Difference Between Cupboards And Cabinets

Last Updated on February 20, 2021 by

A cupboard is a closed storage piece of furniture made with or without doors. Most cupboards come with interior shelves, which are used for storing dishes, foods and other utensils. Cupboards are mostly used as display units for kitchen utensils. A cabinet is also a storage piece of furniture that could be built into a wall or separately.

Cabinets VS. Cupboards

Features CupboardsCabinets 
Definition A closed storage piece of furniture for storing cookware and other utensils, mostly for display.A box-shaped storage unit which is usually fitted into a wall with drawers.
Uses Used to store utensils like cups, plates and other silverware.Used as more of a display unit than storageUsed to store light and attractive itemsUsed to store general items like clothes, food and cookware like pans and potsSpecifically used as a storage unitUsed to store non-attractive and heavy items such as pots and pans.
Doors and shelvesMostly, they have glass doors or none as they are meant for display. Doors are unlockable as they are made of glass. Most cupboards have shelves.Most have wooden doors, and one cannot easily tell what is inside.Most cabinets come with locks and keys, especially for the drawers.Cabinets do not have shelves. Instead, they have drawers
Most cupboards are free-standingIt can be made of wood or other material such as steel for aestheticsMostly in-built in the wallsEntirely made from wood

Types Of Cupboards

There are different types of cupboards depending on their purpose. They include:

Airing Cupboards

 These are cupboards designed to allow free circulation of air. They have slatted shelves that prevent damping. Some households use airing cupboards as drying space by storing damp towels and linen. They are also called boiler cupboards since they are also used to store immersion heaters or hot water storage tanks.

Built-In Cupboards

 These are cupboards that form part of a room’s design. They are attached to the room, making them immovable and are not free-standing. They are different from cabinets and are mostly used in the United Kingdom, mostly under a staircase

Linen Cupboards

 Most households have enclosed recess for storing their linen, such as tablecloths and towels. These cupboards are free-standing in a space that allows free air circulation.

Stationery Cupboards.

 These are mostly used in offices as a repository for office items. Small items that are likely to be misplaced, such as stationery, are stored in these cupboards. Other items such as office cups and spoons are also stored there.

Types Of Cabinets

There are also different types of cabinets depending on the purpose they are made for. They include: 

Night Stands

These are small cabinets mostly made to be kept at the bedside. They are used to store small items such as jewelry. Since most cabinets are made with flat tops, they serve as dressing tables that one can use to place make-up items and perfumes.


A wardrobe is a tall cabinet made for storing clothes. Some come with shelves dividing a wardrobe to enhance the arrangement of clothes. Most wardrobes are incorporated in a room’s design, meaning they are in-built and immovable. 

Face Frame Cabinets

Face frame cabinets have supporting frames at the front. The frame usually has a 4cm width, and on it, a cabinet door is mounted. Face frame cabinets were traditionally made but have been outfaced by frameless cabinets.

Frameless Cabinets

These cabinets lack frames with their door mounted directly to the cabinet’s sides. They instead have bottom and top panels, which are 15-20mm thick. Most modern cabinets are frameless made from materials such as plywood and chipboard. In other cases, they are made of normal timber, or plastic laminate then painted.

What Are The Distinguishing Components Of A Cabinet?

The following are some basic components that distinguish cabinets:


Cabinets resting on the floor are supported by a base. There are different cabinet bases, such as scrolled base and bracket feet base. Fully enclosed bases are known as plinth bases.

Adjustable Feet

Adjustable feet are common features for most kitchen cabinets. They are attached by creating holes through the cabinet to provide a firm stand. Adjustable feet enable one to adjust the height of a cabinet to one’s preference. 

Cabinet Compartments

 cabinets have either open or closed compartments. Some may even have secret compartments that may be difficult to access, especially for people who store their valuables at home. Modern cabinets have complicated compartments that are ironically more efficient and comfortable. An example is the “lazy Susan” cabinet, which rotates around an axis allowing drawers at the back of a cabinet to come to the front. Such cabinets are suitable in places with small and limited space.

Cabinet Tops 

Most cabinets incorporate a functional cabinet top, especially short cabinets. The tops are used as dressing tables in bedrooms. In the kitchen, they are sometimes used as a working surface. In-wall hanging cabinets, the tops are only used to enclose the compartments.

What Are The Advantages Of Using Cabinets And Cupboards?

Enhance The Look And Feel Of A Room

Cupboards and cabinets make a room look beautiful especially if used in a kitchen. These fixtures make it easy to arrange cookware and other utensils. Good and quality arrangementsmake a kitchen feel warm and welcoming. It also makes a kitchen neat and tidy. Wooden cupboards give a natural and classic look. When combined with stainless appliances and countertops, a glossy and rich environment combination look is achieved.

Both Cupboards And Cabinets Are Customizable

These furniture can be customized to fit a room’s dimensions as they both come in different shapes and sizes. One can decide whether to go for inbuilt or movable cabinets and cupboards. There is also a variety of textures, designs and colors since wood can be painted. People who like unique designs for their rooms can achieve this by using cabinets and cupboards. One can match them to their rooms and likings. They are very handy pieces of furniture in any room.

Save Space And Arrangements In A Room 

Some items stored in cabinets and cupboards would use very large space. They both serve as storage units at some point. Instead of cooking ware scattering in a kitchen, they look better when locked away in a cabinet. Plates and cups create a sense of glamor in a kitchen when well arranged in the cupboards. The use of compartments in cabinets enables one to utilize space that would be “dead” and unused. Cabinets and cupboards are a modern necessity in many households for this reason.

Both Serve As Security 

For example, when utensils are stored in a cupboard, they are at a lesser risk of being accidentally broken. Similarly, cabinets come with locks and keys for their doors. Some have secret compartments that may be used to store valuables. They act as extra security for household items that are at risk of being stolen or damaged.

They Provide One With Better Organizational Structures

 Poor organizational structures have a lot of disadvantages, such as double buying of items. This happens when one cannot find an item because they forgot where they placed it. With the use of cupboards and cabinets, one can easily locate an item due to good organization. For example, small items used in the kitchen, such as condiments and knives, are easily misplaced. Having a common drawer or shelf to put them makes it easy to access when one needs to use them. Good organization saves one time and energy.

Disadvantages Of Using Cupboards And Cabinets

Both of them need to be strategically positioned for ease of access. Otherwise, when poorly positioned, cabinets and cupboards are likely to attract extra costs for the users. For example, when located in a corner, some cabinet drawers may be inaccessible. There will be extra costs for creating an extra door to access.

Cleaning rooms with cupboards and cabinets that are not inbuilt is difficult and tiresome. A lot of pulling and pushing is involved. It may even cause damage to the floor. In other cases, minor accidents such as breaking of glass utensils occur. Such accidents may be fatal in case a heavy item falls on someone when cleaning.

The use of stand-free cabinets and cupboards limits one’s interior setup. They also require a lot of space, especially when they are not in-built. They hinder one from tailoring the interior design of a room to one’s liking.


Cabinets and cupboards differ mostly in their make and use. Their main difference is on what they store. Cupboards are specifically used to store utensils, whereas cabinets are used for general storage. For example, clothes, office items, and cookware when used in the kitchen. 

While cupboards are mostly associated with displaying, cabinets are associated with storage. They can be both inbuilt or free-standing. Cabinets are mostly inbuilt for household use. For official use, they are free-standing, making them flexible and mobile. They are both important when organizing a room. They provide security, for example, cabinets that come with compartments and drawers with locks and keys. 

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