Buying Guide: Choosing the Right File Cabinet

Storage space is a key component in offices and which type of storage you use is determined by several factors, such as floor or wall space, frequency of use, decor and type of business.  Today we're going to focus on file cabinets.  I'll showcase a few of the options and, hopefully, give you information that will help you decide which type is the right one for your office.

Let's start with the basic types:  lateral and vertical.


Lateral Files

Lateral files are wide and shallow.  Normally, files go in left to right, but with crossfile hang rails, you can change the configuration to front-to-back.  Because they're shallow, lateral files are great when you need a lot of filing in a not-so-deep space and they can hold a lot more than vertical files.

They're also versatile because they can hold letter or legal size files.  Widths range from 30 to 42 inches and you'll normally find them in heights ranging from two to five drawers.  A two drawer lateral fits perfectly under a standard height work surface.  Five drawer files may come with a posting shelf.  Lateral files offer a variety of drawer pulls as well as receding door options.

You can also get lateral files that have a combination of drawers and cabinet space, like this one:

The HON Brigade 700 Series lateral file gives you two file drawers and and a storage cabinet with two adjustable shelves.


Vertical Files

Vertical files are narrow.  They are the perfect choice when there isn't a lot of available wall space, but they're not good for aisles because the drawers are deep and extend out a significant distance when opened. They hold fewer files than lateral files do.  Like lateral files, you can get verticals in two, three, four or five drawers, with or without locks. Vertical files come in either letter or legal size, but can't do both like lateral files. Two drawer styles are typically used at desks or workstations for every day use.


Mobile Files

Mobile files are filing cabinets on wheels.  Most of the time, you see these in vertical style:

Metal cabinets are common for long-term storage areas and may be less expensive than some of the other material options.  Executive office areas may have laminate, wood veneer or solid wood cabinets.  Laminate and wood veneer both give the look of solid wood, but without the cost.


Now that we've covered the basics, let's move to another category:  shelf files.


Shelf Files

Shelf files are used for high density filing.  They're commonly used in healthcare and insurance industries and are specifically designed for end-tab long-term filing.  They're available either as open shelving or with receding doors.  Open shelves offer easy access, while receding doors help to maintain privacy.  

Some shelf files are standalone units and some, like the Tennsco Imperial Shelving, offer starter units and add-on units to extend the space.  Attach any number of add-on units to one starter unit to make a row.

The last shelf file I want to show you is a roll-out shelf file.  These are designed not only for end tab files, but also for hanging files and three-ring binder filing.  The shelves roll out on heavy-duty ball-bearing suspensions.

Typical configuration on this type of file is a standard fixed front on the bottom drawer and receding doors on the other shelves.  

There are many different styles, colors, materials and configurations for filing storage. You can make a seating area by combining a lateral file with a cushion top, or create more work surface area by adding a laminate top.  Contact your account representative for more information or design services.