*My LAST cabinet question - Painting mitered doors

southernmumFebruary 12, 2013

Yes, I am an over-thinker and know it! I joke with my husband that I've now learned that over-thinkers should not build houses - ha! I asked a question about my kitchen door over the weekend, just if I picked the right style. I got lots of great answers. Well, the one that my husband noticed and keeps talking about is how someone responded that mitered doors don't really hold up well when painted. We asked our builder and he said any painted doors would eventually show cracks, due to humidity. Well, now my husband thinks we should switch to cherry cabinets. (That's what he's wanted all along!) However, we both REALLY want our kitchen to look good for years to come. We don't want the mitered edges to separate and look bad quickly. Help, we don't know if this is a real deal-killer on my white kitchen or not! Many thanks!

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*And if you have painted, mitered doors, I'd love to know how they're holding up! Thanks

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 6:49PM
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Fori is not pleased

Mine held up fine, but our climate isn't very interesting. This can happen with all painted doors, not just mitered. Is your husband suggesting that there be no painted surfaces anywhere in the house? That would be a solution.

If it's a big concern (some of us think it's part of the charm of paint), you will have less cracking with an MDF door. Most people can't tell the difference when painted.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 7:20PM
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I'm in the process of remodeling my kitchen & I've chosen a mitered painted door. I can't give you my experience yet but all the reading I've done on GW and elsewhere suggests a lacquered MDF product. The high end cabinets are using this product and I picked out a similar product. Its very nice and doesn't look cheap at all. This may give you the option you are looking for. I have friends w/ painted doors in their kitchens and yes, the paint does crack. BTW, I'm in Florida so the humidity may be a factor w/ paint cracking.

This post was edited by kgolby on Tue, Feb 12, 13 at 19:27

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 7:25PM
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You either buy into the whole "patina is charming" bit, or you don't. If you don't, and you think that signs of age and use is kinda horrifying, then a white kitchen isn't for you. If you like the look that age gives painted wood, and YES, that does mean that the joins will telegraph or crack through the paint, along with the occasional chip and wearthrough, then you'll probably be OK with that. And yes, mitered doors are worse in that regard rather than stick and cope.

The problems arise when you have a couple with mixed feelings about patina. When you have to satisfy two diametrically opposed viewpoints, neither ends up happy. You each have to have something that is wholly "yours", like choosing two different finishes. Or else you have to switch to something that neither of you loves, but are both OK with, like a medium stained maple for instance.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 7:47PM
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Interesting... Now I'm walking through my house looking noticing the "patina" of all my furniture and antiques!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 8:10PM
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As noted both cope and stickn and nitered will show cracks. I think it may have been my post that got your husband worried.
To me the hairline cracks in cope and stick look like they belong (and I'm a wood not painted guy) they have existed on cabinets for centuriesn they're familiar.

Wood moves proportionally, greater over its width than length. Because of the angle a mitered door will have an gradually greater amount of material that goes across the grain hence an uneven amount of movement. The cracks will taper to the point.

I've had one person do them and they are still happy with them. In that case it was at the insistance of an interior designer. I simply don't encourage painted miters. At the least making sure people know what will happen so they can decide for themselves as green suggests.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 8:22PM
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I've had my painted mitered doors for about a year. There are hairline cracks where some of the joints are. From a distance, I cannot see them, nor do I notice them when I'm standing close, but I do know they are there, and I knew that they would happen. We have no humidity control in our house, dry in the winter, humid in the summer, so I'm sure the effects happened sooner. I will try to find a picture to post.

Edited to add picture

This post was edited by mrsmortarmixer on Tue, Feb 12, 13 at 22:56

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 8:50PM
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Mrsmortarmixer, thanks for posting a photo for me! I appreciate you taking the time to do so.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 4:59PM
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I have Omega white painted cabinet, and the mitered corner does show crack after 3 years. I am in Seattle. Our heater runs pretty much all year long, that maybe contribute to the crack.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 6:41PM
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Glad I could help. That is the biggest the crack has gotten, and the furnace has been going since October, so I don't see the wood shrinking much more, if at all. I only have 3 doors that have the crack, but expect the others to eventually.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 7:57PM
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About to embark on cabinet finish selection as yourself, I've read some about PCV (post catalytic conversion colorant varnish) which many fine cabinetry manufacturers are now using, a switch typically from a pre-catalytic (and other technique) lacquered varnish finish (non-conversion coating film). The advantage of PCV is a far more durable, UV inhibiting finish (no yellowing) which withstands household chemical cleanup, is hard to scratch, better resists water stains and buys the owner time on a colorant finish. It's higher in solids so it requires less coats (benefit to manufacturer) and in fact a high build of finish (5mil) will make the finish brittle. Most manufacturers don't go over 3mils. Cure time is immediate giving manufacturers an edge up on turnaround/efficiency. The biggest downside to PCV finish however is it's hard to repair, especially on site. The process of building conversion coating films is an irreversible process (there are various types, 2k, acid catalyzed and oil based). No process, including PCV finish is bullet proof. However, the selection of a MDF door and drawer front with PVC apparently is felt to be a leader in the industry for those choosing paint (actually colorant) based finish which lasts. This finish technique is worth discussing w.r.t. to your desire for a mitered door.

The alternative and still widely used manufacturer paint finish, pre-catalyzed lacquered varnish, has the great advantage of being repairable. The chemical process is reversible (forms the film by solvent evaporation alone, for example, as using single component lacquers). The film is not normally damaged when re-dissolved, so standard lacquers are easier to repair (on site too). Builds to 3 mils to 5 mils are tolerable (but lower builds are more common, even as low as 1.5 mil by one cabinet maker I recently reviewed). The con to a lacquered finish is the cure time: it takes 3 to 4 weeks (not the same as the stack time), so it takes longer for an order to be properly finished.

These points are taken from my notes, and experts will have more knowledge. When it comes to paint (now often called colorant) finish, it is helpful to know about these two techniques and use them to help pick your cabinet doors/drawers product selection (mdf vs plywood) as well as finish technique for longevity with minimal cracking. There is no perfect finish is always worth remembering. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 8:28PM
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