5 Best Plywood Types for Kitchen Cabinets

If you’re planning on renovating or building new kitchen cabinets, then you’ll need to choose the right plywood for the task. There are many different types of plywood, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. In this article, we’ll give you a hand in choosing the best plywood for your kitchen cabinets based on your needs and your budget.

best plywood for cabinets

This article was written assuming you know what is plywood and you’re looking out to find the best plywood for kitchen cabinets.

When it comes to kitchen cabinets, plywood is one of the most versatile and cost-effective solutions you can install in your home.

Cabinet-grade plywood is ready to withstand heavy loads of crockery and a vast array of kitchen utensils. It’s oftentimes a cheaper solution than its direct competitors such as solid wood or stainless steel, which costs a fortune.

Even though plywood can be much cheaper than its alternatives, this doesn’t mean it’s lacking anything in the quality department. On the contrary, plywood has comparable quality and longevity to most of its alternatives, and as a bonus, it can easily be installed using simple tools.

The best plywood for cabinets is hands-down hardwood plywood. It’s strong, durable, easily repairable, easily replaceable, and aesthetically pleasing.

Because things can get confusing when it comes to plywood, we’ve gathered a small list of the best plywood types for cabinets so you won’t have to look anywhere else.

The Best Plywood for Cabinets

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1. Birch Plywood

best plywood for cabinets

The uses for birch plywood are endless and its appearance seems to suit modern home construction. Even though birch plywood can be used to build a full cabinet set, it’s great to be placed in cabinets under the sink. If there’s ever a leak from your sink pipes, you have little to worry about with birch plywood.


  • Edges are free of voids and can be exposed
  • Perfect for laser cutting and engraving
  • Strong screw-holding capability
  • Strong core layers


  • Shorter lifespan compared to other plywood types
  • Bland “out of the box” appearance
  • Not easy to stain

2. Maple Plywood

best plywood for kitchen cabinets

Maple plywood comes from maple trees which are native to Asia but have recently spread to many parts of the globe. This type of plywood has a decent “out-of-the-box” color but it stains pretty well too if one wants to change its looks. What makes it one of the best plywood for cabinets is its longevity, and its ability to withstand both moisture and temperature changes pretty easily.


  • Compatible with all kinds of wood stains
  • Strong and durable
  • Appealing color
  • Temperature and moisture resistance


  • Lackluster grain pattern
  • Maplewood is susceptible to cracks
  • Color fades over time

3. Oak Plywood

best plywood for cabinets

Oak is strong, heavy, and a dense-grained hardwood, oak wood is debatably the best of the best when it comes to cabinetry. It’s moisture and rot-resistant, and its versatility is suitable for many applications. Although oak plywood is made from hardwood, it’s easy to work with hand and machine tools, perfect for any DYI job.


  • Water-resistant
  • Warping resistant
  • Can be used for exterior projects
  • Easy to work with hand tools


  • Expensive
  • Darkens over time
  • Heavy

4. Mahogany Plywood

Mahogany plywood is the ultimate weapon to arm your kitchen cabinets with a banger look. With a natural reddish-brown color and rich grain, this plywood will provide unmatched beauty to any project it’s used on. Mahogany wood has beautiful patterns, and the plywood made from this type of tree is sure to be different, unique, and provide a premium character to your kitchen cabinets.


  • Uniform color
  • Charming
  • Easy to work with
  • Insect resistant


  • Hard to find color-matching panels
  • High demand
  • Expensive
  • Darkens over time

5. Bamboo Plywood

best plywood for cabinets

Bamboo plywood is becoming increasingly popular among homeowners and contractors across the U.S. due to its sustainability. Bamboo is not even wood, it’s a fast-growing grass that can be planted pretty much anywhere, even in low-grade soil. It’s a greener alternative to natural hardwood and its high environmental impact extraction methods.


  • Stronger and denser than most hardwoods
  • Environment friendly
  • Availability and diversity
  • Design flexibility


  • Requires maintenance
  • Prone to scratches
  • Prone to insect attacks
  • Susceptible to deterioration


What Type of Plywood is Best for Kitchen Cabinets?

Hardwood and softwood plywood are hands down the best plywood for cabinets.

Hardwood Plywood

Hardwood is the ultimate material versatility-wise which makes it great to manufacture cabinet-grade plywood. It’s used in a wide variety of applications ranging from boatbuilding, musical instruments, and flooring, all the way up to kitchen cabinets.

The most common types of hardwood include Oak, Maple, and Walnut. Hardwood is the most chosen material not only for its condensed and complex structure but also for its durability and superior level of strength compared to softwood.

It’s available in countless combinations of species, with countless different grain patterns and colors.

You can trust hardwood plywood to be the best plywood to build durable and eye-popping kitchen cabinets.

The biggest downside of hardwood plywood is that it’s expensive. There is strong demand for hardwoods due to their typical beauty and quality.

Softwood Plywood

You would think that hardwood is used more often due to being superior but in fact, it isn’t. Softwood is used more commonly than hardwood, especially for furniture, due to it being cheaper.

Softwood is cheaper because it grows faster, therefore, it’s easier to produce. The most popular types of softwood trees are pine, cedar, and redwood trees.

Quality-wise, softwood is considered inferior when compared to hardwood, it’s softer, lighter, and has a less impressive shelf life. It requires more maintenance as it’s easily scratched or dented by accident.

Although softwood is generally not the preferred building material for interior applications, kitchen cabinets can still be built using softwood plywood. It’s important to take into account that these will generally be lower quality and will eventually start to take in dents and scratches from use.

How Many Sheets of Plywood do I Need for Kitchen Cabinets?

There is no written-in-stone way of telling how many sheets of plywood are needed to build your kitchen cabinets. However, some simple measurements and mathematical calculations can get you close enough.

First, you need to figure out how much space is available to install the cabinets. For this, you can use a measuring tape to start collecting data on the height, width, and length of the area where you want to install them.

Once you have these numbers, you can have a rough estimate of how many sheets you will need by multiplying the height by the length of the previous measurements you took in inches and dividing by 144.

Do this for each surface area (front, back, bottom, top, and sides) and you should have an estimate of how many square feet of plywood you will need. However, this will only give you a rough estimate of the surface areas and does not include shelves and other interior structures.

Consider purchasing 30% more plywood than you need as a margin to compensate for waste. This waste can be caused by defects, knots, improper cuts, or saw kerfs.

How to Choose the Thickness of Plywood for Cabinets?

If you’re trying to build your own kitchen cabinets then you must know the importance of choosing the right thickness for the plywood sheets.

Plywood thickness will be directly co-related with structural stability and how long your kitchen cabinets will last.

The most popular thickness choices for the sides of the cabinets are 3/4 inch, 5/8 inch, or 1/2 inch plywood sheets. You can go thinner or thicker depending on the type of project you want to build (frame or frameless cabinets).

For the back, 1/4-inch plywood will do the trick for the average kitchen cabinet. This thickness will suffice unless you’re planning on placing out-of-ordinary loads inside.

For front doors, 3/8 inch plywood sheets will do the job most of the time, front door panels need to be lighter than the sides due to constant opening and closing motion.

For the shelves, usually the thicker the sheets are, the better. These will be supporting the crockery’s dead weight for extended periods of time and need to be strong enough to not collapse. 3/4-inch shelves are common, but if you can go thicker without compromising aesthetics, go for it.

Be careful not to go overboard on shelf thickness, don’t forget the side panels will be supporting the shelf’s weight.

Are there any Dangers to Using Plywood in Cabinets?

Plywood is used worldwide for a wide range of jobs and it’s generally a safe material to work with. However, there are some minor downsides you’ll want to be aware of when working with plywood such as:

Glue Chemical Dangers

Some plywood manufacturers still use formaldehyde glue when fabricating plywood, this kind of glue is harmful due to its dangerous gas emissions. You shouldn’t worry about its health hazards if you’re just occasionally working with plywood, however, if you’re constantly exposed to this glue in confined spaces the gases can build up and you’ll be at risk of developing serious health conditions.

Manufacturers are aware of these hazards and have been adopting new kinds of harmless glue for their products, but formaldehyde glue is still circulating the market and it’s still present in a significant chunk of the plywood market.

Chemicals Used for Treating Plywood

Both indoor or outdoor plywood can be chemically treated to resist the environment it will be placed in, these preservative products that control wood degradation can make the plywood moisture or water-resistant, prevent it from being attacked by insects, or give it the ability to resist fire.

These wood preservative products contain chemicals that are harmful not only to human health but to the environment too.

The most common chemicals to treat plywood are chromated arsenicals, creosote, and pentachlorophenol. Some of these are heavy-duty preservatives that need to be handled with proper gear due to their high toxicity.

Sawdust Dangers

Plywood produces sawdust when cut, like any other kind of wood. What makes its sawdust more dangerous than any natural wood are the chemicals used in fabrication methods (glue), and the chemicals used to treat it (wood preservatives).

Plywood’s glue contains plastic compounds which make its sawdust more flammable than regular wood’s, plywood’s sawdust can become a combustion hazard if enough particles become airborne.

Besides its flammable properties, there are some typical and expected health dangers given enough exposure such as eye irritation, airway irritation or obstruction, or long-term disease.

There is gear available to purchase in order to prevent most of these health hazards, despite the dangers, you should be fine if you gear up every time you’re working with wood.

Why Plywood is The Best Material for Cabinets

Plywood is a great material for cabinets because it is strong and can be easily painted or stained to match your home’s décor.

Additionally, plywood is a relatively affordable option when compared to other cabinet materials, such as solid wood or MDF.

Plywood is accessible, easy to work with, and can be quickly assembled using simple tools.


Plywood is made with layers of wood veneer glued together under high heat and pressure, a cross-grain technique is used to glue each layer at a different angle, this gives the finished panel unparalleled strength and durability across the board. Plywood is a carefully engineered cheap option to consider for kitchen cabinets, able to compete directly with solid wood or any other alternatives.


Many homeowners picture plywood as a cheap material for budget solutions and this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Plywood is available in a variety of qualities, there’s plywood available and suitable for just about any project, from budget solutions to expensive luxurious finishes, plywood is your friend.

Besides this, it’s available in a variety of sizes, thicknesses, and colors to match your home décor. Pretty much ready to be installed out of the box.


Plywood is oftentimes an inexpensive solution when compared to solid wood or its other alternatives. Even if you’re working on a tight budget you’ll find plenty of plywood options for your projects, some manufacturers will even throw in extended warranties to sweeten the deal.

Easy to Clean and Maintain

Unlike solid wood cabinets which typically require regular maintenance in order to be in perfect condition, plywood’s smooth surface easily repels dirt and grime which makes it easy to be cleaned with a damp cloth and requires much less maintenance.

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