What species for paint

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Forum topic by Hesed posted 07-12-2008 02:52 AM 1297 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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36 posts in 3828 days

07-12-2008 02:52 AM

I’m building some cabinets that will be painted. What species of wood do you guys recommend for something that will be painted? I’ll be using both plywood and hardwood. Thanks for the help!

22 replies so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3941 days

#1 posted 07-12-2008 03:03 AM

poplar but i don’t really like to paint wood and would prefer mdf.

View Hesed's profile


36 posts in 3828 days

#2 posted 07-12-2008 04:10 AM

Hmm, I don’t know why I didn’t think of MDF. How capable is MDF of holding heavy loads, as compared with ply? Also, if I were making some frame and panel doors to paint, would it make sense to make the whole thing out of MDF? Or would it be better to build the frame from poplar and the panel from MDF?


View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 4068 days

#3 posted 07-12-2008 04:19 AM

What use for the cabinets—- kitchen, garage, utility room?

A whole cabinet out of MDF would be pretty heavy. Plus the edges don’t take screws well.

Generally, if I were going to use paint, for general purpose cabinets, I’d use ply and do the frames in pine.

MDF works well (will take a router edge), but is very dusty—- ply I think does better, but you have to deal with the edge voids.

Just a few random thoughts. Hope it helps a littl.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Hesed's profile


36 posts in 3828 days

#4 posted 07-12-2008 04:26 AM

The cabinets are going in the shop/garage, but I’m also trying to use this as an opportunity to test options for a future project that will go in a more visible, inside the house, location.

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 4068 days

#5 posted 07-12-2008 04:31 AM

Then I would definitely use ply and pine/popular. You probably won’t use MDF for the inside the house cabinets. Some will argue that point, but I like ply better. You can practice frame and panel with the pine better than MDF.

If you are near a local lumberyard—- you may be able to get some cutoff of oak, walnut or cherry. We have a local place here in Ft. Worth than you can buy the edge cutoffs for 25-50 cents a lineal foot. I’ve made tons of stuff with that material. If you can do that you can practice with some goo hardwods and not be out much money.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3909 days

#6 posted 07-12-2008 04:53 AM

soft maple is a bit harder and will take paint really well and is easy to machine. It is more durable than softer woods. I generally use silver maple because it is easy to come by in my location.
I use poplar as a secondary wood for cabinets in many cases. I prefer a harder wood for the face frames and doors and drawers.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View Hesed's profile


36 posts in 3828 days

#7 posted 07-12-2008 04:55 AM

I’ll have to look into that. I just moved so I’m not familiar with my local lumberyard yet. What kind of ply would you recommend?

View barlow's profile


129 posts in 3912 days

#8 posted 07-12-2008 05:00 AM

A closed grain wood such as birch, beech, soft maple all have medium to hard density to take everyday abuse and take paint well unlike flakey grained species such as pine, oak, ash, etc. As for poplar it is not really all that dense and its wild color schemes may make it difficult to paint.

-- barlow

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3940 days

#9 posted 07-12-2008 05:31 AM

Definitely poplar.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Steelmum's profile


355 posts in 4135 days

#10 posted 07-12-2008 12:26 PM

I did new molding in my entire house. Older home, painted moldings. Poplar, pine lets the knots bleed through. I just don’t use MDF, so I really don’t have an opinion on it. But for painted wood, poplar is best. I also do decorative painting and I use poplar for that also. I have lots of trouble with trying to get a good paint finish on pine.

-- Berta in NC

View David Freed's profile

David Freed

113 posts in 3840 days

#11 posted 07-12-2008 02:02 PM

Most of the Amish cabinet shops around here use soft maple for painted cabinets.

-- David, Southern Indiana

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4300 days

#12 posted 07-12-2008 02:17 PM

For painted wood, I like local maple – usually Silver Maple or Box Elder.

Consider milk paints for an old fashioned look.

-- 温故知新

View SteveB's profile


57 posts in 4230 days

#13 posted 07-12-2008 03:23 PM

I’ve had good luck with both MDF and birch plywood. I made some high-end library shelves from MDF, at the client’s insistence, and I was pleased with the outcome.

You might also consider MDO (Medium Density Overlay) which is either MDF or plywood with a very smooth fibrous (paper?) layer on the outside. I haven’t used it yet, but it gets a lot of recommendations. It’s supposed to the the ultimate paintable sheet product.

Before you make up your mind, go here to check out your design.

-- Steve B - New Life Home Improvement

View Joey's profile


276 posts in 3988 days

#14 posted 07-12-2008 09:19 PM

Check out my kitchen cabinets in my projects. the cabinets are birch, the raised panel doors are mdf. i built 26 doors for just over $100. it cuts very good and takes paint exceptionally well. I didn’t have to fill any holes with woodfiller, it just like working with wood. You can get your joints as tight or as loose as you want them or are capable of. They are mounted to the cabinets with blum concealed hinges. You do need to predrill all the holes but once drilled they are there.
i buillt them 2 years ago and have had more trouble with the hinges staying in the plywood than the MDF. not one screw has stripped out of the MDF.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms

View Hesed's profile


36 posts in 3828 days

#15 posted 07-12-2008 11:38 PM

Hey Joey, thanks for the advice, and nice cabinets. Were the door frames MDF also, or just the panels?

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