Cabinets - poplar vs maple, painting on site

sweetbabyjames5August 21, 2011

Just when I thought I had asked all my questions, I now have some questions about my kitchen cabs. They will be custom made by a cabinet maker whose work is beautiful and price is so reasonable. He mentioned the cabs would be made of poplar (I want painted), but my contractor wants maple (which the cab guy can do). What's the difference and is one better than the other??

My second question is about painting on site. My cab guy doesn't paint his cabs. That will need to happen after he installs them. My contractor is worried that the finish won't be as good. Any advice on painting on site? I am not doing it - will hire a professional painter. I have a few names given by good friends to check into.

Thanks - once again - for helping me through this!!! M

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Maple is the better choice, tighter grain. Also harder and less likely to dent. Shop painted cabinets using spray will have a much smoother finish.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:12AM
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We have poplar cabs and paneling (all hand painted painted by YT on site) and the poplar takes paint very, very nicely. We haven't had a problem with denting at all, and we don't baby stuff *at all*.

Good luck-


    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:18AM
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I have read somewhere else that some woods aren't as strong to stand up to the concussion of opening and closing of doors. I remember that maple was an excellent choice.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 10:14AM
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Poplar does not have an interesting grain. I believe that it is preferred for painted cabinets because it is fine grained and takes paints well.

I don't know about relative durability. You might look at the offerings of some reputable cabinet companies to see whether their painted cabinets are poplar or something else.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 11:04AM
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There are a couple of red flags here. Poplar is OK for light use painted furniture, but for kitchen cabinets, maple is the preferred wood for paint. While it's true that many cabinet makers don't also finish their cabinets themselves, the reputable ones do have in house finishers and a clean room to do the finishing in. Painted on site is NOT a good choice if you want quality results. It's cheap, as you see. But cabinets are often a case of you get what you pay for. Thus the red flags I see here.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 11:10AM
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i am in the middle of this right now! my cabs have poplar face frames and all the door and drawer fronts are maple. they are being painted on site right now. it is a bit disruptive but the whole kitchen remodel is disruptive so what is a few more days! details on the on site painting:

the professional painter supplied by my GC took over my bonus room and garage. the ENTIRE rooms (ENTIRE!) have been draped in plastic and tarps, they have in effect created their own portable clean rooms. they sprayed 2 layers of primer and now they are spraying the finish coats. they look excellent! they did this once the cabs were installed so doors and drawers are painted and dry out in the garage and the cabinet boxes are painted in place in the kitchen where everthing is also draped and masked. you could have them paint them in a shop where there is a cleanroom, but then they need to transport them and install them where they could get dinged and need to be patched. so seems like each approach has tradeoffs.

be prepared for odors when they paint on site and you need to provide them the space to do it.

good luck!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 2:20PM
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Painting new cabinets on site is not a good idea ever. Unless you are looking for brush strokes as part of the patina of the cabinets, they will not be as uniform or as sturdy as a shop painted finish. When cabinets are shop painted they get a chance to dry in a uniform temperature environment, which is essential to a hard finish.

It's surprising that your cabinetmaker doesn't have a paint shop that he works with.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 9:03PM
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I found this thread and had to bump. I just had 3 contractors come out to bid our kitchen. The 2nd guy told me there was no such thing as frameless cabinets (uh....ok, you can go now). The 3rd guy was awesome, but said that they do on-site painting of cabinets. We really liked him for everything else. His process was exactly how babushka_cat above described. If babushka_cat is still around, or if someone else had the same is it holding up?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:06PM
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babushka cat still around. i agree with statements made above. due to a variety of issues my cabs had to be painted on site. if i were to do it again i would find a cab maker who can finish off site. doing on site is a royal PITA and you do not get as good a finish. it is just me and they are holding up good but i believe they are not as good as shop finish would be. good luck!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 12:10AM
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