Thursday, July 12, 2007

Q & A on Painted Finish Cabinets


At 09:02 PM 7/11/2007, Ann wrote:
Hello! We are in the process of choosing maple wood, white, and inset door style (recessed not raised) cabinets for kitchen.
I know Woodmode is a great company but wanted to compare pricing with 2 other companies: Durasupreme and Yoder.

This is our concern...for white color (baked) on maple wood is this type of style more likely to have paint cracking problems because of general moisture of paint on wood?
The Yoder company prefers using MDF painted white for the door only because of the cracking issues w/painted wood.

I don't like the look of MDF painted white.

The Durasupreme uses solid maple painted (baked white) for door but it seems to show a slight bit of cracking.

What is it about Woodmode that they don't have the slight separation and cracking with the painted white maple doors?
What do they do with their application process that prevents this?
Is maple painted white risky with any other cabinet company other than Woodmode?



Thanks for your question Ann.

Wood-mode uses a catalyzed conversion varnish that LOOKS like white paint.
I believe Dura-Supreme does too.
I don't know what Yoder uses.

Wood-mode pays more attention to finish than almost any other company; except the ultra-high-end cabinet lines, like Rutt.
That's what makes their product such a good value.
Catalyzed varnish is both harder and more elastic than paint.

That being said, you will STILL get cracking at the seams where the stiles (side pieces) and rails (top and bottom pieces) of the doors and face frames are glued and doweled or screwed together.
Wood moves, expanding and contracting with the relative humidity or lack thereof.
That's what causes the cracking, and it is unavoidable.
In fact, an oak door with a stained and varnished finish also cracks at the seams.
You only SEE the cracking though, when the finish is paint-like.

The door samples you are viewing may be newer (Wood-mode) or older (Dura-Supreme).
You can look on the back of the door sample to determine when they were made.
Older sample doors will exhibit more cracking at the seams than more recently manufactured ones, because they have endured more cycles of humidity and dryness.
The Dura-Supreme door may have also been abused by a dealer who is uncaring about his samples.
There should be scuffs on the door if that's the case.

I actually prefer to see the cracking rather than the (strangely) pristine look of MDF.
In my opinion, MDF looks unnatural and too contemporary for most traditional homes.
I also think the extra weight of MDF makes the hinges fail sooner than they would with a paint grade hardwood like maple or birch.
Believe me. You don't want the hassle of failing hinges.
MDF is also a much cheaper material than birch or maple (So the Yoder bid would be less).

I ran into a problem recently with Crystal, another cabinet company from Iowa, near Dura-Supreme's factory. They were, newly, doing all their center panels in MDF.
I insisted on maple or birch. And my clients, unfortunately, had to pay an upcharge to get it.
Again, I have seen so many broken hinges over the years, that I really am prejudiced against MDF.

"Is maple painted white risky with any other cabinet company other than Wood-mode?"
Yes, to a degree. Only you can decide whether the extra cost is worth the nicer finish.

Story: When I opened my store I took the displays from my previous employer and re-used them in my new showroom.
We dismantled the displays and stored them for a while in my condo while I looked for a location.
It was pouring down rain that day and the cabinets got very wet in trucking them there and hauling them up the stairs.
Once I found my new location, we transported them there and reassembled them.
The white display came out beautifully and was the "star" of my showroom.
THAT's how durable a catalyzed varnish paint finish can be.

You can be comforted to know that those cracks have been there as long as humans have been making five-part cabinet doors...A LONG time. And that the cracks are superficial and do not indicate that the door itself is coming apart.

Good luck with your kitchen.