MDF or Wood for cabinet doors?

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Old 08-05-05, 08:23 AM
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MDF or Wood for cabinet doors?

Hubby will be making some new cabinet doors for our kitchen (of course after we buy the right toys, er, tools). He was talking about using MDF, but that seemed just as expensive, if not more than wood. I know it's probably easier to work with than wood, but what are the benefits and drawbacks of both? We are going for a country kitchen sort of look. We don't like dark wood colors, but we do like natural wood.

Any suggestions? Has anyone here made cabinet doors?

Thanks so much and God Bless!!!
Eileen
 
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Old 08-05-05, 08:45 AM
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MDF has a better finish than all but the expensive plywoods [oak,birch,etc]. Because of lack of money I built my kitch cabinets. I also like a country look. Because I couldn't afford oak I built my doors out of pine and luan. Basically I made a picture frame [routed edges,rabbit cut on back for luan and biscuit jointed the mitres] and installed 1/4" luan in the middle. The $200 I spent on material was way less than what cheap box cabinets would haver cost and the quality is a whole lot better.
 
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Old 08-05-05, 11:33 AM
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With MDF, you would probably want to band the edges with veneer. I've had mixed success with MDF and iron on banding. I also recently saw some cabinet doors that had a nice beaded moulding around the perimeter of the door. Dressed it up and made it look more like a real oak door, rather than just an obvious slab cut out of a 4x8.

If you use MDF, I'd also recommend you use 35mm Euro (cup) hinges. They are so heavy that they need the beefy hinge.

You don't want to use oak plywood, because it can warp, and then your doors won't lay flat. MDF will lay perfectly flat, so it's better in that respect.

REAL oak doors are made by gluing up solid oak stock, and someone correct me if I'm wrong here, but there is no comparison in price. MDF is less expensive. If 3/4 MDF is $60 a sheet, you can cut nine doors 16x32. Thats only $6.66 a piece.
 
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Old 08-05-05, 07:23 PM
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Drawbacks of MDF is that its heavy and the dust is quite annoying.
 
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Old 08-05-05, 10:49 PM
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Well that's exactly what I wanted to know. Thank you so much for the very good advice and opinions.

How did you paint your MDF doors? Any specific paint?

Thanks again,
Eileen
 
  #6  
Old 08-06-05, 08:05 AM
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Whatever paint you do choose, oil based paint will lie down better with less brush marks. Keep in mind, you'll need to use an oil based primer, well, not really, but it's recommended that you do. "You CANNOT use an oil based primer and latex paint"

Fill all of the obvious holes, dings, scratches, dents, etc that you can see with "Car bondo" then sand it wil a power sander with 150 grit paper.

Once you get it nice and smooth, you'll put your first coat of primer on. Once you put your first coat on, EVERYTHING meaning dents, dings, holes, etc will show up like a sore thumb. At this time, you'll fill those areas with bondo once again and then just spot prime it, or totally prime again, if you can still see the MDF.

Once that dries you can start applying your coats of paint. No more than two coats should be necessary. Make sure you spend the money on a good brush, such as Horses Hair or Ox Hair, which can be found at a paint store. "Not Home Depot"

If you're just going with flat doors, I would buy some iron on edgebanding and edge band all ends of the MDF. It will take a lot of primer and coats of paint to seal the ends. A little trick if you don't want to edgeband is to take spackle paste, the same that you use to touch up dings in your walls and rub it on the edges of the MDF to help seal it. You may need to take a piece of 150 sand paper wrapped in a wooden block and lightly sand the edges.

You can also route a profile on the outside of the doors too, so it will spice it up a bid. You can also take a 3/4" wide by say 1/2" or 3/4" thick and apply it to the doors making rectangles, mitering the corners. I would say come in 2" from all sides. It gives it a nice look and won't cost a fortune. I would prime them seperately and then attach it to your doors, only after the priming has been done. You can buy a molding like this at home depot too, along with the MDF.

Just an FYI MDF means "Medium Density Fiberboard"

If you're using european hinges, the edge of the hinge hole that is drilled needs to be 3/16" from the edge of the door, using a 35 millimeter forstner bit, which can be purchased at www.rockler.com.

MDF is less than $15.00 a sheet at home depot
 
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Old 08-06-05, 10:32 AM
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MDF is a great choice, with ONE exception----- I would NOT use MDF on the door to the base cabinet under the sink if it was my house. I'd use hardwood of the same style as the rest, only b/c MDF will over time "applesauce" if the water breaks through the paint. We're messy in my house and would ruin an MDF door in a year or three under the sink.


Otherwise, we love MDF doors in our cabinet shop. We just made some for an old historic house in Downtown Charleston that looks fantastic. They are slat doors, they look like three panels of wood glued together as was quite popular a century ago. Easy easy easy with a table saw.

Take two IDENTICAL table saw blades, say a 40 or 50 tooth blade and put them together at the same time on the saw (alternate the teeth, don't put them side by side). Turn the blade to a 45 degree angle (check clearance with the throat if needed). Passing the MDF door over this blade will result in a nice "V" cut in the wood, wherever you have the fence set up. Cut no more than a quarter inch or so into the wood.


Painting MDF----

You could use edgeband on MDF, but it's not needed. We lacquer MDF every week in the shop and it's all a matter of sanding. Follow these instructions, which are nearly verbatim what we do in the shop, and you'll have nice doors.

1) Sand all edges (including the V groove if you used it), leave NO saw marks. 100 grit works well. Use a block of wood behind the paper. A random orbit/palm sander works well.

2) Sand the same places with 150, then 320. The finer you sand the MDF, the more smooth the first coat of primer will be.

3) First coat of primer (lacquer usually needs two coats, brush on may only need one), lay it heavy but not runny. Let it dry and sand again with 150 and 320.

4) Second coat: you may only need to prime the places where the saw cut, the face of MDF is usually fine with one coat.

5) Finish paint. Beware dust, do it somewhere the dust is settled. NOT outside if possible! Otherwise, not under a tree unless you like the "wilderness" look in your paint, lol.
 
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Old 08-06-05, 12:41 PM
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Hmm, for some reason when i replied yestersay I was thinking of oak fibercore doors that would be stained... not paint grade MDF. I should have paid more attention!
 
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Old 08-06-05, 11:59 PM
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LoL XSleeper.

Well the wealth of information just keeps coming. Now I don't know where to start!!! LoL I kind of feel bad though I think hubby and I decided to use wood today because we just like the country wood look, and are worried about the 'heavy-ness' to MDF.

The paint (yucky, sticky, yellowed latex super shiney paint) is all over the kitchen cabinets. We really don't want to use stripper (because of the mess and time consumption - we have two small kids that need our time more than cabinets... lol), what's a good way to take the latex off? Or is there a way that we can sand it down, paint over it, and just add the wood doors we like/hubby made?

I can't wait to show him all the information you all wrote (it's 1am and I'm up, he's asleep ). Please keep it coming!!!!!

Thank you and God Bless,
Eileen
 
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Old 08-07-05, 11:59 AM
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You can stain and poly the new doors and just paint the rest of the cabinet in a corrisponding color.
 
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Old 08-09-05, 07:58 PM
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I can't say for sure but I think latex will just gum up any sandpaper you try.
Honestly the paint stripper may well be the quicker way, just keep the kids well away, use the exhaust fan, and keep the windows open. Light a cigarette and join our NASA buddies in the space station. Use the aerosol cans of paint stripper---even the cheaper ones from WalMart work, but NOT the gel or similar stuff, I've found that the aerosol cans for some odd reason remove a LOT more paint a LOT faster.

Once the stripper's done it's job, scrape off the sloppy paint (don't try to get every bit off, some sanding is just gonna happen). Wipe everything down with a wet towel so you don't get any hardened paint boogers--- and there will be plenty I assure you---- and let it dry, maybe overnight. Sand with a power sander (random orbit palm sanders are the bomb for this type) on maybe an 80 grit. Once down to nice wood, hit with 100 grit and then 120. Prime and paint!
 
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Old 08-10-05, 08:22 PM
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That sounds like a plan mako. That paint is so stinkin' stubborn! Some of it will just scrap off with a razor I think. The same paint is on the top part of our halfwall (halfwall shows kitchen and living room) and I was just trying to scrape off the junk that the previous people "painted in" to the paint. They obviously didn't care about whatever lint, nails, stables, strings, etc got mixed in with their paint. When I went scrapping, some of the paint came off easily. Some women may know what I'm talking about, but it was like the play finger nail polish I had when I was a kid called Tinkerbell. You painted your nails, got some color, but just peeled it right off whenever you wanted it off (or scratched something). LoL

I never knew that they made stripper in an aerosol can! We did buy the stripper in the metal pour style can, and HATE the stuff. LoL Ate hubby's fingers even through the gloves he wore.

This has been an awesome thread. Thank you everyone for your replies!!

God Bless everyone!
 
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Old 08-10-05, 08:37 PM
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What you are describing reminds me of the way latex paint peels right off of the old oil-based enamel they used to use. Sanding old paint can be dangerous due to lead.
 
 

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