Plywood vs Particle Board: Holding Up to the Test of Time

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cheap particle board

People want cheap kitchen cabinets that will last forever. Just because something is cheap, doesn’t mean it’s the best to get. Inexpensive kitchen cabinets tend to come in two different types: plywood and particle board. While both of them look great in the beginning, one clearly stands the test of time better than the other. It’s important to take longevity into account when purchasing kitchen cabinets.

How are they made?

Plywood and particle board are both composite materials, but they are very different. Particle board comes from the leftover of other wood projects. Manufacturers take the wood shavings, pieces and other items that would normally be thrown away and use them to create the particle board. The pieces are glued and then pressed together into sheets. These sheets are sturdy and can have veneer and other coverings placed on them to look like solid wood. Plywood is made from thin sheets of wood. These are whole uniform pieces that are then glued together to create a single sheet.


At first glance, you wouldn’t be able to tell white cabinets made from particle board from those made of plywood, but time takes its toll on particle board. Water and other problems cause particle board to break down, leading to sagging and breaking. Plywood is stronger overall since it is made of larger pieces rather than thousands of small ones. It can handle the weight of the countertops, dishes and doors without sagging or bowing. Particle board breaks down faster and absorbs water, leading to deformities and ripples. These are not problems often associated with plywood. Everyone wants cheap cabinets to last for years and years, so they need to be made from the proper material.

Replacement Time

west point grey cabinetKitchen cabinets are an investment, and the last thing you want to do is replace them after a few short years. Particle board may be the cheaper alternative, but don’t expect those cabinets to last you very long. Particle board breaks down easily when it comes to water and humidity. Water is commonplace in kitchens and bathrooms, and over time the particle board will begin to bow, sag, ripple and breakdown. Particle board also can’t handle impacts like plywood, so chips may have already developed.  Plywood may have some rippling due to water, but it’s much sturdier in the long term. The boxes of many high-end cabinets are made from plywood and it will be years before you need to replace them.

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