What is a Metal Kitchen Cabinet?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
Restaurants use metal cabinets because they are durable and easy to clean.
Restaurants use metal cabinets because they are durable and easy to clean.

A metal kitchen cabinet is usually made from stainless steel; it provides a cool, industrial-looking option to traditional wood cabinets. Metal kitchen cabinets were first used widely in the 1930s and 1940s due to their low cost and easy maintenance. Today, a metal kitchen cabinet design provides the perfect complement to stainless steel appliances and countertops.

Lofts and modern, industrial spaces especially suit the cool, efficient look of metal kitchen cabinets. Restaurant and other commercial kitchens also use metal cabinets because of their strength and cost effectiveness. A metal kitchen cabinet design also stands up well to splashes and splatters as stainless steel cabinets can be easily wiped with a damp cloth.

Like stainless steel refrigerators, metal kitchen cabinets tend to show fingerprints and scratches easily; frequent wiping may be needed. Unlike many wood kitchen cupboards, metal cabinets are stain-resistant. Some people don't like the sound that stainless steel cabinet doors can make when being opened or closed. The effect is similar to the tinny sort of reverberation that occurs when a thin metal sheet is moved with the hands. To avoid this metallic echoing sound in metal kitchen cabinet doors, many manufacturers line each door with a wood base.

Some metal cabinet doors have glass panels and these can create an airy look in a kitchen. If the shelves inside the metal cabinets are also glass, items placed on them can have a modern floating look. Door handles on metal cupboards are almost always chrome or nickel-plated, although crystal kitchen knobs may be added to give an elegant, opulent appeal. Elaborately scrolled butterfly hinges in black metal can be used on stainless steel cabinet designs to tone down the clean efficient look in favor of a more decorative and stylish presentation.

If metal cabinets become too scratched over time, there are attractive finishing techniques to cover scratches. These metal distressing techniques include using an abrasive brush or steel wool in sweeping motions over the metal. Sandblasting and painting over stainless steel or other metals can be difficult and messy, so expert metal workers are often the best choice for refinishing these types of kitchen cabinets. Sandblasting involves going over a surface with a machine that emits many tiny abrasive pellets. If homeowners want to try finishing a metal kitchen cabinet themselves, they should test their technique in an unnoticeable section of the cupboard or on a scrap piece of the same material.

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Discussion Comments


We recently went through a home tour of several new homes, and I was surprised at the number of metal and stainless steel kitchen cabinets I saw.

One very modern design had a mixture of black kitchen cabinets and metal cabinets. The kitchen was a black and white theme, and it did look very striking.

It really depends on the look you are hoping to achieve. If you want a modern, sophisticated look, metal kitchen cabinets really make a statement.

If you want something more traditional and casual looking, you would probably go with wood cabinets. When we had our house built, I had a hard time deciding on the color I wanted, so ordered unfinished kitchen cabinets.

When I finally decided on a color scheme, it was easy to treat the cabinets with the finish I wanted.


I recently lived in a house that had metal kitchen cabinets, and was glad when we moved to a different house.

The fingerprints and scratches that developed drove me crazy. It seemed like no matter what I did, I was constantly trying to keep them clean. Then after I wiped them down, they still looked streaked even when I used a special cleaner on them.

We didn't live there long enough to invest in new cabinets, but I was glad when the house we live in now has maple kitchen cabinets in the kitchen. I was very happy to go back to the wood cabinets I was used to.


I live in a trendy loft that has metal cabinets in the kitchen. These perfectly complement the stainless steel refrigerator, stove and range that I have.

I really love the look of a modern kitchen cabinet like this. It creates a sleek atmosphere that is classy and easy to keep clean.

If I had kids, I don't know if I would like having metal cabinets though. Whenever my nephews come for a visit, there are fingerprints on every cabinet.

When they leave, it is easy to wipe them off, but I can see where this would be a constant thing if you had small kids in the house with metal kitchen cabinets.

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    • Restaurants use metal cabinets because they are durable and easy to clean.
      Restaurants use metal cabinets because they are durable and easy to clean.