Plastic Vs Steel Corrosive Cabinets

iStock-90627806_950x300When you’re faced with the challenge of purchasing a corrosive cabinet, the first question that is likely to spring to your mind is: Do I purchase a plastic cabinet or a metal cabinet? This decision can come down to some very simple factors so rest easy! We’ll help you with your decision and provide you with some important considerations to ensure a great long term choice.

Steel Corrosive Cabinets

A steel corrosive Dangerous Goods Cabinet is a cabinet that varies from 30L to 250L and is often a galvanised steel that is epoxy or powder coated. These cabinets are a lower cost option and are built almost entirely out of steel. These are more commonly used for flammables, toxic and oxidising substances.

Plastic Corrosive Cabinets

Plastic Dangerous Goods Cabinets are typically made out of polypropylene and can also vary from 30L to 250L in capacity. Plastic cabinets are the more expensive option and can be around  50% more in price than a metal cabinet. As we will explore later, plastic cabinets do have some major benefits over metal cabinets but there are some considerations to keep in mind.

What is best for my facility?

Plastic Cabinets – If you are looking for great ROI (Return On Investment), a 100% plastic unit is the best choice for your facility without a doubt when you’re storing corrosive substances. It may be hard at time of purchase to justify the additional cost associated with a plastic cabinet but you can expect them to last at least twice as long as a steel cabinet storing corrosive substances. It’s worth noting the polypropylene (which is what plastic cabinets are made from) may discolour slightly over time, but it does have the capability of withstanding heavy acids and bases directly on the surface for long periods of time.


Steel Cabinets – While a plastic cabinet is by far the best decision, in some cases the budget may only allow for a steel cabinet. Steel cabinets are still suitable for storing corrosive substances but you will need to allow for the shorter lifespan of the cabinet. a metal cabinet has a lifespan of 4-8 years depending on the concentration of acids and bases stored inside. Acids and bases can be very aggressive on epoxy and powder coatings and as soon as the surface has broken, the chemical fumes will accelerate the oxidation process and lead to rapid rusting especially in the hinges, locks and closing mechanism. Ensure you factor in this decrease in lifespan when making your decision.

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Is it 100% plastic?

One thing to look out for when purchasing a plastic cabinet is to ensure that it is indeed 100% plastic. It may be advertised as plastic but make sure it is! Any steel parts on a plastic cabinet whether they are inside or outside may reduce the lifespan of the cabinet. Don’t be afraid to ask your supplier the question. Ensure there is no steel in handles, locks, closing mechanisms, or hinges as a cabinet is only as strong as its weakest point. The last thing you want is to spend the extra money on a plastic cabinet only to have the hinges and handles rusting within a few years.


If you are looking to achieve a clean, bright, and modern facility, there is a tendency to lean towards the white and greys. There are many different colours to choose from when it comes to a steel cabinet as the colour is coated onto the steel. Contrary to popular belief, there is no standard colours that a cabinet must adhere to. You will often see yellow for flammable, blue for corrosive etc. but you aren’t actually required to have specific colours for different types of dangerous goods. This gives you the flexibility to choose a cabinet that is more visually appealing and blends in well with your laboratory. White is a great choice for a steel cabinet as it works well with a modern facility and can look great in any area.

Plastic on the other hand mostly come in greys or black. Light grey looks great in a laboratory facility and assist with emphasising the DG diamonds.


If you are looking for best return on investment, the plastic cabinet is by far the best choice. If you are limited with funds and are happy for a shorter lifespan, metal cabinets may be the cabinet of choice. Both work well, the main consideration to take into account is the lifespan.



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