3D Drawing Kitchen HDB

Narrowing Your Choices for Kitchen Cabinet Material

Designing a new kitchen? Quality materials and workmanship are so important in consolidating the final design. Juz Interior shares tricks of the trade in this carpentry article.

Three things are important to homeowners designing a kitchen: Space maximisation; Optimised Workflow; and Materials.

In this article, we’ll begin tackling the topic of material selection for kitchen cabinet design. Kitchens are exposed to high temperatures, water, dirt and lots of use. With the right materials, you’ll enjoy your kitchen cabinets for as long as possible. Learn the basics so you’ll be more confident designing a space you’ll love to cook in.

Kitchen Cabinet Material Options

Wood is the foundational material for any kitchen. However, there are different types of wood you can choose from. Each of these vary in cost and durability. ChoicesWe discuss the most common types of wood used in Singapore homes.


Made from compressed bits of recycled wood, chipboard is a good option for homeowners who want cost-effective quality. Mass manufactured cabinets, like those from IKEA, extensively use chipboard.

 The main reason why IKEA mainly carries products made from chipboard is because of the complex manufacturing process. Highly specialised tools cut and shape the chipboard materials into their desired dimensions. Many local and regional suppliers are unable to acquire the high tech machinery, and lack sufficient demand to produce in scale. This is why large chain store retailers offer cheap yet stylish pieces of chipboard furniture.

Chipboard make excellent shelves. They are sturdy and reliable since the pieces of woodchips are tightly compressed. The relatively lower cost of making chipboard also makes it affordable for cost-conscious homeowners.

While you can enjoy the feel-good factor of using environmentally sustainable materials for your home, here are two things to be warned against chipboard.

Firstly, chipboard doesn’t hold screws well. Joining separate pieces is not advisable given the poor overall end quality. One shelf plus one shelf, will equal one big structurally unsafe shelf.

Secondly, its porous nature allows water to seep through easily. Choosing chipboard for your kitchen shelf is not the best idea as cabinets will be subject to large amounts of water and moisture. You can expect the board to warp in a matter of years, depending on your usage of the kitchen.

Waterproof chipboard

If you are still keen on chipboard, there are many ways to modify it for use. One way is to have a green addition into the grain to make it waterproof.

Another common modification is to fireproof the chipboard with red resin.

By now, you can tell that chipboard quality varies over many grades for different purposes. This may be overwhelming  for you, but the bottom line is the same for all variations of chipboard: it doesn’t last forever, and definitely not for more than a few years.

If you’re an avid cook, you’ll need a sturdier material for your kitchen. The woods we’ll discuss next perform better in terms of quality. You can expect durability and strength for a much longer period of time.

Solid Plywood

Sourced largely from Indonesia or China, plywood also varies in tolerance of moisture. This could significantly affect your choice of wood for your kitchen cabinet. In Singapore, 3 types of solid plywood are commonly used.

First, is the three-ply board. It is more costly since it consists of 3 layers of alternating types of wood. Two pieces of tougher woods sandwich a softer inner wood.

Since it holds screws well, you can be sure of minimal gaps within the three-ply boards. This will help ensure the pieces of wood join together firmly without feeling loose.

However, you should take note that three-ply boards warp easily if it exceeds a length of 1.5m.

three-ply wood board

Second, is the jointed plywood. Jointed plywood is most commonly used when a sufficiently long enough piece of wood cannot be obtained. In this case, jointed plywood patches pieces of wood together, making it ideal for long kitchens prevalent in many HDBs today.

Alarmed by gaps between the layers of jointed plywood? Don’t be! In fact, the gaps don’t give in to gravity as much, resulting in a much lighter overall weight.

Lastly, we have lumber core plywood. Waterproofed by a PVC layer on top, lumber core plywood is most suitable for kitchen cabinet doors and surfaces. The nature of the wood remains consistent, showing little signs of warping over time.

However, its density makes it difficult for hinges to easily attach to this type of wood. A skilled carpenter can help to set this up in your kitchen.

With an appreciation of what goes into selecting a kitchen cabinet material, you’ll have a set of cabinets to last you through the years. Remember, a professional carpenter will be able to advise you on the best materials for your project.

Juz Interior offers in-house carpentry as part of our interior design services. Be sure to get in touch with us for a free, non-obligatory consultation for your carpentry project today!

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