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Published Sep. 22, 2021

Choosing file cabinets for your office is easy, if you know what to look for. Available space to house cabinets is a primary concern, but buyers also need to consider security, aesthetics, and what file cabinets hold up best in high-traffic areas. The following tips will help answer all of your basic questions about office files to help you find the cabinets that are just right for you.

File cabinets may seem like a relic of the past now that so many documents are shared digitally. The average household—or business—certainly has fewer paper records on hand. Still, there are many reasons to consider purchasing a file cabinet for your home. File cabinets still come in handy for storing medical or financial paperwork as well as important documents like your family’s birth certificates, receipts for significant purchases, or the deed to your home. They can also be used to organize children’s artwork and school assignments. 

With so many file cabinets available, choosing one can be overwhelming. We’ll break down what to look for when shopping for the best file cabinet for your home or office and discuss the key considerations to keep in mind as you shop. Keep reading for tips on choosing the best file cabinets, and explore our curated picks for the best options on the market.

How We Picked These Products

Methodology 

While it’s easy to assume that all file cabinets offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality. Several years of experience covering home office equipment as well as extensive product research went into choosing our final curated selection. We reviewed over 30 file cabinets and weighed a number of practical considerations when making our recommendations. 

Material: Generally speaking, file cabinets are made from either sheet metal or wood. Metal cabinets have a more commercial aesthetic and may not fit in seamlessly with your home’s decor, but they are sturdier and are more likely to have secure locking mechanisms. Wood file cabinets can be more stylish if your priority is choosing a piece that adds to the room’s visual appeal. We considered both wood and metal file cabinets for our picks. 

Drawer slides: One of the key considerations when shopping for a file cabinet is smooth drawer slides. Even when a drawer is full, it should still glide out smoothly. We prioritized high-quality drawer slides when making our picks. 

Anti-tip mechanism: Most file cabinets will tip over if both drawers are opened at the same time when they’re full of documents. To prevent this, some models feature an anti-tip mechanism that prevents both drawers from being opened simultaneously. 

Drawer extension: Commercial file cabinets typically offer full extension to allow for easy access to documents while file cabinets for home use typically feature three-quarter extension instead. 

Mobility: Some file cabinets come with rolling casters so that you can move them around your office as needed. This feature is typically used on vertical-style cabinets. 

Fireproofing: In order to keep your documents safe in the case of an emergency, some may want to consider a fireproof file cabinet that is designed to prevent fire damage as well as water damage. 

Locking mechanism: A locking mechanism ensures that your documents are protected from theft. While this may not be a primary concern for home use, it’s still handy, especially if you have young children. 

The Best File Cabinets: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Bush Furniture Key West 2 Drawer Lateral File Cabinet

Functional Farmhouse-Style

This file cabinet allows you to store both standard and legal-size documents in three different ways.

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Why It Made The Cut: With a visually appealing farmhouse look and a high-quality build, this file cabinet is both stylish and functional. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 30 x 20 x 30 inches
  • Material: Engineered wood
  • Colors: Pure White Oak, Washed Gray, Bing Cherry

Pros:

  • Accommodates letter and legal-sized files
  • High weight capacity
  • Three file arrangement options
  • Multiple colors available

Cons:

  • Lateral style takes up more wall space
  • No lock

Many file cabinets on the market have a bland, commercial aesthetic, but this model from Bush Furniture will blend in seamlessly with your home office furniture. It has a traditional, farmhouse style with decorative accents on each drawer and aged-bronze-colored hardware. Unlike many other file cabinets designed for home use, the drawers of this model offer full extension using ball bearing slides and open smoothly even when they’re both at their full 50-pound capacity. 

Lateral file cabinets generally take up more wall space than vertical cabinets, but despite that, this model is quite compact. It measures 30 inches wide by 30 inches tall by 20 inches deep and offers three options for organizing files. Users can arrange two sets of letter-size hanging file folders side by side, one legal and one letter-size set of folders side by side, or one row of letter-size folders arranged laterally.

The engineered wood finish has a scratch-resistant surface. Choose from three colors to best suit the style of your room:  Pure White Oak, Washed Gray, and Bing Cherry.

Best Value: Lorell 14341 18 Deep 2-Drawer File Cabinet

Simply and Sturdy

This affordable vertical file cabinet offers two locking drawers and full, smooth glide extension.

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Why It Made The Cut: This steel file cabinet from Lorell is compact and efficient, with two locking drawers that provide value at an affordable price. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 14.3 x 18 x 24 inches
  • Material: Steel with baked enamel finish
  • Colors: Black, Putty

Pros:

  • Smooth glide suspension
  • Locking drawers
  • Full extension drawers
  • Compact design

Cons:

  • Only fits letter-size files

Those with small office spaces will appreciate the compact design of this affordable file cabinet from Lorell. It features two drawers arranged in a vertical style and measures 14.3 by 18 by 24 inches—making it perfect for storing letter-size files without wasting any additional space. Its height allows you to easily tuck it under your desk to save even more space. The smooth glide suspension offers full extension, offering you easy access to all your files.

It’s made from durable steel that won’t be easily scratched or dented and features a baked enamel finish in either black or a neutral putty shade. A single lock secures both drawers in order to keep your files secure and safe from theft. This model is designed for efficiency, so it’s simple industrial style will work best in modern or commercial spaces.

Best with Casters: Stockpile 3-Drawer File Cabinet

Rolling Wonder

This vertical file cabinet comes in 16 colors and features removable rolling casters.

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Why It Made The Cut: This mobility of this vertical file cabinet from Laura Davidson Furniture is great for small offices. It features a fun, modern design and has room for both documents and office supplies.  

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 15.75 x 25 x 20 inches (with casters)
  • Material: Powder coated alloy steel
  • Colors: 16 color options

Pros:

  • Accommodates letter and legal-sized files
  • Four optional casters
  • Wide range of color options
  • Steel construction 

Cons:

  • Features only one filing drawer

Laura Davidson Furniture’s vertical file cabinet features three drawers—two for filing and one shallow drawer for office supplies—and comes with four optional rolling casters. The design is efficient for small businesses or loft-style spaces where you’d like your files to be mobile. The file drawer can accommodate either letter or legal-size documents. All three drawers lock securely and pull out smoothly with an easy-glide system. 

The cabinet’s modern design features clean lines and rounded corners that lend the piece an aesthetic that’s at once retro and contemporary. It features a powder-coated steel finish that’s available in 16 color combinations so there’s sure to be an option that will suit the style of your room. 

When the casters are installed, the cabinet measures 15.75 by 25 by 20 inches and it’s an inch shorter when using the stationary legs instead.

Best Fireproof: Fireking Turtle One-Hour Fireproof Vertical Filing Cabinet

Peace of Mind Pick

With the ability to withstand fires, falls, and explosions, this file cabinet will keep your documents safe in case of emergency.

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Why It Made The Cut: Those looking for a fireproof file cabinet should consider this sturdy model, which features a 1-Hour Class 350 Fire Rating and a vertical two-drawer design. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 22.13 x 17.75 x 27.75 inches
  • Material: Metal
  • Colors: Parchment

Pros:

  • Accommodates both legal and letter-size documents
  • 1-Hour Class 350 Fire Rating 
  • Ships fully assembled

Cons:

  • High price point

If you want to make sure your important documents are preserved in the case of a fire, consider this file cabinet from Fireking. It features a 1-Hour Class 350 Fire Rating, meaning that when exposed to external temperatures of 1700 degrees or higher, the internal temperature of the safe won’t exceed 350 degrees for at least an hour. This study cabinet is also tested for impact on all six sides, and is certified to withstand a 30-foot fall while maintaining its fireproofing rating. It’s certified to protect electronics for half an hour in the case of a fire. Not only that, it’s also been certified to withstand explosions of up to 2,000 degrees. 

At the day to day level, this vertical cabinet is designed to accommodate both legal and letter-size documents and features a key-lock entry for added security. The powder-coated finish is scratch-resistant so it will maintain its appearance for years. 

While this model certainly comes at a higher price point than the other file cabinets we recommend, in the event of a fire the manufacturer will even replace the cabinet free of charge. As an added bonus, this cabinet is shipped fully assembled so you don’t have to put it together yourself.

Most Stylish: Sauder Clifford Place Lateral File

Mid-Century Marvel

This stylish file cabinet features a mid-century modern design and comes with a host of practical features.

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Why It Made The Cut: This piece by Sauder perfectly mixes style and function with an attractive walnut finish and a range of useful features like cord management ports and an anti-tip mechanism. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 29.53 x 18.5 x 30.28 inches
  • Material: Engineered wood
  • Colors: Walnut

Pros:

  • Accommodates letter and legal-sized files
  • Stylish design
  • Cord management system
  • Features anti-tip mechanism

Cons:

  • High price point

The beauty of the Sauder Clifford Place Lateral File Cabinet is that it doesn’t look like a file cabinet. As useful as they are, file cabinets can be unsightly pieces that you want to keep out of sight, or they can be stylish enough to add to your home’s visual appeal. This model from Sauder definitely fits into the latter category, with a mid-century modern design in a walnut finish. Tapered, solid wood adds to the piece’s charm. It’s not all about looks, though. This file cabinet also has a number of useful practical features that make it just as functional as it is fashionable. 

The two lateral drawers lock securely can fit either letter or legal-size paperwork and glide smoothly to a full extension for optimal access. A safety mechanism prevents both drawers from being opened at once so that the cabinet won’t tip over. Cord management ports mean you can use the cabinet to store electronics without any messy-looking wires causing visual clutter. 

When assembled, the piece is approximately 29.5 inches wide by 18.5 inches deep by 30 inches tall. 

Most Versatile: DEVAISE 3-Drawer Wood File Cabinet

Bookcase Combo

This three-drawer file cabinet features rolling casters as well as open shelving to store a printer, internet router, or other office necessities.

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Why It Made The Cut: DEVAISE’s three-drawer wood file cabinet is a great all-in-one option for your home office needs. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 32 x 16 x 26 inches
  • Material: Wood
  • Colors: Black, Gray Oak

Pros:

  • Versatile design
  • Wood construction
  • High weight capacity

Cons:

  • No lock

Those with small home offices will appreciate the efficient design of this file cabinet/bookcase from DEVAISE, which offers solutions for your paperwork and provides a space to store a printer, internet router, and any books or other items you might need. The cabinet features three drawers; the top two are perfect for storing office supplies while the bottom drawer is meant to store A4-size papers, which measure 8.25 by 11.75 inches. With a total capacity of 150 pounds, it can easily fit all your files as well as books and decorative objects on the open shelves. The shelves are adjustable to perfectly suit your needs. 

Easily move it around your space using the four rolling casters. The front casters include breaks to prevent the cabinet from tipping over. When the casters are installed, the piece measures 32 inches wide by 16 inches deep by 26 inches high. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a File Cabinet

Keep the following things in mind when shopping for a file cabinet for your home or business. 

Vertical vs. Lateral

File cabinets come in one of two styles: vertical and lateral. 

  • Vertical file cabinets feature drawers that extend from the short side of the cabinet. They have short, deep drawers that are typically designed for letter-sized documents. 
  • Lateral file cabinets—also known as horizontal file cabinets—feature drawers that extend from the long side of the cabinet. They have long, shallow drawers and are more commonly found in a commercial setting because they require more space. 

Size

File cabinets come in a wide variety of sizes. Consider the height, width, and depth of the cabinet before making a purchase. 

  • Depth: Lateral file cabinets typically have depths of 20 inches. Vertical file cabinets for commercial use come in three standard depths: 25, 26.5, and 28 inches. For home use, you’ll often find vertical cabinets that are only 18 inches deep. 
  • Width: Lateral cabinets designed for commercial use are typically 30, 36, or 42 inches wide. Vertical file cabinets come in two standard widths: 12 inch and 18 inch. 12-inch cabinets are designed to fit standard-sized documents (8.5 by 11 inch) while 18-inch cabinets are made for legal-sized (8.5 by 14 inch) documents. 
  • Height: Lateral and vertical cabinets vary in height and typically have between two and five drawers. Two-drawer models are typically about 29 inches high while five-drawer models can be as tall as 60 inches. One advantage of a short, two-drawer file cabinet is that it’s designed to fit under a desk. 

Outside of the United States, file cabinet sizing may vary in order to accommodate standard international document sizes. 

FAQs 

Q: Are all metal file cabinets fireproof?

No, while most standard metal file cabinets are sturdy and durable, they are not fireproof or waterproof. For disaster preparedness, be sure to purchase a file cabinet that’s specifically marketed as being fireproof.

Q: What do I look for when shopping for a file cabinet?

Before buying a file cabinet, consider your storage needs. Ask yourself whether you will be filing mostly standard-size or legal-sized papers and how much paperwork you need to store. Choose a file cabinet that fits in your available space, is large enough to store your documents, and suits the aesthetic of your home office. 

Q: Which hanging file folders will fit my file cabinet?

In order to organize your files within a file cabinet, you’ll need hanging file folders. Be sure to choose file folders that fit your cabinet size. For standard-size cabinets, choose folders designed to fit 8.5 by 11-inch documents. For legal-sized cabinets, choose folders meant to accommodate 8.5 by 14-inch documents.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re looking for a file cabinet for your home office or small business, these recommendations for the best file cabinet cover a variety of types and styles to best suit your needs. The Bush Furniture Key West File Cabinet is our top pick because of its sturdy construction and universally appealing stylish appearance while our recommended choice for those on a budget is the  Lorell 14341 18 Deep 2-Drawer File Cabinet because it offers excellent quality at an affordable price point.

If you handle a lot of sensitive materials or simply want to avoid other people snooping around in your file drawers, consider models that have lockable drawers. If you’re planning on storing important documents like wills, social security cards, or birth certificates, fireproof file cabinets may be a good investment.

If you often hold client meetings in your office, the look of your file cabinets may be important. Just remember, nothing beats the luxurious look of wooden file cabinets, but they can show wear after a while. Steel cabinets may not look quite as classy, but they are generally tougher and come in a variety of colors. If your files are going to be in a high-traffic area, steel cabinets are the way to go.

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