What Materials Are in IKEA Kitchen Cabinets?

IKEA kitchen cabinets are made from a variety of materials, offering options to suit different budgets and aesthetic preferences. The most common materials used in IKEA cabinet construction are particleboard, fiberboard, solid wood, and thermally fused laminate. Let’s take a closer look at each of these materials and how they impact the quality, durability, and price point of IKEA kitchen cabinets.

Particleboard in IKEA Cabinets

Particleboard, also known as chipboard, is the most widely used material in ready-to-assemble IKEA kitchen cabinets. It is an engineered wood product made from wood chips, sawdust, and synthetic resin or other suitable binders which are pressed and extruded into solid boards.

Particleboard offers the following advantages:

  • Cost-effective – Particleboard is an affordable option, making it ideal for keeping IKEA kitchen cabinet costs down.
  • Consistent quality – The small wood particles are evenly distributed through the board which minimizes natural flaws and imperfections. This makes for consistent quality.
  • Stability – Particleboard is very stable and does not easily warp or crack.
  • Machinability – It machines well, allowing for detailed cuts and drilling.
  • Paintability – Particleboard accepts paints and stains nicely.

However, particleboard also has some downsides:

  • Prone to damage – It scores, dents, and scratches more easily compared to wood. Edge damage can occur during shipping and installation.
  • Not moisture resistant – Particleboard will swell, deteriorate, and lose structural integrity if exposed to standing water or high humidity.
  • Contains formaldehyde – Adhesives used in particleboard production tend to contain formaldehyde which emits VOCs (volatile organic compounds). IKEA aims to use low-formaldehyde glues and meets emissions standards.

Overall, particleboard provides an affordable and stable option for IKEA kitchen cabinet carcases or hidden structural components. The cons can be mitigated by adding laminate veneers, edge banding, and using moisture-resistant finishes.

Fiberboard Used in IKEA Cabinets

Fiberboard or fibreboard refers to engineered wood products made from wood fibers. There are different types of fiberboard used in IKEA kitchen cabinets:

MDF – Medium Density Fiberboard

MDF is the most common fiberboard used. It is made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers which are combined with adhesive and pressed into boards.

Advantages of MDF:

  • Dense and rigid – Provides good screw-holding strength.
  • Consistent – Has a uniform look and feel. Minimal knots and grain patterns.
  • Stable – Doesn’t expand or contract as much as solid wood. Resists warping.
  • Paintable – Provides a smooth surface for painted finishes.
  • Affordable option for cabinet doors and panels.

Disadvantages of MDF:

  • Heavy – Weighs more than plywood or particleboard.
  • Not moisture resistant – Swells and loses strength if exposed to excessive moisture.
  • Contains formaldehyde resins – Emits low levels of VOCs.

MDF is used for cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and wall panels in IKEA kitchens.

HDF – High Density Fiberboard

HDF is a stronger version of MDF, made by applying high temperature and pressure during production. The increased density makes it more resistant to scratches and dents.

HDF is utilized in IKEA cabinets for:

  • Drawers – Provides durability.
  • Shelves – Supports more weight without sagging.
  • Door/drawer fronts – Resists impact damage.


Hardboard is the densest fiberboard, made of interfelted lignocellulosic fibers consolidated under heat and pressure.

IKEA may use hardboard for:

  • Cabinet backs – Thicker panels provide stability.
  • Base panels – Creates a smooth surface for cabinet bases.
  • Drawer bottoms – Provides a smooth sliding surface.

So in summary, fiberboard materials like MDF, HDF, and hardboard allow IKEA to construct sturdy cabinet components at reasonable price points. They offer benefits like density, rigidity, consistency, and paintability. The main downside is lack of moisture resistance.

Solid Wood in IKEA Cabinets

While engineered wood panels make up the majority of IKEA cabinet constructions, solid wood is used in specific areas to provide natural beauty, strength, and durability:

Solid Hardwood Frames

The cabinet box or carcase may feature an inner hardwood frame for structural rigidity. This provides excellent screw-holding capability and resilience against warping. Common solid woods used include birch, aspen, and Nordic spruce.

Solid Wood Doors

Wood veneer cabinet doors and drawer fronts with an inner hardwood frame impart a natural look and feel. IKEA wood doors are typically pine, birch, oak, ash or walnut veneer over particleboard or MDF cores.

Solid Wood Drawers

Drawer boxes may have solid hardwood sides, front and back pieces for enhanced strength. Common species are pine, acacia and bamboo.

Solid Wood Accent Pieces

Decorative frames, legs, molding, trim and appliques may be constructed from solid woods like oak, maple, pine and poplar to provide visual interest.

The benefits of solid wood components in IKEA cabinets include:

  • Natural beauty of wood grain patterns
  • Allows for wood staining or clear coats to accent the natural color
  • Strengthens high wear areas
  • Adds richness and high-end accents

The cons of solid wood are mainly increased cost and some variability in wood grain. But overall, the judicious use of solid woods gives IKEA kitchen cabinets added durability with touches of natural, upscale flair.

Thermally Fused Laminate (TFL) in IKEA Cabinets

Thermally fused laminate or TFL is used to provide a decorative, durable surface finish for IKEA kitchen cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and panels.

TFL starts with decorative paper impregnated with melamine resin. This paper is thermally fused under high pressure to particleboard or MDF substrates.

Here are the benefits that make thermally fused laminate a popular surface finish for IKEA kitchen components:

Resistance to Impact and Scratching

The resin-infused laminate creates a highly durable surface that resists chipping, scratching, and scuffing. TFL stands up well to everyday wear and tear.

Moisture Resistance

Melamine resins make TFL surfaces highly resistant to moisture, steam, boiling water, or exposure to high humidity. Spills can be easily wiped away.

Stain Resistance

The impervious melamine surface is stain-proof and resists absorption or penetration of foods, drinks and household chemicals.

Easy Cleaning

TFL wipes clean with a damp cloth and warm soapy water. Harsh chemical cleaners are not required.

Range of Colors and Patterns

TFL is available in hundreds of solid colors and realistic wood grains and textures. This allows extensive design flexibility.


Thermally fused laminate provides a durable, attractive finish at a lower cost compared to solid wood surfaces or laminate veneers.


The high-heat fusing process creates a uniform, seamless surface appearance free of natural defects. The decorative pattern and color is consistent across all doors and panels.

So in summary, thermally fused laminate is IKEA’s go-to surface material for kitchen cabinets and components. It provides an optimal balance of visual appeal, resilient finish, moisture protection, and cost-effectiveness.

How Cabinet Materials Impact IKEA Kitchen Costs

The choice of materials used in IKEA kitchen cabinet construction has a direct impact on the total project cost. Here is a relative comparison of how cabinet material upgrades affect pricing:

Most Affordable

  • Particleboard boxes
  • Thermally fused laminate doors
  • Plastic hinges and accessories


  • Solid wood frames
  • MDF doors and drawer fronts
  • Concealed door hinges
  • Wood veneer surfaces


  • Plywood construction
  • Solid wood doors and drawers
  • Soft-close hinges and hardware
  • Stained or lacquered real wood veneer

There is quite a broad price range between IKEA’s lowest-cost cabinet lines like Godmorgon versus premium options like Sektion or Pax.

The material differences account for a large portion of the pricing variance. But higher grades also include more advanced engineering and features like soft-closing hardware.

Achieving Different Style Looks

IKEA kitchens use various combinations of particleboard, fiberboard, solid wood, and laminates to achieve different aesthetic styles at varied price points.

Traditional Style

Traditional styling relies more heavily on solid wood components and wood veneers to emulate ornate carved detailing and dark natural stain colors.

Contemporary Style

The clean lines of contemporary kitchens are easily achieved with fiberboard construction, thermally fused laminate doors and drawer fronts, and plastic or metal hardware.

Shaker Style

Shaker cabinets pair solid wood frames with MDF recessed panel doors and drawer fronts, often with a painted finish.

Country Cottage Style

Cottage kitchens use solid wood frames along with decorative accents like moldings, legs, and trim to evoke a handcrafted look.

Modern and Minimalist

Simple slab-style doors and drawer fronts made from fiberboard materials pair nicely with matte TFL finishes in monochromatic tones for a sleek modern aesthetic.

Ensuring Durability

While cost is a major factor in material selection, IKEA also engineers their kitchen cabinets for sufficient durability to last for years in residential settings.

Moisture Resistance

The hidden structural portions of IKEA cabinets are inherently vulnerable to moisture damage. Applying moisture-resistant finishes is critical in damp areas. IKEA’s specialized SEKTION base cabinets are designed to withstand leaks and spills.


Hinges, slides, and handles undergo rigorous testing to verify durability. Upgraded soft-close hardware ensures smooth operation for the long haul.

Coating Technologies

IKEA uses state-of-the-art finishing techniques like melamine resin saturation and polyurethane coatings to protect wood veneers and thermally fused laminate surfaces.

Quality Checks

Precision manufacturing combined with routine quality control inspections ensures boards are laminated properly, edges are cleanly trimmed, and components fit together snugly.

While less expensive than solid hardwood custom cabinetry, IKEA kitchen cabinets offer very good durability for the price when cared for properly. Avoiding direct moisture exposure is key.

Common IKEA Kitchen Cabinet Lines

IKEA categorizes their kitchen cabinets and materials into different lines based on price point, feature sets and intended consumer profiles.

METOD System

Metod highlights include:

  • IKEA’s only solid wood door offering with oak, birch or ash veneer
  • Thick 18mm doors and solid hardwood frames
  • MAXIMERA fully customizable drawers
  • Soft-close drawers and hinges standard
  • 10-year limited warranty


Sektion features include:

  • Budget-friendly mid-range option
  • 15mm doors available in wood, TFL, or glass
  • Solid wood shelves and drawers
  • Moisture-resistant cabinet boxes
  • Wide range of colors and finishes


Förvara offers:

  • Most affordable IKEA kitchen cabinets
  • Simple slab-style doors and drawer fronts
  • Particleboard construction with plastic hinges
  • Limited color/finish options
  • Ideal for rental or DIY projects

Beyond these mainstay cabinet lines, IKEA also offers:

  • PAX system for built-in storage and closets
  • Applador integrated appliance cabinets
  • Specialty options like Utrusta hardware drawers and BARKABODA pantry units

So whatever style or budget you’re designing for, IKEA likely has a cabinet system featuring the ideal construction materials to bring your kitchen vision to life!

IKEA Cabinet Materials – Pros vs Cons

Here is a summary of the key benefits provided by common IKEA cabinet materials versus potential drawbacks to weigh:


Pros: Affordable, stable, uniform quality, machinable

Cons: Prone to damage, not moisture-resistant

Fiberboard (MDF, HDF)

Pros: Stable, smooth, consistent, screw-holding ability

Cons: Heavy, not moisture-resistant

Solid Wood

Pros: Natural beauty, strength, staining/coating

Cons: Cost, variability

Thermally fused laminate (TFL)

Pros: Durable, moisture-resistant, stain-proof, affordable

Cons: Limited repairability

Which is Best?

There is no single “best” material for all needs. Particleboard makes sense for interior carcase components while solid woods provide needed accents. MDF works well for door panels and TFL creates a resilient finish.

IKEA leverages each material’s strengths through strategic use in the optimal applications. Combining choices allows IKEA to balance cost, quality, and performance.

Maintaining IKEA Kitchen Cabinets

IKEA cabinets will provide many years of service with proper care and maintenance. Here are some top tips:

  • Use cornern protectors during installation to avoid box damage
  • Immediately clean up any water spills or leaks by moisture protective cabinets
  • Avoid placing heat generating appliances beneath cabinets
  • Use cutting boards to protect surfaces from knives and sharp objects
  • Clean with a damp cloth using warm water and mild soap; avoid harsh chemicals
  • Tighten hinges and hardware as needed over time
  • Consider having cabinets professionally refinished after 5-10 years

With the right care, even entry-level IKEA kitchens should deliver a decade or more of reliable performance. Investing in higher-grade METOD cabinets further extends the service lifetime. And IKEA’s timeless designs never go out of style!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most durable IKEA cabinet material?

Solid wood rates as the most inherently durable IKEA cabinet material. Oak, birch, and ash veneered doors over wood frames offer enhanced toughness and longevity. Thermally fused laminate finishes are also highly impact-resistant.

Do IKEA cabinets use real wood?

Yes, IKEA incorporates solid wood and wood veneers in key areas for added strength, moisture-resistance, and aesthetic appeal. Interior structural components utilize engineered wood panels while real wood is applied decoratively or in high-wear regions.

What thickness are IKEA cabinets?

Basic IKEA cabinet boxes typically use 16mm particleboard while doors range from 10-18mm thickness depending on material. Higher-end options like SEKTION increase carcase thickness to 18mm fiberboard while METOD utilizes 18mm solid wood doors.

Do IKEA cabinets come pre-assembled?

IKEA cabinets utilize a ready-to-assemble format. Components like doors, shelves, and hardware are prefabricated at the factory. Panels, frames and boxes require customer assembly. This allows flat-packed transport and significant cost savings. Some third-party services offer pre-assembly.

Are IKEA cabinets durable for a kitchen?

With careful installation and proper care, IKEA cabinets offer sufficient durability for most kitchen needs at affordable price points. Avoiding moisture exposure and using gentle cleaning methods allows IKEA cabinets to last 10+ years. Premium lines like METOD extend projected lifespan.


IKEA kitchen cabinets make use of particleboard, fiberboard, solid woods, and thermally fused laminates to balance quality, functionality, and cost-effectiveness. Their innovative use of different materials provides durable and aesthetic options accessible to a wide range of budgets. Paying attention to moisture protection is the key to ensuring long-term performance. With the right maintenance, IKEA cabinetry can deliver lasting value and on-trend style for the heart of your home.