Unfinished Paint Grade Cabinet Tips

If you’re searching for unfinished paint grade cabinets you’re likely in the market to buy new cabinets and cabinet doors.  While you can run a roller and paint brush over anything, some materials accept the paint better and last longer.  If you’re investing in new cabinetry you want to make sure you’re choosing the best combination of materials.

Painting Cabinets & Cabinet Doors

White and neutral color painted kitchen cabinetry is growing in popularity.  In the case you’re planning to paint your doors in white or another popular paint color you need to make sure you’re choosing to order your cabinets and cabinet doors in materials that are paint grade.

Wood Species Characteristics

The type of wood used for cabinetry and cabinet doors plays a big role in if it looks good painted.  Some woods which are excellent options for staining will not look as good when painted.

Wood Grain

The prominence of wood grain on the surface of the wood plays a big part in if cabinetry looks good painted.  When cabinetry is painted homeowners typically are seeking that grand piano perfect mirror like finish for the paint.  Whether you’ve chosen a matte or high gloss finish you typically don’t want the grain of the wood to show through your layer of paint.  Oak is one of the worst choice when planning to paint cabinetry as it has a heavy grain pattern.  To paint oak it will take an enormous amount of preparation in filling in the grain with putty.

Sensitivity to Humidity

Some species also react more to variations in relative humidity.  When certain species react to the humidity and expand more than others it can cause the paint to crack.  When investing in cabinetry you likely want it to last as long as possible and require as little maintenance as possible.  When you’re planning to paint your cabinets and cabinet doors ensure you’re choosing a wood variety that isn’t prone to excessive expansion due to humidity.

Best Paint Grade Wood Species

Now that we’ve explained how the characteristics of the wood you choose will play into how well your cabinetry will paint, lets talk about the best wood options. Popular wood species for cabinet doors include Poplar, Alder, and Maple.

Poplar Wood

Just about all the major cabinet door manufacturers fabricate cabinet doors in Poplar wood.  Polar is incredibly popular for a number of reasons. It is a great option for paint grade cabinetry as it sands very smooth.  With a couple coats of primer, a poplar cabinet door will paint extremely well.  Alder and Maple are also quality options, but typically cost a little more.


Medium density Fiberboard is a popular option for center panels in paint grade cabinet doors.  MDF has negligible due to changes in humidity.  For this reason it is one of the best materials for center panels in paint grade cabinet doors.  When you combined Poplar cabinet door frames with MDF center panels you will have the very best cabinet doors for painting.  They will resist expansion and paint cracking at the joints between the door frame and the center panel.

Humidity & Door Design

The style of construction for your cabinet doors also plays into whether they’re a good paint grade option.  Apart from slab doors which are a single piece, cabinet doors are made from 5 sections.  4 frame pieces and a center panel.  The center panel is usually offered as a flat panel or raised panel and sits inside a channel cut on the inner side of each of the frame sections.  Center panels are made from plywood as it is durable and doesn’t react to changes in relative humidity.  The frame sections are made from solid wood options such as Poplar, Alder, Maple, and others and will change size with variations in humidity.

Painted Cabinet Doors & Humidity

Cabinet doors that are stained expand and contract without changing the condition of stain.  The frame can expand and the edges simply move around the center panel.  For painted cabinets changes in humidity will affect poor wood choices.  When the wrong wood is chosen for your painted cabinetry the wood will expand or contract causing panel movement.  The movement will cause your coat of paint to crack along the joints where the frame meets the panel.

Wood naturally reacts to variations in humidity.  Paint does not. To minimize this affect its critical to choose the right wood that won’t change as much with relative humidity.  Poplar is the best wood for frame sections and center panels are best made in poplar or MDF.  Choosing this combination of materials minimizes potential issues with painted cabinets.

Browse & Order Paint Grade Cabinet Doors

Browse over 300 styles of cabinet doors for the style that will look best in your home.  All of our designs are available in paint grade cabinet door options.  We offer direct from the factory sales of cabinet doors, so you’ve got access to wholesale cabinet doors savings.  Get the best quality paint grade cabinet doors online and save 30% over buying from big box hardware stores!


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