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Cabinets 101
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Lesson #7 - Construction Materials Prev Next
Construction material refers to the type and thickness of the wood used to build the cabinet excluding the doors and drawers. Typically cabinets are built with either particleboard (PB) or plywood. I am using the term PB here to refer to all types of engineered wood. Which is wood that is made by basically gluing together lots of smaller pieces of wood. Engineered wood comes in many different names such as: furniture board, flakewood, flakeboard, MDF (medium density fiberboard), laminated composite, etc. Plywood, on the other hand, is a natural wood. The main difference is that for the same thickness plywood is both stronger and lighter than PB. However PB will expand and contract less with the change of seasons (which is why laminate and thermofoil doors typically use PB instead of plywood).

When you hear the term all wood construction, that typically means the cabinet box (not the doors) is constructed using all plywood. Plywood cabinets are both stronger and lighter than PB cabinets, which also makes them easier to install. In fact, over time, PB cabinets tend to sag because of the weight of the wood, especially if you have 42" high wall cabinets, which can weigh over 100 pounds.

PB cabinets tend to run about 5 - 30% less than plywood cabinets. Some manufacturers will also make cabinets that are part plywood (typically the 2 sides) and part PB, which sell in the middle of the range.