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Why is Wood So Popular for Cabinets?

 Have you ever designed a kitchen in your head? Use your imagination and think about everything you’d want in an ideal kitchen — everything that would make it perfect for you, without considering time, cost, or any of the usual constraints. What if the only rule was that everything you use has to exist in real life? What would you put in a kitchen if you had no limits on your budget and choices?

What’s funny about imagining a dream kitchen like this is how practical your vision will still probably be. If you know anything about working in a kitchen (not just building one), you’re going to opt for a layout that goes with your workflow and materials that stand up to the rigors of daily use. Even pretending money is no object and you can get whatever you want, you’re likely still picturing cabinets made from good, tough, reliable wood.

The Natural Beauty of Wood

We live in an era defined by technology, with frequent advances in materials and construction. Laminate cabinets have become common and it’s hard to take ten steps in any direction without encountering something made with MDF — including MDF cabinets. But wood has some serious staying power that casts doubt upon whether those “advances in materials and construction” are really advances at all, especially in the world of cabinetry. Sometimes the classics are classics for a reason.

Let’s start with the most obvious, and yet shallowest aspect: the looks. If the appearance of natural wood appeals to you, you’re probably going to use natural finishes that enrich the color of the wood and allow its intricate, unique grain patterns to shine through. Real, high-quality wood dressed with an equally high-quality finish is a beauty that’s almost impossible to fake. Wood, having once been alive, looks and feels as if it is still alive, and so it brings life to a room. It’s like we can sense it.

The Strength of Centuries

Even if you don’t particularly care for natural wood grains and finishes, wood is going to retain its inner qualities regardless of whether you paint it with a solid, modern-looking color instead. It has a remarkable strength and longevity that most artificial materials can’t measure up to.

The strength of wood has two sides: one is its general ability to hold its own weight (and the weight of everything you put in a cabinet), and the other is its resilience against surface damage. It’s worth knowing that not all types of wood are equally tough, nor are they all suited to use in cabinetry, but hardwoods like maple can outlast human lifetimes if properly cared for. The quality of the finish does come into play, but most of the strength belongs directly to the wood — scratches, nicks, and other minor surface damage can all be covered up, and they don’t harm the structural integrity of the wood or lead to deterioration. Meanwhile, artificial materials (laminate, especially) can start falling apart because of a single deep scratch. Once the compressed particles start coming undone, it’s over.

Some people choose laminate or other artificial materials because they’ve been told it just “wipes clean” with a damp cloth, but with a proper finish on it, wood can be cleaned the exact same way. It’s just marketing for laminate vendors to present their product as the easier one to clean, but many people simply don’t know much about wood and assume the natural grain patterns are deeper than in reality and are always going to catch dirt. They must never have seen a smooth, finished, polished cabinet!

Environmental Impact and Sustainability

Your cabinets should last a long, long time, but we have to address what happens when they’re worn out, even if that isn’t going to happen for a hundred years. Artificial materials can have a negative impact on the environment during both their manufacturing process and when they’re thrown away — they can release pollutants and refuse to biodegrade. They may not be able to be recycled, either. Wood is much easier to responsibly dispose of, even when painted or otherwise finished.

If you’re worried about killing trees, keep in mind that today’s lumber industry is much friendlier to nature than it has been in the past. Initiatives include tree farms grown specifically for harvest and replanting afterward. Online Cabinets Direct only uses sustainably sourced maple hardwood and plywood.

There was a time when people thought artificial materials were actually more environmentally friendly because they would last longer and not require trees or other natural materials to be harvested, but in the past few decades much of that idea has backfired, and the careful management and sustainability of natural materials are better understood.

Investment and Equity

Due to their longevity, good-quality wood cabinets are an investment that will pay off. They may cost more than laminate or other materials, but you’re much less likely to need to replace them anytime soon. As I’ve mentioned, wooden cabinets can outlast humans and be used by several generations!

On top of that, wood cabinets are objectively seen as an investment among the housing market, meaning they are considered to add value to a home. Whether you’re flipping a house or more interested in building up long-term equity, wood is the way to go for your kitchen cabinets. Other materials do not command the same respect — a realtor is going to be way more excited to show off 10-year-old wooden cabinets than brand new laminate ones, even if both are in perfect condition. Especially if the wooden ones are in perfect condition!

What Else About Wood?

Beauty, strength, value… besides those, wood has some additional qualities that are harder to define because not everyone notices them. Some people will tell you they prefer the feel of wood cabinets, the sounds, the quiet resonance when gently closing them. Wooden cabinets help create an atmosphere made of all these tiny details. You simply can’t say the same thing about other materials; maybe because they don’t have a connection to life or history the way wood does.

Of course, some of that is a matter of opinion. There may indeed be people who feel the same way about laminate or other materials as far as creating a special atmosphere, being pleasant to touch, and so on. Everyone has their personal preferences.

But wood’s advantages are based in fact, not just opinion. Putting aside everything but aesthetics, and making this contest into a simple one based on strength, value, sustainability, and any other objective matter, the result is clear.

You cannot go wrong by choosing wood cabinets for your home.

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