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File Cabinet Buying Guide

Wayfair Guides
Wildon Home
File cabinets provide organization and security for documents, media, and other important materials. Cataloging, updating, and filing documents for quick access at a later time is made easy with a filing system. Cabinet styles range from small and compact to wall-sized and intricate, depending on your needs and your available office space. Use this guide to help determine which style of file cabinet and which options are best for you.

It's important to know the type of documents you'll be storing. File cabinets are made to fit legal or letter sizes documents and some cabinets can accommodate both sizes.

Document Size:
Legal - 8.5" x 14"
Letter - 8.5" x 11"

​Read more about options, styles, and features to find the ideal file cabinet for your office.

Style: Vertical File Cabinets

Vertical file cabinets are deep and tall, and typically have 2 or 4 drawers, but 1-6 drawer units are also available. Documents are stored front to back in hanging folders.

  • Hold legal or letter sized documents. 
  • Feature options include anti-tip, mobile, stackable, fireproof, and locks.
  • Vertical file cabinets are ideal for offices that have limited floorspace, and will be storing one size documents; legal or letter.
  • Measurements: 11-60" wide, 5-80" tall
  • ​Prices: $50- $5,000

Style: Lateral File Cabinets

Lateral file cabinets are wide and short, compared to vertical file cabinets. Most have 2 drawers, but can have 1-6 drawers. Documents are stored front to back, side to side, or both in hanging folders. Lateral file cabinets drawers do not have to be pulled out as far as vertical drawers, which extend quite far.

  • Hold legal, letter, or both sized documents.
  • Feature options include anti-tip, mobile, stackable, fireproof, and locks.
  • Lateral file cabinets are ideal for offices that have plenty of space, or have a large number of variable sized documents. 
  • Measurements: 12-72" wide, 9-78" tall
  • Prices: $50- $4,500


File cabinets are made of metal, wood, and occasionally plastic. Some people like to to match their file cabinet to existing furniture and décor. It can sometimes be difficult to match the exact wood stains from different vendors. To avoid mixing varying shades of wood many people choose to match other colors found in the room instead. File cabinets are fairly easy to repaint or refinish. 

  • Metal file cabinets are available in gray, black, putty, and a few other colors. 
  • Wood file cabinets can be made of dark, medium, and light wood.
  • Plastic file cabinets are typically used to sort and hold scrap booking supplies, and aren't durable enough for most commercial uses. 


  • Locking - For sensitive and confidential documents, many file cabinets are equipped with a lock feature. This is a lock and key can lock one drawer or specific drawers. This would be ideal for offices where only select employees will  access documents. The locking feature is reco-mmended for all offices, as the cabinet can remain unlocked when security is not needed.  
  • Mobile - With the addition of casters or wheels, file cabinets can be moved around the office. This feature is ideal for situations where various staff members will need to access documents in the file cabinet or for offices with flexible and changing floor plans. 
  • Stackable - Stackable file cabinets are ideal   when quantity of documents ranges. These compact containers can be stacked, so it is easy to add more when you need more storage. These can be used to store items; such as an extra pair of shoes, a bag, or personal items. 

  • Fireproof - In the event of a fire, these UL approved file cabinets will protect documents, by keeping the inside temperature below 350°, for up to 1 hour with external temperatures reaching 1170°. Many fireproof file cabinets are also waterproof to protect contents for sprinklers in the event of a fire. An additional protection feature is explosion or hazard resistance. 

Wayfair Guides
Adir Corp, Mayline, Tennsco

Specialty File Cabinets

Specialty file cabinets provide storage for documents that are larger or smaller than standard sizes. In addition to legal and letter sized specialty file cabinets, card and oversized flat file cabinets are available. Just like standard file cabinets, options include mobile, locking, and fireproof, with the addition of rotary filing. 

Rotary filing provides a "Lazy Susan" mechanism, which is helpful when there is an abundance of documents being stored. Rotary file cabinets are also very secure, as the entire cabinet can be turned around and locked.

Roll, flat, and hanging file cabinets are designed for oversized documents, such as drafting blueprints. These keep the documents stored in a preferred position to reduce wrinkles, creases, and tears.

  • Roll file cabinets have deep square tubes for large documents to be rolled up and stored vertically. These are available in wire, wood, or cardboard frames.
  • Flat file cabinets provide shallow drawers to lay documents flat horizontally, or tall hangers to hold documents vertically. These are commonly used by artists, graphic designers, architects, and cartographers. 
  • Hanging file cabinets use hanging clamps or folders to secure documents vertically. Clamps hold the documents at the top, like a hanger, and are usually purchased separately from the cabinet. Hanging clamps are ideal for large documents that would otherwise sink in a folder. Hanging files are the most common, and hang in between rods inside the cabinet drawer. 

  • Multimedia file cabinets are used for storing index card-sized documents or materials. These typically have a large number of smaller drawers, and are commonly used to store DVDs, cassettes, and other equipment.

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