Melamine vs plywood for kitchen cabinets - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 Old 12-25-2012, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Melamine vs plywood for kitchen cabinets

I m gonna start building some kitchen cabinets, but I can't decide between melamine PB or oak faced plywood. Price is a factor. I am thinking PB sides and back with plywood bottoms. Oak face frames and doors/drawers. No built in toe kick, I want to use adjustable plastic legs.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 11 Old 12-25-2012, 10:22 PM
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If it were me I would use birch plywood for the interior parts that don't show and use oak plywood for exposed ends. If you just like the way melamine is easy to keep clean you can purchase white cabinet liner from Wilsonart and laminate plywood with it. Premade melamine is nice when its new but since its made out of particleboard it isn't very durable. Often commercial shops use melamine for fixtures however stores change out their fixtures every few years. I'm sure you want your kitchen to last longer than that.
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post #3 of 11 Old 12-25-2012, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
If it were me I would use birch plywood for the interior parts that don't show and use oak plywood for exposed ends. If you just like the way melamine is easy to keep clean you can purchase white cabinet liner from Wilsonart and laminate plywood with it. Premade melamine is nice when its new but since its made out of particleboard it isn't very durable. Often commercial shops use melamine for fixtures however stores change out their fixtures every few years. I'm sure you want your kitchen to last longer than that.
yep, i wouldnt use particle board/mdf for anything, birch plywood for internals and oak plywood for ends like mentioned. Mdf is such a terrible wood product, even when having the malamine coating, moisture will find its way in it no matter what you do. Since cost is a factor i would hold off on the project long enough to save a couple more dollars to do it without mdf. Even though the cost wouldnt be very much more, i think a sheet of 3/4 birch here is $65, oak 3/4 ply is about $55, malimine coated is about $45-50, so depending on how much cabinetry its not much price difference in using a better product
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post #4 of 11 Old 12-25-2012, 11:32 PM
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Strictly logic....

In most cases the cabinet does not show the material that was used in its construction. Go look at your cabinet that holds the kitchen sink. The only part of the cabinet that you see is the face frame.

The end cabinets will have one side showing and it can easily be covered with a wood veneer to match the face frames. Plywood, 1/4" and contact cement make the job easy.

If you want to paint the inside of the cabinets use some type of plywood. (Note you'll probably have to allow the paint to cure for a week or two so that the shelf paper wont stick. DAMHIKT) And how many times do you want to paint the interior of the cabinets?

If your SO is like my wife, Melamine (White) is the interior of choice. It is so easy to clean and shelf paper doesn't stick. The Melamine is probably the most durable surface that you can put in kitchen cabinets.

You can purchase Melamine for about $38 a sheet where plywood is going to be $50 a sheet at the least.

Kitchen cabinets are intended to hide the mismatched dinnerware and the jelly jars used for drinking glasses. Especially if you and your SO have been together for more than a few years. (It's just the way that life works.)

OK, the above is for kitchen cabinets, furniture cabinets are different.

If you have Grandma Great's wedding china, that you are trying to display, you're building furniture that is built in. Glass in the doors, stained and finished interiors with lighted shelves are the requirements. Remember, it is Grandma Great's china and not jelly glasses.

The answer is probably not what some would want to hear. However, if you approach the project on a functional basis, you'll make the decision based on the needs of the user.

I have seen comments about Melamine that are similar to "I wouldn't have that poop in my kitchen." Well, I know a professional cabinet maker that does mostly remodel jobs in expensive neighborhoods, like Newport Beach. For kitchen cabinets, he uses nothing but Melamine. I've seen his work and it is top quality. Display furniture is different but the kitchen is Melamine.

Use the right tool for the job.

Rich (Tilting right)
Huntington Beach, California
Remember that when we have the "BIG ONE" everything east of the Rockies falls into the ocean.
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post #5 of 11 Old 12-26-2012, 07:42 AM
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Particle board if from the devil. IMHO
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post #6 of 11 Old 12-26-2012, 08:58 AM
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I use Melamine for kitchen cabinets, medical and dental offices, just about any application where a white lined interior makes for a maintenance free interior. It is more consistent in thickness, has no voids, and joins with glue when shallow rabbets and dadoes are machined (1/8").

The core of the board is an industrial grade, more dense than ordinary particle board or underlayment. It holds faceframes with only glue and clamps as well as plywood. It makes for an ideal cabinet if limited in widths to 32" or less when making frameless cabinets. It doesn't become subject to warping like plywood does, or require interior maintenance like a finished hardwood faced plywood cabinet.

When I started out my lined cabinets were all 3/4" plywood with a Formica type high pressure laminate, which by the time you buy the board and the laminate you have some $'s tied up in your square footage, not to mention the extra labor in laminating and the cost of glue.

Melamine boxes can be waterproofed if need be by merely caulking all the interior joint lines. For those that bash the use of Melamine for cabinet construction just haven't used it enough, or fabricated it improperly.






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post #7 of 11 Old 12-26-2012, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
Often commercial shops use melamine for fixtures however stores change out their fixtures every few years. I'm sure you want your kitchen to last longer than that.
I'm in the store fixture buisness, and while melamine and particle board are used (mostly when formica or some other laminate is involved) alot of customers want the plywood these days because of the durability. Store fixtures tend to take way more abuse than a kitchen cabinet with shopping carts and such. When we do restaurants, they require plywood for anything close to water.

I used melamine boxes for my kitchen because of the easy cleaning. 5 years now, and no issues yet.
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post #8 of 11 Old 12-26-2012, 01:28 PM
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I was considering melamine for my kitchen build. I changed my mind and went with 3/4" oak for a few reasons.

1) Unpredictability of melamine to stand the test of time, my understanding it is best to have "eastern" partical board for the core because it has more hardwood particals compared to the stuff we normally get in our area that is a lot of softwood core.

2) I was concerned about the strength of the joints, i.e. do I rabbet, do I dada, do I butt joint??? With plywood the cases were easy to assemble and easy to repair "whoops" .

3) Once we started planning the layout we decided on a glass door for the one upper corner unit which would work best with a wood grain finish inside. Then we decided to go with a stained and varnished interior for the entire set.

While I'm not opposed to melamine, I certainly am more than glad that I went with oak plywood, which only cost me about $50 per sheet, so for about 14 sheets it was really not too much more money considering the overall cost. Yes, I had to stain, varnish, etc. but I really like it.

Of course the kitchen is still a "work in progress", but I'm getting there.

"Workin hard at loafin!"
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post #9 of 11 Old 12-26-2012, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Carvel Loafer View Post

Of course the kitchen is still a "work in progress", but I'm getting there.
I know what you mean. I spend more time on projects for other people which means mine get pushed aside. One of these days I'll finish my kitchen...
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post #10 of 11 Old 12-27-2012, 07:15 AM
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Cabinetman spelled it out, melamine has it's use and if the weight isn't a problem it can make a nice cabinte. But if it were me (and it might be this summer) I would use pre finished ply. I was put onto this stuff a few years back, and now my hardwood supplier carries the Columbia Forest Products line of it. Here you have the bestof both worlds: a finish for the interior that is very nice and the plywood ability to hold screws, etc. The finish is really tough, I've yet to scratch it while working it and has a very nice look. A 3/4" piece runs about $55 (finished 1 side) at my supplier so cost may be an issue. If you happen to live in a region of the country that has Menards, they now stock it...although what I've seen isn't nearly as nice as the CFP stuff.

"I long for the days when coke was a cola and a joint was a bad place to be" (Merle Haggard)
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post #11 of 11 Old 12-27-2012, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabinetman View Post
I use Melamine for kitchen cabinets, medical and dental offices, just about any application where a white lined interior makes for a maintenance free interior. It is more consistent in thickness, has no voids, and joins with glue when shallow rabbets and dadoes are machined (1/8").

The core of the board is an industrial grade, more dense than ordinary particle board or underlayment. It holds faceframes with only glue and clamps as well as plywood. It makes for an ideal cabinet if limited in widths to 32" or less when making frameless cabinets. It doesn't become subject to warping like plywood does, or require interior maintenance like a finished hardwood faced plywood cabinet.

When I started out my lined cabinets were all 3/4" plywood with a Formica type high pressure laminate, which by the time you buy the board and the laminate you have some $'s tied up in your square footage, not to mention the extra labor in laminating and the cost of glue.

Melamine boxes can be waterproofed if need be by merely caulking all the interior joint lines. For those that bash the use of Melamine for cabinet construction just haven't used it enough, or fabricated it improperly.






.
I also worked and ran production shops in So. FLA.
Melamine works well enough there because everyone has air-conditioning.
If exposed to humid air, melamine shelves will sag.
If God forbid it gets wet, 5/8ths melamine will become 1" thick, destroying all joints.
Cabinet liner is a much superior product with the same ease of maintenance, IMHO.
Make toe-kicks, counters, splashes, with plywood, NEVER place any melamine of floor or anywhere it is subject to spilled water.
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