The material of your kitchen cabinets determines how well they stand up to abuse as well as how they look. In the United States, wood is the unmatched leader in cabinet materials. Roughly 91% of all cabinets in the United States are made of wood. Hardwood is the preferred material, but many of them are made of a veneer of hardwood over layers of a different wood. That can be a softwood or just a less expensive hardwood. The other leading materials are metal and glass. Metal cabinets are obviously the most durable; they have an industrial look that you might find in a commercial kitchen. Glass is classic and airy. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of each.
The obvious advantage of wood is that it’s incredibly diverse. There are hundreds of different species of wood; dozens of them are used for kitchen cabinets. Red and white oak are domestic woods that are popular in the United States. They’re near the middle of the janka hardness scale; they’re widely available and affordable. Red and white oak are great choices for anyone who wants a hardwood cabinet. Furthermore, wood makes a great material because it can be stained a different color, painted, or sanded to fix scratches. It can be adapted and repaired several different times.
The disadvantage of wood, especially in the kitchen, is the porous nature of wood. Since wood is porous, it absorbs moisture in the kitchen. It then expands and warps. When it dries, it contracts. That can cause wooden cabinets to no longer fit fast. Also, they might absorb liquid stains and be difficult to clean.
There are two basic metals used for kitchen cabinets, stainless steel and aluminum. Both of them are very durable and resilient. They’re often used in commercial kitchen because they do not require much upkeep. Neither of the metals will rust under normal conditions. Since they’re nonporous, they can easily be wiped clean. They also stand up just fine to caustic cleaning chemicals.
The disadvantage of metal is that you cannot adapt them. You cannot easily paint stainless steel or aluminum. It’s possible, but it’s not ideal. They can also be somewhat expensive if you don’t find them secondhand.
Glass cabinets are great for anyone who wants to increase the amount of light in their kitchen. They’re also great if you want to display the dishes in the cabinets. Glass is very breakable and does not readily accept paint.