Cabinet Case Materials

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Customers find that this is often one the most challenging decisions to make, and let’s face it, the materials your cabinet box is made out of is a big deal! Mylen offers cabinets in plywood with a UV cured finish AND particle board with a melamine finish available in both white and maple wood grained. To help you make this choice let’s get educated on the differences between these products…..

What’s the difference?

It’s easy to say that Plywood is better; or is it? In the cabinet industry, this has to be one of the most concentrated on and most debated topics. The truth is that there are pros and cons to each. To help answer this question we will need to explore some options that will help you select the cabinet type that is best for you. Before we go too far discussing pros and cons, let’s review how each product is made…….

Plywood is a series of wood veneers, which means sheets of wood cut from a log, glued together in a cross graining pattern. As we all know, wood expands and contracts in the direction of the grain. This is why we alternate the grain pattern in each layer of veneer. Doing this cancels out most of the natural stress caused by environmental factors such as moisture and temperature. Where we go from here depends on the cabinet manufacturer. At Mylen, the exposed plywood has a real maple wood veneer applied over top and is finished with a UV-cured polyurethane clear coat. The clear coat here is the most important point. Although all real wood finishes will wear, a UV cured finish is the best available in the industry. Any other finish used on a cabinet interior will wear too easily and won’t give the lasting durability that all homeowners are looking for.

Particleboard is a composite sheet wood product. Particle board is made by combining wood particles with a binder/resin agent and then shaping the sheets with a mold and cold press operation OR by a continual pressing process. Since particle board is a composite of wood fibers, there is very little movement caused by environmental factors such as moisture and temperature. Particle board is classed by particle size and overall density. At Mylen we use a high-density particle board that is bound together using only formaldehyde-free resins.

Now that we know a little more, let’s take a closer look at the primary decision-making factors; the differences in surface quality and core:

Surface Quality: First and most important, melamine has a lifetime finish that is easy to clean and that’s all it requires for maintenance, regular cleaning. When it comes to plywood construction, a cabinet manufacturer can use the best wood finishes in the world, but even at that, a real wood finish is still a wood finish that is going to wear over time and will not offer the durability that comes with a melamine finish. To give an idea of quality finish, a melamine finish is the same type of finish as Laminate countertops or Pergo laminate floors. It’s easy to see that when it comes to everyday life, the reality is that melamine finishes have much more to offer than plywood veneer finishes.

Core: Melamine is applied over top of a particle board core, while plywood is a wood veneer core. One of the most notable and discussed differences here is that a plywood core will withstand a moderate amount of water whereas the particle board core will not. So the question is: how often do your cabinets get excessively wet? If your fridge or dishwasher was to leak, or if you mopped your floors with an excessive amount of water, this may play a factor. These are not the norm, but just to be safe, Mylen uses detachable toe kick bases that can be removed and replaced with very limited costs. Some might debate that the holding power of plywood is better than particle board. The real issue here is the method of joinery that is being used. Mylen’s cabinets are assembled using dowels and expanding dowels that are designed to hold in either core without issue. Where screws are required, it is true that particle board will not hold if a regular wood screw is used. This is why we use special coarse threaded particle board screws that are designed to hold in a particle board core. At the end of the day, once your cabinets are all joined together and fastened to the wall, the core you choose will not play a factor in long-term durability in everyday life.

So which is better?

Deciding Factors Melamine / Particle Board Plywood / Real Wood Veneer
Dimensional Stability WINNER
Moisture Resistance WINNER
Joinery Longevity EQUAL WITH PROPER METHODS EQUAL WITH PROPER METHODS
Finish / Surface Quality WINNER
Cost WINNER
Weight WINNER
Environmental Benefit EQUAL EQUAL
Eco-Sustainability WINNER
Aesthetic Value PERSONAL PREFERENCE PERSONAL PREFERENCE

 

Time to Choose: Ultimately we need to remember that these are your cabinets, purchased with your hard earned money, so the choice is yours! Mylen is happy to manufacture your cabinets using whatever material you like best. If you want our final opinion, almost everyone looking to purchase new cabinets are focused more on durability and ease of maintenance. Popular belief in North America is that plywood is a symbol of quality. We would place a high emphasis on the word “symbol”. In Europe, cabinets can cost in excess of 2-3 times as much as they do in North America and the preferred selection here is melamine

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