Cabinets – How Do I Choose? 

Making the choice to renovate your kitchen or bathroom cabinets can be more challenging than it seems. What starts as an inspirational moment watching HGTV or searching Pinterest, can turn into a “HELP! I Wrecked My Space” episode very quickly. You’ll want to ask yourself the following questions before starting your journey: 

  • What cabinet style do I like? 
  • What cabinet color am I looking for? 
  • What cabinet material do I want?  

The list of questions can go on and on, BUT it doesn’t have to be that challenging when you know what things to keep in mind. If you understand your space and know what to look for it can make the process a whole lot easier. So, let’s start with….

What Type of Cabinets do I Need? 

Kitchen Cabinets 

If you’re doing a kitchen, you’re going to need base cabinets, wall cabinets, and (in some cases) cabinets for an island. Standard base cabinets in a kitchen are 34.5” tall and 24” deep and standard wall cabinets are 12” deep and 30” tall but can come in a variety of heights. 

When looking at your base cabinets, you’ll want to decide what pullouts you would like to have for pots, pans, spices, trays, etc. How do you use your cabinets now? What do you wish you had or didn’t have? 

When you’re looking at wall cabinets, you’ll want to determine if you need one over your refrigerator or stove or if you would like a vent hood. You will also want to think about the height of your cabinets and if you’d like to have crown molding or no trim.  

Pro Tip: Make a quick list of what you would love to have in your dream kitchen from a storage perspective. What do you like about your kitchen now and what could you do without? Having a wants and a needs list will help tremendously when picking out your cabinets. 

Bathroom Cabinets 

If you’re looking at updating the cabinets in your bathroom, you will be looking for bathroom vanity cabinets. When deciding on vanity cabinets, you’ll want to determine the size you’ll need, if you would like a single sink or double sink vanity and if you’d like to have drawers, doors or both. You can also determine if you would like to have specific inserts in your drawers for hair dryers, curling irons, etc. Making a list for this space’s wants and needs is a huge plus, too. 

Non-Traditional Cabinets 

You might also decide you want custom cabinetry for your outdoor kitchen, garage, home office, or bedroom of your home. Whichever cabinets you decide to look for, understanding the space that they are in, determining your likes and dislikes about your current cabinets, and picking the ‘style’ you like will help tremendously. 

So…what’s the difference in materials and why should it matter when picking out cabinets? 

Cabinet Materials – What’s the Difference? 

When it comes to cabinets, all materials are certainly NOT created equal. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you must get the most expensive cabinets, but it does mean you’ll want to make sure you are putting the right material to serve the right purpose in your space. For instance, if you’re looking for outdoor cabinets, finding a durable material that will last outside is important. If you’re looking to place cabinets in your forever home, you might want to pay more attention to long-lasting materials like solid wood. 

Let’s break down common cabinet materials. 

Solid Wood / Plywood 

Solid wood cabinets are made with planks of actual wood from trees. Plywood is a material composed of layers of thick sheets of wood with adhesive in between to make the piece stronger. If you look at plywood closely, you’ll notice a ‘sandwich’ type effect that shows the layering of wood.  

The different types of woods can include maple, pine, oak, cherry, and others. These cabinets are almost always more expensive than composite or engineered brands as the craftmanship and sourcing it takes to build them requires more work. 

When looking for all wood cabinets, you’ll want to ensure that not only the doors, but the boxes are made with wood or plywood as well – sometimes the box can be made of composite or engineered materials. All wood cabinets should have solid wood doors and plywood boxes.  

A good sign you’ve found all wood cabinets is if the brand offers staining as a finish. Real wood cabinets have graining and engineered, or composite materials, do not, so staining is not possible for those types of cabinets. Overall, the strength of wood cabinets compared to others is unmatched. If you are looking for cabinets in Lakeland or Winter Haven that will last you decades, wood is a great choice. At Lakeland Liquidation, all of our cabinet lines are made of solid wood and plywood. 


Medium Density Fiber Board, or MDF is one of the most popular types of engineered wood for all types of construction. Most commonly, you’ll find MDF options for shelving, cabinets, tv stands, storage, etc. in popular retail stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Ikea. MDF is wood-based and made from fibers and thin veneers. 

If you’re looking for cost-effectiveness, MDF can work for you. When searching for cabinets in Lakeland and Winter Haven that are longer-lasting, you might want to look for a more durable option like solid wood. 

MDF is very smooth and easy to paint but does not have any of the graining that wood offers. It is denser and stronger than particle board and easy to cut. 

One of the disadvantages of MDF is it can soak up water and swell if not sealed correctly, and the durability of this material is not the highest grade. 

Particle Board 

Particle board is not much different than MDF and is very commonly found in home furniture. Unlike MDF, it has wood chips and particles mixed in with adhesives. It is a much more cost effective option for cabinet boxes, but from a durability standpoint, it will not hold up to the test of time. 

Other Cabinet Materials 

Some other cabinet materials that are not as common in kitchens and bathrooms but can be used are Thermofoil, Melamine, Laminate and Metal all of which are common covers to plywood, particle board, or MDF boxes. 

If you’re looking for outdoor cabinets, you’ll want to find a waterproof/resistant material like marine-grade polymer. 

Cabinet Door Styles 

When it comes to cabinet styles, there is wide variety of choices, and each cabinet brand will have their own styles. We break down some commonly used styles. 


Shaker style cabinets are clean, timeless cabinets that have been around for decades. Known for their simple, flat panel design and no embellishments, they are always a household favorite. 

Raised Panel 

The term raised panel means just that: the panel of the door is raised within the door frame. These can come in many different designs and styles to give the cabinet door more dimension and depth. It’s a more intricate style that gives your cabinet door character. 

Flat Panel 

Flat panel cabinet doors are very clean, simple, and the exact opposite of raised panels. When you see a flat panel door style there will be nothing raised in the center of the door. There are a variety of options with these, but they are all less detailed, more streamlined styles. 


Bead-board is commonly used in coastal homes for a more ‘beach-like’ feel. The panel of the door has a bead-board design with vertical ‘boards’ going down the center. If your style is ‘It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere’, you’ll love the bead-board cabinet style. 


Arched cabinet doors are a very traditional (similar to a Cathedral Style) feel. The name states just what they are and have an ‘arched’ effect on the panel of the door. 


If you’re okay with everyone seeing all that’s in your cabinets, glass doors are a great option. Many times, homeowners choose to have some cabinets with glass and others without as it gives a very classy look to your kitchen. 

Cabinet Finishes 

Once you’ve decided on your cabinet door style, you’ll have to choose what finish you would like on your cabinet. 


With unfinished cabinets, the world is your oyster…if you like the DIY option. Unfinished cabinets can be painted or stained any color you would like. Unfinished cabinets typically provide significant cost savings… Just make sure you’re sold on that color before you go all the way! 


Painted cabinets give a clean, matte look in a variety of colors depending on the brand. You can get blue, black, grey, white, and in some cases custom colors. 


Stained cabinets allow you to see all the natural elements of wood cabinets. With a stained cabinet, you have a variety of options that give new life to the wood other than just its natural finish. One thing to keep in mind when you’re looking at stained cabinets is the fact that there can be variation depending on how the wood holds the stain.  


A glazed finish is added to either a painted or stained cabinet. Although it adds to the cost typically, it can provide an enormous amount of character to the cabinet door and is common in more rustic style or French country kitchens. 

I Figured Out My Style – Now What? 

Once you’ve figured out what material, style, and finish you’d like, you’ll want to measure the walls in your space (in inches) and mark where appliances, windows, and doorways are. Take pictures of your space, get a few ideas for inspiration, and take them to a qualified designer (that’s us!) to bring your ideas to life.  If you’re shopping for cabinets in Lakeland and Winter Haven but would also like the assistance of an experienced designer, Lakeland Liquidation should be your first stop!

You’ll still have several decisions to make in the process like what type of countertop you would like, what appliances will be there and what type of hardware you would like, but at least you’ve got a start!