Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Kitchen Cabinet Doors live in a stressful environment.

Other doors and wood products may share the home, but don’t see the same level of cleaning and moisture as the kitchen & Baths. Being located near the stove, the sink, and the dish washer causes Kitchen Cabinet Doors to experience larger humidity fluctuations. The humidity issues faced in bathrooms are often even more serious.

How changes in humidity and moisture affect cabinet door appearance and useful life.

Cope & Stick Heritage Cabinet Door
Cope & Stick Heritage Cabinet Door

Because Kitchen Cabinet Doors are exposed to a more harsh environment than doors in other areas of the home, they require additional design consideration to allow for more wood movement due to greater moisture gain and loss.

that's the reason the panels in kitchen cabinet doors and trimmed to slightly shorter and narrower than the space available within the door's frame.

Mitered Delaware Cabinet Door
Mitered Delaware Cabinet Door

As wood reacts to changes in humidity it expands and contracts. Kitchen Cabinet Door allows space for the panel to react to environmental changes.

Width Expansion
Width Expansion

Here is an illustration of how wood expands and why.

As humidity increases, the moisture content in wood also increases. This causes the wood to expand slightly. This expansion in width, "across the grain", (shown at left) is usually about 1/16-inches per foot of width.

Expansion in height, "with the grain", (shown at right) is much less than the width expansion, about 1/64th inches per foot.

The calculation of space needed to allow for humidity change varies with wood type, and with individual door width. Trimming the size of the door's panel to allow for humidity expansion is critical to insure that a door, used in the kitchen, will be reliable.

Vert-Expand
Height Expansion

Cabinet Doors are assembled with five parts.

The Frame consists of the vertical Stiles, and the Horizontal Rails. The Panel is in the center.

The center component, the Panel, is captured within a groove machined into the Stiles and Rails. During assembly, the Panel is inserted into the Stile & Rail grooves and the Frame is glued and pressed to close the joints. Because wood reacts to moisture changes by expanding or contracting, the Panel is not glued inside the frame. The Panel, being larger than the frame pieces, will react to moisture changes by expanding or contracting more than the frame. This is the reason the Panel is not glued. It is allowed to float within the frame's grooves. The Door's design compensates for the expected humidity fluctuations by sizing the panel about 1/8th inch smaller than the groove depth. This method insures that increases in humidity, which will cause the panel to widen, will not push the frame joints apart.

Five parts

Many Kitchens are moving toward Glass Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Wilmington Cabinet Door

Glass doors have been gaining in popularity for years and today are being designed into high-end houses at an increasing rate. Every cabinet door style is available with the frame-back modified to accept glass panels.

Pictured at left is the Wilmington Mitered Glass Door. Like every glass door, it will be delivered with the back milled and ready for user-supplied glass to be installed. The typical installation method is to place the glass into the inset area in the back of the frame and apply a fine bead of Silicone Caulk. This will securely hold the glass and eliminate rattle.

How Cope & Stick Stiles & Rails fit together

In the photo at right, a Shaker Door stile and Rail are ready to be glued and pressed together. This Shaker Door "Stile", on the right is machined with a continuous groove running along it's length.

The Shaker "Rail" also has the continuous groove but has the mirror-image of the groove machined into the ends. This joining method is known as "Mortise & Tenon" and is used on all Cope & Stick doors. During assembly the "Tenon" on the end of the "Rail" is glued into the "Mortise" in side of the "Stile"

Cope & Stick Door

Cope & Stick Stile & Rail joint being closed

This photo shows the "Rail" with it's "Tenon" being pushed into the "Mortise" in the "Stile". The Stiles and Rails are glued and pressed together, forming the "Frame" of the cabinet door. The "Panel" is inserted into the grooves of the Stiles & Rails during the assembly process.

Cope & Stick Door Joined

How Mitered Stiles & Rails fit together

Mitered Joint

Mitered door machining has evolved over the past few years from simple Butt-Jointed frames that were attached with dowels or biscuits. Today, modern, computerized machinery promises a level of accuracy impossible by other methods.

The video at right demonstrates our Mitered coping process.

Components of the Cope & Stick & Mitered Cabinet Door ready for asembly

Cope & Stick Heritage Cabinet Door

This Cope & Stick door, on the left, is ready to be assembled. Glue will be applied where the Stiles & Rails join, but the floating panel is not glued. (A glued panel cannot expand and will actually cause the frame to break or push apart) The Panel is inserted into the grooves, and the frame is squeezed closed with a Hydraulic Press.

The same gluing process is used to close the frame on the Mitered door at right. Notice the mortise & tenon is machined into the Mitered door's stiles & rails.

Mitered Delaware Cabinet Door

How finish will protect Cabinet Doors and what to expect as Cabinet Doors age.

If the temperature and humidity levels are constant and never change, cabinet doors would last a century. But "never changing" climates simply don't exist... Anywhere.

That's the reason we allow the panels to float, so the door will be able to survive climate changes. Because humidity is constantly changing, the wood in the door is constantly changing dimensions too. The floating panel (a floating panel is not glued to the frame) will change in size without even being noticed.

But , what about the Frame?

The Stiles and Rails will also be (very-slightly) changing in both width and length. This will not create a structural issue, and with consistent climate control, found in most homes, this slight movement ( around 1/64") will not be noticed.

However, dry paint may not be able to avoid slight cracking when the wood under the paint moves. More on this paint cracking issue will be covered below in this article.

To achieve superior finishing results, exceptional sanding is an absolute must

Modern Sanding Machines are necessary to achieve a surface required for a truly outstanding level of finish.

We utilize five of the latest wide-belt sanders in our operation.

But, the most modern sanding machines are not 100% perfect.

That's why we rely on experienced team members to visually inspect, every individual door before it leaves our factory.

Proper finishing of Kitchen Cabinet Doors provides the final level of protection

While an unfinished door offers no barrier to moisture, finishing adds the maximum barrier. But, there is a wide range of finishing protection. Here is a breakdown of protection methods from worst to best. The simplest, like stains or Water-Based Paints are usually short-lasting and least likely to slow moisture absorption. Mid-range levels of protection are offered by conventional lacquers and Water-Based Paints. The most difficult to use, the most expensive, and the highest level of protection, comes with Conversion Varnish.

Conversion varnish is a two-part, post-catalyzed lacquer, with a hardener that is mixed with this product before it is applied. Conversion Varnish is a high-tech product, used in modern manufacturing for painting plastics, metal, and wood.

Automobile manufacturers have been using Conversion Varnish because it has proven to produce a smooth, hard, and durable finish on cars and car parts. Because of the strict environmental requirements this product is only available to finishing trade.

How to avoid paint cracking in Cabinet Door glue joints.


Unfinished Paint-Grade Shaker Door with Poplar Frame and MDF Panel

Shaker Paint-Grade Painted High-Reflective White with Conversion Varnish

Shaker Oak Door Stained with Min Wax Golden Oak Stain and finished with ClearConversion Varnish

Delaware Door In Select Alder Finished with Clear Conversion Varnish.

Wood changes dimensionally as humidity changes the moisture content in the wood.

While the wood remains flexible and reacts to moisture changes, Paint hardens and can't stretch with the wood. So, painted wood cabinet doors installed out-doors, or in a drafty barn, are likely to show paint cracks at the joints. If these same doors are installed in a home with normal heating and cooling, paint cracking may still occur, but less. The slight changes in the width of the Stiles and Rails, as humidity changes, are normal, minimal, and expected. The integrity of the door is not diminished because the wood is somewhat elastic.

The paint, however, becomes rigid when it dries and is unable to expand or contract with the wood. The solution is to minimize the moisture changes within the wood through normal levels of home climate control. Although no paint can guarantee it cannot be cracked when wood expands, Conversion Varnish comes closest. Conversion Varnish remains more flexible than traditional paints so cracking is less likely than before. Thousands of painted doors are being installed across the country every day, and cracking is an unusual event.

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Here is a video with tips on Measuring cabinet openings, Finishing and Hanging your doors, and using hinge adjustment for final alignment of the doors. Cabinet Doors 101: How to measure openings, install hinges, hang and align doors.

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Customer Reviews

Just finished hanging my new Shaker Doors and I had to let you know that you have done an excellent job. Really, really beautiful work. Kirk A.

I could not be more impressed with the cabinet doors I just received. My only regret is that it took me so long to pull the trigger and place the order. Charles J.

You made some replacement doors for a rental I own. Problem is...the doors I didn't replace look awful. Seriously, you make a very high quality cabinet door and I guess I'll be ordering the rest of the kitchen soon. Kay B.

I wish I would have found you years ago. I flip houses and usually remodel the kitchens, so I have some experience with cabinet doors. Yours are the best I've ever used. The sizes are right-on and the sanding was perfect. Todd J.

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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Fedex or UPS Shipping time from our factory to you.

Our production time is 7-10 business days. Just add shipping to your state for your expected delivery date.

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