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What’s the Best Material for Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen is the heart of every home. As a new homeowner, the first thing on your home interior agenda is a modular kitchen. Modular kitchens are considered to be the most practical and stylish solution for your kitchen interior.There’s no doubting the fact that your materials will determine how durable your kitchen will be, and how much it’s going to cost you! Here’s the lowdown on materials for modular kitchen to help you make an informed choice!

The cabinets are basically made up of two materials- the skeleton or carcass, and the exterior covering or outer finish.We’re going to talk about what kitchen cabinets are made of, in this post – what is also known as the kitchen carcass. 

1. Hardwood

Haven’t we all seen those sturdy wooden cabinets in our homes growing up, or at least in the homes of our grandparents? Timeless, old school and solid, these are mostly made from sheesham (Indian rosewood) teak, mahogany or balut (oak). Even today, it doesn’t matter what your kitchen style is — modern or traditional — natural wooden cabinets fit any kitchen like a pair of gloves! Sadly yet understandably, with the advent of modular kitchens, the demand for natural wood has gone down significantly.

Pros:

  1. The textures and grains of natural wood are beautiful and the colours are deep.
  2. Wood is easy to maintain on a day-to-day basis, and you don’t have to worry about stains and spots. Just use a cloth to wipe clean! However, you will need to get the wood polished often to maintain the smooth texture.
  3. Wood is very strong and durable, and will last you many, many years — maybe even a lifetime.

Cons:

  1. Termites and other insects love wood, as much as we do. Therefore, it’s important that the wood is treated in advance.
  2. Moisture and humidity can affect the core of the material over time.
  3. Since it isn’t man-made and is now scarce, natural wood is much more expensive than any type of engineered wood.
  4.  Takes a lot of time to produce a hard wood kitchen  in comparison to the modular kitchens that are made in workshops.

2. Plywood (BWR Ply)

Plywood is basically a man-made material (or engineered wood) created by gluing layers and layers of thin wood (or wood veneers) into a single sheet or board. It is available in different thicknesses and is fairly stable. It can be further coated with plastic laminate, wood veneer or thermofoil for a smoother finish and for better protection against termites and moisture. With modular kitchens seeping into almost every apartment or home in India, plywood has taken over as the most sought-after material and is readily available in Indian markets today.

Pros:

  1. Plywood is less prone to damage by moisture or water — making it a great fit for Indian kitchens.
  2. Because of the way it is bonded (ie, with the grains running against one another), it doesn’t shrink, crack or warp. Hence, it is highly durable, too.
  3. It is affordable, costing anywhere between Rs. 85 and Rs. 115 per square foot for a 19mm-thick BWR plywood from a reputed brand like CenturyPlyGreenply or Kitply. The costs depend on the type and thickness of the board. Commercial plywood would cost roughly around Rs. 55 per square foot.
  4. It is stronger than all other engineered woods, and can better hold heavy weight.
  5. It is also lighter than other boards, and is, therefore, a great option for hanging or wall cabinets.

Cons:

  1. While it is much cheaper than solid wood, it is more expensive than HDF or MDF (read about these later in the article).
  2. Elaborate designs with plywood kitchen cabinets is difficult as the material is very dense.
  3. You have to ensure that your plywood cabinets are coated with laminate or veneer, so that the rough edges don’t show.

3. HDHMR

This is a new product that has been introduced into the construction industry a little less than 2 years ago. HDHMR is made by combining fibre chips, forest wood waste through a homogeneous construction process. These fibre chips are pressed together to form a single layer, removing small wood content to form a robust higher density board. The density of the product is better than other products available in the market. These boards have a uniform density gradient & compact core, achieved by using special German Technology for MAT formation.  

HDHMR unmatched quality & endless application is revolutionizing the Indian interiors industry by replacing plywood. Action Tesa is the first brand that succeeded in introducing HDHMR and it was an instant hit in the market. 

Pros:

  1. Tougher than plywood
  2. Highly water-resistant: Can be used in highly moist areas and climate
  3. Hard Wood used for higher density of product (made from eucalyptus wood)
  4. No Core Gaps – Ideal routable substrate with sharp cut & routed edges
  5. Uniform density gradient and Compact core – Enhanced screw and withdrawal strength
  6. Special Glue being used to make it Water Resistant Product as per Indian climate conditions. 
  7. Ready & Smooth Surface – Polish with exotic colours of choices. Absorbs less paint in the painting process thus saves paint cost also. 
  8. Innovative Application – Enhanced aesthetic value addition to finished product. 
  9. Cost-Effective Paneling Solution

Cons:

  1. Costlier than plywood.

4. HDF & MDF

Both HDF and MDF are engineered woods, created when small wood particles and fibres are compressed using high pressure and heat, and glued together by a resin. However, HDF is a higher grade of MDF, and is harder and denser. Yet, they’re two different materials altogether!

In fact, those IKEA furniture pieces that you’re lusting after are most likely made of these boards. Although it’s interesting to note that while they’re common kitchen cabinet materials, Indian designers and contractors recommend MDF more for wardrobes and doors or for kitchen cabinet shutters.

Pros:

  1. Both HDF and MDF have a very smooth surface (easier to paint!), and can be easily cut for designs.
  2. They cost about 20% lesser than regular plywood and, hence, are a more economical choice (HDF is more expensive than MDF). Regular MDF would cost you roughly around Rs. 50 per square foot. Go for Centuryply or Greenply.
  3. Both are sustainable options as they’re made from fragments of wood leftover from projects or otherwise.

Cons:

  1. Since they’re denser (not stronger!) than plywood, they’re heavier to work with. Plus, they’re not as strong as plywood.
  2. Both are not resistant to water or moisture and, hence, aren’t suitable for areas near the sink.
  3. They don’t hold screws well as they’re made of small grains and particles.

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