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Will poplar crack less than maple over time?

Posted by CT_Newbie (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 15, 13 at 23:12

Hi! We are getting white painted cabinets. There is a $2400 additional charge if we get maple instead of poplar. I've read the various threads comparing the two and how maple is a bit stronger and tends to be the standard.

The KD felt that the maple was paying for something that wouldn't give me a perceptible difference. She said that the manufacturer prefers to paint on poplar because poplar wood moves less as it is exposed to the fluctuations in humidity (and wood naturally moves and breathes by nature) where as maple tends to shift even more. So you are likely to experience joints opening up more with maple. She said they've been doing their painted cabinets for many years with the poplar (so it's not as if it was done for cost savings.)

Do people think the joints will crack more on maple? I have young kids so I am sure the cabinets will take a beating which is why I want to spring for the harder wood. Also, I've heard so much more about maple and not poplar (granted, I now understand how poplar can be a good choice for painted cabinets.

Do you think the maple is worth the additional charge?

Thank you!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Will poplar crack less than maple over time?

That's BS. Both will move and you will have hairline cracks at the joins, which is 100% natural. With poplar, you get the addition of more dents. It's softer.


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RE: Will poplar crack less than maple over time?

First off- nothing but solid MDF will eliminate cracks at the joint, assembled MDF will minimize it but will not necessarily eliminate cracks.
Cracks belong there, they are natural and have been on painted wood doors for centuries.

In many ways what follows is splitting hairs.

Yes poplar moves less. It's also less prone to contain "reaction wood" (which moves even more) than hard maple.
It is softer-more easily dented- but there are no other strength issues.
Poplar does take paint better and it does glue better. That in part makes up for the denting since there is less of a tendency for the paint to chip.

If a client is really concerned about the hairline cracks they should either get MDF, or paint on site so they can touch them up (with all the downside to that), or not get paint.

If it were for me I'd likely use poplar or soft maple for paint, it is what I preferred when I built them but also used hard maple.
I also like to use Cherry for black painted and used Jatoba for patterns when movement was critical.


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RE: Will poplar crack less than maple over time?

Thank you both!


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