What's the most durable kitchen cabinet? The one material designers love for long-lasting units, and the one they avoid

A kitchen is an investment. If you want it to last, take the expert’s advice and make sure your cabinets are built from this material

kitchen with white cupboards, light wood island with white marble worktop
(Image credit: Eymeric Wilding Photography. Design: Mera Studio)

Without a doubt, the kitchen is one of the areas of the house where the most investment will be required. At the heart of the home, modern kitchens need to be incredibly functional, organized, and most importantly, durable. Nobody wants to deal with chips, scratches, or fingerprints on the regular, especially after the effort, time, and budget put into the design and build of a kitchen. 

As such, it’s of utmost importance to get it right the first time. Considering a modern kitchen is a high-traffic area of a home, small ‘aggressions’ will happen to it daily, therefore using the correct material is vital. I spoke with three interior designers, all experts in modern kitchen design to find out what their advice is when looking to invest in cabinets that are durable and will look just as good in a few years, as they did when you first installed them. 

The most durable material for your kitchen cabinets 

Close up of wooden inset kitchen cabinets with latches

(Image credit: Emily Gilbert)

There seems to be a unanimous opinion when it comes to what is the best material to be used. And while accessible and tempting, it’s definitely not MDF, which, let’s settle this straight away, is best to be avoided whenever possible. 

Meghan Bannon and Tara Marshall, founders of Mera Studio tell me their favorite cabinets to work with are solid wood. ‘Although on the more expensive end, they will last much longer than the entry-level MDF lacquer and are easy to refinish/change down the line if there is a desire to create a new look,’ the designers explain.  

Wood cabinet doors that are easy to maintain are also the choice of designer Eva Dornstreich, of The Brooklyn Home Company. ‘Wood kitchen cabinet doors are beautifully durable. Small marks are easily obscured, and you don’t get the chipping that can occur with painted cabinets. If the workmanship is of high quality - which we always ensure - you won’t get the delamination you sometimes see with cheap wood veneer work,’ she tells me.  

The most durable design and build 

black kitchen with wicker island pendants by Urbanology

(Image credit: Urbanology Designs/Nathan Schroder)

As important as the material is, the kitchen cupboards will need to be built correctly to ensure longevity. Melissa Klink, creative director of Harvey Jones, and an expert on all things kitchens, thinks the build is just as important as the material used when it comes to durability. ‘The most durable furniture for the kitchen is a handmade, six-sided cabinet with a solid top and back, and a hardwood-to-hardwood connection. This type of craftsmanship will ensure the doors will remain perfectly in place over time,’ she tells me.  

This is where a good construction team play a vital role. When spending money on a new kitchen, the investment is both in the right materials and the right execution team. Look for experts who know their craft and who will build a lasting product for you. It will save so much time, budget, and stress. 

Make it timeless, too

cream kitchen drawers, marble worktop and flush hob

(Image credit: Eymeric Wilding Photography. Design: Mera Studio)

We can’t talk about durability without mentioning style. As kitchen trends come and go, you’ll want your space to stay relevant. ‘Like all rooms of the home, the style of the kitchen will also go through differing trends. To ensure the kitchen can adapt with you, it’s best to invest in cabinetry that offers refurbishment. Being able to change the color and finish of the cabinets, style, and placement of handles, as well as worktop and splashback material will make your kitchen truly timeless,’ advises Melissa.  

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Raluca Racasan
News writer

Raluca is Digital News Writer for Livingetc.com and passionate about all things interior and living beautifully. Coming from a background writing and styling shoots for fashion magazines such as Marie Claire Raluca’s love for design started at a very young age when her family’s favourite weekend activity was moving the furniture around the house ‘for fun’. Always happiest in creative environments in her spare time she loves designing mindful spaces and doing colour consultations. She finds the best inspiration in art, nature, and the way we live, and thinks that a home should serve our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as our lifestyle.