poplar for kitchen cabinets?

jessie21October 15, 2007

a local cabinet maker has told me that poplar can be a good choice for stained cabinets...that it takes stain well and is almost as hard as oak. i have heard of painted poplar for kitchen cabs but not stained. he seemed to be steering me this way, probably because i expressed some concern over price, but i don't want cheap looking or poor performing cabs. any ideas or opinions on this? or pictures?

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kmealy

Lie#1 it takes stain well
Lie#2 is almost as hard as oak

For a talented finisher, poplar can be faux finished to look like a number of other woods. For someone less talented, with a can of big box stain, it will look like poo. I don't know which category your local guy is in. Does he/she have samples you can see? Ones they've done, not something from a factory.

Red oak is at historic low-prices right now. Many distributors are liquidating inventory at less than they paid for it.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 7:45PM
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HandyMac

Poplar is a hardwood. But, it is a very soft hardwood and not nearly as hard as oak.

Poplar is usually referred to as 'The Painters Wood' since it can be easily sanded very smooth and takes paint very well.

Poplar can be stained---with one glaring problem---most poplar has a dark colored section and a light colored section---which DO NOT stain anywhere close to each other.

Kitchen cabinets get a lot of abuse, making them with a soft wood is not a recipe for successful long life cabinets.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 8:26PM
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jessie21

wow, you people are quick! thank you both so much for the info. i haven't seen his shop or work in person yet. he was here for a few hours the other day, discussing options...an older guy who has been doing this for 35 years or so. i will definitely not go with poplar, and i will check his work out sometime this week. i'll be cautious and may not use him at all. thanks again!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 8:41PM
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kmealy

BTW, Hardwood means it is from a deciduous tree. Softwood trees have needles or scales. There is also a difference in their seed. It really has nothing at all do to with its 'density' or 'dent resistance.'

Chapters 3 & 4 below will give you all sorts of tables and information about just how soft poplar is.

Here is a link that might be useful: More than you ever wanted to know about woods

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 12:14PM
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brickeyee

"Hardwood means it is from a deciduous tree. Softwood trees have needles or scales."

Yep.
Balsa is a hardwood, while Douglas Fir and Southern Yellow pine are softwoods.
Poplar is great for painted cabinets.
It is easy to finish and holds paint very well.

For a stained finish there are many other woods (both hard and soft).
Oak has very pronounced grain and open pores in the wood.
Other hardwoods have a smoother surface, but even oak can have the pores filled to produce a smooth surface.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 6:20PM
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bandit_tx

Tell him to try soft maple. It's not much more than poplar in most areas and it's almost as hard as hard maple. It takes dye stains nicely.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 2:32PM
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brickeyee

"Tell him to try soft maple. It's not much more than poplar in most areas and it's almost as hard as hard maple. It takes dye stains nicely."

Anyone proposing to stain poplar is unlikely to be using aniline die for coloring.
He probably throws on a coat of Minwax.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 2:33PM
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brickeyee

'dye' not die

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 2:34PM
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