Material for paint grade vanities

elizawhyzaFebruary 28, 2012

Our contractor is making our master bath vanities, and we are planning on having them painted. We had not discussed material before, but he is planning on using pine. I am concerned that with all the use they will get, the pine will be too soft and will get dinged up. Anyone care to weigh in?

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elizawhyza

I found out that he wants to use paint-grade primed pine, which as I understand it is finger jointed. I just spoke to a lumber yard, and they said it could warp.

Has anyone had experience with this?

Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:35AM
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mongoct

Finger-joint pine would probably be less likely to warp than solid pine because of the varying grain runs of all the little pieces of wood that make up a FJ board. Any possible movement in each small piece is offset by the multi-directional aspect of the grain of all the little pieces not being aligned with one another. It's sort of a balancing act, where the movement stress of one small piece offsets the stress of it's neighbor.

With solid lumber, the grain is all aligned. So any movement is reinforced and amplified due to the grain in the entire board, and thus the movement stresses within the board, all being aligned.

A greater concern of mine is actually the finger joints themselves eventually telegraphing and showing through the paint. In a potentially high-moisture location like a bathroom, the joints could swell due to absorbing moisture vapor, and show through the paint as a series of lines. The quality of glue, the quality of the primer and paint and the interior versus exterior treatment of the wood can have an effect on the final outcome of that.

For basic paint-grade cabinetry, I'd recommend poplar. While in many ways it's quite similar to pine, poplar mills well, and takes paint very well. For paint-grade cabinetry, it's my first choice. It's also what I use in kitchen cabinet face frames and door and drawer frames and faces, and kitchens get a lot more use and abuse than bathrooms.

Large surfaces can usually be done in a cabinet-grade plywood, or some other version of a sheet material. Face frames, trim pieces, or edge banding can contain or mask the rough edge of sheet goods.

If you prefer solid wood throughout, even on the large pieces that make up the carcass, then it's more about the cabinet makers skill and knowledge on how to minimize wood movement by proper materials selection and material preparation...and how to accommodate the wood movement that will occur with proper construction techniques so the movement pretty much goes unnoticed instead of the movement tearing the piece apart.

I'll be the first to say that the quality of FJ products has improved over the past umpteen years. But it's still not on my list of products to use for cabinetmaking.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 10:39AM
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fotomatt

Ditto on the FJ boards. I don't like to use it at all because of the possibility of it telegraphing through the paint. I'm curious on why he would be using FJ pine for cabinetry in the first place. Not saying he's doing anything wrong, just haven't seen that before.

We use hard maple quite a bit, and also birch. Poplar does paint and machine well, and we use it often for painted trim, but never for cabinetry as it's not as stable as maple.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 3:31PM
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