The world of home improvement is full of specifics. Use only this type of wiring here. That type of lighting only works there. Choose this type of flooring for the basement, but you’ll want something soft for the bedrooms. The same thing happens with cabinetry. Various units might look very similar, but there is a good, better, best option depending on whether you’re working on the kitchen or the bathroom. 

Is there a difference in cabinets for the kitchen and bathroom? 

The short answer is yes, and it’s worth paying attention as to why. The differences range from standard height and depth for different units to material durability and strength. Fixtures and accessories will vary, too, depending on the intended use. 

Height and depth of cabinets

When you search for “What is the difference between kitchen and bathroom cabinets?” you will find most information focuses on the difference in cabinet size. 

The standard kitchen cabinet will measure 24 inches deep, whereas most bathroom cabinets are 21 inches deep. This difference is due to typical room sizes – most bathrooms have a smaller floor plan than you will find in a kitchen. 

The standard height of a kitchen base cabinet is 34 inches. This height makes it possible for most users to stand comfortably, without bending over, while at the countertop prep area. In the bathroom, your countertops generally serve as storage for the “getting ready” activities that need the mirror – you’re not doing prep work as you do in the kitchen. The standard height for bathroom cabinets is X inches. 

Because bathroom cabinets are smaller overall than kitchen cabinets, they use less material and are therefore less expensive. Losing extra inches in depth or height does limit your options for accessories, style of vanity, and storage, but smaller-scale cabinetry suits most bathroom floor plans. 

Building material determines the durability

A second significant difference between kitchen and bathroom cabinets is the type of building material used. The wood’s type, and how it’s finished will determine how well it holds up to the intended use in a particular room. 

Consider the kitchen, which is not usually hot and humid. Of course, cooking and washing dishes can heat the room and add a little humidity. Still, overall, kitchens are wide open with enough air circulation to maintain a balanced temperature and humidity level. 

Your bathroom is almost the exact opposite. With showering and bathing, often several times a day, you automatically see higher humidity levels in the bathroom. Running the hot water for even a few minutes will add humidity to the bathroom’s smaller space. 

This flux in temperature and humidity can take its toll on the bathroom cabinets. Choosing cabinets made and finished with moisture-resistant materials – to prevent warping, sagging, and degraded finishes – is essential to ensure longevity and durability for your bathroom cabinets. 

Types of wood typically found in kitchen and bathroom cabinetry. 

The most common cabinetry woods are particleboard (also known as MDF) plywood, solid wood, and rubberwood. Each wood has a purpose and offers different qualities to a cabinet’s final construction.

Particleboard or MDF

Particleboard goes by many different names in the marketplace – engineered wood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), substrate, hardboard, and furniture board. Manufacturers make all particleboard the same way, applying heat and high pressure to wood particles and fixing the particles together with glue. 

Particleboard cabinets are popular because they are very presentable, often finished with an attractive veneer – yet priced inexpensively. This means you can upgrade your bathroom’s appearance without making a major investment. 

The big problem with particleboard, in general, is the susceptibility to humidity and moisture, which weakens the product’s structural integrity over time. Particleboard cabinets can warp, discolor, and crack over time in a damp environment. Veneers and other types of finishes are also more likely to peel and flake in high humidity. A second issue with particleboard is strength – it’s just not as strong as other types of wood. If you choose a particleboard bathroom cabinet and place a quartz or granite countertop on it, over time, you will likely see a loosening of the seal between the cabinet and countertop, as well as sagging, cracking, or even collapse of the cabinet. 

Rubberwood

Rubberwood is an inexpensive version of traditional solid wood often used for cabinets. Harvested from the rubber tree “Hevea Brasiliensis,” it’s an eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable choice, which makes people feel good about buying their cabinets. A rubberwood cabinet is almost as strong as one made from solid oak. While its durability and feel-good factor make it attractive, rubberwood can warp with excessive moisture. 

Solid Wood

A perennial favorite, solid wood checks all the boxes for durability, strength, appearance, customizability – all qualities you want in your cabinetry. While solid wood is always a fail-safe choice for furniture or kitchen cabinets, it’s not the best choice for bathroom cabinets. Solid wood is porous and tends to shrink and expand as humidity changes. This contraction and expansion can cause cracks in the painted finish and even warp, especially in more humid climates.  

Plywood

Plywood is a durable wood made by fixing together layers of wood, with the grain running in alternate directions on each layer. Alternating grain directions make plywood strong, giving it the ability to support granite and quartz countertops. Plywood is ideal for kitchen or bathroom cabinets because it resists moisture much better than particleboard. This moisture resistance is particularly important around the sink area, dishwasher, vanity, bathtub, or shower enclosure. All-plywood cabinets (APC) are also priced attractively. They walk the line between more expensive solid wood options and cheaper particleboard options. 

Accessories and retrofitting a cabinet

You may choose a kitchen cabinet for the bathroom, opting for the benefit of extra space. Because kitchen cabinets are a little higher and deeper, you can add accessories to the inside of your cabinet, such as pullout hampers, towel holders, or other storage options you would not find in a smaller bathroom vanity. 

When you retrofit a kitchen cabinet into a bathroom cabinet space, you may encounter problems. It can be done, but it may require extra plumbing and electrical adjustments. Your best bet is to start with an accurate floor plan that includes specific details about electrical and plumbing. Our experienced cabinet designers can help you determine what will work – and what won’t – and ensure you end up with the right kitchen or bathroom cabinet to fit your space. 

Schedule a call with our in-house professional designers today to start your kitchen or bathroom cabinet remodel.