What is the Most Durable Material for a Custom Closet?
Deciding on the material type for your closet space is one of the most important decisions that affect the longevity and durability of your closet. Not a lot of people put significant thought and consideration into this aspect because it's not always commonly understood what material type is better for custom closet systems.
There are a wide variety of different reasons to choose different material types for your closet. Whether you just moved into a new house or want to update your existing closet system, this article will assist you in understanding the most durable material to use when constructing a custom closet.
The most common materials people select for closet storage include plywood and Medium-Density Fiberboards (MDF). You might already have the assumption that standard wooden shelves are the best material to choose when customizing your closet, but there is actually a material that takes it a step forward in terms of durability.
So what is the most durable material for a custom closet?
The most durable material for a custom closet is Melamine without dispute. Instead of being constructed by stacking thin wooden layers on top of itself, Melamine is made from organic chemical compounds that make it significantly stronger than normal wood. Melamine is still made of wood, but is composed of a higher percentage of deliberately engineered elements to increase its durability compared to the rest. Because of its elements, Melamine is lightweight but is by no means fragile and will stand the test of time. It's water-resistant, shatter-resistant, resists mold and mildew and comes with tons of customization options and color schemes.
Melamine's comparatively lightweight material makes it easy to move around the house and fit into awkward spaces. By the end of this article, you'll find that Melamine is the best material to choose for your custom closet because there are very few drawbacks compared to other material options.
As you might have already observed with houses that you've lived in, regular wood is the most common material people select. More often than not, people don't consider the possibility of getting a fully customized closet and tend to stick with whatever drawers and closet units that their house came with (or use the ones they previously owned because it was the most affordable option).
Quick Note:* This isn't to say that you should avoid plywood material entirely. Wooden closets made of this material are a perfectly good option as well. It really comes down to assessing whether or not you want your closet to be as durable as possible. Plywood is strong but not as durable and tends to be more expensive compared to a Melamine material.
Why is Melamine so Durable?
In short, a Melamine material will be able to take your custom closet a step further because of the way it is manufactured. From start to finish, it's engineered as a single unit and isn't composed of small, weaker layers of wood (like plywood is). This material is also super resistant to warping compared to solid wood.
It's coated in a laminate material which gives the wood a stronger layer of resistance. You can't do this to Medium Density Fiberboards (MDF) because Melamine won't combine well with the wax and resin binders that are normally used on MDF boards. A different approach in the manufacturing process is required.
The laminate coat of Melamine wood gives it better resistance to moisture, heat, and even stains. This doesn't mean that it's completely immune to scratches and inevitable wear and tear over time. But rest assured, this material will be the best in terms of durability.
Over time, MDF boards will become more and more grainy/rigid and that's when you'll start to notice the wear and tear on your drawers. Melamine has a more uniform texture as opposed to plywood and MDF wood at the microscopic level. Other material types might feel smooth when your hand brushes over them, but the finishing coat of melamine is a lot more shatter and crack-resistant for this reason.
Are Melamine Closets More Expensive?
There are a couple of factors that affect the cost of any custom closet, with size being the most impactful element. Whether you're looking to build a full-size wardrobe, need extra drawers, or just some extra shelving, Melamine closets will always be more cost-effective compared to MDF or plywood.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 for a full custom melamine wardrobe and only a couple hundred for single shelving units (according to Home Depot). A similar search on any home improvement store will show you that other material types will be significantly more expensive and offer less variety.
Melamine materials have very few drawbacks. After some careful research, you'll find that the cons associated with Melamine have little to do with their actual functionality. Taking the right precautions will allow you to minimize their drawbacks and maximize their features for your custom closet.
Melamine material can still scratch. As nice as it would be to have closet units that don't scratch whatsoever, it's unrealistic to expect that from any material. The most important thing to do for your Melamine closet units is to be extremely careful when moving them around the house or when moving houses altogether. Inevitably, some scratches will become visible if not treated properly (i.e, putting sharp objects or decor on them and moving them around). The good news is that Melamine closet units are hard to break for the reasons mentioned above. They will allow for full functionality even if some wear and tear become visible over the years.
Important Note: If you're in the process of creating your own custom closet and are considering building the interior units out of Melamine, there are some key elements to understand between DIY and Professional custom closet design. Check out the link above from Memphis Garage and Closets, so you can make the most informed and appropriate decision possible.
While Melamine is water-resistant, storing moist or damp clothing on it can ruin the drawers over time. If you're looking at Melamine storage units and drawers for a custom closet, you won't have to worry about this one too much. It's important to be aware of this if you tend to store wet ski clothes or swimsuits in your closet to dry during the sport's season or if your closet is affected by higher than average levels of humidity (if it's affected by a nearby shower room).
Is plywood or Melamine more visually appealing? Melamine is typically a better option when it comes to curb appeal. Its wide variety of customization options gives it more opportunity to accommodate a house's color scheme. Plywood tends to come in more limited color and texture options because of the way it's made. Additional research will show you that it's not as cost-effective to try to paint plywood (it requires more preparation and priming material before being painted).
Is Melamine wood? Not exactly. While wood is used in its manufacturing, the majority of its structure is actually human-engineered compounds such as resin and is beyond the scope of this article. Melamine is by no means toxic in nature despite some preconceived perceptions that it is because it's made from alternative compounds.
Creating a custom closet can be a great option once you're aware of the various options that exist when choosing a material type. In terms of durability, Melamine closet units will win every time because their drawbacks are easy to minimize and they're manufactured from a more deliberate process.
As you can see, Melamine closets are considered the most durable material for the reasons mentioned in this article. This isn't to say that other materials such as plywood or MDF are a poor option. It really comes down to assessing your needs and if you're reading this article, then you're likely someone who wants to invest in a durable closet that will last you for the next decade. Either way, custom Melamine closets will always stand the test of time.