Best Types of Kitchen Units to Choose for Your Space (2024 Guide)

CEO Khai Intela
Jump to: How to Pick the Right Kitchen Units | How Much Do Kitchen Units Cost? | Best Kitchen Unit Materials | Standard Unit Sizes | Door Styles | Hardware | Rigid vs Flat Pack...

Gray and wooden kitchen with cupboards, close up

Jump to: How to Pick the Right Kitchen Units | How Much Do Kitchen Units Cost? | Best Kitchen Unit Materials | Standard Unit Sizes | Door Styles | Hardware | Rigid vs Flat Pack Units | Our Recommendation | FAQ

Kitchen units are an essential aspect to consider when planning a kitchen renovation. These units, which include cabinets and cupboards, store all your kitchen essentials such as dinnerware, cutlery, pots and pans, and appliances. The style, color, construction, and configuration of your kitchen units play a vital role in the overall look and feel of your fitted kitchen.

While the doors are the most visible part of kitchen units, it's important to pay attention to the carcasses—the underlying structure. Solid and durable carcasses ensure a longer-lasting kitchen with fewer chances of sagging shelves and warped drawers. But how do you choose the best kitchen units for your project? In this guide, we'll explore the available materials, their advantages and disadvantages, and provide tips to create your ideal kitchen.

How to Pick the Right Kitchen Units

Classical kitchen design, closed blue kitchen unit, sink in front of the window, decor on a wooden countertop. 3D rendering Consider how you use your kitchen and the space you have available, alongside style, as well as your budget. Image credit: Adobe

When selecting kitchen cupboards, it's easy to get caught up in color and style. However, it's essential to consider how you use your kitchen and the available space, alongside your preferred style and budget.

Budget

Your available budget often determines where you buy your kitchen units and the range you select. Many retailers offer kitchen ranges at various price points, providing options to suit different budgets. These ranges differ in terms of cabinet sizes, designs, color choices, door finishes, and construction.

Space and Use

If you have a compact kitchen, it's crucial to choose units that provide flexible storage solutions. Internal solutions such as wire racks within corner cupboards or pull-out larders can help maximize space but may add to the overall cost. Opting for full-extension drawer units instead of cupboards can also increase accessibility. Remember, you don't need to fill a large kitchen with units. Purchase only what you need for storage and consider using any leftover budget for coordinating units in other areas, such as built-in seating or media units.

Style

Choosing the color and style of your kitchen is the fun part. However, it's still important to closely examine the units you're considering. Some door and drawer finishes are more durable than others, while minimal detailing helps keep units easy to clean.

How Much Do Kitchen Units Cost?

The cost of individual kitchen units depends on the chosen material, location, and kitchen company. The table below breaks down the average cost of standard-sized kitchen units in the UK, excluding installation and door handles.

Material Average Price
Melamine-faced chipboard (MFC) From £50
Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) From £130
Plywood From £200
Timber-faced MDF or chipboard From £300
Solid wood From £350

What Are the Top 5 Kitchen Units Available?

When it comes to durability, maintenance, and cost, the material of your kitchen cabinets plays a significant role. Here are five popular types:

Solid Wood

Modern kitchen in the loft style. Kitchen island with a hood over it. Kitchen of fashion solid wood. 3D render. Certain woods work better than others for kitchen cabinets due to the potential for warping. Image credit: Adobe

  • Average price: From £350 per unit
  • Durability: Highly durable and long-lasting, although some types of wood may warp in humidity
  • Maintenance: Easy to clean with mild soap and water, can be repainted for a refreshed look

For longevity, solid timber cabinets are an excellent choice. They are made using traditional construction methods and are usually delivered fully assembled. Hardwoods like oak, tulipwood, maple, and ash are durable and stable options. Repainting solid wood cabinets is easy, and proper care includes cleaning with mild dish soap and avoiding harsh cleaners. Prices for solid wood cabinets start at around £350 per unit.

MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard)

Dark home interior in blue with open kitchen and dining area with a round table MDF is more affordable than solid wood cabinets. Image credit: Adobe

  • Average price: From £130 per unit
  • Durability: Depends on quality, but thicker construction can be highly durable and stable in humid kitchens
  • Maintenance: Easy to clean with mild soap and water, can be painted

MDF is made from wood fiber mixed with resin and wax, providing a strong and dense material. It is stable in a humid environment and has a smooth surface suitable for painting. Investing in a good-quality thick carcass ensures durability. Prices for MDF cabinets start at around £130 per unit.

Plywood

A stack of plywood boards ready to be turned into kitchen units. Plywood is made by bonding thin layers of wood, making it sturdy for kitchen units. Image credit: Adobe

  • Average price: From £200 per unit
  • Durability: Highly durable and resistant to water damage
  • Maintenance: Easy to clean with mild soap and water, can be painted, waxed, or lacquered

Plywood consists of thin layers of wood bonded together, providing strength in all directions and resistance to heat and humidity. It is resistant to moisture and can withstand burst pipes and leaks. Plywood cabinets require similar care to solid wood. Prices for plywood cabinets start at around £200 per unit.

MFC (Melamine-Faced Chipboard)

A melamine-faced chipboard kitchen unit with a finish that replicates the look of real wood. The melamine foil on MFC kitchen units prevents moisture from damaging the core. Image credit: Adobe

  • Average price: From £50 per unit
  • Durability: Some lower-priced units may be flimsy, but good-quality units with a thicker facing can last longer
  • Maintenance: Scratch-resistant melamine facing is easy to clean

MFC is the most affordable carcass material. It is made from chipboard or particle board pressed together and covered with melamine. The melamine foil prevents moisture ingress. While some MFC cabinets may have a short lifespan, good-quality MFC cabinets with thicker skin are hard-wearing. MFC carcasses start at around £50.

Timber-Faced MDF or Chipboard

A person applying a red wood veneer to a piece of MDF kitchen unit. Timber-faced kitchen units typically have a thin veneer of real wood glued to MDF or chipboard. Image credit: Adobe

  • Average price: From £300 per unit
  • Durability: Depends on the material beneath the veneer, but can be durable and stable in humid kitchens
  • Maintenance: Easy to clean like solid wood, but scratches may be harder to sand and refinish due to thinner veneer

Timber-faced units are made from MDF or chipboard with a veneer of real wood like oak, walnut, or ash. These units offer the look of real wood at a lower cost and with increased stability in fluctuating temperatures. Care is similar to that of real wood. The thicker the veneer, the better. Prices for timber-faced units start at around £300 per unit.

What Are the Standard Kitchen Unit Sizes?

A set of standard kitchen unit sizes. While most units have standard height and depth, the width may vary. Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash.

When purchasing ready-to-fit kitchen units, it's helpful to know the standard sizes to estimate how many cabinets can fit in your space. While most units have standard heights and depths, the widths can vary. Here are the standard UK kitchen unit sizes:

Refer to the original article for the detailed table of standard kitchen unit sizes.

Typical Kitchen Unit Door Styles

Nicely designed white and grey kitchen units with lots of greenery, wooden bar stools, and hanging lights. An example of shaker-style kitchen unit doors. Image credit: Christian Mackie/Unsplash

When selecting kitchen units, there are two main considerations—the carcass and the door. The carcass is the inside of the unit, while the door adds style. Here are the three primary door designs offered by most kitchen companies:

Shaker

Shaker cabinets feature doors with framed central panels, often veneered. They offer a timeless look and come with or without handles, available in various colors.

Slab

Slab kitchen units have smooth doors without framed features. They are ideal for modern designs and come in a range of colors and finishes. Slab doors can be used with or without handles.

J-Pull or Integrated Handles

J-pull kitchen units have smooth doors like slab cabinets but include a J-shaped curve built-in for easy door opening without handles. They are popular among those seeking a sleek, modern design.

What Hardware Do I Need to Buy for My Kitchen Units?

When purchasing kitchen units, consider the hardware you'll need. Some kitchen companies exclude the cost of door handles from their cabinets' prices. Choosing your own handles allows for personalization, as they come in various designs, colors, and finishes. You may also need hinges for cabinet doors and runners for drawers, including soft-close and sprung options. If you've opted for solid wood or thicker doors, ensure the hinges are strong enough to support them. Additionally, kitchen companies offer accessories and inserts to maximize storage space, such as pull-out shelves, waste bins, drawer inserts, and plinth heaters.

Which Is Best: Rigid or Flat Pack Kitchen Units?

When choosing kitchen units, you'll typically have two options: rigid or flat pack cabinets. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Rigid units are pre-assembled in a factory, saving installation time but requiring longer lead times for manufacturing. Flat pack units arrive in boxes and need to be assembled on-site, offering affordability but potential challenges during assembly.

Our Recommendation

For a balance of value, finish options, and minimal maintenance, MDF and plywood are top choices. Both materials are resistant to humidity, strong, and durable without breaking the bank. Opt for the best quality within your budget for long-lasting kitchen units. It's advisable to see the carcasses in person and request quotes from different suppliers to make an informed decision.

Remember, the key to creating your perfect kitchen is considering your personal preferences, budget, and usage requirements. With the right kitchen units, you can transform your space into a functional and stylish area that suits your needs.

FAQ

For answers to frequently asked questions about kitchen units, check out our FAQ section in the original article.

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