Cladding options for Kitchen Cabinetry

Cladding options for Kitchen Cabinetry

You’ve no doubt come across the term cladding. But what is cladding? Cladding can be defined as a layer of a covering which is installed or applied over an external surface of a structure to either protect it &/or give it a new look. Due to day-to-day wear & tear, structures can begin to show signs of age, & cladding can be a way of covering up the damage while also stopping it from continuing. Cladding can come in a variety of material, including but not limited to glass, stone, brick, plastic & timber. However, the cladding options we’re talking about today are a tad different than house cladding – it’s cladding options for kitchen cabinetry. So, let’s explore what are the different options to use as kitchen cabinetry, shall we?

Timber veneers – Cheap but irreparable

In terms of longevity & beauty, solid timber used as cabinetry cladding is hard to beat. Back in the 1970’s, the technique of slicing wood to thin slices of about 3 millimetres was refined by industrial furniture makers, & this was glued onto core panels. This practice made a vast array of timber species available to the general public, & it’s now known as timber veneers.

One of the best things about timber veneers is that you can choose to use an expensive or cost-effective species of timber, since it’s directly glued on top of a cheap timber substrate & use it en mass, for example, to clad a wall as well. If this was done with solid timber, a great cost would be incurred. You can use timber veneers on walls as well as the kitchen cabinetry, which will complement the look of not only your cabinetry, but create a theme of its own in the kitchen area.

Easily the best advantage of timber veneers is that it’s easy to shape & it’s available in a number of species. Timber veneers are also not prone to warping or splitting, since the glue gives it strength. It’s also an affordable cladding option.

Among the limitations, the greatest would be that you can only use it in low-impact areas in the kitchen, such as cupboard doors & feature walls. Also, you can’t repair timber veneers by sanding back & re-staining, which is limited to solid timber. Incorrectly installing timber veneers is another issue, so most certainly you’ll have to have a professional install the timber veneers, so even though the timber species itself can be a low-cost cladding option, the installation cost could be high.

Laminate – Durable but difficult to maintain

Laminate cabinets have a thin film of material which is bonded to the exterior surface. The cabinet itself can be made from an inexpensive wood or pressed wood material. The more attractive thin film, the laminate, is glued on the cabinet exterior. Laminates can come in a number of different colours & styles, from low-cost plastics, to expensive & exotic woods. Laminate cabinets have a noticeably lesser price than their solid wood counterparts.

There are mainly two types of laminate materials. Hard plastic which comes in a number of different colours & textures is the most commonly used laminate. The other type of laminate is thin sheets of wood. Wood laminates, once applied over pressed wood material, give the illusion that the cabinets are made of solid wood. In order to create the effect of high-quality solid wood cabinets, high-quality wood laminates can be used to cover plywood surfaces.

There are several advantages in using laminate cabinets. The most obvious would be that plastic laminate surfaces are durable & easy to clean, while also being water proof & stain resistant. Also, laminates can be used for cabinet refacing, so that the look & colour of the kitchen cabinets can be replaced without having to replace the cabinets.

Laminate, however, is not without its disadvantages. One of the greatest disadvantages in laminate is that the material can peel away from the surface of the cabinet if it’s not properly attached. Also, the corners or edges may tend to swell & warp if the cabinet is exposed to water or a great deal of humidity. The edges of the laminate material are vulnerable to damage, & can be chipped after years of use. Also, even though the water repellent surface is easy to clean, it’s difficult to paint or refinish.

Flexible stone veneers – Rebranding kitchen cabinetry décor

After scrutinizing the timber veneers & plastic/wood laminate options, let’s take a look in a different direction entirely, shall we?
Flexible stone veneers are sustainably extracted with minimum carbon footprint from 100% natural metamorphic stone, resulting in a 1.5 mm to 2.0 mm thin sheet of natural stone, which is attached to a backing, which is usually fibreglass, but can also be fabric or translucent. This thin sheet of natural stone is extracted from sandstone, slatestone or marble, & result in a surface that is both natural water & heat resistant, as well as extremely durable.

Since you can quarry a number of thin sheets from a large rock, it is a sustainable practice than quarrying slabs from stone. Since the thin stone surface is attached to a fibreglass backing, it’s not only flexible, but light-weight as well, a single sheet being around 1 kilo. This light-weightiness makes the flexible stone veneers easy to install, not only by professional, but also by DIY enthusiasts using day-to-day household tools & glue. Flexible stone veneers can not only be installed on wood, but any kind of substrate, which is another benefit you’ll no doubt enjoy.

When comparing flexible stone veneers with timber veneers, one of the main advantages that you’ll have is the durability. While timber veneers can only be installed in relatively low impact areas, flexible stone veneers can be installed in areas which can sustain high impacts, example benchtops. Further, due to the durability of the natural stone surface, unlike timber veneers, you would not have to replace stone veneers since it’ll last a lifetime with proper installation & maintenance. Finally, unlike being limited to getting professional help to install timber veneers properly, you can install flexible stone veneers on your own, with day-to-day household tools & glue, drastically reducing the cost of labour.

When comparing flexible stone veneers with laminate, the main advantage would be the durability of natural stone, which unlike laminate, will not tend to peel away from the substrate with time. Also, flexible stone veneers can contract & expand, unlike laminate, which may tend to swell or warp if exposed to water or humidity. Unlike laminate, the durable stone surface is also resistant to chipping, even after years of use, similar to the rocks it’s extracted from.

Finally, when compared to both laminate & timber veneers, the application of flexible stone veneers is unmatched. You can use flexible stone veneers not only in your kitchen cabinetry, but you can use it in splashbacks, benchtops, fireplaces & feature walls, creating a theme of its own. While granting you the durability of natural stone, it’ll also give the look of stone slabs, while being far more environmentally sustainable than using actual stone slabs, not to mention the significantly lower cost.

All in all, flexible stone veneers are taking over the cabinetry cladding options for the many advantages that it offers over other options, including the most common timber veneers & laminate material. After all, what can be more durable or reliable than natural stone?


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