I built a lot of kitchens since 1976 until I packed that in 5+ years
ago....2003, wow, that's 8 years ago...*shakes head*
The bulk of them, we built with 120gram melamine over HD particle
Trust me when I tell you that there are a LOT of different grades of
PB and thicknesses of melamine. Sink cabinets were invariably
constructed of plywood for all the reasons the rest of the guys here
The 120gPB I used was not much of a cost savings over plywood, but so
much easier to cut accurately, no finishing, certainly flatter and
more of a consistent thickness. All said and done, the bulk of the
cost saving by using 120gPB was in the fact that a single pass through
the edgebander did the job. No face frame to deal with, No sanding,
and 3 coats of spraying.
The nicest thing about PB is that it is flat.
The guys who bought the shop back then now use a lot of water
resistant MDF of which Swing speaketh. Also available with 120g of
If done right, there's nothing wrong with a quality heavy duty
Now we get to the crux of the matter: I like plywood except it is
harder to be competitive in the marketplace from a price standpoint.
In terms of look-and-feel? Nothing to talk about.
I worked in Kitchen Design at Home Depot (Coordinator) and sold Kraft
Maid (Hardwood/plywood face frame style) as well as RTA "European
Style" MDF (Compressed wood fibers). There is no question that I would
prefer a (quality) plywood box over MDF type "boxes." Having said
that, I went twice for the price and got the MDF (first for a remodel
back in 1990, and later for another about five years later).
While I took every precaution to protect the exposed edges of the MDF
from moisture (sealing with Poly, caulking, etc.) I have had no issues
with moisture damage in either installation. If you have a Self-
Cleaning Oven, there are installation procedures necessary to protect
the adjacent cabinets from the heat.
The place I bought in NC had the cheap Lowes Oak face frame & door
cabinets on MDF boxes. The homeowner who installed them was not a
careful guy - but the cabinets held up fine. The Hardwood doors warped
a bit, but the boxes are still square and true!
So, from these personal experiences, I would say it's personal
finances that dictate the choice.
But, the differences between kitchen cabinets lies with more than the
materials used in the construction of the boxes - which are seldom
seen or heard from after the installation.
But any woman can tell you "it's the drawers stupid." Hold your
tongue and (listen &) watch the ladies shop the kitchen cabinets. Once
they get past caressing the marble counter tops (emitting a purring
sound in many cases), watch as they reach for the nearest drawer and,
ever so lightly, attempt to pull it out into the light of showroom.
Then, watch them urge it back in place with the slightest of touches,
tensing a bit in anticipation to see if it responds to the little
touch. If it's Blum, and effortlessly glides back into the deep
recesses of that top of the line cabinet - listen for a sigh or a
breath escaping slowly as it closes firmly.
If she moves on to a Pan Drawer base, start the video camera with
sound and post it to your tube.
Later, after the experience is over and you're lounging about with the
wine and Camels, ask her which she prefers in he boxes - plywood or
MDF . . .
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