We spent 45 hours researching and testing more than 20 different types of filing cabinets and found that size, cost, and durability were the most important factors for consumers who were shopping for filing cabinets. Lorell SOHO Mobile Cabinet scored high marks in all categories and is our overall top pick. This SOHO filing cabinet offers plenty of space for your files and also has a convenient accessory drawer above two file drawers for other supplies. The high-side drawers can hold letter-size hanging files. This filing cabinet features a lock that secures the two top drawers so you can keep certain files or belongings secure.
Filing Cabinet Buying Guide
If you have a business that involves a lot of files and paperwork you will want to get at least one filing cabinet if not several. Having important documents and papers lying around on the desk or on shelves can increase the risk of the files getting lost, getting damaged or being seen by people you may not want viewing them. There are many benefits to get the right filing cabinet for your office. These include:
- Being more organized
- Provides security when needed
- Eliminates clutter
- Keeps your office space organized
- Slows fast access to important paperwork
Types of Filing Cabinets
There are several different types of filing cabinets available on the market for you to choose from. We have listed the different styles below so you can learn about each one and see which ones appeal to you the most and work for your specific needs.
Vertical – Vertical filing cabinets are taller than they are wide. Typically, they are available in 2-5 drawer models. There can be a lot of depth in vertical filing cabinets so if you are looking to store a lot of files; a vertical model is the way to go. You will need to ensure that you have enough space wherever you put your vertical filing cabinet to extend the drawers fully so you can access all your files.
Lateral – Lateral filing cabinets are wide and in most cases, shorter, than vertical cabinets. The wider drawers are not as deep as vertical drawers but they are a great choice for smaller spaces where extending a deep drawer are not practical. Lateral filing cabinets are easy to access from your chair.
Flat – flat filing cabinets are perfect for large documents that lay flat when stored. These spacious, short drawers typically fit blueprints, canvas paintings, and other documents flat. This allows you to store them easily without worrying about the documents having to be folded or rolled.
Mobile – Mobile filing cabinets are designed to be moved around easily. They feature casters on the bottom that will allow it to roll easily over floors; even carpeted floors. This type of cabinet makes it easy to move your files from one place to another as needed. Mobile units are usually 2-3 drawer models that can fit in small spaces easily until you need it. They are a great choice for home offices.
Best Filing Cabinet Materials
There are four basic materials that are used in the construction of filing cabinets. These materials include:
Aluminum – Aluminum filing cabinets offer many of the same features and advantages that steel models offer. They are long lasting and durable but they are less expensive and are not quite as solid so impacts can end up denting or warping them. The ability to handle impacts may not be very important if your filing cabinets are in a quiet office. They are a model that is much friendlier to your budget than steel or wood and still offer some of the great features the more expensive models offer.
Steel – Steel is the strongest material options on the market. A steel filing cabinet will last decades without breaking down when taken care of properly. They are typically scratch and impact resistant and will not sag or warp. If you choose a steel filing cabinet you will not have to worry about replacing it for a long time to come. Steel filing cabinets have more features than cabinets made of some of the other materials. These features include the ability to be locked, full-drawer suspension, and counterweights that ensure smooth opening and closing of the drawers. Steel filing cabinets are usually not too fancy and come in plain colors and styles that are meant for function only.
Plastic – Plastic filing cabinets are very inexpensive and may make a good temporary option but they are not designed to be a long term solution. Plastic filing cabinets do not offer much in the way of security and they can break easily. They will need to be replaced fairly often especially if they are used frequently.
Wood – Wooden filing cabinets can be a beautiful and functional addition to your office. Although they can be scratched much easier than aluminum or steel, they offer a visual appeal that most of the other types do not offer. Wooden filing cabinets are strong and durable and can last decades with proper care and handling. There are many finishes available to choose from so you can potentially match the décor in your office. Wooden filing cabinets will usually be the most expensive option but for those looking for a decorative, durable filing cabinet they are perfect and well worth the cost.
Factors to Consider before Purchase
There are several factors you want to consider before you choose a filing cabinet and spend your hard-earned money on it. We have listed these important factors below so you are aware of them before you start browsing.
Size – The size filing cabinet that is best for your needs is one that has the storage space you need. Consider how many files and documents you have to store and choose the right cabinet accordingly. Keep in mind that storage needs will increase as the years pass so choose a filing cabinet that can grow with you. Instead of just guessing the dimensions, make sure you check the measurements of the cabinet against the space you have to put it.
Cost – Filing cabinets come in a wide range of prices. Many of the models available online come with free shipping so finding one that is affordable without losing quality is generally not too difficult. Factors that will affect the price of a filing cabinet include brand name, construction materials, size, design, and features. If you have a specific budget, be sure to keep that in mind when you start browsing the different selections so you can eliminate the ones that do not fall into your budget.
Before you start Shopping
Before you begin browsing through all the different filing cabinet choices, there are a few things that you will want to have the answers to. These answers will determine the best features for your needs.
What type of files do you need to store? – If you are looking for a filing cabinet for files that need privacy and security. You should look for a wooden or steel filing cabinet that can be locked. Plastic file cabinets are not able to provide much of anything when it comes to security and are not good choices for this need. Additionally, if you need a filing cabinet that is impact resistant and that can protect against water damage and other problems, steel is an excellent choice. Don’t forget to think about the size of the files you will be putting in the cabinet. Most filing cabinets are designed to handle standard, letter-sized files. Some law offices will have to handle legal-sized documents and should choose a filing cabinet that can hold either sized documents or files.
Do you need a lock? – There are a variety of filing cabinets that offer locking capabilities. The most common, sliding teeth and cam locks, require a key to access. These are usually standard in higher end filing cabinets. Cam locks secure your files by using a metal bar that rotates on the interior of the door. They are easy to operate and easy to replace if the lock breaks. Sliding teeth locks work best for cabinets that have glass sliding doors. There are more lock options to choose from if you don’t like either of the two most often used models including electronic locks that are opened and closed via a code. If you need additional protection you can install a lock bar that will deter anyone from trying to break into it.
Moveable? – Do you need a filing cabinet that can be moved around from room to room you will want to look for cabinets that have casters on the bottom. These casters make moving the filing cabinet from room to room very convenient and easy.
Types of Drawer Extensions
There are several different degrees of drawer extensions that are available to choose from. Below, we have explained the different extension degrees so you will understand what each looks like.
¾ extension – a ¾ extension allows the filing cabinet drawer to be opened ¾ of the way. You will not be able to open the drawer fully with this type of extension. It is less expensive to get a ¾ extension than a full extension.
Full extension – Filing cabinets that feature full extension drawers can handle much more weight than the other types so the drawers can handle being opened all the way. This type of drawer extension provides much easier access to the entire file drawer so you can use all of the space in the drawer rather than just part of it.
Filing cabinets are a crucial “tool” for getting and keeping your office space organized. If you have a lot of paperwork or files and documents, things can get pretty cluttered if you do not have a designated place to keep them. With all of the different styles and types of filing cabinets to choose from you will definitely be able to find the right one or ones for your office.
The three top-rated filing cabinets we have featured above are great examples of quality filing cabinets that provide all the features, strength, and durability you want in a filing cabinet. Any of these three selections would be an excellent choice if you want a quick solution for your filing needs without having to sort through a ton of cabinets.
Use the information we have provided for you in this buying guide to help you understand the different features, materials, sizes, and styles that are available so you can determine your own needs and then find the filing cabinets that will match these needs.
The right filing cabinets in your office will make staying organized much easier and will bring order to your cluttered space. Remember to determine your needs before you start browsing the different choices out there including how many filing cabinets you want to purchase. Once you know how many files you have to store, the size of those files, the importance of those files and the security level needed you can think about things like style and design.
The most important factors will be function, durability, size, and features but there is nothing wrong with adding the visual element into the mix. While you should not choose a filing cabinet ONLY on appearance, you can definitely let that come into play after the major features have been met.