How to Choose File Cabinet

How to Choose File Cabinet?

How to choose file cabinet?” Broadly speaking, there are different types of file cabinets ranging from vertical to lateral and fireproof to mobile file cabinets. Each one of them is available in different materials such as wood, plastic or metal.

The number of drawers and overall size of the drawers also vary from model to model. So, you need to see which one goes with your requirements. For your ease, we have listed down some of the key areas that need your consideration.

In this article, we are discussing in detail the types, choice of materials, size, number of drawers and security considerations of filing cabinets that would help you to choose a file cabinet for yourself. So, keep reading!

Why you need a File Cabinet

A file cabinet is an important piece of furniture that stores and protects important files and documents in an office or home working space. The following are the key uses of a file cabinet:

  • It is used to systematically store all your important paperwork.
  • It helps to protect your important documents from different sorts of safety issues such as theft, moisture, fire, and heat.
  • It helps in organizing the documents so that they can be easily located whenever needed.
  • It helps in utilizing space in an effective and presentable way allowing you to store a large number of documents in a compact area.

Determine the Type of File Cabinet you Need

If you have finally decided on buying a file cabinet, you need to know which type of cabinet suits your demand. There are different types of file cabinets available in the market such as lateral file cabinets, vertical file cabinets, fireproof file cabinets, and mobile file cabinets.

You can easily buy one for yourself from Amazon, Walmart, eBay or any other trusted furniture website. We will also prepare a detailed guide about the best options available in the market. Now let’s discuss the prominent features of each one of them in detail:

Vertical File Cabinet

Vertical file cabinets are a compact storage option for storing different types of files. They are available in different materials such as solid wood, metal, laminate, and others. Vertical file cabinets can be functional in the home workspace as they don’t take up enough space.

Moreover, their streamlined appearance easily fits in with the existing future of the house. The major advantage of vertical file cabinets is that they make use of vertical space in your office which is wasted otherwise.

Vertical File Cabinet

Lateral File Cabinet

Lateral file cabinets, also known as horizontal file cabinets or side filers, are capable of accommodating both legal and letter-sized files. They are available in a range of colours, designs, and materials, making it convenient for you to choose one that suits you.

They have more storage capacity as compared to vertical file cabinets. As their drawers extend in the horizontal direction, they take up more space.

They are perfect to be used in office workspaces because of their large storage capacity. Their professional and sophisticated appearance also makes them ideal for the office environment. However, if you don’t have any space issues in your home, you can use them in the working area of your home as well.

Lateral File Cabinet

Fireproof File Cabinet

One of the primary benefits of fireproof file cabinets is that they can withstand high temperatures and help in protecting documents in case of any fire-related accident. These file cabinets are perfect for storing both legal and letter-sized confidential documents such as maps, blueprints, drawings or artwork. These cabinets have also theft and water-resistant qualities. Fireproof file cabinets are available in both lateral and vertical styles, allowing you to choose whatever suits you. 

Mobile File Cabinet

As the name suggests, mobile file cabinets also known as rolling filling cabinets can be easily moved around from one spot to another. These cabinets have four to five casters attached to their base which adds strength to their structure and increases their mobility.  They can be easily accommodated under a standard-height desk, thus resolving the space problem as well.

They can accommodate both letter and legal-size paperwork and typically contains two drawers in either vertical or lateral style. They are lightweight and portable since they can be rolled around wherever needed. The only drawback associated with mobile cabinets is their limited storage capacity which prevents you to keep a large volume of documents.

Mobile File Cabinet

How to Choose File Cabinet?

Look for its Material

File cabinets are available in a variety of materials such as metal, wood, plastic and others. The choice of materials should be made keeping in mind practical aspects such as durability,  storage capacity and the overall look of your office.

Material of File Cabinet

Metal File Cabinet

Metal is the best option for a file cabinet due to its strength, durability and sustainability. Metal file cabinets are typically made of galvanized steel or aluminium. Metal cabinets can be easily cleaned or sanitized.

They might not be the most aesthetic or visually attractive option, still, they are available in different colours making it easy for you to choose the one that suits you. Metal file cabinets have only one drawback, which is their susceptibility to dents. However, you can easily avoid it with a little care and vigilance. 

Plastic File Cabinet

The use of plastic in file cabinets is increasingly becoming common nowadays. It is a budget-friendly storage option available in different colours and designs. Plastic is resistant to rust, corrosion and humidity, therefore, it can be easily maintained in cool and humid environments.

Plastic is a lightweight material, therefore, you can easily transport plastic cabinets from one place to another. In case of spills or stains, plastic cabinets can be easily cleaned and sterilized. While plastic cabinets might not be durable or reliable, they are a good fit for temporary storage needs.

Wood File Cabinet

Wood is another popular option for file cabinets that give a professional appearance to your workspace. They can give a warm and cosy touch to the overall atmosphere of your working space. However, you need to be aware of the type of wood used in the cabinet.

Plywood and particleboard are brittle and can not withstand large pressure. They can hardly last for 2-3 years. On the other hand, solid wood such as pine, oak or cherry is the best quality wood option to be used in file cabinets and can last for many years.

However, wooden file cabinets can be very dangerous in the event of a fire and cant retain your documents unless you have a specific fireproof model.

Consider the Size and Dimensions

Another major factor that you need to consider before buying the file cabinet is the size of your documents. Office documents are typically present in two sizes: letter sizes and legal sizes. The standard dimensions for a letter-size document are 8.5 inches by 11 inches while legal-size documents have standard dimensions of 8.5 inches by 14 inches.

Always consider that smaller files can be accommodated in large cabinets but large legal-sized files can not be adjusted in small cabinets. Therefore, it is always smarter to go for a legal-sized file cabinet that can easily accommodate both large and small-sized files. Such cabinets would definitely take up more space, but they would protect you from the hassle of updating cabinets in future as your workload increases.

Number of Drawers

Another point to be considered before choosing a file cabinet is the number of drawers you want to have in it. Two drawers would be sufficient or do you need three or more drawers to hold all your stuff? In this regard, the amount of paperwork needed to be stored, the layout and the space availability of your room are the key factors that need to be considered.

  • Buy a cabinet that can easily accommodate all the important files and documents without making any cluster. Moreover, it should also have some extra space as your paperwork would increase over the years.
  • If you have got enough space in your room, go for long two or three drawers lateral cabinets. However, if you lack sufficient space in your working area, go for vertical cabinets that contain an adequate number of drawers to accommodate all the paperwork.

Security Considerations

Security of the documents must be your key priority before buying a file cabinet. Files and documents are susceptible to different types of safety issues such as fire, moisture, dust, heat and theft attempts. In this regard, keep the following points under your consideration:

  • Buy a fireproof file cabinet with a higher fire rating. Different fire cabinets have different fire ratings mentioned on them. For best fire protection, choose a cabinet with a fire rating of 60 minutes or more. For high-level protection, you can even choose a cabinet with a fire rating of 3 to 4 hours.
  • A fire-restraint file cabinet is not necessarily burglary resistant. Therefore, buy a file cabinet with a strong locking mechanism. A file cabinet that combines both mechanical and electronic locking systems provides the best protection against intruders.

Final Thoughts!

In essence, file cabinets are extremely helpful in organizing your workspace as they can accommodate large volumes of files and documents. They have equal functionality in both home and office workspaces for storing important files, brochures, forms, paper documents, cash etc in an organized and hassle-free manner.

A good file cabinet not only stores large volumes of files but also protects them from fire, moisture of other safety risks. Therefore, it must be durable, and aesthetic and contains a sufficient number of drawers to accommodate all your paperwork without any congestion.

We hope this article has helped you choose the right filing cabinet for your office space. Before making a purchase, keep all the considerations discussed above in your mind, so you can get a perfect cabinet within your budget.


What makes a good filing cabinet?

A good filing cabinet is characterized by its design, storage capacity, size and functionality. You need to weigh a file cabinet against these standards to get the best option for you.

What are the two types of filing cabinets?

The two most common types of file cabinets include vertical file cabinets and lateral file cabinets. In addition, fireproof file cabinets and mobile file cabinets are also popular choices.

What kind of metal is a filing cabinet?

Metal file cabinets are generally made of steel or aluminium.

What is the function of a file cabinet?

A file cabinet is used to store important documents, files, and folders. In this way, they help in organizing your home or office workspace.

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