Do Lateral File Cabinets Hold More?

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Lateral filing cabinets can be found lining the walls of many institutions, from accounting, legal firms, and medical offices. When considering storage solutions, many wonder: do lateral file cabinets hold more paperwork? This is because keeping paperwork organized is an integral part of maximizing office space.

Do lateral file cabinets hold more? Yes, lateral file cabinets hold more paperwork compared to vertical file cabinets. While vertical file cabinets can save more wall space, lateral file cabinets can hold more files and folders, making them the preferred option for paper-intensive offices that lack vertical space. 

With that said, there are many considerations for choosing the right filing cabinet. In this post, we will dive deeper into lateral file cabinets, including how they differ from vertical file cabinets. By the end of this post, you should be well-informed on choosing which storage solution is best for your office space. 

What is the Difference Between Vertical and Lateral File Cabinets?

The two most common types of file cabinets found in most offices are the vertical and lateral file cabinets.

A vertical file cabinet is taller in shape, while a lateral file cabinet is wider in shape.

The biggest difference between vertical and lateral file cabinets lies in their shape. One is wider and the latter is taller. Lateral file cabinets feature wide drawers that are perfect for high capacity filing. Vertical file cabinets, on the other hand, have narrow but deep drawers, ideal for space-saving purposes.

As the name suggests, lateral file cabinets generally have 2-3 drawers, are about 20" deep, and are between 30" and 42" wide. Because of the deep drawers, lateral filing cabinets are ideal for paper-intensive offices that need to store many file folders in a well-organized manner, especially in an office that lacks vertical space.

On the contrary, vertical file cabinets typically hold fewer documents and are great for everyday use at a personal workspace. They consume minimal space, often measuring 15" to 20" wide. Because vertical file cabinets take up less floor space, they are great to use at home, where the space may be limited.

PRO TIP: If your office lacks space in general, consider reading our reviews of the best file cabinets for small spaces. All of the file cabinets on our list are dedicated to maximize space, without compromising storage capacity. While most offices are going paperless, you will still undoubtedly need storage for paperwork.

How Do Lateral Filing Cabinets Work?

So, how do lateral file cabinets work? Lateral file cabinets work by storing files side by side through the length of the drawer. They are built with dimensions that are suitable for both legal and letter-sized files. This makes it easy for you to store large numbers of files and still be able to locate needed papers quickly.

1. How Many Files Does a Lateral File Cabinet Hold?

Figuring out how many files does a lateral file cabinet hold will depend solely on the model of the file cabinet itself. Generally, a 30” lateral file cabinet drawer can hold between 7,000 to 7,500 files per box, while a 42” lateral file cabinet drawer can hold between 9,000 to 9,500 files per box. 

According to Wikipedia, lateral file cabinets are usually 20 inches deep and come in 30”, 36”, and 42” widths. It can have as few as two and as many as seven drawers, with most two drawer units being low enough to fit underneath a work surface. The two-drawer lateral file cabinet is most popular for use inside cubicle offices.

The 30” and 42” wide file cabinets are most effective for arranging letter-size files front-to-back. This is because the maximum amount of filing per cabinet is enabled. A 36” wide file, with front-to-back letter-width filing, has no more capacity than a corresponding 30” wide file, as the additional space would be wasted.

2. Do Lateral File Cabinets Hold More?

Yes, lateral file cabinets hold more than vertical file cabinets. Once you compare the inches of filing provided by each file, the benefits of a lateral file over a vertical file become clearer. Here is the comparison of a 4-drawer vertical file cabinet compared to 4-drawer lateral file cabinets of different widths:

To get the best value for your purchase, we recommend going for the 42” wide lateral file cabinet. If you file front-to-back in a 30” wide file cabinet, you will get the same amount of filing as in a 36” wide file cabinet. 

3. Can You Stack Lateral File Cabinets?

Because lateral file cabinets can eat a large amount of floor space, finding room to accommodate several of them can be a real challenge. Many business owners wonder if it’s a good idea to stack lateral file cabinets, and the answer to that question will depend on a number of factors.

So, can you stack lateral file cabinets? Two-drawer lateral file cabinets can often be safely stacked on top of one another. However, lateral file cabinets that come with more than two drawers should never be stacked. It’s best to avoid placing heavy items on top of a file cabinet.

With that said, we don't believe file cabinets are meant to be stacked. Unless there is some way to connect the 2 cabinets for safety reasons, we recommend you to not stack file cabinets. When the top drawer of the file cabinet is full, it makes the entire cabinet "top-heavy” and easily tipped forward.

PRO TIP: If you work from home, chances are you need to keep your paperwork organized. We’ve created a list of the top picks for the best file cabinet for home office to help you store files and folders in the best manner possible. Combining both form and function, you'll be sure to make your home office more heavenly.

Bottom Line

And there you have it, a short and quick post to answer the question: do lateral file cabinets hold more? Now that you know that lateral file cabinets can hold more paperwork, you can focus on shopping for the right one for your office space. If your office lacks vertical space, then going for a lateral file cabinet is the way to go. 🙂