File cabinets offer a convenient storage solution for important documents and paperwork. Although storing files digitally has become common for many, it’s still necessary to store a hard copy version of paper documents like birth certificates, tax returns, and receipts for large purchases in a safe place. Whether you need a new storage system for your home office or a place to keep your personal records safe, consider purchasing a filing cabinet. Here are the best file cabinets for storing papers, files, artwork, and more.
- BEST OVERALL: Kirchoff 2-Drawer Lateral Filing Cabinet
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ZICOTO Aesthetic File Organizer Box Set of 2
- BEST HIGH END: Livingston 35″ 2-Drawer Lateral File Cabinet
- BEST VERTICAL: Cavitt 4-Drawer Vertical Filing Cabinet
- BEST MOBILE: Lorell File Cabinet, Black
- BEST STATIONERY DRAWERS: DEVAISE 3 Drawer Mobile File Cabinet with Lock
- BEST FLAT FILE STORAGE: Sandusky Flat Files Filing Cabinet
- BEST CARD FILE STORAGE: Vaultz Locking 4 x 6 Index Card Cabinet
- BEST BASKET: BirdRock Home Seagrass Rolling File Cabinet
Types of File Cabinets
File cabinets come in many different styles, each solving different storage needs. Learn about the most common types of file cabinets and find the best organizational solution for your files.
Lateral File Cabinets
Lateral file cabinets, also referred to as horizontal file cabinets, consist of wide, shallow drawers. The 32- to 36-inch wide drawers are large enough to accommodate both letter- and legal-size documents, which can be arranged in a side-by-side or a front-to-back order. Lateral file cabinets have from two to seven drawers and some units are short enough to fit underneath a desk or work surface.
Vertical File Cabinets
Vertical file cabinets contain narrow, deep drawers that are typically 15 to 20 inches wide. This type of file cabinet is ideal for smaller spaces since it does not take up too much room. Although vertical cabinets usually have a smaller capacity than lateral file cabinets, vertical file cabinets are suitable for everyday personal use.
Mobile File Cabinets
Mobile file cabinets come with wheels so they can roll easily from room to room or into a closet. They usually have a vertical orientation and one to two drawers, which makes them compact enough to slide underneath a desk. Some units have lockable wheels to keep the cabinet from moving while set in place. With mobile cabinets, you can roll your files up to your office chair, then roll the cabinet back out of the way when done.
Flat File Storage Cabinets
Flat file storage cabinets are the best choice for oversized documents like artwork or blueprints. This type of file cabinet contains short, wide drawers to keep documents flat and free of creases.
Card File Storage Cabinets
Card file storage cabinets are built specifically for storing index cards or electronic media. These sturdy cabinets are usually made out of metal and often come with locks to keep sensitive information safe. They are typically used in offices and libraries.
Basket Filing Cabinets
Basket filing cabinets look like ordinary baskets with metal file frames for hanging files. This is a good choice when looking for a well-designed filing solution that blends in with your home’s decor.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best File Cabinet
File cabinets come in many different sizes with a range of useful features. When selecting the best file cabinet for your paper storage, consider characteristics like size, material, design, and safety features. Learn more about these important file cabinet shopping considerations.
File cabinets vary in height, width, and depth. Various file cabinets can accommodate different sizes of documents, which is why it’s important to choose the right size for your storage needs. Most file cabinets can accommodate standard 8 1/2- by 11-inch letter-size documents. Many file cabinets are large enough to also store legal-size documents that measure 8 1/2 by 14 inches. Some filing cabinets designed specifically for items like index cards are smaller.
File cabinets come in a variety of materials including metal, laminate, and wood. Metal file cabinets are durable and often are used in offices for high-capacity filing and long-term record keeping. Laminate file cabinets resemble real wood, but they are built from inexpensive particle boards. Wood veneer cabinets contain a thin layer of wood on top of a thick layer of pressboard for a higher quality appearance than laminate at a fraction of the cost of real wood. Solid wood file cabinets are the highest quality, but they are not very common in office settings since they are expensive and more work to maintain.
Fireproof file cabinets protect documents from fire, water damage, and theft. These sturdy and secure file cabinets are built out of special materials like fire-resistant insulation and strong metals. They offer peace of mind that your documents will be protected in the event of an emergency.
Looking for a multipurpose filing cabinet? Consider one with stationery drawers. In addition to holding files, some file cabinets come with smaller drawers designed to hold stationery and other small items like paper clips, sticky notes, pens, and pencils. This type of filing cabinet is useful for an office or a craft room.
For a secure place to store important and confidential documents, choose a file cabinet with a locking system. The most common type of lock accommodates a key; however, other locking mechanisms include push-button locks, locking bars, and keypads. Some file cabinets come with a single lock that locks every drawer, while others have only one or two lockable drawers.
File cabinets can function as stylish pieces of furniture in addition to being useful organizational tools. Aside from being made out of different materials, file cabinets also come in different colors, textures, and styles to match your decor and interior design preferences.
When shopping for a file cabinet, look for special features like follower blocks, hanging bars, and counterweights. Follower blocks are metal drawer dividers that are not common in today’s filing cabinets. Many options now use hanging bars to keep your file folders hanging. Counterweights are heavy weights that are built into the bottom of taller file cabinets as an added safety feature to prevent the unit from toppling.
Our Top Picks
From 2-drawer lateral filing cabinets to rolling basket file organizers, there are plenty of options for your style, space, and budget. Here are recommended file cabinets in a variety of categories.
The Kirchoff 2-drawer Lateral Filing Cabinet has fully extendable soft-close drawers that can accommodate both letter- and legal-size documents. It measures about 29 inches high by 16 3/4 inches deep by nearly 30 inches wide, so it can hold plenty of paper documents in an aesthetically pleasing furniture piece. Each drawer can hold up to 60 pounds, and the top shelf can hold up to 200 pounds. Available in a variety of finishes, this contemporary file cabinet is made out of laminate over manufactured wood with stylish metal bar pulls and tapered legs.
An affordable file storage solution, the ZICOTO Aesthetic File Organizer Box comes with two collapsible gray linen filing cabinets that can accommodate letter- and legal-size paperwork. Stack the file boxes, each measuring 12.4 by 10.04 by 15.25 inches, to maximize space and fold them flat when not in use. These unique file organizers come with matching lids, built-in handles for convenient portability, easy-glide rails, and card slots that make it easy to find your documents. The boxes are a budget-friendly option, especially for temporary or portable storage.
Pottery Barn’s Livingston 35-Inch 2-Drawer Lateral File Cabinet is a sturdy and sophisticated paper storage solution. This lateral file cabinet features two drawers, crown molding, and decorative finishes. It’s built out of kiln-dried solid meranti wood and veneers. Equipped with heavy-duty side-mounted glides, each drawer can hold legal- or letter-size documents. The glides are removable, so the drawers can work for the storage of other items. Each drawer can hold up to 47.5 pounds and the top shelf can hold up to 109 pounds.
The cabinet measures 35 inches wide by 21 inches deep by 29 inches high. Safety features include an anti-tilt guard, which ensures both drawers are not pulled out at the same time, and adjustable levelers to keep the cabinet stable on uneven floors. This file cabinet comes in multiple colors with accent hardware.
The Cavitt 4-Drawer Vertical Filing Cabinet provides plenty of storage space in a vertical direction, a plus when floor space is at a premium. It features four drawers with a total weight capacity of 200 pounds. The top two drawers are lockable, providing a safe spot for storing confidential documents. This file cabinet is made out of steel with metal pull drawer handles. Each drawer can accommodate letter-size documents, but the drawers do not fully extend as a safety precaution against tipping. The file cabinet measures 46.38 inches high by 14.25 inches wide by 18 inches deep. It is available in pearl white or black.
The Lorell File Cabinet has two locking drawers for storing letter-size hanging files. It’s made out of steel with embossed drawer fronts and chrome pull handles. With rolling casters, this mobile filing cabinet is easy to move between rooms or to store under a desk. The smooth-glide suspension drawers can extend out three-quarters of the way. At 14.3 inches wide by 18 inches deep by 24.5 inches high, this compact, mobile file cabinet is a good size for home offices.
The DEVAISE 3 Drawer Mobile Filing Cabinet includes two stationery drawers that open fully for organizing smaller items like office supplies. It also has one large full-extension bottom drawer for storing both letter- and legal-size files. All three drawers are lockable. The mobile file cabinet measures 14.6 inches wide by 23.6 inches high by 18.9 inches deep, and has two front casters with brakes and an anti-tip center caster. Built out of high-quality steel, this sturdy file cabinet has a maximum weight capacity of 330 pounds. It’s available in white or black.
Made from solid steel, the Sandusky Flat File storage cabinet is designed to hold oversized items like artwork, blueprints, and maps. It features five ultrawide drawers that each have a maximum capacity of 50 pounds. Each drawer measures 37.32 inches wide by 26.13 inches deep by 1.88 inches high, and the entire cabinet is 16.13 inches high, so it works best atop a desk or other filing cabinet. Convenient features include hinged paperweights to keep papers in place, stainless steel tracks for smooth opening, and a central locking system that allows only one drawer to open at a time to prevent tipping. This filing cabinet is available in three colors.
The 2-drawer Vaultz Locking 4 x 6 Index Card Cabinet offers high-capacity storage for cards, recipes, and pictures. It measures 14.25 inches deep by 16 inches wide by 5.5 inches high and can accommodate up to 3,000 3 by 5 index cards. The cabinet comes with key locks for securing important information. The drawers have repositionable Velcro wall partitions to prevent cards from falling over. This card file storage unit is built for durability with aluminum reinforcement, chrome corners, and a soft felt interior.
The handwoven BirdRock Home Seagrass Rolling File Cabinet comes with a hinged lid and smooth-rolling wheels. At 15 inches by 18 inches by 14 inches, it is large enough for storing both letter- and legal-size hanging files. With a stylish appearance that looks more like a decorative accent piece than a filing cabinet, the basket can tuck away under desks or into corners of a room for storing files or other items. The cabinet can move easily between rooms and is a good choice for discreet file storage that doubles as home decor.
FAQs About Your New File Cabinet
To help choose the best file cabinet for paper storage, review these frequently asked questions and answers about file cabinets.
Q. How do I choose a filing cabinet?
Start by determining the types of documents you want to store in your filing cabinet, what features are most important to you (locks, fireproofing, portability, etc.), and how much available space you have. This will help you choose the best filing cabinet for your needs.
Q. What are vertical and lateral filing?
Vertical filing involves adding and removing files from the top of file folders that usually face forward, whereas lateral filing involves adding and removing file folders from the side. Lateral cabinets usually are wider than vertical ones.
Q. What is the best lateral filing cabinet?
The best lateral filing cabinet is the Kirchoff 2-Drawer Lateral Filing Cabinet.
Q. How do you organize a file cabinet?
One simple and effective way to organize a file cabinet is alphabetically (from A to Z) or chronologically by year, month, day, or time, starting with the most recent date. You also can organize your files in categories such as home, auto, and banking.