What Filing Cabinet is Best for You? (Full Guide)

A Filing cabinet can be useful and help keep you organized and your desk clutter-free, but there are a lot of different types, styles, sizes, materials, and more.

So, how do you know which filing cabinet you need? 

This guide includes everything you need to know to choose the best filing cabinet for you.

It starts with the most basic questions and moves on until everything is considered. 

What Filing Cabinet Is Best For You

How to Choose a Filing Cabinet

Choosing a filing cabinet doesn’t seem like a difficult task until you realize there are so many options to choose from. 

The easiest way to choose is to determine what you need out of it and then move toward things you want.

Start with the broadest considerations as well, like the size and how many drawers it has.

This will help you rapidly narrow down the choices and products. 

What Size Filing Cabinet Do You Need?

The first thing you need to consider is the size of the filing cabinet.

Because it needs to fit in the space you have available, but also needs to hold the files you want to store.


Office filing cabinets come in two standard sizes depending on the type of file. 

Letter size files can generally fit in any filing cabinet because they are the size of standard letter paper.

The size is the same as computer paper, which is 8-½” x 11”.

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Legal size documents will not fit in any size filing cabinet and measure 8-½” x 14”.

So, if these are the size files you need to store, then make sure to get a filing cabinet that will accommodate larger legal-size files. 

This INTERGREAT Filing Cabinet is a great example of a filing cabinet that has the size and space for any size document, including legal-sized files.

INTERGREAT Black Lateral File Cabinet with...
  • 【Larger and Deeper Lateral Filing Cabinets】:The 2 drawer lateral filing cabinet is larger and deeper than similar ones, Each drawer fits practically anywhere for up to 300 hanging folders. Each drawers of lateral cabinet also equipped with 2 adjustable hanging rails , which can perfectly store letters, legal, A4 or F4 size folders to meet your different needs
  • 【High-quality Material, Eco-friendly Surface】: Whole-in-one reinforced with high-strength cold-rolled steel frame, which allows each drawer of lateral file cabinets for holding 110 lb, for a total of 220 lb. Coated with Electrostatic phosphorus free epoxy spray layer, making cabinet very strong and immune to corrosion and rust, Ideal for long-term to use

It has two drawers and filing cabinet locks for your most secure or private documents. 

Number of Drawers:

You should also consider how many drawers the filing cabinet should have at the same time.

The amount of drawers you need depends on how much paperwork you need to store.

As well as, the layout of the room, and the amount of paper you expect to accumulate in the future.

Take account of all the paperwork you have and ensure that you leave room for more paperwork and documents that need to be stored later.

Even if it is years into the future. 

Room Or Office Style:

You need to consider the way the office or room is laid out. 

Some rooms are best for elongated or wide filing cabinets while others only have a little bit of space for the width, but have plenty of vertical room for a taller filing cabinet. 

Finally, the way you are organizing files may also determine the number of drawers and size.

If you have sections or different documents that cannot be mixed into the same drawer, then you need to make sure to keep that in mind.

And purchase an option that has enough drawers to keep your files organized. 

What Filing Cabinet Is Best For You

What Filing Cabinet Material Do You Want?

Filing cabinets can be made out of different types of materials and each one has some unique benefits and downsides that you may want to consider.

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Once you know the size, this is certainly the best second step when discovering what filing cabinet is best for you. 

There are three main materials to choose from, so let’s look at the features of each.


This is the most common and offers ease of use, durability, and office settings.

Metal filing cabinets are available in several colors, but most are neutral colors like standard black and white filing cabinets.

Still, you can’t go wrong with metal, especially for something simple that favors functionality over aesthetics. 

Check out this great INVIE Metal Filing Cabinet if the metal is the direction you want to go.

4 Drawer Lateral File Cabinet for Home Office...
  • 【Lateral File Cabinet with Spacious Storage Space】- Deep and spacious 4 drawers on full-extension ball-bearing slides with side-to-side hang rails. The hanger rod can be moved and adjusted, thus this filing cabinet can accommodate Legal size ,Letter size, A4 folders flexibly
  • 【Heavy Duty Construction】- Black office drawer is made of metal construction for long lasting durability. The metal drawer cabinet top bears up to 440lbs And every drawer weight capacity is around 110lbs. 28.1”L x 17.7”W surface can hold your printer, files, documents, decorations. The locking cabinet provides plenty of storage space for home office supplies

It is durable and sturdy and comes in options for black or white as well as a 2-drawer file cabinet or options with 3 or 4 drawers.

Also, offers a heavy-duty design that withstands even the harshest work environments. 


Wood is a great choice as well because it combines durability with a traditional style.

This is a great choice for matching a wooden desk or offering versatility for design, wood grains, and shades of color.

They are still functional, but value appearance more than most metal filing cabinet options.

Wood filing cabinets have one downside, which is they cannot be fireproof. Still, they can be awesome for most uses. 

For a sturdy, attractive, and natural wood filing cabinet, you may love this DEVAISE LAteral Filing Cabinet.

DEVAISE 2 Drawer Wood Lateral File Cabinet...
  • FUNCTIONAL: Lateral filing cabinet with contemporary look that can be the little extra you needed in your office space. The filing cabinet can be used as storage cabinet, printer stand which large enough to put printer and scanner on.
  • ANTI-TILT Mechanism: It is vital that only 1 drawer at a time can be opened, this wood file cabinet provides maximum flexibility and anti-tilt.

It comes in your choice of three colors and has great drawer mechanisms for long-lasting durability. 


While not as common as metal and wood filing cabinets, plastic options can be great for a lot of uses.

Some are lightweight and lack durability, but are great for organization purposes. Others are quite durable and made out of thicker, sturdier plastic.

They offer a modern and casual style that is great for home offices. 

This Storex Plastic File Cabinet has wheels for mobility and stores files as large as legal size.

Storex Plastic One-Drawer File Cabinet –...
  • Neatly store letter or legal-size documents and folders
  • Built-in lock with keys included

It is also lightweight, but still secure with a lock and a label feature for neatness.

This cabinet is great for putting things out of the way because of its compact design that lets you move it when you need access to the files. 

What are the Different Types of Filing Cabinets?

There are many different varieties for the type of filing cabinet that you want.

The primary types are lateral filing cabinets and vertical filing cabinets.

Then, there are additional types that you will want to consider as well when shopping around. Let’s check them all out! 

Vertical Cabinets:

A vertical filing cabinet is great for places with low amounts of space because they only take up space above the ground other than the small footprint.

They utilize front-to-back filing systems and can be very deep, so organizational elements are critical to being able to access the right files.

You also need to be careful to ensure the bottom cabinets stay full if the top cabinets are going to be stuffed with files, otherwise, they can get top-heavy and tip over.

This is a great option though for most people. 

Lateral Cabinets:

What Filing Cabinet Is Best For You

A lateral filing cabinet is meant for high-volume offices that also have the space available for wider footprints.

They use two or three long drawers and are better for those who need to access files regularly because they are generally not so deep.

Also, hold a ton of paperwork and are great for letter-by-letter filing systems, libraries, and other larger needs. 

Mobile Cabinets:

Mobile filing cabinets are convenient and useful for those who need to move the filing cabinet out of the way when not in use.

They are also great for moving from one office to another if that is something necessary.

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Mobile cabinets usually have one to three drawers and are more commonly vertical as opposed to lateral.

They have caster wheels and use a compact, lightweight design.

You can find some great mobile options such as the Storex Plastic Filing Cabinet
mentioned above. 

Storex Plastic One-Drawer File Cabinet –...
  • Neatly store letter or legal-size documents and folders
  • Built-in lock with keys included

Open Shelf Cabinets:

The open shelf type is wide, shallow, and looks more like a bookshelf than a filing cabinet, but they have the size that suits end-tab folders next to each other.

This type is not extremely common but can be useful for narrow aisles and areas with very little space.

Fireproof Cabinets:

Fireproof filing cabinets are not necessary for a lot of people.

But if you have important documents that need the utmost protection, then it can be a great option to protect them.

Sensitive documents can be kept inside them safe and secure from fire and they are also generally more theft-proof than other options as well.

This can be great for companies with legal paperwork or sensitive assets or homes for keeping social security cards, wills, and other important documents. 

Other Considerations for Filing Cabinets

Other considerations that you want to keep in mind include color, locking mechanism, and budget.

Filing cabinet companies often make neutral colors more available, regardless of style and material.

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Because of this, it is easier to find gray, white, brown, and black filing cabinets.

But you still may be able to find other colors as well including blue and red, especially with plastic options. 

Filing cabinets often have locks, but not all of them do have them.

When shopping is sure to check how many locks it has because many options only have one locking drawer out of the multiple that are available on the entire cabinet. 

Finally, you want to consider the budget, but remember that more expensive options are built to last and will be harder to break into if there is a burglary.

Still, some very reasonably priced options are durable and large, like this Lorell Two-Drawer Filing Cabinet.  

Lorell 14341 18 Deep 2-Drawer File Cabinet,...
  • Two drawer vertical file cabinet
  • Steel construction

Final Thoughts on Filing Choosing the Best Filing Cabinet for You

Choosing a filing cabinet shouldn't be so confusing, despite the multitude of options.

The best way to find one that works best for you is to narrow them down by categories, starting with the size that you need to fit your space and hold your files.

Then, you can choose the material and type and come out with the best options for your budget and style.

Good luck shopping!

Last update on 2022-12-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!
Darryl Higgins

Darryl Higgins

Hi, I'm Darryl. I made this site to help share information & reviews about ergonomic desks, chairs & accessories to help others who want to work more comfortably. Learn more about my journey by reading my bio here. Enjoy!

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