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What Type of Wood Are Closet Organizers Made Of?

Ever wonder what materials closet systems are made of? Get in the know!

Posted November 12th, 2010   |   Tags: Closet Planning, Closet Organizers, Wood Closet Organizers
Wood Closet Organizers Materials

"Wood" you know what kind of material your closet organizers are made of?  Have you ever noticed that some furniture is made of solid wood, while others are made of an engineered wood or have a veneer finish?  Well, just like furniture, closet organizer systems and closet organization products are made of different materials as well.  There is no "wrong" or "better" material to construct types of wood closet organizers from since each type has qualities that provide a good product. Knowing the difference, however, can help your budget, closet organizer design and keep-up proper maintenance.  Solid wood, melamine and MDF are the three most common wood related materials that manufacturers use to construct closet organizer systems.

Knock on Wood... Solid Wood

Solid WoodSolid wood closet organizers may be offered by some custom closet organizer companies and can also be found through various retail modular closet organizer providers.  There are different types and grades of wood, so be sure to ask what exactly is offered.  Keep in mind also, that solid wood can be painted, UV coated, stained or untreated.  It's wise to know a company's wood options as well as the difference in price between them.

Solid wood closet organizers can be purchased or designed in solid or ventilated panels which are most commonly 3/4" - 1" thick.

  • Highlights: Can be stained to suite, painted and refinished. Offers the beautiful and natural look and style of wood.
  • Considerations:  All wood products are susceptible to hazards such as pests and warping in extreme conditions and moisture, but if properly sealed, wood can stand up against most common types of damage.  Solid wood-grain patterns are each unique and can't be predicted or duplicated; although inconsistent, this graining often adds to the attractiveness of solid wood furniture.
  • Maintenance:  Routine dusting and wood furniture polish or spray can be applied to maintain the integrity of the wood surface and keep it clean.  Painted wood closet organizers can be cleaned with a damp towel. 
  • Overall:  Solid wood closet organizers are preferred by many who love natural products and the beauty of real wood.  Custom wood closet organizers can range from basic to quite elaborate and high end (with a high end price tag).  Often with custom wood closet organizers, a range of stains or colors are available as well as style of door and drawer fronts. Modular wood closet organizers can be affordable, but are limited to pre-configured designs and colors.

Engineered Wood - Isn't Technology Great?

There are different densities and grades of engineered wood and some may be surprised by how strong and durable many composite wood products really are.  Many people are unaware of the different types of engineered wood and sometimes unknowingly classify all engineered wood as particle board since it's a common term.  Although melamine and MDF are both engineered wood made from composite wood materials, they are not standard particle board.

Plywood, particle board and oriented strand board are glue-pressed wood composites used in home construction, but seldom (if at all) is a custom closet organizer or retail modular closet organizer made from these materials.  Melamine and MDF, however, are popular in the fabrication of cabinets, moulding, trim, shelving and of course engineered wood closet organizers.

Man-Made Melamine

Melamine WoodAlthough melamine is a type of "particle board" it is stronger and more durable than what is typically considered standard particle board.  Melamine is made by pressing tiny wood chips and particles with a melamine resin that binds the wood pieces together to a board.  Most custom closet systems use a 3/4" thick board to ensure the highest durability; whereas, modular closet organizers typically range from 1/2" - 5/8" thick.  Particles of wood used in melamine board are smaller than those used in common particle board. 

In most cases, a layer of veneer is glued to the surface mimicking the colors and grain of natural wood.  A wide variety of veneer colors and patterns can be applied making melamine a strong and popular choice for furniture, shelving, closet organizer systems and cabinets.  Since melamine can not be refinished like solid wood, it is important to choose the color of your closet organizer system wisely. 

Melamine has an edgebanding at the end of the panels and comes in various sizes ranging from 1/2mm - 3mm; the thicker edgebanding being more durable.  Most custom and modular engineered wood closet organizers are made from melamine board or a combination of melamine and MDF.  As an option, melamine wood closet organizers are generally more affordable than solid wood and engineered to be durable.

  • Highlights:  Melamine is cost-efficient, durable and is available in a wide variety of veneer colors that is less likely to chip than paint.  Good quality melamine is not likely to warp.
  • Considerations:   Melamine is a great product for manufacturing adjustable shelving systems and when properly cut and constructed can mimic the look of solid wood.  Melamine's veneer surface can scratch if mishandled or treated improperly during manufacturing or installation; however, the surface is more scratch-resistant than solid wood.  Melamine can't be refinished like solid wood.
  • Maintenance:  Routine cleaning can be performed with a damp towel and light soap.  Dusting or wood polish spray may also be applied.
  • Overall:  Melamine is a great alternative to solid wood.  It provides a strong and durable structure and is currently the most popular alternative for custom wood closet organizers. 

What tha MDF?

MDF WoodMDF stands for Medium Density Fiberboard and is manufactured by breaking down softer woods to fibers, then glued and pressed together with a resin as are other engineered woods.  Like melamine, MDF is available in solid and wood grain colors made from a decorative surface such as wood veneer, laminate or thermofoil.

If engineered wood closet organizers are a hybrid of melamine and MDF materials, it is usually the main structure that is made of melamine (shelving and panels) and the decorative items and door or drawer panels are constructed of MDF.

MDF TrimSince MDF is made from fine wood fibers, it can be shaped then fixed to form curved and decorative boards before a surface is applied.  This is excellent for making raised panel door and drawer fronts, decorative trims and mouldings; all of which can be designed into a closet organizer system for aesthetic appeal.  Similarly, if MDF is used as closet shelving, the ends can be formed into a bullnose edge offering an alternative to flat shelf ends. 

  • Highlights:  Cost efficient, curved and decorative panels, wide variety of veneer colors.
  • Considerations:  MDF is denser than particle board and wood and very durable and strong.  It can be shaped, does not require painting but can't be refinished.  MDF may expand when exposed to moisture or water if not properly sealed.
  • Maintenance:  Routine cleaning can be performed with a damp towel and light soap. Dusting or wood polish spray may also be applied.
  • Overall:  The most common use for MDF in engineered wood closet organizers is the construction of door and drawer fronts.  MDF is heavier than wood and melamine and its construction allows for beautiful decorative additions to composite wood closet organizers.  Thermofoil wrapped MDF is popularly used in both kitchens and closets.

When in Doubt, Ask.

If you are currently seeking out a professional closet organizer to design and/or install wood closet organizers in your house, ask what material options they offer.  They may or may not have different options, but it is always good to ask.  Being informed about the material characteristics, care instructions and durability of any purchase will only help you be a more informed consumer;  it will also assist you in understanding the design and structure of your wood closet storage systems.

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What Type of Wood ... ?

I would have been interested to see what other drawbacks there are (long term) to the different types of wood materials offered in closets. It would also be an interesting read to see how these compare to the popular (read inexpensive) wire shelving alternatives that are commonly available as well.

Posted by Erika Larson on Jan 30th, 2011
RE: What type of Wood...?

Thanks, Erika! I actually would love to write on that and plan to do so soon. I wrote this post to get some general info out there and plan to build upon it by comparing closet systems (wood, poplar, wire, etc) in the future. I'll keep everyone posted. Thank you so much for your input - It means a lot to me since I really want to provide info that our viewers want and need. - Tabitha @ ClosetPages.

Posted by Tabitha on Feb 01st, 2011

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