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Melamine vs Laminate Cabinets: What's the Difference?

Are you in the process of remodelling your kitchen or considering new cabinets for your home? If so, you've likely come across the terms "melamine" and "laminate" while exploring your options. 

These two materials are popular choices for cabinet construction, but what exactly are they, and what sets them apart? In this article, we'll delve into the world of melamine and laminate cabinets to help you understand the differences and make an informed decision for your project.

What is Melamine?

Melamine is a synthetic material that is commonly used in cabinet construction. It is made by combining melamine resin, a type of thermosetting plastic, with paper or fabric. 

The resulting material is then bonded to a substrate, such as particleboard or MDF (medium-density fiberboard), to create sturdy and durable cabinets.

What is Laminate?

Laminate, on the other hand, is a composite material that is also frequently used in cabinet manufacturing. It is made by layering multiple sheets of paper or fabric impregnated with melamine resin and then applying pressure and heat to fuse them together. 

The final product is a thin, hard layer that is bonded to a substrate, typically particleboard or plywood, to create cabinet surfaces.

What is the Difference between Melamine and Laminate?

While melamine and laminate share some similarities, there are key differences between the two materials.

Composition: Melamine cabinets consist of a melamine resin layer bonded to a substrate, whereas laminate cabinets are made of layers of paper or fabric impregnated with melamine resin.

Appearance: Melamine cabinets typically have a solid colour or wood grain pattern throughout the entire thickness of the material. In contrast, laminate cabinets can have a wide variety of colours, patterns, and textures, including options that mimic the look of natural wood or stone.

Durability: Both melamine and laminate cabinets are known for their durability. However, melamine tends to be more resistant to scratches, stains, and heat compared to laminate. Melamine cabinets are also less prone to chipping or peeling.

Price: In general, melamine cabinets tend to be more affordable compared to laminate cabinets. Melamine is a cost-effective material due to its manufacturing process and availability, making it an attractive option for those on a budget.

What are the Uses of Melamine?

Melamine is commonly used in the construction of cabinets, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms. Its durability and resistance to moisture and heat make it an excellent choice for these high-traffic areas. Melamine is also used for countertops, shelves, and furniture.

What are the Uses of Laminate?

Laminate is a versatile material that finds applications beyond cabinets. It is frequently used for countertops, flooring, wall panels, and furniture surfaces. Its wide range of patterns and textures allows for creative design possibilities in various interior settings.

Which Material is Better?

The choice between melamine and laminate ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider the following factors when making a decision:

Budget:  Laminate is a budget-friendly option compared to melamine because it is manufactured using a less costly method.

Aesthetics: If you're looking for a wider range of colours, patterns, and textures, laminate cabinets offer more versatility in terms of design options.

Durability: Melamine cabinets are more resistant to scratches, stains, and heat compared to laminate. If you anticipate heavy use or want cabinets that can withstand rigorous conditions, melamine may be the better choice.

Longevity: Both melamine and laminate cabinets can have a long lifespan with proper care. However, melamine's superior resistance to chipping and peeling may make it a more durable option in the long run.


1. Can melamine and laminate cabinets be customised?

Yes, both melamine and laminate cabinets can be customised to fit your specific design preferences. While melamine cabinets offer a limited range of colour and pattern options, they can still be tailored to suit your desired aesthetic. 

On the other hand, laminate cabinets provide a wider variety of choices, allowing for more customization in terms of colours, textures, and patterns.

2. Are melamine and laminate cabinets easy to clean?

Both melamine and laminate cabinets are relatively easy to clean and maintain. They can be wiped down with a damp cloth and mild detergent to remove dirt and grime. 

However, it's important to avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrub brushes that may damage the surface. Additionally, be cautious with melamine cabinets as they can be sensitive to harsh chemicals and excessive moisture.

3. Can melamine and laminate cabinets be repaired if damaged?

While both melamine and laminate cabinets are durable, they can sustain damage over time. In the event of scratches or minor chips, repairs can be made. For melamine cabinets, touch-up kits are available to fill in any damaged areas. 

Similarly, laminate cabinets can be repaired using laminate repair paste or kits. However, it's worth noting that extensive damage may require professional assistance or replacement.

4. Are melamine and laminate cabinets eco-friendly?

Melamine and laminate cabinets have environmental considerations to take into account. Melamine is derived from fossil fuels, making it less environmentally friendly compared to some other materials. However, it is worth noting that melamine is recyclable, and some manufacturers offer eco-friendly options that use recycled or sustainable materials. 


In summary, melamine and laminate cabinets are both popular choices for cabinet construction, each with its own set of advantages and considerations. Ultimately, choosing the right material for your cabinet will depend on your individual requirements and the overall look and feel you want to achieve in your space.

Melamine vs Laminate Cabinets: What’s the Difference?
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