When you are building a new home or remodelling an old one, redesigning the kitchen is one of the most important aspects as it is a room that is used a lot, either for cooking or eating meals. While modular kitchens are popular because they are easy to install, the finish of the kitchen cabinets contributes significantly to the overall look of the room, especially in modern kitchens with an open plan. In India, there is a choice of materials that are used for kitchen cabinets. They range from affordable to expensive, but some are not as durable as others.
Today, we look at the options available in the market for modular kitchen cabinets and highlight the pros and cons of each, to make it easier for you to decide on the material that best fits your home design and budget.
Wood is the most commonly used material for Indian kitchen cabinets. It is popular as it is a renewable resource and is natural and non-toxic, unlike some of the other materials. In India, teak and rosewood are common choices for kitchen cabinets. Once installed, they can be stained or varnished in the desired shade. They bring a lovely natural look to the kitchen due to the textures and grains on the surface of the wood and are perfect for almost any kitchen style, whether it’s a modern or a country-style kitchen. Cleaning the surface of the wood cabinets is relatively easy, and the finish can last for years so long as harsh chemical solutions are not used to clean them.
The disadvantage of using wood in modular kitchen design is that unless the quality of the wood is good, the material can get warped over time. If not treated prior to installation, the cabinets can also come under attack from wood borers, termites and other insects. Additionally, wood as a material doesn’t handle moisture well. Therefore, over time, the moisture and steam in the kitchen can damage the surface of the wood. Perhaps the main point that works against wood is that it is an expensive material, which requires regular maintenance to keep it looking good for a long time.
Laminates are the best option for cheap kitchen cabinets. Many homeowners prefer to use laminates instead of wood as they are more pocket-friendly and resistant to damage and infestation. They are hardy as they are made from thin sheets of plastic resin and paper that are sandwiched together with a decorative surface sheet protected by a film of tough plastic. Usually, laminates are pasted upon a base layer of a stronger material such as MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard). The variety of designs allows these cabinets to be coordinated with the design style of any kitchen. These laminates, which are also referred to as Sunmica design sheets, come in a range of finishes, including matte and glossy. Their surfaces can even be digital printed to create a unique look in the kitchen.
The cons of using laminates are that they need to be installed by experts. Otherwise, the edges will start to peel away after some time. Another disadvantage is that these laminates are a non-renewable resource, and some varieties can emit toxic gases into the air for a long time after it is installed.
Like laminates, wood veneers are made of thin sheets of wood that are pasted on a substrate such as MDF. However, unlike laminates, they are a sustainable material. Wood veneers are also more economical than real wood and bring the same natural look to the modular kitchen designs as they have grains on the surface. Veneers can have matte or glossy finishes.
One of the disadvantages of wood veneers is that they are sensitive to sunlight, and when exposed to it for some time, their colour fades. Additionally, they get scratched easily. Like wood, they require regular maintenance to keep them looking polished and new.
When it comes to contemporary kitchens, plywood is another widely popular material used by the experienced interior architects. It has various thin layers of wood that are joined together with adhesive to provide sturdy support to the drawers, shelves or cabinets constructed with it. Its ability to resist moisture and immense flexibility offered by it, are some of the factors that make it highly preferable. In addition, it is easy to repair, replace and can effortlessly hold up to drilling in comparison to other materials.
However, plywood may lack consistency due to the gaps or holes that develop when the boards are combined together. Also, elaborate designs are hard to construct with it as it is a dense material.
Melamine is a material that is often preferred for designing stylish kitchen and bathroom cabinets. For modern kitchens, melamine resin is combined with paper to form thin flat sheets that are usually used to cover the inner section of the cabinets. Its tough outer coating allows it to resist various issues such as moisture, heat and stains. Additionally, since it is a synthetic material, it can be produced in a countless number of finishes and colours. Most importantly, it is available at a comparatively lower price range.
One of the disadvantages of using melamine for kitchen units is that it can be harder to install. Additionally, it can chip and is even highly susceptible to water damage. Hence, you need to compare all its pros and cons in order to make a wise decision.
These sheets are made of plastic composite and are extremely strong. They have the advantage of being waterproof and oil-proof, making them a popular choice for kitchen cabinets. Plastic kitchen cabinets are also cheap and easy to install as they don’t need to be fixed on a substrate. They are usually available in light shades, and some even come in a faux-wood finish. Plastic cabinets are relatively maintenance-free, termite-proof and do not get corroded.
However, the disadvantage of using PVC sheet for kitchen cabinets is that they are not fire-resistant. Over time, these cabinets become yellow or faded. Because of the lightness of the material, only plastic hinges, joints and handles can be used to fix PVC kitchen cabinets, and these hinges and joints get loose over time and need to be replaced.
Here are some more ideas for low cost kitchen cabinets.
In modern kitchens, stainless steel and aluminium are other materials that are used for the cabinets. Stainless steel is the preferred material in professional kitchens as it is easy to maintain and clean. Similarly, aluminium kitchen cabinet can be extremely durable and strong. They both come in a variety of finishes with etching, decorative patterns and brushing. Once treated, metal cabinets can last for many years as they are resistant to rust and stains. They are easy to scrub down without damaging the surface, making them ideal as modular kitchen cabinets in Indian homes. Additionally, unlike other materials, they aren’t affected by heat or humidity.
One of the disadvantages of steel kitchen cabinets or aluminium cupboards is that they can be heavy, but this problem is easily solved by using metal doors on wood-based cabinets. Metal cabinet doors can also be combined with glass to make the space look lighter. Unlike laminates and wood veneers, metal kitchen cabinets have limited variety in terms of colour and decorative detailing. They require maintenance to prevent the shiny metallic coat on the surface from getting oxidised or rusted. Additionally, the glossy surface shows up smudges and fingerprints easily, so they will require frequent dusting. Metal cabinets also tend to get dented and scratched, and compared to other materials, metal doors are noisier when opened or closed. The cost of these cabinets is another deterrent as they are very expensive.
See these beautiful kitchen cabinets to get inspired to use a combination of materials.
Before deciding on the best material for cabinets in a modular kitchen it’s advisable to explore the various materials, their design and colour options, as well as the costs. To a certain extent, your budget will help to narrow down the choices. Besides this, the overall style of your house will also play a crucial part in the decision-making process as the kitchen has to match the rest of the home. While it is easy to walk into a store to find kitchen cabinets for sale, it is not advisable to buy them just because they are cheap. You should weigh pros and cons of each material, keeping in mind your specific needs in the kitchen.
Before you finalize the material, it’s best to consult a professional kitchen planner to help you to design the cabinets. With their experience in kitchen design, they will be able to suggest the most suitable material for your kitchen based upon your needs as well as the style of your home.