This is a guest post from George Robinson Kitchens. If you want to guest post on this blog, see the guidelines here.
When designing and planning a new kitchen for your home there are many choices to be made to achieve the look you are aiming for. Solid wood has always been the most traditional choice of material for use in kitchen cabinets and furniture, but there is nothing to stop you considering other alternatives.
Other options include particleboard, stainless steel and polymer. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of each of them?
A quality solid wood kitchen costs more than your standard off-the-shelf kitchens, which are typically constructed from MDF or particleboard but this additional cost, is offset by the longevity of the material. Solid wood is a versatile and sustainable material that can be manipulated in many ways to achieve a multitude of different looks. Those who find the look of wooden cabinets too dated for contemporary interior design can choose a painted finish in a color of their choice.
By using a cabinetmaker or a custom kitchen company you can design a unique kitchen that will last for years and can be easily repaired or changed i.e. repainted, sanded or stained over time if you decide you want to change the look of space.
The development of particleboards created a wide range of mass produced, sheet materials including MDF and chipboard that were more affordable than solid wood and from the 1950s until now, this less expensive material has been the number one choice for kitchen cabinets in most homes.
In terms of costs, this is certainly the cheapest option available and for this reason it is used to produce all the kitchens on the shelf that you can buy from the usual kitchen vendors. But the quality of this material varies according to the type of chemicals and resins used in the production of the panels and the quality of the protective finish on any final product.
It’s not uncommon to see sagging shelves where this type of material is used and it’s certainly fair to say that if you’re looking for a kitchen that can withstand being tough, you’re barking up the wrong tree with this one. material. When damaged, it can be difficult and in some cases impossible to repair, particularly if it becomes waterlogged.
Apart from the issues concerning its longevity, a ‘standard’ off the shelf kitchen lacks originality and flair not to mention the overly artificial feel of the materials.
This is the material used in commercial kitchens as its non-porous surface means it is hygienic and easy to clean. However, in recent years, this material has become much more popular in residential environments as a contemporary and stylish alternative to wood. You can choose from a range of standard size units or use independent equipment, designed for use in restaurants, as long as you have the space, as it is possible to create a functional and attractive design.
Cost wise, stainless steel cabinets tend to be more expensive than a solid wood alternative so the only way to use this material on a budget is to buy “pre loved” fixtures.
Stainless steel is a quality material that provides durability and will not rust or warp in humid conditions. This option gives you the opportunity to create a unique kitchen and the cool silver tone can work very well in modern interior design.
A big disadvantage for some people can be the fact that unless it is polished, the surface shows smudges and fingerprints and over time scratches will appear. Others actually prefer the appearance of the stainless steel surface once it has “worn” a little.
If you are looking for something completely different, polymer may be the one for you. This is high density plastic and not a material you will see in many kitchens! It is typically used in an outdoor environment, as it is waterproof, weatherproof and extremely durable.
Obviously this is not a cheap option to consider, as it is not a material typically used in a residential environment. But knowing that a polymer kitchen can handle virtually anything you throw at it makes it a great choice if you’re looking for high quality and durability and the look of polymer is right for your project design.
So, what material?
Ultimately it is up to you to choose the ideal material for your kitchen based on your personal criteria, your budget and the design you are aiming to achieve. Each material offers something distinctive whether it be aesthetically; price wise; its sheer versatility or originality.
One thing worth doing before making your decision is to try to see the different materials in action – in real kitchens.
Last but by no means least, you should consider the environmental price of your kitchen material. If you are keen to minimize your carbon footprint and use the most environmentally friendly option available, then sustainably sourced solid wood is the winner by any means. Unfortunately for many people considering the environmental impact is not a consideration that worries them but if you are concerned then talk to your kitchen designer or company about this and they will be able to give you more advice.
Whatever material you choose in the end, be sure to choose one that you know you will love for many years to come. Take your time, do your homework and then enjoy your new kitchen!
George Robinson Kitchens are a UK based company who have been involved in the design and production of kitchen furniture for over 20 years. George Robinson Kitchens are the natural choice to help you plan and create your beautiful and functional Living Environment.