ones are better.

Let’s get right into that.

Some of the most common kitchen cabinet materials in the US

Here, we will create a list of some materials for kitchen cabinets that you can expect to find in the market. Under each material, we will list some of their pros and cons to give you a better understanding of what to look out for.

Note that the best cabinets for you may not be the same for others.

  • Solid wood
  • Thermofoil
  • Plywood
  • Fiberboard
  • Laminate
  • Medium-density fiberboard
  • Stainless steel
  • Particle board
  • Melamine
  • Wood veneer

This is a list of all the common cabinet materials you will find in any market. Let’s get into more details about every kitchen cabinet material on the list.

1. Solid wood/hard wood cabinets

Solid wood/hard wood kitchen cabinets direct from manufacturer

Solid wood cabinets are the most common in the market. Although they cost more than any other kind of kitchen cabinet material, hardwood cabinets are more resistant to scratch and dent. This gives you value for your money.

Among other things, pure wood cabinets have a superior screw-holding power that helps to ensure that the entire piece stays together. They’re often used for the face frame and drawers.


  • It is natural wood, great for the environment
  • Solid wood assures you of durability and longevity
  • It can come in several styles and colors and textures. It also gives you staining options
  • Solid wood is beautiful
  • It is adaptive to different styles and designs


  • Solid wood cabinets are among the most expensive among other wooden cabinets
  • Certain degrees of temperature changes can result in warping
  • Hard wood cabinets are usually heavy
  • Like most natural wood cabinets, solid wood requires constant cleansing and polishing to maintain its smooth texture.

If you look past the cost and the weight, solid wood might just be the best cabinet material in the market for you. There are different variations of solid wood and they include pinewood, mahogany, alder, poplar, maple, ash, birch, beech, walnut, oak, hickory, cherry, ebony, and painted cabinets.

2. Thermofoil cabinets

Thermofoil cabinets for kitchen

Thermofoil is made from vinyl film and can serve as an alternative to wood. It has almost the same characteristics as laminates, except that it is much more affordable.

Thermofoil is often applied to particleboard and laminate surfaces, including drawer fronts, cabinet doors, and boxes because it resists moisture. They’re usually white or grey and are sought after because of their relevance in modern-day kitchen designs.


  • It will never fade or warp
  • It is water-resistant
  • It has an aesthetically pleasing, modern-day appearance
  • It is easy to care for
  • It is affordable


  • It is more difficult to paint or stain than the other custom cabinets
  • It shows fingerprints easily, making it require more frequent cleaning.

Ensure that you choose high-quality thermofoil with high gloss to further boost the aesthetics of your kitchen and home in general.

3. Wood veneer


Wood veneer is simply a thin layer of solid hardwood peeled from a thicker, tougher log. They’re also often mistaken for plywood cabinets. While plywood kitchen cabinets are made by gluing several plywood layers together, wood veneers are thin slices of hardwood.


  • Wood veneer can be further treated to give it a glossy, matte, and sleek finish
  • It is more economical
  • They’ll make hard-edged kitchen space look softer
  • They reflect the beauty of natural wood


  • They’ll discolor easily when exposed to any form of natural light
  • Unlike solid wood, they’re not resistant to scratch and dent
  • Like wood, veneers require constant polishing to maintain their glossy finish

Wood veneer is a cheaper and easier-to-get cabinet material that also serves as a worthy substitute to pure wood-based cabinets.

4. Plywood

Plywood kitchen cabinets

Plywood cabinets come in different grades with grade AA being the toughest, most consistent, and most expensive. Grades around D and below don’t look good for custom cabinetry.

Plywood cabinets are made by laminating thin layers of solid wood on top of each other with the help of glue. To give the plywood equal strength in all directions, the manufacturer varies the grain in alternating angles.


  • It is more affordable than white oak cabinets
  • It can be made strong and durable, depending on how many layers of thin wood is piled on
  • It is easily repairable


  • Thinner plywood can damage quickly if the grain patterns aren’t properly done
  • They lack consistency

5. Laminate

Laminate cabinets

Laminate cabinets are some of the most sought out for the sake of affordability. They’re typically just wood resins and paper that have been compressed and heated into a solid form. It is coated on the top with wood veneer.

Although laminates are seen as fragile sometimes, high-pressure laminates are considered more durable than low-pressure ones. Laminates are made with three resin-saturated layers, including a base layer of paper, a protective transparent layer, and a printed and colored layer.


  • Super easy to clean
  • More cost-effective than solid wood
  • Durable
  • High-pressure laminates are impact-resistant
  • It is a natural finish material and comes in an assortment of colors and finishes
  • Doesn’t require staining


  • It cannot be painted
  • Low-pressure laminates are not durable

Because this material cannot be painted or stained, it makes kitchen renovation or an overall kitchen remodel somewhat challenging. You might have to get new kitchen cabinets when you need to renovate.

6. (MDF) Medium-density fiberboard

Medium density fiberboard cabinets

Medium-density fibreboard kitchen cabinets are also wood-based or recycled wood products—especially recycled fibers—like the particleboard ones. The only difference between MDF and particleboard is that MDF uses wood fibers in the place of wood particles and chips.

The fibers are compressed into boards and panels to take shape. They cannot be painted or stained directly until they’re coated with laminate or wood veneer.


  • More durable than particleboard
  • They’re easy to maintain
  • Warp and moisture resistant
  • Easy to paint or stain


  • It has a high proclivity to sag
  • It is not as strong as other metal or wood materials

7. Stainless steel/aluminum

Metal, stainless steel, and aluminum cabinets

Stainless steel or aluminum are very unpopular, especially in the home. Metal cabinets are usually used in industrial settings and are quite large. They are more affordable than any natural variation of wood.

Some homeowners prefer to make metal cabinets with wooden cabinet doors to give it a natural, traditional look and feel. Some solid advantages of metal cabinets are that you can be sure that they’re stain-resistant, and do not expand or contract, making them great for high-humidity periods.


  • Durable and long-lasting
  • They’re stain-resistant and easy to clean
  • They’re great for industrial style kitchens
  • They won’t warp in high heat or humidity


  • They’re not scratch-resistant
  • Not the best idea for traditional style kitchens
  • They make fingerprints more evident

Note that stainless steel cabinets can be heavy and difficult to install by yourself.

8. Particleboard

Particleboard cabinets for kitchen

Particleboard, also known as chipboard, is made from wood chips. As the name suggests, particleboard is made from particles of wood, which means that it cannot have a smooth surface.

Homeowners prefer to use this material for cabinet boxes and shelves. They cannot be stained or painted directly unless covered with veneers or laminates.


  • They’re very easy to install due to their lightness
  • They’re cheap
  • They can be durable if gotten from a professional
  • They help you save on painting and staining as they already come with a natural look.


  • It is prone to sagging if overfilled
  • It is not resistant to humidity
  • It cannot be painted or stained.

Particleboard may be left unstained for interior surfaces where they’ll have little to no effect on the ambiance of the room or kitchen.

9. Melamine

Melamine cabinets for kitchen

Melamine cabinets are completely waterproof. The material is usually associated with just plates and mugs. To add to their durability, most melamine cabinets are further merged with veneers.

Melamine is basically a composition of polymer resins and paper to form thin sheets. The thin sheets or flat panels are then fitted on the particleboard.


  • They’re usually among the cheapest
  • They offer you choices regarding patterns and colors
  • They’re easy to clean
  • No need to re-stain or paint


  • They have a high dent and damage risk, which is difficult to fix
  • Melamine always comes in the square shape
  • May sag over time

Having looked at the list of the most common materials that most cabinets come in, you should be able to decide from the pros and cons which ones will fit into your kitchen and sense of style.


Before you go get some new cabinets for your kitchen or home in general, note that the best cabinets may not always be the highest quality ones. However, you want to stay somewhere around the custom and semi-custom realm.

High-quality cabinets are not easy to come by, which is why at Choice Cabinet, we’re committed to bringing only the best products to the market, including RTA and framed cabinets. Take a glance through our endless catalog of wholesale kitchen cabinets for dealers with several materials to choose from.



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