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“The woods are never solitary–they are full of whispering, beckoning, friendly life.”
-L.M. Montgomery

Choosing Wood or Particle Board for Your Cabinets

When designing your kitchen from scratch or planning your remodel, the question of materials will come up in all sorts of categories: sinks, counters, appliances, and cabinets. Cabinets are an enormous part of your kitchen, literally and figuratively. Cabinets set a tone for your kitchen space, and their function and design will affect the flow and practicality of your kitchen space. When deciding what kind of materials to use in your cabinetry, you have two main options: wood or particle board. There are several things to consider when making this important decision.

A great deal of your cabinet’s work is behind the scenes, hanging and stabilizing them. The parts you don’t see in the cabinetry still matter, and the decision between wood and particle board is an important one.

The Bologna of Wood…

The biggest plus in the “pro” column for particle board is pricing. It is a cheaper way to do pretty much anything when dealing with wood options. And yes, cost is an important factor. But, it can’t be the only thing to consider. Particle board is, not to mince words, the bologna of wood. It is a sort of wood sausage, created from the odds and ends of lumber products. That makes it cheap and, as anyone who has eaten too much bologna can attest, very heavy. Particle board can make it difficult to hang the cabinets because of its weight. It is also susceptible to swelling because all those bits and pieces can expand on their own if exposed to water. This is pretty likely to happen when in a kitchen, so it is worth considering.

The scaffolding of your cabinets can hang on wood and it doesn’t necessarily need to be mahogany or walnut. Plywood is a real wood option to use as the backbone of your cabinetry. There is a wide variety of quality when it comes to plywood, so the professionals can help you find one with the right price point. Generally, however, it will be more expensive than the particle board. That said, it might save you on drywall because it is much lighter and easier to hang. It is also much more water-resistant than the spongy particle board.

Should You Use Particle Board for the Front of Your Cabinets

Particle board can also be used for the outside of your cabinetry. Once again, the major benefit of that option is cost. And cost matters. But other things matter as well, and they are worth considering. When it comes to cabinets and wood, you get what you pay for. Particle board is not built for the long haul. It can chip, bend, and warp. It is also not as versatile as wood. The kitchen is an incredibly personal space in a home. It sets the tone for the home, sets up the flow for entertaining, and shapes how you create meals and memories. Wood can be trimmed, shaped, and sanded in any unique way you would like. Do you want a specialty cupboard that is just the right size for the most-used appliances? No problem! Wood can make that happen. Particle board cupboards are created in a factory. That keeps costs down as well as options, which is important to keep in mind.

Another drawback for particle board might not rear its head for many years. When the cereal cupboard board is wearing down from overuse, the edges will rub away, exposing the “bologna” layers. Those hands grabbing the cereal might not mind, but you probably will. You cannot sand down the particle board; it has to be replaced. Wood, however, is a different thing entirely.

Reasons to Use Wood for Your Cabinets

Wood is versatile, warm, and inviting. When the cereal cupboard door gets smudged or worn, you can sand it down and give it new life, allowing it to hold on to its value and beauty for a very long time, long after the cereal cupboard stops opening and closing all the time, which at some point you might miss.

There are many options for finding the right kind of wood for your kitchen. There are countless specialty wood products, reclaimed wood boards, and unique woods from around the world—or right in your backyard. Selecting the right kind will set the tone you want in your kitchen, whether that be dark, light, casual, elegant, imposing, folksy, or a mix of several styles. Wood will help you realize whatever vision you hold for your kitchen and enable you to reshape that vision as it changes.