Are Plywood Cabinets A Good Choice For Your Home?

Whether you're building a new home or remodeling your outdated kitchen or bathroom, deciding on cabinets can be surprisingly stressful. As trends constantly come and go, it seems like there are so many cabinet choices that will make it harder to sell your home or options that may quickly fall out of style. Not to mention, cabinetry is notoriously expensive. On average, cabinetry accounts for the largest portion of a kitchen remodeling budget at about 29%, according to Forbes. Furthermore, purchasing custom-built, handcrafted, or real hardwood cabinets can raise the price exponentially. If you're searching for something budget-friendly yet practical and durable, you might find yourself drawn to plywood cabinets. But is this overall-affordable choice really a good material to add to your busy home? Overall, high-quality plywood cabinets strike a balance between cost and functionality, so they may be the right choice for you. 

Plywood isn't as sturdy as real hardwood, but in many ways, it's like a happy hybrid between real wood and MDF board. Plywood is constructed with very thin sheets of solid wood that are pressed together to create a strong, dense board. MDF board, on the other hand, is made with wood fibers, resin, and glue, which are compacted together into a board shape. So, if you want something more durable than MDF but less expensive than real wood, plywood could be the right choice. Of course, however, as with any material, there are some pros and cons to consider. 

Benefits of choosing plywood cabinets

The first pro for plywood is that, if it's high-quality, it's quite durable. In each thin sheet of plywood, the woodgrain runs in a different direction, giving the final product extra strength and stability. Besides being stronger than MDF board, plywood is also more water-resistant and emits fewer VOCs as it ages, making it one of the better types of wood that will hold up to humidity in your bathroom or kitchen. 

Plywood cabinets are also effortlessly stylish. The sleek, sharp shape of these types fits beautifully into a minimalist, modern, or Scandinavian-inspired style, and their clean look gives them a timeless appeal. These cabinets usually have a generous coat of paint or a thin veneer that can slow down VOC emissions and give them a smooth appearance, but high-quality plywood can also be stained for a natural wood grain look. 

Unlike custom-built hardwood cabinets, plywood cabinets are relatively easy to install as well. Therefore, they're a great choice if you're hoping to minimize labor costs or DIY as much as possible. Because plywood has more strength per pound than MDF, it needs fewer screws and supports and is quicker to install, which can save you money on labor even if you decide to hire a professional. Finally, once your cabinets are installed, plywood is one of the easiest cabinet materials to clean and keep spotless. Simply wipe the surface down as needed with a soft cloth and gentle cleanser or mild soap and water. 

The downsides of plywood cabinets

Plywood cabinets have many benefits, but they're not perfect. While cheaper than real wood, plywood typically costs up to 15% more than MDF. Further, because it is more expensive than MDF, you'd probably assume that plywood will always provide a better bang for your buck — but that's not always the case. While high-quality types are pretty strong, for people on a very tight budget, low-quality plywood cabinets can be thin and rough, so they may not be that much better than MDF cabinets. Additionally, The overall shape and scrolling of plywood cabinets tends to be minimal, so if you're hoping to have intense scrolling and details carved into your cabinets, plywood won't be a very good option for you. 

Additionally, while plywood is generally more durable than MDF board, it's still not as durable as hardwood. If you have plywood cabinets, it's important to wipe up any spills or sprays quickly. Don't let water sit on your cabinets for long, as this can damage and warp the wood. If your plywood has a veneer finish, you'll also need to be gentle with the surface, as it can easily peel or chip, especially on the edges and corners and as the cabinets age. In other words, plywood cabinets are really only a potentially good choice if you're willing to shell out a little more money for high-quality materials.