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Are PVC kitchen cabinets a good buy? What to know before you spend any money

A quick remodeling project, particularly in the kitchen, gives the space an immediate facelift and could even make your daily life a bit more pleasant. Are your kitchen cabinets are looking dated or worn? Maybe you’re just tired of the style or color and need a change. If so, you’ve probably been researching all the different materials that can be used for cabinets. We’re going to dive into one option worth considering: PVC kitchen cabinets.

How are PVC kitchen cabinets different than other cabinet materials that are popular in kitchens – like cabinets made from wood?

Bright kitchen with white and navy cabinets

You’ve probably heard of poly-vinyl chloride, or PVC, in connection to water and drain pipes. The material is used for pipes because of its durability and waterproof construction. What you may not know is that it’s actually become a popular material for kitchen cabinet construction for these reasons as well. While you may know kitchen cabinets to be made from plywood or natural wood materials, PVC cabinets don’t contain any wood. Instead, they’re made from plastic composite.

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One thing you should know is that there are generally two types of PVC cabinets for the kitchen. The first is a hollow PVC board. These cabinets are, as you’ve probably guessed, hollow on the inside. This makes them incredibly light and easy to install, but they’re also best in temporary construction since they’re less durable. The other type of PVC cabinets are made from foam PVC boards. These are much more durable and long-lasting, rivaling even wood cabinets.

Why are PVC kitchen cabinets better than other cabinet materials? 

Close-up of a woman's hands cleaning cabinet with a microfiber cloth

Lightweight for easy transport and installation

As opposed to heavy natural wood cabinets, PVC materials are super light and easy to manage. Transporting, installing, and removing them is a breeze compared to standard wood cabinets.

More economical than wood cabinets

PVC materials are widely available on the market, which makes them incredibly economical. Compared to other cabinet materials, you’ll save a lot of cash by going with PVC cabinets. If you’re looking for a particularly low-cost cabinet for a temporary kitchen or something similar, hollow PVC boards are even cheaper than foam boards.

Stain-resistant and easy to clean

Basically constructed with plastic, PVC wipes completely clean when splatters or spills occur. It doesn’t soak up liquids or oils, so it’s incredibly stain-resistant. This also makes the material longer-lasting since you don’t have to replace a cabinet that has become discolored by a spill, like you would have to do with wood cabinets.

Resists rotting, corrosion, and pests

Since there’s no wood in the construction, you don’t have to worry about termites or wood rot with PVC cabinets. The material is also corrosion-resistant, which contributes to its durability as well.

Are there any qualities that make PVC kitchen cabinets inferior to other materials?

kitchen with white cabinets and floor and wood backsplash
Max Vakhtbovych/Pexels

Low heat and fire resistance

Particularly in the case of hollow PVC boards, the material is not as resistant to heat and fire as wood cabinets with sealant. Foam PVC boards are more heat-resistant, which is a better choice between the two PVC cabinet options, but wood cabinets are the best choice for heat and fire blocking.

Scratches can’t be removed

When you ding or scratch a wood cabinet, you can fix it in many cases by sanding and refinishing. With PVC materials, however, a nick or crack is permanent and can’t be repaired. In the case of an ugly scratch on your PVC kitchen cabinet, you’d have to replace the whole board. It’s a good thing PVC cabinet materials are durable and inexpensive!

Hardware compatibility causes sagging

Especially with hollow PVC boards, the hardware used to install it in your kitchen often becomes loose over time with excessive use. This causes the cabinets to start sagging and results in an appearance of poor construction.

Let’s answer all of your nagging PVC cabinet questions: These are the most common FAQs about PVC kitchen cabinets

Gray kitchen cabinets with white subway tile backsplash above them

Now that we’ve discussed the advantages and disadvantages of PVC cabinets in your kitchen, let’s review some frequently asked questions regarding this cabinet material.

Is PVC safe for kitchen cabinets?

Since it’s plastic, people often question whether PVC materials are safe to use in the kitchen. After all, you’re preparing food and beverages, so you need to make sure your family isn’t at risk. The good news is, PVC is a nontoxic material and, since it doesn’t absorb liquids, bacteria won’t stay on it or soak into the fibers.

How long do PVC cabinets last?

PVC cabinets are actually incredibly long-lasting. Due to their high durability, PVC kitchen cabinets won’t need to be replaced completely for up to 20 years or more.

If you’ve got a lot of home renovation projects you’d like to get done, your kitchen cabinet replacement shouldn’t be a stressful one. PVC kitchen cabinets have become popular because of their high durability, wide availability, and low cost. While they’re not better than wood cabinets in every way, the benefits of PVC cabinets should definitely be considered.

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