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Semi-Custom Cabinets conflicting info MDF v Plywood

1130 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  1acre
Morning all... so we are in the beginning stages of our kitchen remodel and been looking at cabinetry. Most likely going with a white/off-white color, not stain. After some initial research, we were sure we wanted 3/4" plywood cabinets, but after visiting a few local cabinet/kitchen stores, we have heard some conflicting information regarding build quality. The stores we went to had both wood/plywood and MDF cabinets. Both stores stated, that despite what people think, the MDF are actually stronger, will hold up better, and a better value. They did mention that I will need to keep a stable temperature environment. Now I'm up in the NE, but in winter time we have heat on and summer the AC, so it's "stable" in my opinion. They stated that the plywood could warp and the MDF have protective coatings on the box/doors to prevent the warping / cracking of the painted or applied color. I also asked specifically about the shelving and if after time it would "bend" and I was advised it would hold up better than plywood. I also asked about water damage, and was advised that the material is sealed and there is a banding or coating on it for protection. Now if the stores ONLY sold MDF cabinets then I would be a little skeptical, but they didn't and the MDFs were the mid-range priced cabinets. I should mention we are not looking to go overboard on a kitchen, like many a solid, well made cabinet, mid-range price, is what we are looking for. Aside from construction, we are of course getting full extension, soft close doors. Hoping some of you folks could lend some opinions. Maybe some professionals, but also homeowners that faced this very same dilemma. Specifically, the professionals that sell both what to specifically ask about the MDF to get a legit response regarding the comparison.
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If you have one near by, check out the kitchens from Ikea. We've had then for a few years now and they have held up well, with ask the features you wanted, and good price too.
If you are going to paint the cabinets, nothing wrong with MDF. If you want a wood look, then hardwood veneer plywood is very good. I built all my kitchen cabinets with 3/4 inch double veneered (A-A) maple plywood, and the cabinets have held up very nicely (been over ten years) without warping, twisting, cracking, or anything else.
The sellers are covering all corners of liability. Anything made with wood has a chance of moving, and why should they be responsible forever?
MDF is always more damage worthy.:smile: Keep that in mind and you will be less diappointed.
Actual doors and trim should be solid hardwood, such as paint grade poplar. MDF shelf no more than 2' long should hold up, but not if you stack the shelf full with ceramic dish - esp heaviest in the middle. Ply is better than not that much. Mellamine or painted shelf will not last if you store things still damp or wet from a dishwasher. It's really about the common sense and over the years the only shelf I saw that remained straight had reinforcing nosing on them.
I would not buy cabinets with mdf face frames and doors. For box construction, it is fine, but prefer melamine for nice look, easy to clean. As carpdad said, go for Poplar ff and doors if you want paint grade. While a soft wood, it is stronger than pine and most likely mdf in terms of screw pull out, but it paints beautifully and is much stronger. As you'll find, opinions abound. I know many people satisfied with ikea cabinets, but I wouldn't be caught dead with them in my house. I also have cabinets from omega in hickory in my garage. If I were getting new cabinets, I would go to a "bubba shop" and have them make me cabinets. You'll net a higher quality product for less money usually.
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