Paint Grade Cabinet Doors

Links to our Cabinet Door Categories can be found at the bottom of this page. And each door (in Paint-Grade and every other wood) can be priced and ordered online by clicking those links.

Each of the several hundred Cabinet Doors we manufacture is available in Paint Grade. Many folks searching the internet for Paint-Grade Cabinet Doors find our website, Cabinetdoors.com, and ask questions about painting cabinet doors. After explaining the pros and cons of painting a cabinet door, we decided to add the question-and-answer to our Blog.

Because we manufacture kitchen cabinet doors, and have built many thousands of paint grade doors, we have acquired significant experience with the different wood types. Some wood types paint well and some not so well. Usually if we are told that the cabinet door is going to be painted, and the wood requested will not paint well, we can offer a suggestion that another wood type might be a better candidate for painting.

The woods typically used by professionals on their paint-grade cabinet doors are the tighter-grained woods like Poplar, Soft Maple, Alder, Pine, Birch, Hard Maple, and MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). The woods we offer can be seen here.

Woods like Oak are rarely painted because of the “Orange peel” look the open grain causes.
If an open grain wood like Oak is the only choice you have, it is recommended that the grain be filled with Drywall putty, Bondo, or a similar thick sealer then sanded to a smooth surface before painting.

The prices for the recommended paint-grade woods run from Poplar (least expensive), Soft Maple, Alder, Pine, Birch, and Hard Maple being the most expensive.

Each of these woods have their own advantages and disadvantages, but there are a few practices that will apply to whichever wood type is chosen to paint.
* The first is the “prep-prep-prep” rule. That means that every hour spent preparing the cabinet door for painting saves two hours in repainting.
* The second is the 5-F’s rule. This rule is “Fine Finishers Finish Firewood First”. It simply means that experimenting with your finish on scrap wood can prevent ruining a door with a failed finishing attempt.
* The third is always break all sharp edges with fine sandpaper before painting. Sharp edges will not hold paint which will give the painted door an unpainted spot to absorb moisture.
* The forth is to keep in mind that all wood types will expand and contract with changes in humidity. The paint will slow these humidity-caused wood movements, but no paint is totally moisture-proof, and paint will not stop the movements. This humidity-movement of wood presents another potential issue for the painted cabinet door. When the paint dries, it will no longer have the elasticity to move with the wood; so the paint will crack, usually along the glue joints where the Stiles & Rails join.
* The fifth relates to the hardness of the paint-grade wood. The softer the wood, the more easily it will dent, if hit with a pot or frying pan. The dent in the wood may be slight and hardly noticeable, but dried paint doesn’t dent without cracking. The weakest link in any painted cabinet door is not the door. Regardless of the wood type used, the weakest link is always the paint.
* The sixth practice covers the method of application of the paint. The desired look from painting a cabinet door is usually a high gloss finish, similar to the finish on a piano. A finish of this quality will certainly require a highly experienced finishing professional, and a dust-free spray booth. This doesn’t mean you can’t achieve an excellent finish, but it does mean you won’t get this piano-finish with a paint brush in your driveway. To get a professional looking finish you will need to spray-on the paint. Not from a Krylon can, but from an compressed-air, or airless, spray painting system.

So which woods are best for Paint-Grade Kitchen Cabinet Doors? Here is a brief summary of our experience with the various paint-grade woods.

Poplar has, for years, been the paint-grade wood of choice for furniture makers and cabinet shops. A close second is Soft Maple with most manufacturers switching between these woods for reasons of price and availability. Poplar is slightly more labor intensive in the manufacturing process but both Poplar and Soft Maple paint equally well . Poplar tends to be more colorful and requires more sealer or more paint that Soft Maple, but the additional sealer produces a better finish.

Either Poplar or Soft Maple is a wood of choice by Custom Cabinet Shops for their Paint-Grade Cabinet Door jobs. Both are low cost. and available over most of the country. Each wood sands easier than Alder and neither fuzzes-up like Alder while sanding. Both woods finish very smooth, and don’t telegraph grain through the paint, like Pine.

Alder makes a good paintable cabinet door but tends to absorb primer at a high rate and is among the “softer” of the hardwoods. It grows in the Northwest and may not be available in all parts of the country. Painted Alder is used more in the West, where it is more available, than other parts of the country, and it gives an excellent painted finish look.

Pine is available everywhere and is widely painted in furniture applications. It is reasonably inexpensive and is carried by all lumber yards and Big Box Stores. Furniture grade Pine is different from Frame grade Pine, like framing 2×6′s. Frame Grade Pine is typically not kiln dried to the 7-9% moisture levels required of furniture Grade woods. While Pine paints well the prominent grain can “telegraph” its texture through the painted surface, and knots and pitch pockets may bleed through the paint.

Birch is an excellent wood for painting and is starting to be carried by the Big Box Stores. Birch plywood is also available as 9-ply in 5′x5′ and 4′x8′ sheets. Birch is harder than Alder, Pine, and Soft Maple, so it will stand up better to “Kid abuse” than the softer woods. It does tend to be more expensive but will require less sealer or primer than the softer woods.

Hard Maple is the best wood available for paint-grade cabinet doors. Unfortunately, It’s also the most expensive of the paint-grade woods costing about 2 1/2 times the price of Soft Maple. Because “color” is not an inspection criteria under the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA), heartwood and mineral are not considered defects and lumber buyers purchasing the highest grades still receive some of this off-color maple. Because of this, cabinet door manufacturers often have Hard Maple with dark heartwood, or mineral streaks, which they have sorted out. Custom Cabinet Shops that purchase our doors depend on the cabinet doors for the overall appearance of their cabinets, so door manufactures cannot use this off-color Hard Maple for Select Maple Cabinet Doors. If we have a sufficient stock, we will use this off-color Hard Maple for our Paint Grade doors if it is requested by the customer, and we will make the substitution at no additional cost. When painted, off-color Hard Maple requires less primer, sands smoother, and is significantly harder that any of the standard paint-grade woods we offer.

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product formed by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers. MDF is used as the panel in all of our Recessed Panel Paint-Grade Cabinet Doors, and is used as the Raised Panel in some of our Raised Panel doors. MDF paints well and it is a good idea to coat all sides of the finished piece in order to seal in the urea-formaldehyde. Formaldehyde resins are commonly used to bind MDF together, and testing has consistently revealed that MDF products emit urea-formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds that pose health risks at sufficient concentrations, for at least several months after manufacture. Most cabinet and furniture manufacturers have been using MDF for several decades and the risks of Formaldehyde resin emissions, when the products are painted is considered negligible.

Our website, CabinetDoors.Com, has pictures of each door and the price for all our doors, in any wood is shown. Simply select the wood type, enter the width and height, and the price is instantly displayed. Here is a picture showing the difference between a Paint-Grade Shaker door with an MDF panel and a solid wood panel.



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Your Youtube videos are outstanding. You made measuring and hanging my new doors a snap. Thank you. Jen A.

I ordered new cabinet doors for my upper cabinets in my kitchen. They needed to match the bottom doors. Thanks to your very knowledgeable staff, I got perfect doors--the grain matched, the trim matched, and the hardware is outstanding. I am delighted and would recommend this company without reservation. Thank you for an outstanding product. Madge S.

My order of cabinet doors was delivered today, and I could not be more pleased. They are BEAUTIFUL. Thank you so much for making a great product.Stacy K.

I'm a home re-modeling handyman and I just finished a kitchen remodel using your Shaker Doors. This was my first order from you and the sizes and overall quality are much better than my prior supplier. You helped my make my customer very happy.Mike B.

This was my 4th kitchen re-model with your cabinet doors and, just like before, the doors were perfect. The workmanship is top notch and the sanding was exceptional. My 5th kitchen job is scheduled for August and I'll be ordering from you again. You make a great door.Kent's Kitchens

We ordered replacement doors for our 60-year-old home and were very pleased with the product. The milling was of the highest quality. The joinery was very well done, and the wood selection was obviously done by a professional who cares what the finished product looks like. It is one thing to assemble a project with technical skill, and another thing entirely to accomplish the assembly with an eye toward bringing the best out of the wood being used. Both aspects were accomplished, and at a very high level! The dimensions were absolutely perfect. Each door was correctly dimensioned to within less than 1/16 of an inch. It was very pleasing to see this attention to detail, especially since I took the time to measure my cabinets twice, making sure I had done my part. I had never worked with white birch before, and when I saw the issues with staining the wood (soft grain with blotchy absorption of the stain) I was a bit worried. I had no problems at all because the wood was of a higher quality white birch that had been properly handled at the mill and sanded to a stain-ready finish. A good sanding sealer was applied, and then the stain. The results were EXCELLENT! All-in-all, we received a great product, great advice and excellent customer service from CabinetDoors.com. We would certainly recommend them to anyone looking for cabinet doors. Nice job, everyone! Michael R.

The doors arrived today and fit perfectly. Thank you very much. I will be ordering the remaining 18 doors and 6 drawer fronts in the next couple of months. Walter W.

I remodel kitchens for a living and I can only say...I wish I had found you sooner. These are the overall BEST cabinet Doors I have ever installed. Excellent quality and workmanship. Jake A.

Your cabinet doors are much higher quality than the doors that were installed by our home builder. There is really no comparison, you make a GREAT product. Al N.

The contractor remodeling our kitchen was so impressed with the doors we ordered from your website that he is going to use your doors for all his future jobs. Marcia N.

Your cabinet doors, and the finishing tips in your blog, made my kitchen remodel look GREAT. I recommend your doors to everyone. Kay H.

Hi, I have received my 1 door, and I feel like I received the same quality service and product as if it were 50 doors. I am very pleased with a beautiful door delivered as promised. Thanks, David H.

Although I haven't bought the cabinet doors for my kitchen remodeling project yet, I will be making my purchase from cabinetdoors.com. Your site, and especially your Blog, has more useful information than I've found anywhere else on the internet. The information you provide is exceptional and you have helped to give me the confidence to take-on this project. Nancie D.

We took your advice and ordered the smallest door in our kitchen to see your quality...which is absolutely great...Now we are ordering the rest of the kitchen and bath doors. Don & Barb B.

These cabinet doors are PERFECT! Super high quality and right-on size. Harry D.

So glad we remodeled our kitchen with your doors, instead of doors from the hardware chain. You saved us over 35%. The doors arrived in 12 days, (including 4 Fedex shipping days). The hardware chain quoted 28 days, and your quality is far better than their samples. Mark H.

These doors are EXCELLENT! In quality and workmanship and value. Very glad we found you. James L.

A friend put me onto your website and I can't thank her enough. You make an excellent product and I'm completely happy with everything about my purchase. Paula B.

I am very satisfied with these doors. The quality is GREAT!. Alex D.

Very nice cabinet doors, the color matching and the sizes are right-on. Paul L.

Your customer service is fantastic. Somehow you spotted an error I made on my order (I reversed width and height on one door) and called me to ask if the size was correct. Your attention to detail prevented me from ordering one of my doors wrong. Thank you so much. Bryan E.

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