Plywood cabinets are a mid-range cabinet material choice. Plywood is durable, strong, and resistant to many forms of damage including water damage, making it an excellent choice for kitchen cabinets that must carry a large amount of weight and withstand spills, stains, and drips.
Plywood is a more expensive option than MDF, another popular engineered wood choice, but it is less pricey than solid natural wood cabinets. On average you can expect to spend $7,000-12,000 on plywood cabinets, depending on the level of customization you want to have.
If you are ready to install new plywood kitchen cabinets, contact your local cabinet installers for FREE price estimates.
What is Plywood?
Plywood is made from thin layers of wood rotated and then pressed on top of each other to create a single strong, unified layer. Plywood can be made from any type of wood. Some popular choices of wood material for plywood cabinets are birch, walnut, bamboo, or oak.
While all plywood will be durable, different wood types have unique advantages, so be sure to look into different types of plywood to choose the one best suited for your needs.
There is also high-quality plywood, which is used to make high-end custom cabinets with solid wood door fronts. This high-end plywood is a type of laminated wood that is resistant to warping and shrinking – in fact it preforms even better than solid wood.
Typically this high-end plywood also has a real wood veneer that is laminated on to the cabinet box and is usually the same type of wood as the one used in the other parts of the cabinet. This ensures that the veneer and the real wood parts of the cabinet will match perfectly.
Plywood Kitchen Cabinet Cost
The pricing of plywood kitchen cabinets varies greatly depending on the type of cabinet you want to install as well as the quality and thickness of plywood you go for. On average, new plywood cabinets for a 10×10 kitchen cost $7,500 – 10,000.
The absolute minimum you can anticipate paying is $4,000-5,000, whereas for a high end kitchen renovation with customized cabinets, you can pay $25,000 and above.
If you are purchasing the cabinets yourself, expect to pay at the minimum $2,500 for a basic ready to assemble kitchen starter made of plywood. For preassembled plywood cabinets, expect the minimum cost to be about $3,200.
You can purchase individual pre assembled or ready to assemble cabinets for, on average, between $200 and $500 each, depending on the cabinet type.
Did You Know? Plywood cabinets cost 10-20% more than the same size cabinets made of particle board. Also, you should budget more if you are looking to install 3/4 inch plywood cabinets instead of the 1/2 inch plywood, as its more durable and longer lasting.
The table below shows the average prices for a single unit of a plywood kitchen cabinet purchased from a licensed contractor.
|Material Cost||Labor Cost (2 hours)||Supplies and Tools Cost||Total Cost|
|Basic Cabinet||$190 – $290||$165 – $275||$75 – $100||$430 – $665|
|Mid-Range Cabinet||$290 – $430||$165 – $275||$85 – $115||$540 – $820|
|High-End Cabinet||$430 – $630||$165 – $275||$100 – $135||$695 – $1,040|
Factors That Increase Cabinet Installation Cost
When budgeting for a new kitchen remodel, its important to be aware that there are many factors that will increase your total cost of cabinets.
Lets take a close look at the factors that will drive up the cost of your kitchen cabinets:
1. Size of you kitchen: its obvious that the bigger your kitchen, the more cabinets you will need and the higher the total price will be.
2. Adding plumbing or electrical wires to the cabinets: this can be a very expensive upgrade that can add anywhere from $1,500 -3,000+ to the total.
3. Complexity of install: professional labor can make up as much as 50-70% of the total cabinet cost, depending on the level of customization, accessibility, etc.
4. Adding extra features to the cabinets: depending on the features you add, your total cabinet cost can increase by as much as 20-40%. Some of the popular extra features include:
– Crown moldings
– Interior cabinet lighting/under cabinet lighting
– Glass doors/inlays
– Decorative wood inlays
– Spice rack
– Lazy Suzan
Plywood Cabinet Finishes
There are many different finishing choices for a plywood cabinet that can help make your kitchen look exactly how you imagine.
To make your kitchen cabinets the color you desire, plywood can be painted or stained. Painting your plywood will give you a wider range of color choices than staining, but it will be more pricey and paint tends to have a shorter lifespan than staining a cabinet. Staining will give your cabinets a traditional, antique look, whereas paint can make your kitchen look modern and crisp.
While plywood can be both painted or stained, plywood is best suited for staining, as it holds the stain material well.
Stains can be mixed into almost any color desirable, resulting in a wide array of color selection options for a plywood cabinets. MDF, on the other hand, is the preferred cabinet material for those interested in painting their cabinets rather than staining them.
What are the Advantages of Plywood Kitchen Cabinets?
Plywood kitchen cabinets have many advantages that make them popular amongst home renovators and builders. Below are some of the primary benefits of installing new plywood cabinets for your kitchen.
Durability and Strength
Due to its unique design, plywood is a strong material favored in building and construction. A plywood cabinet will be able to withstand much wear and tear and last for decades to come. Many types of plywood such as birch are naturally resistant to warping and rotting, while other wood types can be protected against such maladies with sealants that will keep your cabinets in good shape for years and years.
Plywood is a mid-range cabinet material. It costs more than a basic MDF cabinet or a chipboard cabinet, but it is substantially cheaper than a solid wood cabinet such as solid oak or even an oak veneer. While plywood does have a higher upfront cost than cheaper materials such as MDF, in the long run the durability and lifespan of plywood may counterbalance the initial high cost and lead to savings over time compared to other less expensive materials.
Plywood is offered in many different environmentally friendly options. Many plywood cabinet companies offer ethically sourced or recycled wood choices. Bamboo and birch are some of the most popular materials for a plywood cabinet, and both are known for being environmentally friendly building materials.
Plywood is favored by many because of its clean, versatile appearance. Plywood is particularly well suited for modern kitchen designs or for those seeking out sleek cabinets and a streamlined look. For those interested in frameless cabinets, plywood is the best choice because its unique strength can provide the required stability for frameless cabinets.
Framed vs. Frameless Kitchen Cabinets
One of the many decisions you will make when buying new kitchen cabinets is whether to buy a framed or frameless cabinet. A frameless cabinet is significantly more expensive than a framed cabinet. On average, home renovators will spend about 15% more on frameless cabinets than they would on framed cabinets.
So what is the difference between framed and frameless cabinets? Framed cabinets are the traditional cabinet style, in which the rails and styles are visible in the front of the cabinet and create a flat frame that the cabinet door is then attached to.
Frameless cabinets, on the other hand, do not have visible rails and styles. Instead, the box of the cabinets is heavier in order to support the door attached to it.
Frameless cabinets are the preferred choice in modern kitchen designs because of their crisp, sleek appearance. The front of the frameless cabinet forms a uniform, flat surface, a quintessential look in most modern kitchen designs.
Frameless cabinets are offered in many customizable styles. The higher pricing of frameless cabinets is because of the extra strong boxes needed to support frameless cabinet doors.
Plywood vs. MDF Kitchen Cabinets
Plywood and MDF (medium density fiberboard) are both popular choices for kitchen cabinet materials, both with distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Plywood is made by gluing together thin pieces of wood to form a single, solid piece. To make plywood, layers of wood are rotated, a technique which makes plywood a strong building material well-suited for cabinets.
Plywood comes in several different types of grains: higher grain plywood is better suited for shelves.
For kitchen cabinets, plywood tends to be cut into pieces 3/4 inch thick, and is often veneered on one side with an inexpensive wood such as birch.
MDF, on the other hand, is made from tiny fibers of hardwood and softwood merged together to make a solid piece. The fibers are joined together using wax and applying pressure or a high temperature.
Unlike plywood, MDF does not have any grains or knots, and looks less like real wood because all the wood pieces are broken down. MDF is called many names, including particle board, composite wood, or fiberboard.
Reasons to Choose Plywood Over MDF cabinets
Plywood has many advantages that make it a good choice to use for kitchen cabinets. For one, plywood is very strong because of its unique construction techniques, and can withstand consistent weights and pressures, making it well-suited to support your dishes or kitchen appliances.
Because of plywood’s layers, the material can tightly grip on to screws because each layer creates more holding for the screw. This helps keep your cabinets sturdy. In contrast, MDF is made from a very fine fiber that does not hold screws as well, making it less sturdy in the long run. Because of this, it is also more susceptible to splitting than plywood is.
Also, plywood is lighter than MDF, which makes installing high-up shelves easier in plywood than in MDF. This is especially true for anyone hoping to install their cabinets DIY if they are building their own cabinets or purchasing ready to install cabinets.
Plywood, unlike MDF, does not soak up liquids or other substances. This makes plywood much less susceptible to stains or water damage, giving it a longer lifespan. MDF, on the other hand, if not sealed properly will soak up liquids it touches and swell, warp, and break.
Another benefit of plywood is that it is easily stainable, because of its grains. MDF, which does not have grains, is more difficult to stain so there is less flexibility around the color of your cabinets. Furthermore, plywood comes in a variety of designs and thicknesses, giving you more freedom in the design and customization of your kitchen cabinets.
Lastly, plywood appears closer to natural, unaltered wood than MDF does. If you are seeking out a natural wood aesthetic, plywood may be the better choice for you.
Reasons to Choose MDF Over Plywood cabinets
One of the main advantages of MDF for a kitchen cabinet is the lower price. MDF is across the board a cheaper building material than plywood, so choosing MDF for your kitchen cabinet can cut down on the overall cost significantly.
On average, MDF is about one-third cheaper than plywood. The difference in material pricing is especially apparent for kitchen cabinets, because a high grade of plywood is particularly pricey.
Another plus of MDF is that it takes well to paint, unlike plywood which is best for staining. MDF has a smooth surface, so it is easy to paint into whichever color you prefer.
Similarly, because of the smooth edges MDF is easy to cut and carve out designs, making it a good choice for a DIY kitchen cabinet project.
In contrast, plywood is difficult to cut smoothly, making it harder to add designs or make clear cuts. Additionally, plywood splinters easily, and because of the layered edges it may have voids if not cut properly.
Therefore, for a DIY kitchen cabinet, working with MDF will likely be much easier than working with plywood.
Plywood vs Particle Board Cabinets
In addition to MDF, another budget friendly alternative to plywood cabinets is particle board.
Particle board is made from scraps of wood that are left over from manufacturing a wide range of products. In fact, many large plywood manufacturers make particle board from the leftovers of production. This is what makes particle board cabinets about 10-15% cheaper than plywood cabinets.
Lets take a look at the pros and cons of using particle board vs plywood cabinets.
|Plywood Cabinets||Particle Board Cabinets|
|Cost||Considered a high-end, expensive material||Low cost material made of wood waste|
|Construction||Superior construction because it holds screws and fasteners more efficiently||Overall much weaker construction that is not as long lasting|
|Durability||Superior tensile strength/resistance to pulling and side to side movement||Dimensionally stable/ will not warp due to temperature fluctuations|
|Moisture resistance||Highly moisture resistant/ will not bubble or swell when in contact with water||Extremely susceptible to damage from moisture|
|Looks||Can be re – finished to look like real wood||Can NOT be refinished to look like real wood/ you can only repaint them|
|Best application||Install in mid-range price kitchens where durability and longevity are desired||Install in low-end budget kitchen remodels, that will need to be redone again in a few years|
How to Maintain Your Plywood Kitchen Cabinets
Maintenance and care for plywood is simple and straightforward. Because of the protectant finish, a plywood cabinet is stain resistant and water resistant. To clean them, simply wipe down the cabinet face with a gentle cleanser. All-purpose cleaners or wood-specific cleaners will be sufficient, including bleach-based and vinegar-based cleaning solutions.
Do not use strong chemical cleaners unless specified for plywood cabinets, as some may cause damage.
Plywood cabinets over time may become greasy as the oil builds up on the stained surface. Cleaning semi-regularly with a degreaser or another oil-removing cleansing agent in order to remove the oil build up.
What Countertops Match Plywood Cabinets?
The perfect countertop to match your new plywood cabinet will depend on the type of plywood you choose and the aesthetic you are looking for. For a modern, open air style kitchen design, consider choosing a light quartz countertops.
For a hyper-modern, industrial look, consider concrete countertops. A marble or granite countertop will give your kitchen a classy, traditional appearance.
$1,974 - $3,079
Where Can I Buy Plywood Cabinets?
If you are renovating or building your kitchen through a contractor, the company will likely be able to provide and install a plywood kitchen cabinet. If you are installing the cabinets yourself or hiring a local handyperson to install the cabinets, you can buy fully assembled cabinets or buy the cabinet boxes and the doors separately.
Home Depot offers fully constructed plywood cabinets in a wide variety of styles and designs. For cabinet boxes, the Kitchen Cabinet Kings, The RTA (ready to assemble) Store, and the RTA Cabinet store all make their cabinet boxes from plywood.
How Long Will Plywood Cabinets Last?
Plywood is a very strong building material and will last up to fifty years. While plywood is more expensive than other cabinet materials like MDF, in the long run a plywood cabinet will last much longer than an MDF cabinet, making the price difference worth it for many homeowners.
How can I Save Money When Buying Plywood Kitchen Cabinets?
Plywood cabinets are a pricey cabinet option, so finding ways to make them more affordable will help you keep down the cost of a kitchen renovation project. Choosing only some plywood cabinets for your kitchen, while installing MDF cabinets for the rest, is a good way to benefit from plywood cabinets while keeping the costs low.
For instance, you can install plywood cabinets for the lower cabinets, as they are more likely to come in contact with water and other staining agents, making plywood a better choice. For upper cabinets that do not experience liquid spills, MDF cabinets can be installed.
If you can only afford one plywood cabinet, consider installing it beneath the sink, as that is the area that experiences the most water spillage.
Another way to cut down on the cost is to choose cheaper features for your new plywood cabinet.
For instance, installing framed cabinets rather than frameless cabinets will help reduce the cost. Choosing more affordable wood types, paint, and staining will also reduce costs.
Can I Install Plywood Kitchen Cabinets DIY?
Installing plywood kitchen cabinets is a good DIY project that will save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in labor costs. Many companies, including Home Depot, offer fully pre assembled cabinets that only need to be attached to the wall.
Also, companies provide ready to assemble cabinets that include all the materials and instructions to install the cabinets at an even cheaper price than pre assembled cabinets. Both pre assembled and ready to assemble cabinets are well-suited DIY projects for a beginner in home improvement DIY.
For a more experienced DIYer, consider building the cabinets from scratch. Purchasing plywood and other necessary materials and tools from a store like Lowe’s or Home Depot will be significantly cheaper than buying from a cabinet company.
Be sure to buy high grade plywood, as that is the type used for cabinet construction. The project will likely take from several days to two weeks, depending on your experience level.
Are Plywood Cabinets Worth It?
Plywood cabinets are strong cabinets that will not need replacement or repairs for several decades after purchasing. While the upfront cost is high, they have a longer lifespan than alternative cabinet types such as MDF.
New plywood cabinets are an excellent renovation choice if you are considering selling your home in the future, as they have a good ROI (return on investment).
If you invest in plywood cabinets, when you go to sell your home you will receive back a high percent of the original cabinet cost in the price of your home. New plywood cabinets are one of the best renovations you can do in your kitchen to make it appealing to buyers.
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