In my earlier posts I have tried to help sort this very confusion offering inputs around
1. how to create a budget,
2. what to look for when you are making specialty artifacts like a sliding wardrobe & a modular kitchen.
3. good & reasonable places to shop for interiors in Bangalore.
Last week while answering a number of customer queries I realized that I have yet failed to answer one of the fundamental questions that home makers have i.e. with all the choice available in the market, what is the right material to use for one's woodwork?
So this post is dedicated to answer just that ... lets start with the Kitchen:
Carcass or the boxes:If you are someone who does not plan a 3 year "refresh" of your kitchen then the only choice for the Kitchen carcass is Warterproof Marine Ply (Technically called BWR 303 Grade Ply....ISI Marked preferred). Many not so scrupulous will talk about using "Water Resistant" Ply, Laminated Particle Board, Marine Ply in wet areas and Particle board in dry areas etc. etc. for the carcass but trust me anything other than Waterproof Marine Ply means that you giving birth to something that will not last beyond its 3rd birthday, it is another matter that from a price perspective using Waterproof Marine Ply will lead to approx. a 20-25 % increase in the overall cost of the kitchen.
The interesting thing to know however is that while the Waterproof Marine “Ply” will be "Waterproof", the (white) “laminate” that you put on top of it will still come off if one continuously pours water on it.
The intelligent amongst you will then ask – "So if even Waterproof Marine Ply carcass will eventually spoil (laminate coming off) due to high moisture, why use it at all" ???
The answer is that (1) The weight of the entire kitchen – Hardware, Drawer Channels, Kitchenware, Wall units etc. rests on the Carcass (Both Bottom and Wall unit boxes) and the bolts & screws that hold all this together need a pretty strong “base” to dig into. (2) Waterproof Marine Ply (ignore the laminate) is simply the best “base” that is available in the market that stays good even in the worst of moisture conditions. (3) Using any other "base" is simply amounts to compromising the life of your Kitchen.
Shutters:Frankly each of MDF + Membrane, Hardwood as well as Marine Ply/MDF + Laminate work well. You will ask “Why is Marine Ply + Laminate not better than MDF + Membrane here then”??...well remember we said that anything (even the laminate on the Marine Ply) will spoil in high moisture conditions, so the assumption is that we are not using the kitchen as a bathroom. Secondly....the shutters do not hold the entire Kitchen weight, only their own. Hence in normal Kitchen use conditions both MDF + Membrane & Marine Ply/MDF + Laminate work well, however particle board shutters are not recommended.
I personally prefer MDF Membrane or Hardwood shutters as these give a finish that is much more chic than laminate. I have also noticed that most carpenters do not recommend MDF membrane and go with Marine Ply + Laminate. As I said from a durability perspective both are fine, perhaps carpenters do not recommend MDF Membrane & cite durability issues because these require external procurement (compared to the comfort & ease of making onsite) and very precise measurement (in millimeters) that carpenters abhor.
Wardrobes and Hall Units, Crockery Units, TV Units, Sideboards etc:
The Carcass for the above can be made with any material as in most cases the carcass has wall support from 2 or more sides. Hence if budget is a constraint and there is good wall support then even pre - laminated Particle board works here.
The panels/ shutters however are key here and need specific attention
The recommended material to use for panel/shutters in Wardrobes & Hall Units depends entirely on the size of the panel /shutter that you are going in for. If it is 9 feet tall (all the way to the roof) or a 7 feet tall sliding shutter (which is usually broader than a standard hinged shutter) & needs to resist bending forces, then use Block Board ONLY (preferably a 19mm + a 6mm (or more) sheet stuck together).
For a 7 foot hinged panel/shutter either a 19mm Block Board/ Marine Ply with Veneer/ Laminate or MDF + Laminate (membrane not recommended) should work fine.
For less than 7 feet panel/ shutter anything will work.
That covers it I guess....will welcome any bouquets and brickbats
NOTE: As on today - Jan 18, 2014 there are some 301 Q&A related to Interior design & material choice etc in the comments section below. Most questions that come to your mind after reading this post are probably already in the Q&A, hence before you pop up a fresh question do consider going through the Comments section below.
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