White vs. Stained Cabinets?

phoggieSeptember 28, 2010

I am in the process of getting bids for a new build and I was talking to a cabinet maker wondering the difference between white painted and stained cabinets. I was surprised to learn from him that the painted ones are a 20% upgrade from stained.

His reasoning was that the painted cabinets are maple construction with MDF doors. I thought they would be all wood, but he said that the wood contracts and expands but the paint doesn't, and when it does, it leaves gaps of unpainted areas where the panels meet.

Now I am confused....I was wanting white cabinets, but what is your experience with MDF doors? Do they hold up as well as wood doors?

This cabinet shop does a great job and their fininishes are smooth as silk. We have their stained cherry in our present house and love them, but I wanted to change to white.

Thoughts appreciated. Thanks

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I have painted paint grade (i.e., not the prettiest wood) plywood cabinets and doors in my dressing area. After 9 years and some recurring plumbing issues in the sink, which had some of them get very wet a couple of times for a couple of days, they're like new. They, obviously, don't get the kind of wear that a kitchen does, but the temperature up there often gets as high as 85 degrees and as low as 60 degrees, and absolutely nothing has happened to the paint. These were brush painted in place, rather than being factory painted, but the factory spray is supposed to be even more durable.

The explanation sounds a bit made up, however, because paint grade materials usually cost less. The upcharge should be for the painting, but it shouldn't be so different from staining. A lot of cabinetmakers favor MDF because it's so flat and stable, but one usually hears about MDF boxes with wood (or plywood) doors, rather than vice versa.

The biggest issues I know of with MDF would be loosening at the screws where the hinges are, and some question about the level of damage with moisture (but doors wouldn't be a problem for the latter). MDF is heavier than wood or plywood, so gravity will pull it more. I'd research that aspect some more, but it should be fine.

There's nothing wrong with furniture quality MDF. If you like that perfectly smooth, smooth as silk finish, that's the way to get it. I like the texture of the brush strokes and just a bit of grain (can't see it under the primer and paint, but can feel it in a couple of places). Since you're familiar with, have lived with, the cabinets these guys make, and they please you, go for it!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 3:32PM
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