Author Topic: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board  (Read 1143 times)

MariaSouth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« on: January 22, 2019, 09:37:44 AM »
Hello all. I am thinking of building kitchen cabinets for a house that I am about to rent out, not were we live.

I want the cabinets to look fancy and expensive and to appeal the public, and I want some durability.

I can not get plywood were I live, so that leaves me with wood, melamine-mdf and melamine-particle board.

Melamine is very popular here at the moment, so I am leaned to go with it for the doors and drawer fronts.

I love the look and durability of wood, but do not have the right tools to make the fronts in a top quality and fancy enough. Also, I have some, not much, experience building furniture and I can get most cuts done at the store.

The four options I am considering are

1. Cabinets frames and boxes in wood. Doors and drawers fronts in mdf with melamine. Drawers interior in painted mdf. 3/4'' mdf.

2. Cabinets frames and boxes in wood. Doors and drawers fronts in particle board with melamine. Drawers interior in particle board. 3/4'' particle board.
 
3. Everything in mdf with melamine. Drawers interior in painted mdf. 3/4'' mdf.

4. Everything in particle board with melamine. 3/4'' particle board.

If anyone has any idea or comment or experience, they would be much appreciated.

affordablehousing

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 278
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2019, 11:41:04 AM »
You'll save so much time and money going the Ikea route. Sadly, they are probably much better quality than most craftspeople can build without a CNC router since the joints lock together given the precise patterning.

MariaSouth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2019, 12:22:16 PM »
You'll save so much time and money going the Ikea route. Sadly, they are probably much better quality than most craftspeople can build without a CNC router since the joints lock together given the precise patterning.

Unfortunately, no Ikea in my country. I have been studying  the Ikea-like cabinets they sell here. I believe I can do better than that. I have built lower kitchen cabinets for our own house, only drawers. Combining mdf interiors and wood fronts. After 6 years of wild, wild wear, they are in absolutely perfect state.

In principle, upper cabinets look easier. What I find difficult to build is the doors out of wood, mainly because I do not have a router and the joints worry me.

nereo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9885
  • Location: la belle province
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2019, 12:40:44 PM »
Where do you live that you cannot get plywood?

I've made cabinets for my shop and plan to make them for our next kitchen, but how easy this would be depending on both your woodworking skill and the tools at hand.*

In terms of style I'm a fan of shaker, as they are easy, require only 90º cuts and look good painted.  Solid wood will be expensive and require a jointer.

*Yes, it's a poor craftsman that blames his/her tools, but I wouldn't dream of building a bunch of kitchen cabinets without a decent track saw or (better) a solid and accurate table saw.

MariaSouth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2019, 01:24:47 PM »
Where do you live that you cannot get plywood?


I live in Argentine. There is something similar, but more heavy duty, not for furniture building.

I love shaker style too. I did something similar (not quite, since I do not have the proper tools) for our kitchen cabinets.

Below are two photos. The whites are the lower cabinets in our kitchen. Wood fronts and frames. The blue one is a dresser, wood frames and mdf drawers.  Forgive the grime. As you can see, they are not the best quality and there are many defects and details to be improved. I am very proud of them and would not change them for store ones. But I am looking for a more professional look in this house, since it is for rent. That is why I am aiming at melamine for the fronts.

nereo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9885
  • Location: la belle province
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2019, 01:44:56 PM »
I wouldn't say that melamine will give you a more 'professional' look.  what's going to make it more professional-looking is more precise cuts and careful finishing (prime, sand, paint, sand, paint, sand, poly). 

You mitered the corners on your previous project; for shaker-style I always use 90º cuts for the trim out of 1/4 hobby stock and use relative measuring.

The first time I built cabinets I modified the plans offered by Ana White here.  Sturdy as hell and using a Kreg Jig made getting everything square pretty easy (I still built a 90º jig with two pieces of 1x3 mounted on a piece of plywood to ensure everything was square).

As is those cabinets are pretty decent, particularly for a first go with minimal tools.  Personally I think rental units have more to do with functionality than minor imperfections; a well thought out kitchen with plenty of cabinet space means more to most rentals than whether there are some blemishes or misaligned trim on the cabinets.  I've been a renter in much worse (heck, my current living situation has THE WORST cabinets I've ever lived in, and makes me really miss my old home).

MariaSouth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2019, 06:48:33 AM »
I wouldn't say that melamine will give you a more 'professional' look.  what's going to make it more professional-looking is more precise cuts and careful finishing (prime, sand, paint, sand, paint, sand, poly). 

You are right. My thought is that since I can get mdf and particle board cut at the store for me, and the melamine does not need finishing, then there are less places were I can add defects.

You mitered the corners on your previous project; for shaker-style I always use 90º cuts for the trim out of 1/4 hobby stock and use relative measuring.

Yes, I found that molding and loved it. Shaker style seems easier and I am considering it for other projects at home.

The first time I built cabinets I modified the plans offered by Ana White here.  Sturdy as hell and using a Kreg Jig made getting everything square pretty easy (I still built a 90º jig with two pieces of 1x3 mounted on a piece of plywood to ensure everything was square).

I know Ana White and take many ideas from her. The 90° jig made out of  1x3 is great. I usually use the floor tiles we have in the kitchen, but it is never perfect. Do  you have a hack for doing the pocket holes? There is a special machine for that, but I can not find it here. 

J Boogie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 879
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2019, 08:31:19 AM »
It sounds like the DIY route will not give you professional results to be honest.

If you want durability, particle board will be bad. MDF is harder and tougher but also won't hold up well to water, which should be expected in a rental kitchen.

Solid wood for building cabinet carcasses is something a hand tool craftsperson would do. They'd break out a rabbet plane and spend 5+ hours to build an amazing carcass that I could assemble with plywood in 15 minutes.

If you are somewhat lacking in tools, there is no way you can glue up all of the solid wood boards into panels in either a decent or timely way. You'd need a jointer (or equivalent means of edge jointing) to do it well and tons and tons of clamps to do it in a timely way. Not to mention that solid wood is insanely expensive compared to the sheet goods you've mentioned.

I guess if I were you I'd go with MDF melamine, and hope for the best but expect a shorter lifespan than plywood. With a melamine surface forget about any rail and stile doors and drawer fronts; go with slab doors. The raw surface showing through on the sides will look bad and allow water/kitchen mess to penetrate into the material and stain & degrade it.




MariaSouth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2019, 09:44:37 AM »
It sounds like the DIY route will not give you professional results to be honest.

If you are somewhat lacking in tools, there is no way you can glue up all of the solid wood boards into panels in either a decent or timely way. You'd need a jointer (or equivalent means of edge jointing) to do it well and tons and tons of clamps to do it in a timely way. Not to mention that solid wood is insanely expensive compared to the sheet goods you've mentioned.

I guess if I were you I'd go with MDF melamine, and hope for the best but expect a shorter lifespan than plywood. With a melamine surface forget about any rail and stile doors and drawer fronts; go with slab doors. The raw surface showing through on the sides will look bad and allow water/kitchen mess to penetrate into the material and stain & degrade it.


Thanks for the input! I can buy "sheets" of already glued wood boards. I could build the carcass out of them. I can not start from boards because I do not have clamps.

Yes, I am also leaning to MDF melamine, at least for the fronts.

Below are a couple of pictures of the cabinets similar to what is sold at the big stores (Ikea-like). They are not cheap and are not the best quality. Made from particle board with melamine. They come in standard sizes, that do not work in the space I have. Of course I could buy them, install them somehow, and call it done. Everybody does it. Some of them are more expensive than others. Depending on the pulls, the thickness and on the edges. They come with aluminum edges, or melamine edges, as you can see in the pictures. There are no (visible) raw edges.

I do not like the style, but it is what people seem to like these days here, 'modern, clean lines, different colors and textures'.

They are pretty simple to build, I can get all the cuts done for me at the store. And I would spend much less money, for a fitting cabinet. Plus, I like to build things. Of course I am afraid of doing a crappy work. That is what makes me doubt.

lthenderson

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1211
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2019, 12:29:39 PM »
wood, melamine-mdf and melamine-particle board.

I've used all three in various projects and have built lots of cabinets over the years so here are some words of advice.

1. Wood is definitely the strongest of the three. If you use MDF for the carcass of the cabinets, you will have to pay special attention to how the cabinets are attached to the wall. MDF crumbles a lot easier and if you have a heavy load, you can easily pull fastener heads right through them. I usually reinforce these areas with hardwood that has been well glued on to prevent this problem.

2. You can buy exterior grade MDF which is a lot more waterproof for kitchen applications. It holds up well. Melamine coated MDF or particle boards is lousy. Solid wood isn't great either as it warps much easier than MDF.

3. Any use of mechanical fasteners is much more challenging with MDF especially if you take them in and out several times over the course of the project. This goes back to MDF being more crumbly.

4. MDF is easily scratched and you can't repair scratches with sanding. Sanding changes the texture of the MDF and is noticeable even after painting.

5. Any place you cut MDF is going to have a different texture than the face

Really the best material is plywood which you can't get in Argentina evidently. All my good quality cabinets have plywood carcasses with a hardwood face frame and door. I do use MDF on the door panel (if it is to be painted) because it has the dimensional stability but I trim it with hardwood to cover the edges so that it looks uniform in texture.

MariaSouth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2019, 05:02:45 PM »
wood, melamine-mdf and melamine-particle board.

I've used all three in various projects and have built lots of cabinets over the years so here are some words of advice.

1. Wood is definitely the strongest of the three. If you use MDF for the carcass of the cabinets, you will have to pay special attention to how the cabinets are attached to the wall. MDF crumbles a lot easier and if you have a heavy load, you can easily pull fastener heads right through them. I usually reinforce these areas with hardwood that has been well glued on to prevent this problem.

2. You can buy exterior grade MDF which is a lot more waterproof for kitchen applications. It holds up well. Melamine coated MDF or particle boards is lousy. Solid wood isn't great either as it warps much easier than MDF.

3. Any use of mechanical fasteners is much more challenging with MDF especially if you take them in and out several times over the course of the project. This goes back to MDF being more crumbly.

4. MDF is easily scratched and you can't repair scratches with sanding. Sanding changes the texture of the MDF and is noticeable even after painting.

5. Any place you cut MDF is going to have a different texture than the face

Really the best material is plywood which you can't get in Argentina evidently. All my good quality cabinets have plywood carcasses with a hardwood face frame and door. I do use MDF on the door panel (if it is to be painted) because it has the dimensional stability but I trim it with hardwood to cover the edges so that it looks uniform in texture.

Thanks for the info!! I did not know that woods warps easier than MDF, I never would have guessed. I am not keen to using MDF for the structure, especially the lower cabinets.

I checked my mother's cabinets. They are from a very well known and with good reputation company (here it is her exact model https://www.johnsonacero.com/projects/ventus/).
This is a much better quality than what one finds at the big stores, comes with 5* years warranty. Of course I can not afford something like this. They are some type of fiberboard. I took note of many details, for instance, the edges are PVC, the vertical edges on the door fronts are a bit wider than the width of the panels (I still need to understand the purpose of this), some small rubber half spheres, that prevent the doors from hitting too hard, the type of screws used, etc

I will go to the store, to ask about prices and try to see more details and ideas. I guess they only sell standard sizes, but it is worth the visit.

EDIT: The warranty is for 5 years, not 25 as I said before.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2019, 05:10:59 PM by MariaSouth »

Papa bear

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 950
  • Location: Ohio
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2019, 06:20:22 PM »
Can you post a link to the plywood type product you can buy?  Your boxes shouldn’t be seen, so it’s not a big deal if the sheet goods aren’t for furniture.

I hate MDF and particle board with a passion. 

Yes, solid wood will warp.  It’s a natural product that expands and contracts with differences in temperature and moisture content.  Plywood and mdf, being “engineered” products, don’t have as much of that problems.  If you can control your environment, temperature and humidity, you’ll have no problems with wood.

If you really don’t have access to anything else, I would begrudgingly use MDF boxes with wood stiles and doors. 

And if you plan on the store cutting your materials for you, don’t expect good tolerances.  They rarely cut your measurement well for you.  I would have them cut bigger than planned and then finish back with your own tools.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

soccerluvof4

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4608
  • Location: Artic Midwest
  • Retired at 50
    • My Journal
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2019, 04:10:45 AM »
I too would go the MDF route. Can you not order online either some materials like from Ikea? maybe do some research and see if you can get things to Argentina on line. Sorry I am not familiar with your countries capabilities for things but time and labor vs shipping costs for something easy and of good quality might be a good trade off.

Papa bear

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 950
  • Location: Ohio
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2019, 04:26:36 PM »
A quick google search for plywood and Argentina brings up lots of purchasing options as well as a list of manufacturers. Is it just not available in your local area?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

MariaSouth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2019, 04:59:44 PM »
Can you post a link to the plywood type product you can buy?  Your boxes shouldn’t be seen, so it’s not a big deal if the sheet goods aren’t for furniture.

I hate MDF and particle board with a passion. 

Yes, solid wood will warp.  It’s a natural product that expands and contracts with differences in temperature and moisture content.  Plywood and mdf, being “engineered” products, don’t have as much of that problems.  If you can control your environment, temperature and humidity, you’ll have no problems with wood.

If you really don’t have access to anything else, I would begrudgingly use MDF boxes with wood stiles and doors. 

And if you plan on the store cutting your materials for you, don’t expect good tolerances.  They rarely cut your measurement well for you.  I would have them cut bigger than planned and then finish back with your own tools.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
.

I went to the store today, to get a picture of the heavy duty plywood-like boards. And what did I find? Plywood!!!! Real!!

I too would go the MDF route. Can you not order online either some materials like from Ikea? maybe do some research and see if you can get things to Argentina on line. Sorry I am not familiar with your countries capabilities for things but time and labor vs shipping costs for something easy and of good quality might be a good trade off.

For what I read in the Ikea website, they 'prefer' full containers orders, about 20.000 euros.


A quick google search for plywood and Argentina brings up lots of purchasing options as well as a list of manufacturers. Is it just not available in your local area?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I have seen that plywood is sold in Buenos Aires and other much bigger cities. Maybe of good quality, for furniture building, I do not know. Apparently, here it is starting to be used for building the casing for concrete roofs and columns (once the concrete hardens, they take off the plywood), that is why the finishing is not that good.


So, as I said before, I went to a big store today, to get the picture for PapaBear. A few months ago, they did not sell plywood, but only had  heavy duty plywood-like panels, today I found they are called OSB boards.

But they just started bringing real plywood now. And they cut it for free! This opens a lot of opportunities. The plywood is not the best quality, it has partial holes, about 1 inch in diameter and 1/4 inch deep (can one patch that?). Many, so I am afraid I will not be able to avoid them. The only width they have is 3/4'', which I understand is the standard size. Now I have to go back to all the plans I have from Ana White and see if there is something I can work out with my limited set of tools.
The plywood is more expensive than melamine-mdf and particle board, but it is ok. Now I will go again to a big wood company near my house. Maybe they sell it too (they did not 6 months ago) because if they do, it will be cheaper.

On the other hand, I casually found a furniture company. They build in wood and mdf, etc. and build whatever one asks for. So, I will draw a plan and have it priced in wood.

MariaSouth

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 421
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2019, 05:18:28 PM »
And here is a picture of the concrete roof casing. I believe the picture shows wood boards casing, but now OSB and plywood panels are being used. The boards are sustained with the wood columns shown. This type of roof is the most used in Argentine. They put terracotta tiles on top of it, if the roof is sloped, or some waterproof paint if the roof is horizontal.

Cadman

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 321
  • Location: Midwest
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2019, 05:31:46 PM »
Can you get laminate/Formica in your country? Starting with MDF, you could always trim the doors and interior shelves out in laminate which will make them virtually indestructable and completely waterproof.  Just need a laminate router and contact cement.

Papa bear

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 950
  • Location: Ohio
Re: Kitchen cabinets: wood, mdf, particle board
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2019, 09:04:30 AM »
OSB /= plywood

You can use builder grade plywood for your boxes.  Normally, you don’t see the boxes with cabinets.  they are against walls or against other cabinets.

If there is an exposed side, you can veneer it with wood or laminate mor you can fill the holes and sand like crazy before you paint.



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk