It’s not unusual to use particle board for cabinets to save money. While it is a cheaper alternative to hardwood, it’s not always the best choice.
This is especially true when it comes to cabinets in wet areas. Instead of the long-lasting cabinets you hoped for, you end up with a damaged mess.
Before you opt for particle board for all your cabinets, make sure it’s the right material for the area.
Understanding Particle Board
Hardwood is solid wood. Particle board is made up from the scraps left behind. Small wood scraps and larger wood shavings are put together to create boards. This is what makes it cheaper. Due to the composition, particle board isn’t quite as vulnerable to temperature changes as something like plywood. However, it’s a weaker type of wood since it’s not solid.
This makes it far more vulnerable to moisture. Think of particle board as a sponge. While too much water isn’t good for any cabinets, it’s a disaster for plywood.
When water comes into contact with hardwood, the damage usually isn’t permanent if you clean it up as soon as possible. For instance, hardwood used in a bathroom may swell and contract from time to time, but stays strong.
Using particle board for cabinets in wet areas means you’ll have permanent damage. When water comes into contact with any unsealed portion of the board, it causes swell and deform. This can happen quickly.
Now, imagine how particle board would do in a humid environment, such as a bathroom. You’ll soon find your new cabinets losing their shape. If you have particle board shelves, they’ll buckle easily as the moisture weakens them. If you happen to have a leak, you’ll have to completely replace any affected boards as the damage is permanent.
Sealed Particle Board Is Still Vulnerable
Some particle board manufacturers seal the boards or put edging on them to help reduce the chance of water damage. However, it’s still risky. Particle board isn’t the strongest option available. This means it’s more susceptible to scratches and dings.
All it takes is a single deep scratch or a small hole for moisture to enter. For instance, if you put a screw through the board, you’ve left the board open to moisture. Plus, it’s not uncommon for sealed particle board to fall apart over time. Wet conditions gradually break down the glue holding the sealed layer in place. As this warps, the particle board starts to swell and warp as well.
While it will last longer than standard particle board, you will need to replace it far sooner than you would with hardwood.
Yes, using particle board for cabinets can save you money, but not if you use it in wet areas. If you save 10% or more with particle board, but have to repair or replace your cabinets in three to five years, you’ve lost your savings.
It’s much better to only use particle board in dry areas. The more humid the environment or the bigger the chance of leaks, the more likely you are to have to replace the cabinets sooner rather than later.
In most cases, it’s difficult to just make repairs. This is especially true if the majority of the cabinet is particle board. The joints warp, making it difficult to align shelves and drawers again. Instead, you’re left paying to have the cabinets rebuilt. Using hardwood costs more initially, but you’ll have cabinets that last for decades instead of just a few years.
Plan Out Your Design
Always take time to plan out your cabinet design to see the best places to cut costs. Use particle board for cabinets where it makes sense, such as for dry areas and cabinets that won’t have to hold heavy weight. For cabinets in wet areas, always opt for hardwood that’s fully sealed to ensure your cabinets last.
Contact us today to learn more about getting the custom cabinets of your dreams along with the best types of wood to use.