Choosing the right materials for your kitchen cabinets is one of the most important decisions when remodeling or building a new kitchen. The cabinet material you select impacts the overall look, durability, and cost of your kitchen. In this article, we will discuss the 10 best materials for kitchen cabinets based on aesthetics, durability, ease of cleaning, cost, and environmental impact.


Wood is a traditional and popular choice for kitchen cabinets due to its warm, natural beauty and versatility. The most common types of wood used are oak, maple, cherry, hickory, and walnut.


  • Aesthetically pleasing with natural variations in wood grain
  • Durable if properly sealed
  • Slightly easier to repair than other rigid materials
  • Variety of stain options to change color


  • Prone to swelling and warping if exposed to moisture
  • Susceptible to dents and scratches
  • Requires proper sealing and maintenance
  • Costs more than vinyl or thermoplastic options

Wood remains a top choice for many homeowners who want the beauty of real wood with the character provided by the natural variations in the wood grain. Proper sealing and maintenance are needed for longevity.

Wood Veneers

Wood veneers consist of a thin slice of real wood adhered to plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF). This provides the appearance of solid wood at a lower cost.


  • Mimics the look of real wood at a lower price point
  • More resistant to moisture than solid wood
  • Won’t warp like solid wood can
  • Consistent look since veneers come from the same tree


  • Not as durable as solid wood
  • Damaged veneer is difficult to repair
  • Edges tend to chip over time
  • Limited number of woods available as veneers

Wood veneers allow you to achieve the aesthetic of wood cabinets for less cost. They are a great option for those who desire real wood but have budget constraints. Just be aware that veneers are less durable than solid wood.


Laminate cabinets consist of a plastic laminate shell adhered to a composite wood substrate. Formica is one of the most well-known laminate brands.


  • Most budget-friendly cabinet option
  • Large variety of colors and patterns
  • Highly scratch and stain resistant
  • Seamless, easy-to-clean surface


  • Not as durable as wood or thermoplastics
  • Can bubble or peel over time
  • Cannot be refinished or repainted
  • Looks less authentic than real wood

Laminate is the least expensive cabinet material. It excels in resisting scratches, stains, moisture and heat. Just know that laminates will show wear over time and cannot be refinished like real wood.


Similar to laminate, thermofoil cabinets have a plastic film bonded to a composite wood substrate under intense heat and pressure.


  • More affordable than solid wood
  • Very durable plastic film finish
  • Seamless surface is easy to wipe clean
  • Variety of colors and wood grain patterns


  • Can peel at edges over time
  • Scratches cannot be repaired
  • Limited selection compared to laminate
  • Not environmentally friendly

Thermofoil is slightly more durable than laminate while still being budget-friendly. The plastic film finish resists moisture, warping and wear. But any damage to the film cannot be repaired.


Acrylic cabinets feature a durable plastic acrylic exterior bonded to a wood frame. Plexiglass is one common brand name.


  • Highly durable plastic resists scratches
  • Seamless finish is easy to clean
  • Stylish modern aesthetic
  • Customizable with a wide range of colors


  • Higher cost than laminate or thermofoil
  • Sensitive to heat and sun exposure
  • Limited textures and patterns
  • Acrylic edges prone to chipping

Acrylic is a great choice if you want a stylish, modern look with high durability. Just take care to avoid exposing acrylic to excess heat and sunlight which can damage the material.


Metal kitchen cabinets provide a sleek, contemporary look. Stainless steel, aluminum and galvanized steel are common options.


  • Highly durable and dent-resistant
  • Easy to wipe clean and sanitize
  • Industrial, modern visual appeal
  • Lighter weight than wood or stone


  • Typically the most expensive option
  • Fingerprints and water spots show easily
  • Metal edges prone to chipping
  • Limited color and finish options

Metal is one of the most durable kitchen cabinet materials, providing a seamless and sanitary surface. But the cost is high and metal requires frequent polishing to keep its luster.


Glass door cabinets provide both display space and an airy, open aesthetic. Glass can be combined with various cabinet frame materials like wood, laminate or acrylic.


  • Visually opens up smaller kitchen spaces
  • Allows you to display dishware or decor
  • Easy to wipe clean and sanitize
  • Variety of tinted, frosted or patterned glass


  • Not as durable or scratch-resistant as opaque cabinet materials
  • Higher cost than opaque cabinet options
  • Exposed contents prone to collecting dust
  • Heavy glass doors not suitable for upper cabinets

Glass cabinet doors create a lightweight appearance and allow you to show off your dishware. Just note they require gentler care and are not ideal for upper cabinets.

Organic Composite

Organic composite utilizes recycled wood fibers and resin to create an eco-friendly alternative to particleboard. Richlite is one popular brand.


  • Made from recycled wood fibers
  • Resists moisture, stains and scratches
  • Can mimic patterns of natural materials
  • Does not require finishing or sealing


  • Limited color and pattern options
  • Higher cost than particleboard
  • Cannot be refinished or repainted
  • Not widely available from major brands

For the eco-conscious consumer, organic composite made from recycled wood offers durability and style without using virgin materials. The cost tends to be higher but is coming down as materials become more widely available.

Recycled Glass

Crushed recycled glass can be combined with concrete or resin to create a unique countertop or cabinet material. IceStone is one manufacturer utilizing recycled glass.


  • Made from 100% recycled materials
  • Durable, scratch-resistant and heat-tolerant
  • Can mimic look of stone or quartz
  • Large variety of color options


  • Higher cost than stone or quartz alternatives
  • Porous so requires sealing
  • Limited availability from major cabinet brands
  • Heavier weight increases shipping costs

For the eco-conscious consumer, recycled glass offers an environmentally friendly material that rivals the look and durability of quartz or stone. The availability and cost continue to improve over time.


Poured concrete provides an industrial, trendy look, though concrete can also be stained in an array of colors.


  • Highly durable and heat resistant
  • Stains wipe away easily
  • Distressed concrete provides industrial appeal
  • Can be customized with stains and finishes


  • Extremely heavy requiring structural reinforcement
  • Prone to cracking if not properly sealed
  • Cold, rough surface not for everyone
  • Higher cost than wood, laminate or thermofoil

Concrete delivers unmatched durability and a stylish, distressed finish. But the material is extremely heavy and requires added structural support. Cracking is also a potential issue if the concrete is not properly sealed.


Bamboo provides an eco-friendly alternative to traditional hardwoods for cabinetry. It grows rapidly and is highly renewable.


  • Sustainable and eco-friendly material
  • Resistant to moisture and warping
  • Durable and scratch-resistant surface
  • Lighter weight than many hardwoods


  • Prone to dents and chips on edges
  • Acidic liquids can stain surface
  • Limited color and style options
  • Costs more than wood veneers

Bamboo offers sustainability along with pleasing aesthetics. It resists moisture and warping better than wood. But bamboo is still prone to surface damage from dents, chips and acidic liquids. Proper sealing helps reduce staining.


Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about kitchen cabinet materials:

What is the most durable material for kitchen cabinets?

Stainless steel is the most durable kitchen cabinet material, resistant to dents, scratches, heat and moisture. But metal is expensive and requires frequent polishing. Acrylic and thermofoil plastics are next best for durability and ease of cleaning.

Which material is best for a modern kitchen – metal, glass or acrylic?

For a contemporary look, metal and acrylic are top options. Metal like stainless steel provides a sleek, industrial vibe. Acrylic (plexiglass) comes in modern styles and vivid colors. Glass cabinet doors also create modern appeal while displaying dishware.

What’s the difference between thermofoil and laminate cabinets?

Both laminate and thermofoil feature a plastic film over a composite wood substrate. The main difference is thermofoil fuses to the wood under heat/pressure for improved durability. By contrast, laminate adheres with adhesive. Ultimately, thermofoil lasts longer than laminate before showing wear.

Should I choose wood, thermofoil or laminate for kitchen cabinets?

Wood remains popular for its natural beauty despite higher maintenance. For an affordable option with good durability, thermofoil and laminate both work well. Laminate shows wear sooner but comes in more styles. Thermofoil is more durable but has limited finishes.

Is acrylic or glass better for cabinet doors?

Acrylic is the more durable choice. It resists scratches better than glass and can mimic frosted or tinted glass. However, acrylic can show white scratches over time. Glass better displays contents but requires gentler care. Both materials are prone to chipping on cut edges.


When choosing a kitchen cabinet material, consider the aesthetic you want along with your budget, lifestyle and environmental goals. Traditional wood remains popular for its natural beauty and warmth despite higher maintenance needs. Wood veneers provide the look of wood at a lower cost. For affordability and durability, laminate and thermofoil are great options. Acrylic and metal excel for contemporary kitchens with sleek, modern designs. Eco-conscious choices like bamboo, recycled glass and organic composite made from recycled wood continue to grow in availability and popularity. Take your time reviewing the pros and cons of each cabinet material. An informed choice will result in a functional and beautiful kitchen you can enjoy for years to come.