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Metal Kitchen Cabinets

Bored with wood cabinets? Consider metal. Emerging trends ; from the professional gourmet kitchen to ‘50s retro to sleek and futuristic; are making this option increasingly popular, and there are lots of choices, whether your taste is modern or traditional.

Shiny stainless steel definitely says “serious, efficient kitchen,” but it doesn’t have to look institutional; glass and wood accents can be very pleasing and make the kitchen your own. If you’re going for a cozier look, burnished copper, perhaps with brass accents, is warm and inviting. For a more subtle impression, a brushed nickel finish could be just the ticket. And, depending on the appliances you choose, metal cabinets can harmonize or contrast with their finish.

If all this sounds good to you, bear in mind that metal cabinets present some different issues from their wood counterparts.

First of all, consider the clang. All-metal cabinets are available, but they can also be quite noisy. Combine that with, say, a tile or stone floor, and your kitchen could become a less than comfortable environment.

That’s why many manufacturers offer cabinets with sheet metal overlaid on base material; usually plywood, particle board, or MDF (medium density fiberboard). This approach muffles the noise considerably, but also presents yet another issue; the durability and longevity of the cabinets depend very heavily on the underlying material, and you get what you pay for. Particle board and fiberboard consist essentially of sawdust and glue, and while some products are stronger than others, the material is prone to sagging if not adequately supported. If your plans call for stacks of dishes or lots of canned goods, discuss the issue with your building professional, who may suggest going with the more expensive, but also much stronger, plywood-base option.

Another hidden issue with particle board and fiberboard is that they tend not to hold screws as well as wood or plywood, which may lead to loose hinges and drawer pulls that are a hassle to fix. And, while well-designed cabinets don’t allow moisture to seep into the base material, particle board and fiberboard are very prone to swelling and warping if they do get wet, whereas plywood isn’t. (This might become an issue if, for example, the dishwasher malfunctions and floods the kitchen, and the unprotected bottom edges of the cabinets absorb water from the floor.) Again, be sure to discuss this issue with your building professional, who can give you a good perspective on whether it’s likely to be a problem in your situation.

Metal surfaces are famously durable, but can also be vulnerable to scratches, dents and dings that mar the finish over time.

Finally, think about cleaning. While a brushed finish is more forgiving than a chrome-like polish, metal is not known for its ability to hide dirt. Everything from cooking grease to kids’ sticky fingerprints is going to leave a mark, and while some protective coatings can reduce this effect and make cleanup easier, it’s something you want to think about. If at all possible, try to visit actual, lived-in kitchens that use the cabinets you’re considering to see how they work in real-life conditions.

In short, if you’re thinking about metal cabinets, you need to take your time and do your homework to make informed choices. Asking a lot of questions in the planning stages will certainly pay off in the final result. Your building and design professionals are a great practical resource in helping you get the kitchen of your dreams, as functional as it is beautiful.

Bored with wood cabinets? Consider metal. Emerging trends, from the professional gourmet kitchen all the way back to 1950s retro are making this option increasingly popular. In addition, there are lots of choices in modern and traditional styles. Let’s see if metal kitchen cabinets are right for your home.


The cost of installing metal kitchen cabinets depends on a variety of factors—the size of the kitchen, cost of labor, quality and thickness of the metal, manufacturer, and whether the cabinets are strictly metal or have an underlying material (such as particleboard). For detailed cost estimates, contact a local kitchen contractor in your area.


Generally far sturdier than other cabinet options.

There are various types of affordable metal cabinets available.

Metal cabinets offer an extremely unique look not available with traditional wood cabinets.


Many metal coatings and finishes don’t hide dirt, grime or sticky fingerprints.

All metal cabinets can be extremely noisy.

Metal surfaces can be vulnerable to scratches, dents and dings.


While metal cabinets are susceptible to scratches and dents, they are one of the most durable kitchen cabinetry options. However, if you decide to go with metal cabinets that have a base underlay, make sure that is sturdy as well. Particle board, for instance, can easily break down.


Metal cabinets aren’t the best at hiding everyday stains, so regular maintenance is necessary. Here are a few steps to keep yours in top shape:

  1. Use a clean cloth and rubbing alcohol to get rid of grease, dirt and oil.
  2. Steel wool should be used to remove stubborn stains and rust spots.
  3. Rinse with soapy water and dry with a soft, clean cloth.

Common Questions and Answers

Should metal cabinets be installed with an underlay material?

If you want to muffle the noise associated with metal, then yes, they should be installed with a base material. Most often this is plywood, particle board or medium density fiberboard (MDF).

What are the downsides to using certain base materials?

A hidden issue with particle board and fiberboard is that they can’t hold screws as well as wood or plywood, which may lead to loose hinges and drawer pulls. And, while well-designed cabinets don’t allow moisture to seep into the base material, particle b


Metal cabinets first appeared kitchens during the 1930s and ‘40s because they were inexpensive and easy to maintain. Today they are most prevalent in lofts and industrial spaces, as well as restaurants and gourmet kitchens.

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