In regard to kitchen cabinets, what are feelings in terms of
engineered wood vs. plywood for the end panels, floors/tops, wall
backs, base backs, and shelves?
The proposed cabinets would be getting use only by 2 retired baby
If, by "engineered wood", you mean ,melamine covered particle board
then that would be my choice. Plywood is a better product but it
needs some sort of finish. And regardless of what it might be
finished with, that finish is not nearly as durable or easy to clean
as is the melamine on the particle board.
Yes, if particle board gets wet it will expand; solution is to not get
it wet...not hard to do. However, do NOT use particle board on the
top...it *will* get wet there.
For backs, one can use tileboard too...cheap and readily available. I
prefer to use 1/4" mel board but it is sometimes hard to come by; if
so, I use 1/2" mel board.
Check out some of the baltic birch and other nice plywood now in the
market. That way you won't get stuck with wallpapered crumbleboard
where you can see it. Remember, 'engineered' wood (think MDF) always
sags under long term load and chips readily, so shelving isn't the
best use for it. As a $ saving material in the right place it is OK,
but knowing its weaknesses will save you disappointment later. HTH
When the inevitable leak comes, you will be glad that you have plywood.
If particle board gets wet, it bulges more (IMO) and crumbles. We
have bathroom vanities where just the moisture on seam of where two
pieces of formica meet, the particle bd. absorbed a little moisture, it
bulges open a tad, gets more moisture....moisture tends to hang on the
bottoms of the doors, as well, and they have bulged a little. Most
noticeable on backsplash. I also had a countertop of p.b. which wicked a
little moisture from a tight-looking seam and started to bulge.
We had a flood, just months after refacing and getting new doors/drawers
on our very old ply kitchen cabinets. No harm done, but it got cleaned
Whoever owns the place 20 years from now will be happier with
furniture-grade plywood. By engineered wood, do you mean the hi-density
stuff with real veneer faces (like Norm uses on his show for selected
applications, and stereo geeks used to make speaker cabinets from?), or what
the big-box sales guy calls engineered wood, which is just chipboard with a
faux woodgrain plastic applied to it?
(IMHO, fake woodgrain should be a felony. If you can't afford wood, that is
what Formica is for.)
If it has real veneer, it might be acceptable for end panels and backs. I
wouldn't use it for any horizontal applications, or doors. Just too water
and impact sensitive. (Sags, screws pull out, warps, etc.) Leastways that
has been my experience over several cheap rental kitchens, and lotsa
installation callbacks in an earlier life. I'm currently trying to undo what
previous owner did to the fine 1960 solid wood cabinets in this place
(horrible faux finish paint job, butchered over-stove micro installation.) I
sure can't afford what similar quality replacements would cost today- I'd be
looking in the chipboard aisle.
The problem is that the term "engineered" is applied to ANY wood that is
man-altered, even plywood. So you really need to know what they are pushing
under the label "engineered" because it can cover a whole gamut of different
products. My choice would be cabinet grade hardwood plywood with a veneer of
your favourite finish wood.
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