Laminate vs. Wood Cabinets: Choosing the Best Material for Your Needs

Laminate vs. Wood Cabinets: Choosing the Best Material for Your Needs

When homeowners are remodeling their homes, they face tough decisions when it comes to design and maintenance. Changing your living space can be exciting, but with so many choices and factors to consider, it can become overwhelming. Choosing new cabinets for the kitchen is a major decision in itself, even if you have already planned out your layout and cabinet sizes. Finding cabinets that offer both quality and durability, while also fitting your desired aesthetic, is crucial.

One key decision to make when selecting cabinets is the material they are made from. Wood and laminate are the two most common options. In this article, we will compare and contrast wood cabinets vs laminate cabinets to help you make an informed decision.

Wood vs. Laminate Cabinets

Wet bar with driftwood gray cabinets with gold accent

Lily Ann Cabinets: York Driftwood Grey

When comparing wood cabinets to laminate cabinets, it is important to understand the basics of how each type is constructed. Wood cabinets are typically made from a blend of plywood and solid hardwood, with maple being a popular choice for visible elements such as doors and drawer fronts. Plywood is often used for cabinet box construction due to its strength and resistance to warping. Any exposed plywood areas are covered with an end panel or skin to maintain a cohesive look. The entire construction can be painted or finished with a natural wood stain, showcasing the beauty of the wood both inside and out.

On the other hand, laminate cabinets are made with a completely different material that includes wood particles compressed with another substance like melamine. The laminate is then coated with a thin layer, usually a type of plastic, to provide protection and give the desired appearance, which can be a single color or feature printed designs. The outer layer may also be smooth or have a textured finish, often mimicking the look of wood grain. Unlike wood cabinets, laminate cabinets do not require painting, as the color is part of the outer layer.

Both wood and laminate cabinets have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, as well as unique qualities that may appeal to different individuals based on personal preferences. It is important to consider these factors when deciding on which type of cabinets to choose for your space.

Learn More: Affordable Kitchen Cabinets: Budget-Friendly Solutions for Your Home

Wood Cabinets

white kitchen with wood cabinets and natural wood range hood

Lily Ann Cabinets: Colorado White Shaker

Wood cabinets have a rich history, with the art of carpentry dating back to ancient times. Even plywood, often seen as a modern material, has been around for thousands of years to maximize the use of limited wood resources. This demonstrates that wooden cabinets, including those made with plywood, have deep roots in tradition.

Wood cabinets offer timeless beauty and exceptional durability, often lasting for decades when properly constructed. While some may consider wood cabinets to be outdated, their style plays a crucial role in their modern appeal. For example, the Shaker style, originating from the 1700s, remains popular today due to its simple and versatile design that complements various home aesthetics.

Additionally, wood cabinets can be easily updated by replacing the doors, providing flexibility in interior design choices. They also add value to a home, as their quality craftsmanship and longevity make them a worthwhile investment for both current and future generations.

However, wood cabinets do require more maintenance compared to laminate cabinets and may be costlier upfront. Despite this, their ability to be repaired easily and their superior aesthetic and functional qualities make them a preferred choice for many homeowners.

Laminate Cabinets

Laminate Kitchen Cabinets

Laminate cabinets boast a contemporary aesthetic, characterized by their smooth and sleek appearance, often devoid of noticeable textures. They are favored by homeowners and designers seeking a modern kitchen ambiance rather than a traditional or cozy feel. However, opinions vary, with some finding the perfectly smooth surfaces too impersonal, reminiscent of a professional kitchen rather than a cozy home environment. Ultimately, preferences dictate the choice.

One of the notable advantages of laminate cabinets is their resistance to stains and ease of cleaning, surpassing that of wood. They can typically be effortlessly wiped down with water, although well-finished wood cabinets may offer similar ease of maintenance. Additionally, laminate cabinets exhibit greater resilience to heat, steam, and moisture, all while being more cost-effective compared to their wooden counterparts.

Despite these benefits in confronting kitchen-related challenges, laminate cabinets generally exhibit lower durability than wood. They are prone to needing replacement sooner and are less amenable to repairs, particularly when it comes to scratches. Unlike wood cabinets where scratches can often be concealed with appropriate treatments, scratches on laminate surfaces are harder to rectify, potentially leaving visible marks even after attempted repair.

Since laminate consists of compressed wood particles in layers, significant damage to the outer layer can compromise the cabinet's structural integrity. However, advancements in laminate manufacturing, such as the utilization of rigid thermal foiling, have bolstered its resilience. Yet, issues like peeling and adhesive weakness persist, particularly in cheaper laminates, detracting from their longevity.

In essence, attempting DIY repairs on laminate cabinets can prove challenging, with even minor damage posing difficulty to conceal. Structural issues like cracks or peeling generally signal the end of a laminate cabinet's lifespan. Moreover, due to their lower durability and commonality, laminate cabinets do not enhance a home's resale value. They also tend to be heavier than wood, which may affect installation logistics, albeit not significantly beyond complicating the process slightly.

Learn More: Framed vs. Frameless Cabinets: Understanding the Differences

Which Cabinets Are Best For You?

Laminate vs wood Cabinets

Laminate cabinets attract those seeking a contemporary and streamlined aesthetic, drawn to the vast array of colors and patterns available. The lower initial cost and easy maintenance further contribute to their appeal. However, it's crucial to understand the drawbacks of laminate cabinets, including their susceptibility to damage, which may necessitate complete replacement.

On the other hand, wood cabinets appeal to individuals interested in making a durable, long-term investment that promises lasting quality, often characterized by traditional craftsmanship. Despite the prevalence of laminate cabinets, wood exudes timeless elegance and can still maintain a modern allure. While laminate cabinets may be perceived as easier to clean, wood cabinets with a quality finish can also be effortlessly maintained. This aspect may not even factor significantly into the decision-making process for some.

Although laminate cabinets offer a cost-effective option compared to wood, this advantage diminishes when considering the latter's durability and other benefits. Additionally, the cost of wood cabinets can be mitigated by purchasing ready-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cabinets and assembling them at home. This approach combines the advantages of high-quality wooden cabinetry with a more affordable price point compared to pre-assembled options, providing a balance between quality and cost-effectiveness.


When it comes to choosing between wood and laminate for your kitchen cabinetry, both materials offer distinct advantages. Ultimately, the decision rests on your personal preferences and requirements.

Keep in mind that wood cabinets are often considered a "one and done" purchase, offering a durable and timeless option that may require less frequent replacement. On the other hand, laminate cabinets provide a more budget-friendly option with a modern aesthetic but may necessitate replacement sooner. Consider weighing these factors against your personal preferences to make an informed decision that aligns with your needs and lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are laminate cabinets more affordable than wood cabinets?

Laminate cabinets may be more affordable up front but in the long run, wood cabinets would last making it worth the purchase! Lily Ann Cabinets RTA cabinets are 50% off big box stores. Consider looking into RTA solid wood cabinets for the best prices!

2. Are there any environmental considerations associated with choosing laminate or wood cabinets?

When considering the environmental impact of cabinets, it's essential to think about their disposal at the end of their lifespan. Wood cabinets can often be recycled or repurposed, contributing to circular economy principles. Laminate cabinets, however, may be more challenging to recycle due to the combination of materials used in their

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