When it comes to kitchen cabinets and cabinet doors, solid wood is often the first material that comes to mind. Not only is it beautiful to look at, but it is also strong and sturdy. However, it comes at a higher price that is often out of homeowners' budgets. For homeowners who are remodeling or undertaking home renovations, understanding what you're paying for is essential — especially when it comes to cabinetry. With cheaper options like MDF(or, medium-density fiberboard), is it really worth getting solid wood cabinets? In this blog post, we’ll unpack the pros and cons of getting solid wood cabinets and whether it is worth the money.
Solid Wood Cabinet Pros
Solid wood is known as a superior material by cabinet makers. Whether you opt for alder, cherry, maple, or oak—solid wood has plenty of benefits. To help you make the perfect choice for your home, here are 5 benefits of having solid wood cabinets:
- Strong & Durable: Solid wood is so remarkably strong that it is used around the world to build bridges and homes. For your cabinets, the strength and durability of solid wood are unmatched. If you're looking to install cabinets that will last you for decades, solid wood is the ideal choice. But remember that different wood species have varying levels of strength, so do your research to make sure you are purchasing the right choice for your home.
- Value: Because solid wood cabinets can last for decades, you'll be getting the most value for your money. Even though it can be more expensive upfront, wood cabinets are more durable and won't need to be replaced for years. Ensure that you care for your cabinets properly and they will last a lifetime.
- Aesthetics: With beautiful and natural grain patterns, solid wood can brings charm and warmth to any room. Like the strength and durability of a wood species, different wood types have different aesthetics. If you're looking for a solid wood that has an amazing grain, opt for cherry, maple, or oak.
- Customization: No matter what type of wood you choose, you can customize it to fit your needs. From its shape to its finish, you can truly make your kitchen unique by using solid wood cabinets.
- Plenty Of Options: With numerous wood species, you'll have plenty of options to choose from when picking your solid wood cabinets. Depending on your needs, you can find a wood that matches your budget and style.
Solid Wood Cabinet Cons
With the immense amount of advantages of solid wood cabinets, there are also a few disadvantages. If you're still undecided about what type of cabinets you want, keep these points in mind when choosing:
- Moisture Damage: In their unfinished state, solid wood cabinets are not waterproof. Hardwood species such as red oak can withstand a certain amount of moisture, but most other woods are prone to moisture damage. It is, therefore, essential that you add a finishing to all your cabinets to protect them from the elements.
- Can Warp & Crack: Over time, due to changes in temperature and humidity, wood tends to expand and contract. This, in turn, results in solid wood cabinets warping, and sometimes even cracking. If your cabinets are painted, the cracks can be even more noticeable. The good news is that carpenters have developed methods that help to minimize both warping and cracking.
- Bug Infestation: Because wood is a natural material, it is more vulnerable to pest attacks. Because to this, you’ll need to maintain your cabinets in order to protect them.
Cheaper Options For Cabinets
Solid wood cabinets are a costly option, so if your budget does not extend to afford this material, there is another option. Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a type of engineered wood consisting of thin panels of wood fiber, resin, and wax. Known to be a level above plywood, MDF boards are denser, stronger, and more durable, making them perfect for cabinetry. Because it is not solid wood, and many homeowners look down on it as it is seen as a cheaper option. It also performs very differently compared to the more expensive option. But like solid wood cabinets, MDF board cabinets have their advantages and disadvantages.
MDF Cabinet Pros
MDF boards are most commonly used in constructing cabinet doors, and there are many positive reasons why, including the following:
- Cost-Effective: If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to solid wood that is still sturdy, opt for MDF. Because it is made from a mixture of materials, the MDF board cabinets' cost is lower than solid wood cabinets. Plus, with the proper maintenance, MDF board cabinets can last.
- No Warping & Cracking: With fluctuating temperature and humidity, solid wood cabinets are known to warp and crack. MDF cabinets do not have this problem as it is engineered to withstand fluctuating temperatures and humidity.
- Customization: MDF boards are flexible, and therefore it is easy to cut and drill, making them super easy to customize. From shaker cabinets to raised panel doors, MDF is made to suit your needs.
- Smooth Finish: Because MDF is manufactured from fine particles, it does not have any noticeable grains like solid wood. Because of this, MDF has a smooth finish, which is perfect for painting.
- Environmentally-Friendly: MDF board cabinets are made from recycled wood, making them an environmentally-friendly option.
MDF Cabinet Cons
Even though MDF cabinets have some fantastic benefits that solid wood cabinets don't have, they also have disadvantages. Before making your final decision on your cabinets, here are a few of the cons of MDF cabinets:
- No Grain: Because it is engineered wood, MDF cabinets do not have the beautiful grain that solid wood cabinets have.
- You Can't Repair Scratches: If you happen to scratch your MDF cabinets, you need to know it is not easy to repair. Once damage occurs to this type of cabinet, you need to have it fixed immediately, even if it is a small nick. If the damage is left, it will weaken the structure of the cabinet.
- Does Not Retain Its Value: Unlike solid wood cabinets, MDF cabinets do not retain their value.
- Can Not Be Stained: With MDF cabinets, your only option for decorating is painting them. Unfortunately, you can not stain the cabinet doors as the material will soak up everything that is put on it, and then it will start to swell. MDF is also frequently finished with thermofoil, which is a vinyl laminate that is heated and pressurized onto an MDF core.
The Verdict: Are Solid Wood Cabinets Worth The Money?
The simple answer is yes. If you weigh up the pros and cons of solid wood cabinets and other cabinet materials, solid wood always comes up on top. It is a high-quality material that is durable, strong, and can last you a lifetime. MDF cabinets have their benefits too in terms of price, but the quality and lifespan are not as good as solid wood. At the end of the day, as a homeowner, the choice is yours to make. Think about what you need for your home and your budget, and make your decision accordingly.
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