What type of wood for a DIY painted (white) bathroom vanity?

lauren0319June 28, 2013

As a follow up from my post below, I'm about 90% certain dh will be building at least the cabinet box for a built-in dresser and vanity. We may buy the drawer fronts and cabinet doors, though since I want Shaker style, he may build those too.
I will honestly say, dh's finish work and painting skills are not the best so I'm really going to have to do my research to make sure we do it correctly and nothing warps over time.
I am 100% certain I want white painted cabinets. Can someone point me in the right direction to what type of wood we should choose? Also, if we buy the drawer fronts and doors, we would finish them ourselves, right? So we could guarantee they would match? Or am I missing something?
Thanks SO much for your guidance!

Below is a link to a vanity that makes me swoon :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Love this vanity!!

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For paint-grade cabinet boxes, I usually recommend 3/4" birch plywood. It handles well and takes paint well.

For door and drawer fronts, I recommend poplar for the stiles and rails. Poplar mills well and again, it takes primer and paint very well.

For the door and drawer panels you could again use birch plywood; 1/4" to 1/2" thick depending on things. 1/4" is easier, but the doors may seem a little bit too light. Half-inch provides a more substantive feel when you operate the door, it can make a stronger and sturdier door too, but the added thickness of the panel can require a few extra cuts around the perimeter of the panel to get a nice recessed reveal for the front of the flat panel. On the flip side, the extra effort can give you a bit more detail on the inside of the panel when the door is open.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. If you want nice quality shaker paint-grade cabinetry:

Birch ply (3/4") for the cabinet carcasses, tops, sides, and bottoms.

Half-inch birch ply for the cabinet backs. Poplar for the drawer and door stiles and rails.

Half-inch birch ply for the door and drawer panels.

If you decide to use 1/4" ply instead of 1/2" ply for the door and drawer panels, then you could use 1/4" for the cabinet backs too. By using the same thickness ply for both you can minimize waste when you make your cut lists.

Poplar and birch ply are available at Home Sleepo, etc.

I usually recommend staying away from MDF for kitchen and bath cabinet cabinets.

If you do source the fronts yourself, yes, you can get them unfinished and then prime and paint them yourself.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 10:52AM
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mongoct- I really really appreciate you taking the time to answer!!! Just the info I needed, thank you!!! :)

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 2:08PM
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Also- would the wood you recommended support a natural stone countertop? (I'm leaning towards cultured marble... but if I could find a deal on stone, I'd be all over it:)

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 2:16PM
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I've installed 2" thick concrete countertops on top of 3/4" ply cabinets. No worries.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 3:56PM
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I was just in the habitat for humanity resale shop and they have soooo many doors and drawer fronts. I didn't see any boxes, but surely they are there somewhere, right? If they have your style and you are painting anyway, it might be worth a trip.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 4:11PM
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Poplar is pretty soft and will ding up in no time. I would use soft maple for the doors and drawer fronts.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 8:30PM
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Sophie Wheeler

There are plenty of budget friendly options besides purchasing a lot of tools to DIY something by someone whose quality of work is already suspect before the project is even begun. Not to mention that to get a good quality result, you will probably end up spending more money than just choosing something from a decent cabinet line already made. Are you really sure that you want to go down this road? It's a setup for a fail and a huge argument when that happens.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 10:50AM
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hollyspring- I totally get what you're saying. Except my dh is prob more talented than I give him credit. And he has more wood working tools than Norm Abram ;)
His finish work isn't the best (not as smooth as I would like) and he doesn't research like I do to find the best paint, current design etc...
He's pulling the tub out as we speak so we shall see!!!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2013 at 2:44PM
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