How to choose a file cabinet: Smart Office shows you how.

Maybe you’re tired of stacking the important files in your home office in piles on your desk, or worse yet, your floor. Or perhaps the file cabinets in your office are aging as gracefully as Ms. Havisham. You nearly dislocate your shoulder every time you yank one file drawer open, and can’t remember the last time any of them closed completely. In other words, it’s time to buy a filing cabinet.Now that you’re ready to properly store, organize and protect your office files and documents, don’t whip out the company credit card just yet. There a few important considerations to make before you buy. How much room do you have in your office? How many files does the cabinet need to hold? How long do you need your file cabinet to last? If you like making significant office furniture purchases only once, slow down and pay attention. Smart Office is going to show you how to choose a filing cabinet.
First decide whether your office needs a vertical or lateral file cabinet. Vertical file cabinets are the most traditional, and offer between two and five drawers. Files run front to back in vertical file cabinets and face the user. Vertical file cabinets are nice because they take up little wall space, but aren’t the best office file cabinet if you need to access your files every day, or don’t have much walk around room. Your office needs to be able accomadate the depth of vertical file cabinets, usually around 29 inches, plus the length of the open drawer, another 29 inches. If the the area you keep your office files in is crammed already, vertical file cabinets aren’t the way to go.
Lateral file cabinets take up more wall space, but less interior space than vertical file cabinets. That’s because lateral file drawers are usually only about 20 inches deep, so require less room to open. Lateral files are great for high volume offices that need to access files several times a day, and for crowded work areas. Lateral file cabinets are also extremely versatile. You can arrange your files so they face the sides of  the file drawers and run left to right, or face your files toward the front of the cabinet to create organized rows of files. Many two-drawer lateral file cabinets are small enough to fit under your desk, supplying a great way to expand the storage capacity of small offices. Or place a lateral file cabinet against your desk to create a new work surface.
Once you’ve settled on the type of file cabinet your want, check out how the cabinets are put together. File cabinets come in two varieties: metal file cabinets and wood file cabinets. Metal is the most popular choice for file cabinets because it can handle heavy use and still look good. Metal file cabinets are the best choice for busy offices that need to access files often. Plus, these days you have a lot more color options that drab olives and khaki. For example, you can get great heavy duty metal file cabinets from HON and Safco in colors like black, gray and putty. Ok, metal file cabinets are will never be the flashy office show pieces, but they do offer a long term storage and protection for your office files and documents. Just make sure you choose a file cabinet with a protective coating to prevent rust. If you want to bring the beauty of wood furniture to your office, be aware that wood file cabinets are less resilient that metal cabinets. They work best and last the longest in home and small offices. The sturdiest metal and wood file cabinets are designed with double–walled steel sides.
Your new file cabinet should be as safe as it is sturdy. Shoddily constructed file cabinets can tip over on users, causing injury or death. Choosing a file cabinet with a few key safety features is worth the investment. Look for file cabinets with an anti-tip mechanism, such as  interlocking drawers that prevent your file cabinet from tipping over when multiple drawers are open. File cabinets designed with ball bearing suspension systems, and other strong drawer suspension systems, open and close smoothly even when fully loaded  to prevent frustration and injury. Fire and impact resistant file cabinets are also available for offices that need the extra protection. Look for file cabinets with the Underwriters’ Labratory Class 350 rating. UL Class 350 rated file cabinets will maintain an interior temperature of 350 degrees in fires of up to 1700 degrees for one hour. They can also withstand the impact of a 30-foot drop. However, a Class 350 rated file cabinets costs hundreds of dollars more than standard file cabinets, so you might just want to get an office safe if you’re concerned about fires.

Cabinet style, construction and safety are the most important considerations while shopping for a file cabinet, but these days, there are a range of other features available. If you regularly transport a large number of files, consider a mobile file cart. Most offices file storage needs expand over time. If you select your file cabinet from a furniture collection, you can always get a matching cabinet if you need to, as well as complimentary hutches, bookcases and other storage and display options.

If you’ve got more questions on choosing an office file cabinet, or office furniture in general, fell free to call on the experts at On Time Supplies. They can be reach toll free at 1-866-501-6055, or via the live chat feature at

2 comments on “How to choose a file cabinet: Smart Office shows you how.

  • Edna Montag says:

    How many files does a 4-drawer vertical files hold, and how many files does a 2-drawer lateral file cabinet hold?

    • Alyssa Ochs says:

      Hi Edna, it depends on the cabinet model and how thick your files are. For example, our Four-Drawer Economy Vertical File, Letter, 15w x 26 1/2d x 52h, Black ( is 15 inches wide for folders. And our Two-Drawer Lateral File Cabinet, 42w x 19-1/4d x 28-3/8h, Black ( has a width of 42 inches for filing space. Browse all cabinets here:


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