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Thread: plywood or mdf

  1. #11
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    Oct 2007
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    Quote Originally Posted by bp21901 View Post
    They also use mdf rather than plywood. They are just one example of an overpriced cabinet. I have to laugh when I see them on the Home Makeover show. The builder puts up a big $ home only to have mdf cabinets installed.
    Everyone pushes MDF & pressed-wood nowadays. They can't see selling a more expensive product with a 25+ year lifetime when they can sell crap & sell it all over again in 10 years.

    Basically, if you plan on selling in less than 10 years, put in low-quality crap, but if you plan to stay, do plywood.

  2. #12
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    Quote Originally Posted by pderas View Post
    Both are equally strong and the particleboard is less likely to warp or twist than the plywood.
    If the box is made of particleboard it will be a heavier cabinet, so the installer has a more difficult time.
    Other than that I have seen no reason not to save the difference in cost between the two.
    Someone has never seen particleboard after a slow, neglected water leak then...

    Also, remember in college, you went down to a big-box discount store to buy an O'Sullivan entertainment center, and you put it together, load it up & then 18 month later you re-arrange the room & when the entertainment center gets loaded up again, it leans? Particle board!

  3. #13
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    Nov 2007
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    980

    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    Quote Originally Posted by pderas View Post
    Quality manufacturers don't use MDF (medium density fiberboard) for cabinet boxes...They either use plywood or particleboard.
    65 lb. particleboard is the best. It is made under 65 lb. per square inch pressure. These days with no off-gassing, no formaldehyde. Same with their plywood.
    Both are equally strong and the particleboard is less likely to warp or twist than the plywood.If the box is made of particleboard it will be a heavier cabinet, so the installer has a more difficult time.
    Other than that I have seen no reason not to save the difference in cost between the two.
    MDF is used as door material by many manufacturers.
    The doors are too heavy and cause the hinges to break over the long haul, so I do not recommend MDF doors.

    Any cabinet manufacturer that uses less dense particleboard than 65 lb. is not worth your dollars or time. Same with any cabinet maker that provides shelves less than 3/4" thick.

    For other recommendations on how to know when you are looking at a well-built cabinet or cabinet spec, see my web site at http://www.kitchenartworks.com/cabinetry.htm for the Cabinet Shopping Standards I recommend to my clients.
    particle board is heavier but is it stronger? screws strip out easier, extra weight in upper wall cabinets wouldn't be a good thing. most manufactured cabinets that use press board also hot glue their cabinets together because just nail and wood glue won't hold. I have while installing tops been asked to repair many wall cabinets that they thought were comeing off the wall but were in reality coming apart.

    by the way nice website you have.
    My only exception to your website is you show off some tile counter tops, of which I'm not a big fan. of course owning a granite countertop business I think you can understand

  4. #14
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    Sep 2007
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    ANY wood material will be affected negatively by a slow neglected water leak. Plywood will rot too under those conditions.

    And the particleboard you experienced in your cheap dorm cabinets was definitely not 65 lb. That cheap flakeboard is what gave particleboard a bad name.

    Quote Originally Posted by thaxman View Post
    Someone has never seen particleboard after a slow, neglected water leak then...

    Also, remember in college, you went down to a big-box discount store to buy an O'Sullivan entertainment center, and you put it together, load it up & then 18 month later you re-arrange the room & when the entertainment center gets loaded up again, it leans? Particle board!
    Peggy Deras, CKD, CID
    Kitchen Artworks

  5. #15
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    Sep 2007
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    South San Francisco, CA
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    You won't talk me out of my preference for particleboard based on cost.
    I have had particleboard box cabinets in my own kitchen, of the quality level I recommend to clients, since 1989. They look and perform like new to this day.
    I also have installed thousands of such cabinets in clients' homes. believe me, they complain when they have paid a pretty price and don't get the performance I promise. NO complaints about the strength or performance of 65 lb. particleboard in 25 years of doing this.
    I no longer sell cabinets, preferring to do design only these days, but I still recommend the particleboard as the best value.

    It's true that screws strip out (slightly) easier in particleboard. But the quality manufacturers use special fasteners that do not. They don't assemble their cabinets with only hot glue either, instead using glue AND mechanical fasteners. And I always recommend ordering their hanging kits which come with proper screws with washers for attaching the cabinets to the wall.

    I do agree that you are buying a kitchen that will not last more than a few years when you buy cheap cabinets. But as a former cabinetmaker myself, I can recommend quality manufactured cabinets with particleboard as though I were making them myself and confidently offer a lifetime warranty.

    There are a few CABINETS I would not recommend that most manufacturers still insist on offering, because the mechanical parts do not hold up. A "Chef's Pantry" for instance (the kind with the swing out shelves and shelves mounted on the doors), or a pullout pantry: These cabinets are engineered to fail under kitchen conditions with the loads they are asked to carry.

    Thanks for your kind comments on my web site.
    The "tile" countertops you see there are really Corian that we routed to simulate tile.
    http://www.kitchenartworks.com/image...o/kitchen2.jpg
    That was quite an operation: The fabricator, Jim Heaphy, routed a 4x4 grid pattern in 3/4" Corian and then filled the grooves with a lighter color seam filler material. We then added the brass edges. As a (granite) fabricator, I'm sure you can appreciate the effort that went into this.

    This kitchen was for a designer showhouse, and I had to go up every day to monitor the unfinished brass and polish off the fingerprints of the visitors.

    After the showhouse everything was removed, because the owner wanted the room (in the historic house) restored to it's original condition.
    So the cabinets eventually became a display in my showroom.
    The images won me a national design award from NKBA.

    Quote Originally Posted by havanagranite View Post
    particle board is heavier but is it stronger? screws strip out easier, extra weight in upper wall cabinets wouldn't be a good thing. most manufactured cabinets that use press board also hot glue their cabinets together because just nail and wood glue won't hold. I have while installing tops been asked to repair many wall cabinets that they thought were comeing off the wall but were in reality coming apart.

    by the way nice website you have.
    My only exception to your website is you show off some tile counter tops, of which I'm not a big fan. of course owning a granite countertop business I think you can understand
    Peggy Deras, CKD, CID
    Kitchen Artworks

  6. #16
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    Sep 2007
    Location
    South San Francisco, CA
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    Default Re: Particleboard, Plywood or MDF

    One other thing:

    I recently posted comments on my blog, Kitchen-Exchange, about a recent study on the relative satisfaction of consumers after a kitchen remodel:


    "Researchers also found that more than three out of 10 remodelers said they would spend more money on a kitchen remodel if they had to do it over, while only 7% said they would spend less. Of those who would spend more, the key things they would do differently next time are upgrading the cabinets and increasing the size of the kitchen."

    Kitchens: Do them Right. Do them Once.

    Consumers do learn about cabinet quality issues AFTER they have made the mistake of buying cheap cabinets.

    Now, when will contractors learn to stop recommending them?
    Last edited by pderas; 01-09-2008 at 03:15 PM. Reason: mispelling
    Peggy Deras, CKD, CID
    Kitchen Artworks

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    3

    Thumbs up Re: plywood or mdf

    This debate got my curiosity up and I had to check it out.
    I sell cabinets and in my area there are many people who request plywood outright. Mostly because they have had bad experience with cheaply built builders cabinets. I opened my spec books to look for the data on the particle board, whether it is 65lb or not. Interestingly, both lines did not have it listed. I called the rep., and he didn't know either. No one has ever asked him that question before. I'll get the answer Monday. I am surprised that they don't disclose this. You would think this should be a selling point. In any event, upon sight inspection you can see the difference between flake board and densely compact particle board. A densely compacted particle shelf in a cabinet is more rigid under pressure than a plywood shelf.

    What about the thickness? Would you be more confident buying a Face frame line with a 1/2" particle board box with solid wood frames verses buying a 3/8" plywood box with solid wood frames? What about frameless? Does it make a difference if the particle board is 3/4" verses 5/8" thick? There are price differences between these products. I lose people when I start to get to technical. Reason why most wind up with plywood, it has a good reputation overall. Again, good point about the article, if given the choice most people spend more to get the better quality product.
    It is true particle board will be more economical. It can last for thirty years or more if maintained properly. It pays to investigate the quality before purchase. The other issue of concern for client's is water leaks. A sink base with particle board will swell if soaked with a lengthy water leak. Plywood will suffer damage as well but may hold up better in the long run, regardless water damage is lethal if let go long enough for either product. One way I help client's keep the cost down, if they want plywood but have a particle board budget, I offer ordering the sink base in plywood, and particle board everywhere else, skin the exposed sides with wood veneers and or plant on decorative panels. Also handy, tile the interior of the sink base. The sink base is the first cabinet to suffer the worst damage. Some customers have put in a linoleum surface too to protect the interior sink bottom.

    By the way Peggy, I would never have guessed that counter was Corian. How innovative was that!


    Laurie
    Last edited by LBurke; 01-13-2008 at 04:49 PM. Reason: typo

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    New Hampshire
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    13

    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    I have to agree that plywood is stronger, lighter and more durable than MDF. I would however like to disagree a bit with the comments about Kraftmaid cabinets.

    You can customize quite a few dimensions and options with their line. You can also get ALL plywood construction. I know because I have them in my house and I sell them to lots of customers. They certainly are not custom high end cabinets but they are a good cabinet for the price.
    Todd Fratzel

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    3

    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    I agree. That is true about Kraft Maid. I used to sell those too. They are descent enough for a moderately inexpensive line. Handsome finishes. I can't speak of them in present tense, but one downside I did not care for was the center stile in sink bases 36" and wall cabinets 36" wide. They optioned the stile attached to the door, but honestly that option was more annoying.
    Laurie

  10. #20
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    Sep 2007
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    South San Francisco, CA
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    Default Re: plywood or mdf

    I still remember when I went to the Wood-mode factory in 1983 to learn about selling their product: The factory is situated on a bend of the Susquehanna River in Kreamer PA. Recently the river had overflowed its banks and the factory showroom was under a couple of feet of water for days. The cabinets were fine. All they needed to replace were the SOLID wood base and toekick mouldings, which warped.

    It is certainly possible that the formulations for the adhesives used to bind the particleboard have changed in the intervening 25 years, since the switchover to low VOC adhesives to cut emissions in particleboard, but at the time their particleboard was actually superior to anything else.

    I called the Wood-mode rep in our area. She said that she would fax me a spec sheet to update me on the current recipe for Wood-mode's "furniture-grade, fine surface wood particleboard" (That's what they call it today). She also said that Wood-mode now offers a lifetime warranty on all of their cabinets and they wouldn't do so if the product were less durable that it was in 1983, when the warranty was one year. She said the particleboard today is made with tiny particles on the surface, which do not telegraph through the veneer, and larger particles in the interior, for better screw-holding characteristics.

    Stay tuned and I will post the spec when I get it.

    Peggy

    Quote Originally Posted by LBurke View Post
    A sink base with particle board will swell if soaked with a lengthy water leak. Plywood will suffer damage as well but may hold up better in the long run, regardless water damage is lethal if let go long enough for either product. One way I help client's keep the cost down, if they want plywood but have a particle board budget, I offer ordering the sink base in plywood, and particle board everywhere else, skin the exposed sides with wood veneers and or plant on decorative panels. Also handy, tile the interior of the sink base. The sink base is the first cabinet to suffer the worst damage. Some customers have put in a linoleum surface too to protect the interior sink bottom.

    By the way Peggy, I would never have guessed that counter was Corian. How innovative was that!


    Laurie
    Peggy Deras, CKD, CID
    Kitchen Artworks

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