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Best wood for painted cabinets?

88308 Views 34 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  mattsk8
I have to build some cabinets and was going to use poplar but was told it's too unstable for cabinets (mainly the doors I'm assuming?). I'm now thinking maple but this drives the cost a bit further, just curious if anyone has other comments or suggestions about this?
I have to build some cabinets and was going to use poplar but was told it's too unstable for cabinets (mainly the doors I'm assuming?). I'm now thinking maple but this drives the cost a bit further, just curious if anyone has other comments or suggestions about this?
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I've never had a problem w/ poplar. That's been my go to for painted doors.

Are you making overlay or inset doors? Overlays should not be any concern at all. Insets ought be ok as well, assuming you're making them with rails and styles w/ floating panels.

If they are going to be slab doors, you could cut them out of mdf and wrap the edges with a 1/2" solid 1x.
I've never had a problem w/ poplar. That's been my go to for painted doors.

Are you making overlay or inset doors? Overlays should not be any concern at all. Insets ought be ok as well, assuming you're making them with rails and styles w/ floating panels.

If they are going to be slab doors, you could cut them out of mdf and wrap the edges with a 1/2" solid 1x.
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Thanks for the quick reply :thumbsup:! They will be overlay but they wont be typical rale and style doors. The detail they want has a round over on it that wont allow for rail and style so I have to miter the rail and styles (never done em before it doesn't look like rocket science). They found the door style at HD.
I could have the bits made for their detail at a machine shop that has made router bits for me though, they just cost like 400$ to have em made. I think I might do this anyhow though cuz it's a neat detail and rail and style would look waaaaay better!
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Thanks for the quick reply :thumbsup:! They will be overlay but they wont be typical rale and style doors. The detail they want has a round over on it that wont allow for rail and style so I have to miter the rail and styles (never done em before it doesn't look like rocket science). They found the door style at HD.
I could have the bits made for their detail at a machine shop that has made router bits for me though, they just cost like 400$ to have em made. I think I might do this anyhow...
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You could use MDF
Very stable, doesn't warp, machines nice and paints extermely well.
I have seen some extremely high end cabinet doors made of this material. And many high end cabinet manufacturers use it for painted exposed ends.
You could use MDF
Very stable, doesn't warp, machines nice and paints extermely well.
I have seen some extremely high end cabinet doors made of this material. And many high end cabinet manufacturers use it for painted exposed ends.
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I'm all about it :thumbsup:! How do you finish the cut ends of the MDF though?? Plus, they want ff cabinets so I would have the same problem here. If I make 2" ff's and 2 1/2" rail/ styles, I'll have the rip end of the MDF "fuzzy", know what I mean?

I alread was going to use 1/4" MDF for the center door panels.
You could use MDF
Very stable, doesn't warp, machines nice and paints extermely well.
I have seen some extremely high end cabinet doors made of this material. And many high end cabinet manufacturers use it for painted exposed ends.
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I'm all about it :thumbsup:! How do you finish the cut ends of the MDF though?? Plus, they want ff cabinets so I would have the same problem here. If I make 2" ff's and 2 1/2" rail/ styles, I'll have the rip end of the MDF "fuzzy", know what I mean?

I alread was going to use 1/4" MDF for the center door panels.
You could use MDF
Very stable, doesn't warp, machines nice and paints extermely well.
I have seen some extremely high end cabinet...
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MDF for the panel, poplar for stile and rails. You can glue the panel in, the MDF is very stable. It will also keep the poplar in place too... For cut edges and faces of MDF, prime with shellac first. (Zinnser BIN works great) It seals up the fuzzy face allowing you to sand it smooth.

No MDF for face frames, it wont hold up to the abuse. Use poplar again if it's all getting painted.
MDF for the panel, poplar for stile and rails. You can glue the panel in, the MDF is very stable. It will also keep the poplar in place too... For cut edges and faces of MDF, prime with shellac first. (Zinnser BIN works great) It seals up the fuzzy face allowing you to sand it smooth.

No MDF for face frames, it wont hold up to the abuse. Use poplar again if it's all getting painted.
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Soft Maple is way better than poplar. Machines better and just looks better.
Soft Maple is way better than poplar. Machines better and just looks better.
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That was gonna be my suggestion. Around here, soft maple is cheaper than poplar.
Soft Maple is way better than poplar. Machines better and just looks better.
That was gonna be my suggestion. Around here, soft maple is cheaper than poplar.
Soft Maple is way better than poplar. Machines better and just looks better.
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Thanks again guys. I've never used soft maple before, just concidered poplar because I assumed it was harder and more stable than the maple. That's awesome though because the soft maple is cheaper here as well (or close to the same) :thumbsup:.

When you use the MDF for the sides (I'm assuming that's what you mean), it would be more likely to swell if there was any water wouldn't it (absorbed from a spill or water damage)? Or is it better than a 3/4" birch ply panel?
Thanks again guys. I've never used soft maple before, just concidered poplar because I assumed it was harder and more stable than the maple. That's awesome though because the soft maple is cheaper here as well (or close to the same) :thumbsup:.

When you use the MDF for the sides (I'm assuming that's what you mean), it would be more likely to swell if there was any water wouldn't it (absorbed from a spill or water damage)? Or is it better than a 3/4" birch ply panel?
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Maple all the time. Machines better, Paints better and much more stable.
Maple all the time. Machines better, Paints better and much more stable.
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I use paint grade hard maple on all the face frames and door frames. MDF is reserved for door panels only. C-2 maple ply with an MDF cross band for the exposed case parts.

I don't have anything against soft maple, it is just fine and a little cheaper. But having both species in the shop is difficult to keep separated. If soft maple gets into a clear maple job we will have problems when it ages. They go two different directions in color after the UV light ages them.

I wouldn't use MDF for anything other than the panels. It just doesn't seem right for several small reasons. But thats just me.

I do alot of painted cabinets these days. I'm thinking it's at least 80% paint recently. This combo is working very well for us.

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I use paint grade hard maple on all the face frames and door frames. MDF is reserved for door panels only. C-2 maple ply with an MDF cross band for the exposed case parts.

I don't have anything against soft maple, it is just fine and a little cheaper. But having both species in the shop is difficult to keep separated. If soft maple gets into a clear maple job we will have problems when it ages. They go two different directions in color after the UV light ages them.

I wouldn't use MDF for...
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3
What type of paint are you using?
I use paint grade hard maple on all the face frames and door frames. MDF is reserved for door panels only. C-2 maple ply with an MDF cross band for the exposed case parts.

I don't have anything against soft maple, it is just fine and a little cheaper. But having both species in the shop is difficult to keep separated. If soft maple gets into a clear maple job we will have problems when it ages. They go two different directions in color after the UV light ages them.

I wouldn't use MDF for anything other than the panels. It just doesn't seem right for several small reasons. But thats just me.

I do alot of painted cabinets these days. I'm thinking it's at least 80% paint recently. This combo is working very well for us.

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What type of paint are you using?
I use paint grade hard maple on all the face frames and door frames. MDF is reserved for door panels only. C-2 maple ply with an MDF cross band for the exposed case parts.

I don't have anything against soft maple, it is just fine and a little cheaper. But having both species in the shop is difficult to keep separated. If soft maple gets into a clear maple job we will have problems when it ages. They go two...
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I don't use any paint.:laughing:

I like it when the painter uses Benjamin Moore Iron Clad oil based primer and paint. I have it in my house too. Holds up real well.
What type of paint are you using?
I don't use any paint.:laughing:

I like it when the painter uses Benjamin Moore Iron Clad oil based primer and paint. I have it in my house too. Holds up real well.
What type of paint are you using?
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So they spray them with enamel?
I don't use any paint.:laughing:

I like it when the painter uses Benjamin Moore Iron Clad oil based primer and paint. I have it in my house too. Holds up real well.
So they spray them with enamel?
I don't use any paint.:laughing:

I like it when the painter uses Benjamin Moore Iron Clad oil based primer and paint. I have it in my house too. Holds up real well.
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yep.

They back brush them if we are looking for a brush stroke.

I should also mention that anything behind doors is done with prefinished maple ply. Drawer boxes are prefinished. The only thing the painter needs to do is paint the exteriors. Inside the glass door cabinets and open cases as well. Sometimes the glass door cabs get prefinished ply too if the glass is heavily obscured and the HO wants to save a few bucks.
So they spray them with enamel?
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yep.

They back brush them if we are looking for a brush stroke.

I should also mention that anything behind doors is done with prefinished maple ply. Drawer boxes are prefinished. The only thing the painter needs to do is paint the exteriors. Inside the glass door cabinets and open cases as well. Sometimes the glass door cabs get prefinished ply too if the glass is heavily obscured and the HO wants to save a few bucks.
So they spray them...
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Lacquer paint chips easy. It does not hold up well in moist environments. It will show real problems down the road if the housekeeper cleans them with a wet sponge and water based cleaning product.

I'm not sure if it can be back brushed either.

I'm sure it has it's place but not my first choice.
Why not use a lacquer?
Lacquer paint chips easy. It does not hold up well in moist environments. It will show real problems down the road if the housekeeper cleans them with a wet sponge and water based cleaning product.

I'm not sure if it can be back brushed either.

I'm sure it has it's place but not my first choice.
Why not use a lacquer?
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Laquer paint on cabs. is worthless. My mothers kitchen is a shining example of that. I feel bad for her, all the doors and drawers near the sink are chipping, peeling and flaking off. I really hate to but I have been thinking of sanding them down and re-spraying them.
Lacquer paint chips easy. It does not hold up well in moist environments. It will show real problems down the road if the housekeeper cleans them with a wet sponge and water based cleaning product.

I'm not sure if it can be back brushed either.

I'm sure it has it's place but not my first choice.
See less
Laquer paint on cabs. is worthless. My mothers kitchen is a shining example of that. I feel bad for her, all the doors and drawers near the sink are chipping, peeling and flaking off. I really hate to but I have been thinking of sanding them down and re-spraying them.
Lacquer paint chips easy. It does not hold up well in moist environments. It will show real problems down the road if the housekeeper cleans them with a wet sponge and water...
See more
Regular Nitrocellulose lacquer has no place in a kitchen. Step up to a precat or post cat lacquer for a huge improvement in both durability, and water resistance. I keep some post-cat conversion varnish around for those projects that are going to see a lot of abuse.
Regular Nitrocellulose lacquer has no place in a kitchen. Step up to a precat or post cat lacquer for a huge improvement in both durability, and water resistance. I keep some post-cat conversion varnish around for those projects that are going to see a lot of abuse.
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MDF and Maple? I'm totally speechless.
MDF and Maple? I'm totally speechless.
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