The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of the world entirely. It has increased our involvement in our homes. Therefore, a lot of awareness has been developed among people for their homes and their needs. The use of kitchen, which was earlier limited to the cook or the homemaker, has now widened with almost every member of the house trying something new. Moreover, kitchen has now become more of a gathering spot than just a place to cook and wash utensils. All of this has led to a sharp rise in demand for a well-furnished, modular kitchen. Unlike the traditional kitchen, the modular kitchen has modules designed and manufactured separately and then assembled together. It has a greater aesthetic and utility value. It is easier to clean and offers more storage space.
It is a general conception among the masses (end users) that modular kitchens are expensive. Although the statement is not entirely untrue, the materials used in the manufacture of the modules affect the budget directly.
There is a vast variety of materials that are used in constructing a modular kitchen. They all have their strengths and drawbacks. This article will give you detailed information about these materials so that you can make the perfect choice for your kitchen.
Plywood for kitchen
Plywood is one of the most popular materials used for making the cabinets of a modular kitchen. It is manufactured by pasting several layers of veneered wood pressed together with resins. It is sturdy, durable, and can withstand heavyweight.
Advantages of Plywood
Plywood comes in different thickness. The most preferred thickness is ½-inch but it ranges from 1/8 -inch to ¾ inches. The commercial-grade plywood is cheapest and ideal for sofas and wardrobes. As for modular kitchens and bathrooms, BWP or Boiling Water Proof plywood is the best. It is resistant to water; therefore, is extremely durable. Moreover, it does not rot or crack with age.
- Texture and Look
Plywood can be cut into different shapes and patterns easily. It has a uniform, flat surface. Therefore, it is good for the fabrication of any kind of furniture or its part. It can be polished and laminated with ease to give a smooth finish.
Plywood is relatively economical than its counterparts. For less than half the cost of solid wood, you can make double the products with plywood. It is easy to work with as well; hence, the labour cost is also reduced.
Disadvantages of Plywood
- Wood Quality
- Water Damage
- Cheaper Materials
Although plywood is itself an affordable material, there are other options at a lesser price as well. However, there you might have to compromise with the quality of cheaper materials.
Popular Plywood Brands
Century Plyboard, established in 1986, is one of the pioneers of plywood and veneer industry in India. They use GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) formula to make their ply boards sturdier, long-lasting, and termite-proof. Century Ply manufactures the best material for modular kitchen furniture.
Greenply is accredited with manufacturing one of the finest quality plywood in India. Almost all varieties of plywood are accommodated by them. They use the best quality wood and manufacture plywood of uniform thickness and better strength.
With the most advanced technology and best quality wood like Poplar and Eucalyptus, Merino plywood offers exceptional durability and weather and water resistance. The plywood is termite-proof, BWP (boiling waterproof), and Borer proof.
The cost of plywood in India ranges from Rs. 40 per sq. ft. to Rs. 150 per sq. ft. depending on the quality and brand.
Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)
MDF is a synthetic building material made by breaking down softwood and hardwood into wood fibres. They are broken down in a defribator and then combined with resin or wax binders. MDF is extremely dense and sturdy.
It is mostly used for bathroom and kitchen cabinets.
Advantages of MDF
MDF holds on to the glue firmly and allows the veneers to be attached to it easily. The chemicals used in the manufacture make it termite resistant. MDF does not expand or contract on heat and humidity exposures, unlike solid wood.
- Texture and Look
MDF has a consistent size throughout. The dimensions are stable and can be shaped into elaborate designs in a more feasible way than solid wood. It takes paint finely and looks smooth. It does not have knots that can make the paint look untidy or make it difficult for the components to attach.
Disadvantages of MDF
Although most of the harmful chemicals are dissipated by the end of the manufacturing process, a small amount of formaldehyde might be left on the surface which is harmful. However, painting the boards and cabinets reduces the risk to a great extent and makes it safe for use.
- High Maintenance
MDF is weather-resistant; however, too much direct exposure to water can make it swell and loose. Moreover, it does not hold the screw very well.
Popular MDF Brands
High-Density Fiberboard (HDF)
HDF is used in making bathroom and kitchen cabinets and shelves, Furniture, Flooring, Decorative items, Doors and its frames, etc.
Advantages of HDF
HDF does not have any splinters or voids. It is consistent throughout. Therefore, it is easier to paint too.
- Easy to construct
It is easy to cut HDF boards with a jigsaw, scroll saw, or any other instrument without tearing it out or splintering it.
Disadvantages of HDF
- Water damage
- High density
Due to its high density, it becomes heavy and is not an ideal material for skirting boards. However, it is good for kitchen cabinets and shelves. But it increases the weight.
Popular HDF Brands
Action Tesa introduced the BWP HDF boards in India. They are water and thermal resistant and can survive wet conditions and high temperatures.
The cost of HDF ranges from Rs. 11 per sq. ft. to Rs. 175 per sq. ft.
Advantages of Solid Wood
- Aesthetic value
Solid wood is strong and most durable out of all other materials. It does not break down easily. This is why most household furniture made out of solid wood is passed down from one generation to other. It lasts for decades.
- Temporary damage
When exposed to too much moisture, the surface might get damaged. However, with proper sanding and re-polishing, it gets back its shine.
Disadvantages of Solid Wood
- Not eco-friendly
Solid wood is obtained from cutting down a large number of exotic trees that take a lot of time to grow. Although other materials require wood too, it is mostly recycled and needed in a lesser quantity.
- Inconsistent grains
Since the knots and whirls in solid wood are all-natural, it is not possible to get consistent grains in the finished cabinets. However, if you prefer a rustic look, you can go with it.
Popular Solid Wood Brands
Canadian Wood is an agency of the government of British Columbia, Canada that regulates and manages the supply of Canadian wood all across the globe. Woods from sustainably managed forests are identified and graded by the lumber companies. These companies then approach Canadian Wood which enables their global supply. Canadian wood is one of the best kinds of wood in the world. Western hemlock, Douglas fir, western red cedar, and yellow cedar are some of the most widely traded types of CW. Generally, solid wood is not the first choice for kitchen furniture even though it has high aesthetic and durable values because it exploits the environment. But Canadian Wood, with its responsible forest management system, has eliminated this challenge.
High-Pressure Laminates (HPL)
Advantages of HPL
- Scratch and Shock Resistant
HPL has a protective layer that makes it immune to strong impacts and scratches. Therefore, the brightness, smoothness, and glow of the furniture are retained for an extended period of time.
HPL is one of the most hygienic products. It does not give a viable environment to microorganisms to grow.
- Heat exposure
The threshold for heat exposure of HPL is 275 degrees. Therefore, HPL can be exposed to this heat level comfortably. The material can be used for modular kitchen cabinets but it is not an ideal material for kitchen table tops.
Disadvantages of HPL
- Cannot be sanded
Sanding brings back the glow of the furniture. But HPL cannot be sanded or stained.
Popular HPL Brands
Century Laminates uses modern technology to give extra strength and durability to HPL. They offer an exotic range of laminates that are resistant to abrasion.
Greenlam offers a premium range of HPL. It is one of the largest distributors of this material in India. The manufacture of laminates is done in an eco-friendly manner.
Merino HPL is made of decorative papers infused with high-quality resins. They are evenly laminated to give a smooth and appealing surface.
Northern Laminates is a relatively new company that has emerged as an influential manufacturer of quality plywood and laminates. Their designs are innovative and tasteful.
HPL sheets cost ranges from Rs. 120 per sq. ft. to Rs. 600 per sq. ft.
Generally, people believe that stainless steel is only used in commercial kitchens. However, that is not entirely correct. Over the last few years, stainless steel modular kitchens have made their way into residential setups as well. In fact, they are gaining dominance in the latest kitchen furniture trends.
Common applications of Stainless Steel in the Kitchen industry are kitchen accessories, kitchen furniture, cutlery, and cookware. It is also used in appliances like refrigerator, countertops, dishwashers, freezers, etc.
Advantages of Stainless Steel
The kitchen counters and cabinets made from this material are reliable and highly durable. They can last for years.
- Low maintenance
It is easier to clean stainless steel than wood or any other material.
- Sleek design
Stainless steel uses minimum space and gives you ample of that for storage. Today’s interiors are all about space-efficiency and stainless steel is the ideal choice for this objective.
Disadvantages of Stainless Steel
- Limited Design Options
Unlike wood materials, you don’t get to choose different patterns, shades, and colour schemes with stainless steel.
- Scratches and dents
Stainless steel is prone to fingerprints, scratches, and smudges. Too much force can cause dents too. So, it is needed to be handled with care. Moreover, the steel reverberates against dropped utensils, creating very loud crashing and clanging sounds.
Popular Stainless Steel Brands-
Jindal Stainless is one of the most popular stainless steel conglomerates in the world. They use modern technology to manufacture flawless stainless steel of all grades.
Synergy is an Indian brand based in Bengaluru. It manufactures high-quality stainless steel cabinets for kitchen furniture and other uses in a laboratory environment.
The cost of stainless steel ranges from Rs. 8000 per sheet to Rs. 10000 per sheet.
Chipboard is also known as Particle Board or Low-Density Fiberboard. It is made by pressing together small wood particles with epoxy resin under high temperature and pressure. Chipboards come in a variety of densities. The average density of 16 mm chipboard is 650 kg/m3 but the range varies from 620-740 kg/m3.
Chipboard is commonly used in Kitchen cabinets, Kitchen worktops, Flooring, Furniture, etc.
Advantages of Chipboard
Particleboards offer an extremely smooth, flat surface. Laminated and veneered particle boards are widely used in office and kitchen furniture. Moreover, they do not distort or dent easily.
Disadvantages of Chipboard
Particleboards have lower strength than other fiberboards. Due to its low density, it gets damaged easily as well. Therefore, it does not support heavyweight.
- Water damage
Moisture causes expansion and warping of chipboards. It gets discoloured in extreme conditions. The breakdown of resins can also result in the release of toxic formaldehyde gas.
Popular Chipboard Brands-
Chipboards manufactured by Century use high-quality trees that are consumed sustainably. Their boards can withstand pressure and heat feasibly.
Positivity Chipboard India engineers highly durable particle boards. The fine sand finished surface is smooth and ideal for lamination and painting.
Shell Laminates manufactures its own particle boards. Additionally, it also imports high-quality boards from manufacturers in countries like Germany, Thailand, Spain, and Malaysia.
The price of chipboards ranges from Rs. 40 per sq. ft. to Rs. 500 per sq. ft.
Now that you know about the pros and cons of the different kinds of modular kitchen materials, it will become easier for you to pick the best as per your requirements.
Watch this video to find out more about the different types of modular kitchen materials.
A modular kitchen requires material for two main segments- the carcass and the shutters.
MDF is the most affordable material for the carcass, followed by HDF/HDMR, Plywood and HPL. Stainless Steel is the most expensive material; therefore, it not very popular and seldom used in home kitchens.
When it comes to the durability of kitchen carcass and shutter materials, it is essential to go for a reliable brand. MDF has often faced criticism for its lack of durability. However, the major problem lies not with the boards but the manufacturing of the boards. Fiberboards and particle boards are made of wood waste and wood dust. If air spaces are left inside the board then its quality degrades. Also, the species and condition of the wood affect the quality of the board.
Moreover, many Indian brands have come up with innovative materials to design high-quality modular kitchens. Godrej uses mild steel to build the kitchen carcass. It is a cheaper alternative of Stainless Steel, although there is a huge difference in the quality and specifications of the two as well. Grace Kitchens use HPL to build modular kitchen carcasses. They are termite and water-resistant.
As for the shutters of modular kitchens, several brands have come up with modern, creative solutions that not only increase the functionality but also the aesthetic appeal of the kitchen overall. Combinations of glass and aluminium or glass and solid wood give the shutters a visually delightful look and enhance the look and utility of the modular kitchen.
With the right material and smart choice of appliances, one can have a lavish modular kitchen within budget.
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