Types of fitted wardrobe

There are different approaches to creating a fitted wardrobe but here we identify four main types.

They differ in cost, installation difficulty and performance. If your aim is for a DIY fitted wardrobe then you will want to be clear as to which type you are aiming for to ensure you get the result you want. For example if you set out to make the one we describe as “Doors attached to the walls” and you don’t have carpentry skills then you may be wasting your time and your money!

Broadly the options are presented in order of increasing cost. The simplest option is a wardrobe rail between two walls. This might be the kind of thing you do when you’ve just moved house and you need an immediate clothes hanging solution.

The next step up from this is to close the space off with some doors. This is where things start to get tricky. To attach a door you need a frame which might be battens of 38mm or 50mm square timber. The doors could be ready made internal doors or 18mm thick MDF and typically butt hinges are used. However the skills to put this together are, well, carpentry skills. If you are not a carpenter then you have a challenge. Wardrobe doors are typically 2metres tall so if the alignment is not good you will see gaps or the doors will not swing right – this is the stuff that carpenters go to college to learn!

You have come here probably because you are not a carpenter. What are the options for a non-carpenter (or for the carpenter who wants a quick sure-fire solution)? The next step is a ready-made kit comprising doors within a frame. This could be sliding doors from a sliding doors vendor or if you would like hinged doors then this is something we can supply at https://www.diywardrobes.co.uk. Given the dimensions we create custom sized doors together with a frame (usually 100mm deep) and both the doors and frame are pre-drilled for hinges. You offer up the frame to the space, using packers and scribes as necessary, and secure to the wall.

This is a job that doesn’t require carpentry skills and the novice who is prepared to work methodically can achieve good results. Indeed in Germany this is the normal way that they have been fitting internal doors for years using door and frame sets that are pre-drilled for hinges, handles and locks.

If we supply this kit then we include Blum style hinges rather than butt hinges. The advantage of the Blum hinges is that they are adjustable so you can achieve perfect alignment even if the installation space is challenging.

For self-builders this can be a good option as if you are careful with the design then this can be classified as building materials rather than furniture and therefore can be zero rated for VAT as detailed in VAT Notice 708.

Being careful with the design means things like not having an end-panel and not being a corner unit – the wardrobe must be wall to wall and you must see a back wall when you open the doors. A big caveat: you may be able to save on VAT but in some ways you are compromising because internal shelves or drawers are a no-no to achieve the zero VAT status.

Finally the full carcass cabinetry option is the one we have built our company around. Here a wardrobe comprises one or more cabinets. A space up to 1metre wide can be satisfied with one cabinet but wider than that multiple cabinets can be used. You can enter your sizes into our fast quote tool to get a suggested starting configuration together with price.

The key advantages to the full carcass approach are:

  • each cabinet can be built and slid into position. The cabinet will be perfectly square and rigid leading to perfect door alignment. It’s an assembly task rather than a carpentry task.
  • shelves and drawers can be incorporated with ease. You don’t need to battle with out of plumb brick walls.
  • the wardrobe interior can look just as good as the outside

An aside on VAT. If you plan to pay 0% VAT as part of a construction scheme under VAT Notice 708, we will still charge 20% and you will need to reclaim the VAT. There are cases where we have been happy to supply goods at 0% VAT: supplying cabinetry for medical or research or to locations such as Jersey and Guernsey.

Walnut veneer drawer box

Usually we make drawer boxes out of 12mm thick Birch Ply which makes for a robust drawer.

Sometimes for the look of a project we offer walnut veneer. This is a 0.5mm thick veneer bonded to 12mm thick MDF and sealed all round so you get the full Walnut look but with the stability of MDF. With a total thickness of 13mm, this material works with both Blum Standard 430 and Blum Movento drawer runners.

Mirrored bathroom cupboard in white MFC

Mirrored bathroom unit

The mirror is bonded to the door with mirror adhesive.

mirrored cabinet

You notice that the mirror is a tick smaller than the door so there are no sharp edges to catch.

If you are within the M25, we can arrange sourcing of the mirror as well as the bonding to the door.

If you’re further afield or you’d like to do the job yourself, bring your door into a local glazier for them to cut mirror glass to size. Either ask them to bond the mirror or acquire some mirror adhesive:


Tall sloping ceiling cupboard

Tall sloping ceiling cupboard

Here the client chose Cordoba Olive for the tall and deep floor to (sloping) ceiling cupboard. Tip-on modules on drawer units and doors create a clean look. The cupboard comprises of several large units.

The bottom part of the cupboard is divided between a large cupboard area with shelves behind 2 doors to the left. And 4 large tip-on drawers, with varying depth, getting bigger from top to bottom, large enough to hold big toys.

The upper part of the cupboard comprises of several shelving units behind tip-on doors, as well as a large cubby hole type space, large enough to hold a good sized TV screen.

The doors of the top cabinets are all hinged on the right. Hinging on the left would mean that the doors would hit the ceiling on being opened.

The top door near the wall features 155degree hinges, so to allow the doors to open wide, for easy access.

Which material is good for wardrobes?

Often people will ask us which is the best material for making wardrobes.

The short answer is:

“The best material to use for fitted wardrobes is 18mm thick Melamine Faced Chipboard (MFC)”

0Wardrobe in white MFC comprising two sets of hanging space and a central cabinet with shelves

We can make your wardrobes in a wide range of materials ranging from MDF to real wood veneers to high gloss acrylic. What makes MFC ‘best’?

Short answer again:

  • appearance
  • quality
  • cost

But I want my wardrobes in real wood!

Real wood is used to a much lesser extent in fitted furniture. This is because

  • real wood is expensive
  • it needs finishing (varnish etc)
  • it can move/bend if used in solid pieces.

Wood movement can be mitigated by using real wood veneers with an MDF core. But even then the relative increased cost and the need for finish means MFC is preferred.

Tambour kitchen cupboard door

A tambour door is one that rolls up. This is an ideal solution for a cupboard with items which are frequently used during cooking or baking as content is accessible whilst the door is up – without a door being in the way. Once the tambour door is down, all is hidden and out of sight.

A tambour door works well as well as a door for a wall-hung unit that comes right down on  to the worktop – i.e. toaster or kettle on the worktop are quickly hidden behind the roll-up door for a clean-look kitchen counter.

Spray painted kitchen cupboards with oversailed doors

In this project the doors for the wall-hung kitchen units were designed with oversailed doors.

Oversailing means the doors are longer than the carcass. The usual reason to oversail the door is to create a finger pull area on a wall mounted cabinet.
Oversailing door with aluminium profile

A lighting strip has been fitted to the underneath of the cabinet and to finish it off neatly an aluminium profile hides the cables.

Door longer than carcass

Taller door than carcass

Oversailing  can also be used at the top of the door to hide something.

In this kitchen unit there is a steel beam and the oversailed door has a cutout.

Cut-out to allow for steel beam

Denim blue walk-in wardrobe

Anna in Guildford designed this 890kg contemporary walk-in wardrobe. It features Winchester Oak carcasses from Egger (H1381 ST11) and Denim Blue (U540 ST9) frontages.

It comprises of 9 separate cabinets.