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Are Solid Wood Cabinets All They’re Cracked Up To Be?

There are a few dirty little secrets when it comes to painted wood cabinets. These facts are good to know if you are in the market for new cabinets for a kitchen remodel or new home build. Let’s discuss.

PAINTED WOOD CABINETS WILL CRACK

It’s not a matter of if, but when. Painted or glazed cabinets that are made of wood products will eventually crack. As a natural product, the wood in your cabinetry will adjust to life in your home. Wood will continue to expand and contract with the change in seasons, humidity levels in your home and common household activities such as cooking.

Hairline cracks in the finish at the joints of your doors are extremely common and will not compromise the strength of the joints, but aren’t aesthetically pleasing to some. These cracks will be more noticeable on solid Paint and Paint/Glaze finishes.

MDF CENTER PANEL

One important thing to note is that some cabinet manufacturers have moved into making their wood cabinet doors with an MDF center panel. The center panel is a high-risk area for cracking, so manufacturing the door this way helps reduce this. The outside frame (stiles and rails) are still made out of wood, typically Maple.

MDF is a durable wood by-product that will significantly reduce movement and shrinkage which may cause cracking in door panels. Other MDF parts in your painted kitchen include finished ends, back panels, and plant-on panels. The use of MDF in these finished parts alleviates the risk of cracking in the paint that can happen with wood veneer and improves the durability of these parts with painted finishes.

Since most manufacturers’ paint and paint/glaze finishes are completely opaque, the MDF panel in your doors and other MDF parts will match the wood frames of your cabinet doors and other wood parts in your kitchen.

Again, some manufacturers still use a wood center panel. If this is important to you, it is best to ask what options you have, as price may vary.

HOW DO DEAL WITH THIS?

HUMIDITY CONTROL

Since these hairline cracks are a normal characteristic of painted finishes on wood parts, they are not considered a defect and therefore not eligible for warranty. That is why we always recommend a 40-50% humidity level be maintained in your home for optimal conditions.

CHOOSE A ONE-PIECE MDF DOOR

If you desire the painted cabinet look, another way to almost completely eliminate cracking cabinets is to choose a One-Piece MDF Door for your cabinetry. Unlike wood, Paint Grade MDF is an extremely stable material and does not have any risk of expansion or contraction when the door is fabricated as a one piece design. This is achieved by routing the material on a CNC machine out of a solid piece of MDF. Many homeowners and homebuilders have moved towards MDF to ensure their kitchens look amazing for years to come because it performs extremely well in all humidity levels.

MDF cabinets are often available in many popular painted and handcrafted finishes. You can also often choose a One-Piece Door design, perfect if you are on a bit of a budget. If you want a high-quality “wood-like” look, consider choosing a Five-Piece MDF door style. The differences between a painted wood door and a painted MDF 5 Piece door are virtually indistinguishable. Another thing to note is that a five-piece MDF door has a dramatically reduced risk of cracking compared to a painted maple or wood cabinet.

SUMMARY

Any kitchen Design expert would tell you to follow your heart. If you don’t mind a few cracks in the finish and joints, then choose Painted Wood cabinets. If you feel that small cracks would be too unsightly in your dream kitchen, then choose a one-piece painted MDF door style. So if you are wondering if painted wood cabinets crack? The answer is Yes.

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