Tips for Replacing Your 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.

Because Kitchen Cabinet Doors are exposed to a harsher 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 are trimmed to slightly shorter and narrower than the space available within the door's frame. This allows the panel to expand or contract as humidity changes, without cracking the frame joints.

As wood reacts to changes in humidity it expands and contracts. A well-designed Cabinet Door allows space for the panel to react to environmental changes. 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 below left) is usually about 1/16-inches per foot of width.Expansion in height, "with the grain", (shown at below 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 ensure that a door, used in the kitchen, will be reliable.


      Width Expansion                       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.


Do you have a lot of questions about Kitchen Cabinet Doors?

The Door Stop has provided answers to some of the most common questions and confusions about kitchen cabinet doors. Check out our FAQ Guide about Kitchen Cabinet Doors today!

How Cope & Stick Stiles & Rails fit together

In the photo below, a Shaker Door stile and Rail are ready to be glued and pressed together. This Shaker Door "Stile", below 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 Stile & Rail joint being closed

This photo below shows the "Rail" with its "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.


How Mitered Stiles & Rails fit together


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 assembly


This Cope & Stick door, above, is ready to be assembled. Glue will be applied where the stiles & sails 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 below. Notice the mortise & tenon is machined into the Mitered door's stiles & rails.


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 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. 

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.

However, dry paint may not be able to avoid slight cracking when the wood under the paint moves. 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.
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.
Cracking can occur over time, this is considered normal wear and tear within our industry.

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

Designing With Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Kitchen cabinet doors aren’t just one element in the room - they’re an essential element. In many kitchens, the cabinets dictate the look and feel of the whole space. And no element of the cabinet is more visible than the doors. That’s why you can transform the aesthetic in almost any kitchen simply by hanging up replacement kitchen cabinet doors. The question is, what kind of doors will you choose? 

That’s an exciting query...and a big decision. But you make things much easier on yourself when you choose to order custom-built kitchen cabinet doors for sale rather than trying to find something you like in a big-box store. Why? Because with custom-built replacement kitchen cabinet doors, you know the doors fit your cabinets perfectly. And once you know the size is perfect, you can focus all your attention on style.  

Speaking of style, there are a few elements that make up the “look” of any given cabinet door. First is the door design: all the lines, embellishments, and details built into the structure of the door. Some are modern and minimal, others are classic and cozy, and others still have bold, attention-grabbing elements. Find a look you like, then decide how you want to finish the doors - with paint, stain, or sealant. Finally, don’t forget to consider the hardware you will use on the kitchen cabinet doors. There are plenty of options to consider at every step in the selection process, and you can mix and match the individual elements to achieve literally any look you desire. Take some time to consider all your choices. Most important, work with a supplier of kitchen cabinet doors that gives you plenty of choices to consider.

Many Kitchens are moving toward Glass Kitchen Cabinet Doors


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 above 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.

The Door Stop - The Leading Source for Replacement Kitchen Cabinet Doors.


You need quality doors that fit your existing cabinets. Where do you turn? Do what designers and home contractors do and order the doors you need from The Door Stop. We make the process easy, affordable, accessible, and even exciting. Feel free to email us at with questions. 




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