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File Cabinet Buyer's Guide

File Cabinet Buyer's Guide

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Doctor’s offices, schools, and other office spaces all require file cabinets to hold records and important documents. In an increasingly digital world, file cabinets still play an important role. They provide easy access and preserve temporary and long-term documents. File cabinets are available in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, but before you decide to invest in a file cabinet, there are a few things to consider.

File Cabinet Buyer's Guide


In some areas, such as a classroom or small office, you may be required to keep paper files in a small space. You may not have room to fit a short and long filing cabinet, but you can make up for that horizontal space by choosing a vertical filing cabinet. Think about the space you have to devote to filing cabinets, first. Then, you can choose the cabinet solution that makes the most sense for you.

Storage Capacity

The next consideration is the size of the documents you will need to store. For instance, if you work in an art classroom and need to keep portfolios of student work handy, a basic letter-sized file cabinet will not suit your needs. Instead, you may opt for a lateral file cabinet that has wider spacing and can accommodate large folders of work over traditional filing. You may also prefer a flat file drawer system that is intended to protect the work in each drawer.

Think about the amount of paper you will need to keep on hand for the next several years. If you plan to rotate files out regularly, you may not need a very large storage space. If you need to keep documents on hand over a longer period, however, it may be wise to invest in enough space to suit your needs for the next 5 years or more.

Types of Filing Cabinets

After you have determined your storage and space needs, you can start looking at the different types of filing cabinets on the market.

Pedestal Cabinets

Examples of Pedestal File Cabinets

These filing cabinets are on casters for easy mobility. If you plan to move your workspace frequently or need to use a cabinet in multiple areas, look for cabinet options that allow you greater mobility on wheels. With these cabinets, you can move your files out of the way without taking up much office space. These cabinets are generally more compact and allow for two or three different drawers of equal or different sizes. They are perfect for an office setting.

Lateral Filing Cabinets

Examples of Lateral File Cabinets

These multi-use cabinets feature hanging rails for easy filing of letter or legal sized files. Without the rails, you can also store other items that you may need to keep on hand. Lateral file cabinets generally hold more files than other solutions due to their increased width in drawer sizes. Whether you need a lot of space or a compact solution, these filing cabinets are available with 2 or more vertical drawers to fit your needs.

Flat File Cabinets

Examples of Flat File Cabinets

Flat file drawers are much shallower than other file cabinet counterparts, but are larger in length and depth to store large paper materials. They are great for storing large pieces of work like blueprints, artwork, or any material that needs to be archived. The metal flat file solutions are available in configurations of 5 or 10 drawers, but it is also modular to allow for more storage space. Look for open flat file storage racks that are ideal for artwork that needs to dry flat and be accessible agian by students within a classroom.

Vertical File Cabinets

Examples of Vertical File Cabinets

These traditional filing cabinets feature smaller cubbies for letter-sized files. These solutions fit well in compact spaces and are fully configurable for 2 or more sets of drawers. Most feature a thumb latch to lock the easy-gliding drawers in and out of the cabinet system. For office spaces, open areas, and homes, these traditional filing cabinets are a great solution with a small footprint.

Cabinet/Shelving Combination

Examples of Combination Files & Shelves

If you work in a traditional office space and prefer wood or laminate to metal cabinetry, you can find combination filing cabinets with hutches that allow for lateral storage space on the bottom and showcasing books or regularly-used files on the top. These solutions are unobtrusive and attractive in any setting.

Open Filing Systems

Medical Filing Systems

These solutions are often used in doctor’s offices to store many patient records in one centralized location. The open nature of the system allows for easy access in busy environments, while securely storing all of the files.

Materials and Colors

Depending on your requirements, you may need to match a color scheme, or maybe you simply have a preference for your filing cabinets. Most filing cabinets are made out of fire-proof or resistant metals and provide superior durability and protection with an enamel finish. Common colors include beige, gray, and black. Other systems, such as the cabinet/hutch combination and certain other filing configurations, may be made out of a laminate and available in a variety of wood finishes to match your current décor.

Other Considerations

Mix and Match Storage File CabinetsIf you will be storing sensitive files, consider looking for a solution that has a locking feature for protection. In some configurable solutions, a stand to keep the cabinet
higher off the floor may be sold separately. In some cases, you may need to consider the option for growth without investing in a massive filing system right now. Look for modular solutions that will accommodate your needs now and into the future. If fire safety is a concern, some metal filing cabinets may be better equipped to protect your materials, and should be carefully considered.

When it comes to filing cabinets, you may find you need multiple solutions to meet your needs. Mix and match different cabinets to create the right combination for the files, folders, and other materials you will be storing. Multiple systems will allow you to create a comprehensive and easy-to-use filing system that can be easily kept up over time. Save space and keep your office, classroom, or reference area organized by implementing an adjustable, sleek filing system.

Contact Worthington Direct today at (800) 599-6636 to learn more about how our selection of filing cabinets can work in your space. We offer an extensive variety of cabinets, so whether you need more mobility, special storage needs, or are working with a limited space, we likely have the right solution for you.

Top Brands for Filing Cabinets:
Sandusky Lee HON Safco NDI Regency

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