I have plastered brick walls, painted with stain-resistant paint.

The paint is reasonably durable.

Due to climactic conditions (humidity very high, tropical heat, no air con), wood needs extra attention paid to it. I have solid wood doors throughout my house, with several layers of oil-based varnish, which are fine, but, say, dresser drawers made from untreated wood are musty-smelling, and essentially they smell of must and mould.

So for my kitchen wall cabinets, which are 1m tall, I could I think:

  1. use nailer strips directly onto the wall with no back
  2. use nailer strips with a 6mm plywood back
  3. use nailer strips with a 4mm melamine one-sided sheet
  4. use a full 15mm or 18mm solid back (there's not much difference in price between 15mm and 18mm)

I am applying white-coloured HPL (similar to Formica) to most of my plywood, e.g. doors, etc.

A thick back is quite nice, but if I am to laminate both sides (for stability) then the cost becomes quite high, especially given that the cabinet is 1 metre tall.

On the other hand I could just varnish either a thick plywood back, or even a thin one, and the cost of varnish is much less than laminate.

Or I could just take advantage of my quite strong and stable plastered, painted walls.

Is there a particular best practice given that most of the other panels can be seen to be usefully two-sided (hence laminating both sides is a reasonable thing to do, financially), but the back has at most one visible side.

1 Answer 1


After reading your description, the first question that comes to mind is whether the masonry walls generate any condensation at night. If they are exterior walls there may be a chance that the temperature differential may cause condensation on the wall. Also, even though you do not have air conditioning now, if it is installed later, it will increase the potential for condensation somewhere in the exterior wall assembly. This will eventually deteriorate the exterior wall finish and allow powdered paint and brick residue to come loose. This is a consideration that might contribute to a decision to put a back on the cabinets.

Personally, I think a back panel is a good idea for aesthetics and sanitation. If you do put a back panel on them, make certain to finish both sides with the material since it is preferable to have both faces similarly exposed to avoid having the panels curl due to moisture differences. As for having the panels protected, unless they are exposed to liquid water, they should perform well regardless of the finish.

The nailer strips are a good idea and will make mounting the cabinets much easier. They will also separate a back panel from direct contact with the wall should condensation end up occurring.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.