Painted cabinets made of mdf- anyone have them?

geomegSeptember 25, 2012

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if anyone has painted cabinets made of mdf and not wood.

I am having a kitchen designer come to give me an estimate for my ktichen and she says that's it's preferable to use mdf as opposed to wood for painted cabinets because wood will show cracks etc...

I know this question has been asked before and I have read threads about wood vs mdf etc...

I was looking to see if anyone has cabs made of mdf and how they look.

My kitchen project has been on hold all summer while I was waiting for the contractor and I have finally given up and called a new place!

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My cabs are made of wood, but my doors (added to old boxes) which are shaker style, are maple with MDF inserts, which is pretty much their entire face. I don't think the average person can tell the difference between the maple and MDF.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 12:55PM
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Mdf is the material of choice for center panels.
It does not move with changes in humidity and takes finish very well. It also adds a little weight to a door, makes it fell more solid.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 2:53PM
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What about all mdf doors? The kd proposed all mdf doors. Although she did say I could get painted wood but she does not reccommend them.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 3:18PM
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MDF is very stable and does not move the way wood does. That's good. It also accepts a finish better than wood, which is why it is popular with painted cabinets. Painted, one would never know, but one would recognize a great paint job w/ MDF.

The problem with MDF is in the joinery. It doesn't hold fasteners or take to glue as well as plywood or wood, so attention must be paid to the construction details. Done correctly, it is fine. But it is easy to do it incorrectly.

It would not be my preference for that reason.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 6:11PM
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When we bought this house, it had cabinets with painted MDF doors. I now know they were five years old. Fast forward quite a few years...and with bumps and bruises the MDF in the sink base cabinet doors left them open to the water that inevitably slops over the sink (no matter HOW careful one is being) and they bubbled. It wasn't pretty.

SO--I guess my question long do you want to keep them? My experience is that they hold up fine for a few years...but not 15+. (Kitchen was remodeled in 1992--we are remodeling now. FINALLY.)

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 6:28PM
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My upper doors are painted MDF and they have held up very well. But they are plain slab doors and they were professionally painted in a shop.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:24PM
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I have MDF boxes and fronts, from what I read before going ahead with the plan...everyone seemed to suggest MDF would last longer and is a better material because it won't warp and then crack the paint. My cabinet builder did such a good job you can't tell they aren't 'real' wood. They are extremely sturdy and I love them. The drawer interiors I have are made of real maple though.

Here is a photo of a good portion of my cabs...

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:38PM
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To repeat what others have said, for painted doors, MDF is certainly the choice for the center panel of an otherwise solid wood door, as it does not expand and contract as much as solid wood so you minimize the cracks at the joints.

The center panel of a door is always loose - not glued in place - to allow for this movement.

We did not want even minimal cracking on all our doors, so we went with solid MDF. They are made on a computerized CNC router machine to exact specifications and are one piece.

So we went with solid MDF doors on plywood carcasses. The BLUM hinges position in the doors and expand when the little hinge is pressed down - no 'fasteners' per-se. Not sure how the drawer fronts are fastened to the drawer boxes honestly, but of course the pulls go all the way through to the inside so no force is on the MDF panels.

In the Toronto area, all 'custom' cabinet makers construct their own carcasses and order doors from Cut Rite doors in Waterloo. They make solid and MDF doors of all description to whatever measurement you want. Then the cabinet maker does the finishing, typically in Benjamin Moore paint for colors or of course stains.

So the only difference between one cabinet maker and another is the construction of the carcasses, the quality of finishing and installation and of course price. We're very happy with ours. Ended up less expensive than going with 'semi-custom' from Home Depot, Lowes etc.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:47PM
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Thanks everyone

TorontoTim, I'm in Montreal and I've been to 2 cabinet places that have suggested full mdf doors for painted cabinets.
Have you ever heard of a cabinet company called Miralis? They're made here in Quebec ... Just wondering if they're good quality...,

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:20PM
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If you're in Montreal just save your money and go out to eat instead. Au pied de cochon would work for me.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 11:23PM
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Two things on mdf doors

1. Make sure they are made from double refined mdf. Its the machine grade.
2. For moist areas make sure they use a post-cat conversion varnish.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:32AM
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Marcolo- don't know if you'll read this... You're pretty funny, lol
Le pied de Cochon is right around the corner from me...

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:33PM
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I am also in Montreal.
Did you see these kitchens on Houzz, all by Miralis cabinets.

Here is a link that might be useful: Look Here

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:59PM
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Hi Marcolo,

I did see the Miralis kitchens . Do you know if they're decent quality?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 11:44PM
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