Coordinated Design

3 Best Choices of Wood for Garage Cabinets

Homeowners have a wide variety of options for cabinetry in a garage. Options like molded plastic cabinets and metal cabinets are among the most popular and are easy to set up.

Wood cabinets can be a great option if you are looking for a homey, living-space interior look or want a traditional workshop style. However, it’s not as easy as buying and installing old kitchen cabinet boxes. The type of wood, its grade, and the cost of materials all play a major role in picking the best kind of wood cabinets. Before purchasing or building your wood cabinetry, here are a few things to consider in order to get the best bang for your buck.

Material Choice – Durability is Key

The environment in your garage is more susceptible to the elements, most notably temperature and humidity. Fluctuations in either of these do a couple things to wood:

  • High humidity or hot temperatures expand wood.
  • Low humidity or cold temperatures shrink wood.

  • Normal fluctuations in temperature and humidity are natural and wood can handle it just fine indoors. But during summer highs and winter lows in a garage, many solid wood cabinets can warp or crack simply because garages typically lack proper insulation. This is why engineered wood cabinets tend to be the better option in the garage.

    Engineered Wood Pros and Cons Comparison

    Options for Wood Garage Cabinets

    Medium-density fiberboard and exterior-grade birch plywood are more dimensionally stable in environments with extreme conditions. Depending on your budget and tastes, you would choose one material over the other. There are a few things to know when picking one.

    Particle Board


  • Cheapest material.
  • Lightweight option.
  • Cons

  • Most susceptible to moisture damage out of the other engineered wood options.
  • Has a low weight capacity.

  • Medium-Density Fiberboard


  • More durable than standard particle board.
  • Cheaper to purchase than plywood.
  • Cons

  • MDF sheets are dense and tend to be heavier, which makes DIY a little tougher. On the other hand, they’re also easier to cut than plywood.
  • High VOC emissions if not sealed with a laminate or another material.

  • Plywood


  • Very strong with a higher weight capacity.
  • Little more resistant to moisture than unsealed MDF.

  • Cons

  • Can be stained, MDF cannot. However, MDF has a smoother surface that makes it excellent for laminate and paint finishes.
  • An exterior cabinet grade of plywood is much more expensive than MDF.

  • Melamine vs. Plain MDF

    Garage Storage Cabinets in Area3

    Since MDF is still a particle board, it has a couple of weakness compared to plywood, particularly its vulnerability to moisture. Melamine over the MDF is a great option to combat moisture. Monkey Bars cabinets are melamine coated with a heat-fused laminated finish. This layer covers and protects the core MDF wood from moisture and stains; water wipes right off. Additionally, it makes it more resistant to abrasions and reduces VOC off-gassing that tends to occur when the wood is cut.

    All of these benefits along with the affordability and durability of MDF is why we chose melamine for our cabinets. It’s the perfect combination of the important attributes for quality storage cabinets that work best for the average homeowner.

    Final Thoughts

    Along with the material choice, thickness of wood also factors into the overall strength of the cabinetry. For most homeowners, 3/4″ walls and 1″ shelving is a good way to go whether you’re using MDF or plywood. The final decision depends on what you will use the cabinetry for. In terms of weight-capacity, MDF is plenty strong enough for most homeowners and may be better than paying more for plywood’s weight-capacity that will be left unused.

    These tips should give you a fair amount of knowledge to help you choose the best wood cabinets for your garage. Whether you end up doing it yourself, purchase pre-made cabinets or a kit, or hire a professional to install them, you’ll know the kind of cabinet material that suits your needs.

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