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Wood Cabinet Doors, What You Should Know

In cabinetmaking, there are typically two primary categories of wood cabinet doors, which are known as either a Five Piece Flat Panel door style, or a Five Piece Raised Panel door style. There are also a few others, which are good to know about when planning your forever kitchen. Knowing how these cabinet doors are constructed will help ensure you are getting the best option for your style and performance expectations.

Superior Cabinets BLOG – Wood Cabinet Doors, What You Should Know, Author - Shahan Fancy.

THE ANATOMY OF THE 5 PIECE CABINET DOOR

First, lets discuss the anatomy of Five Piece cabinet doors. These are made up of Stiles, Rails, and a Center Panel.

how a 5 piece wood cabinet doors is constructed.

The Stiles and Rails are typically made of solid wood material and the center panel can be made of either wood veneer or solid wood pieces, depending on the budget and preference.

WOOD FIVE PIECE FLAT PANEL DOORS

Also known as wood five piece recessed panel doors, these are probably the most popular selection for many homeowners. This is because of the many style options, overall cost, and benefits of construction and materials, especially in areas with fluctuating climates and varying seasonal humidity.

Photo of a two-toned kitchen with flat panel recessed shaker fronts and doors.

The most significant detail about this doors method of construction is that the 1/4″ center panel is made of wood veneer, rather than of solid wood. Throughout the wood working industry, manufacturers have adapted to using wood veneers to provide products that are better resistant to cracking and warping.

Click here to view the Wood Five Piece Flat Panel Collection by Superior Cabinets.

ABOUT WOOD VENEERS

Veneer materials are created by slicing real wood thinly and adhering it to particle core material. For most custom and semi-custom cabinet makers, veneer doors and fronts are finished on two sides and are constructed with a premium veneer on the exposed outside fronts, and top-grade veneer on the inside of the door and drawer fronts. Wood veneer materials are also used for other cabinetry parts such as, back panels, plant-on end gables, integrated finished ends, toe kicks, fillers and more.  

SLAB VENEER DOORS

Slab or Flat Panel door styles are almost always fabricated using wood veneer on two sides, and then a wood edge tape is applied to the outside, typically with a 1.5 mm thickness. Door styles like the Vienna Veneer Door by Superior Cabinets is the perfect slab door, as it is better resistant to cracking and warping, as solid wood cabinets are sometimes not all they’re cracked up to be.

Vienna veneer wood cabinet door fronts by Superior Cabinets.

WOOD FIVE PIECE RAISED PANEL DOORS

Also known as wood five piece solid panel doors, these are the highest quality cabinet doors available. This is because they are made entirely with solid wood material, also including the 5/8″ center panel. Homeowners select this type of door if they desire this level of quality, appreciate solid wood construction, and understand the humidity expectations that are required to keep these doors looking great. For wood products, it’s recommended that a humidity level of 40% – 50% is maintained in the home throughout the year to reduce or prevent warping, shrinking panels, or cracking of wood products.

Picture of cabinet with Solid Raised Panel Cabinet in Black Walnut, Natural Stain.

There are many advantages of choosing a five piece solid panel door style including more consistent staining and better consistency with aging and patina, as the doors are made from alike solid material. This is a subjective benefit, as some are more appreciating to these details than others.

Another advantage of choosing a solid panel door is for the option to have rustic or knotty wood, as you can only achieve a rustic look with completely solid constructed doors and drawer fronts.

A close up photo of a raised panel rustic knotty hickory wood cabinet door with a light spice stain by Superior Cabinets.

Click here to view the Wood Five Piece Solid Panel Collection by Superior Cabinets.

REVERSE RAISED PANEL WOOD DOORS

One of the most common misunderstandings about solid raised panel doors is that you can’t achieve a flat or slab look on the front, or a shaker style look with them. This can absolutely be achieved and is commonly referred to as a Reverse Raised Panel Door. These are fabricated with solid material for the center panel with the flat side showing on the outside and the raised section showing on the inside of the door, thus calling it a reverse raised panel cabinet door.

A picture showing the front and back of a reverse raised panel cabinet door by Superior Cabinets.

WHAT ABOUT MDF?

Cabinet door construction for MDF cabinetry is typically done by One-Piece or Five-Piece door style construction. One Piece MDF cabinet doors are most often fabricated with a CNC Nesting Router, while Five Piece MDF cabinet fronts are made up of five pieces, consisting of a four-piece frame [Stiles and Rails] and a center panel, the same as wood doors.

Read more about the benefits of One Piece vs. Five Piece MDF cabinet doors.

SUMMARY

It is important to choose a cabinet door style not only for the look, but also for the overall quality and performance expectations. For wood kitchens of today, the five piece flat or recessed panel doors are the most popular, with the modern styling of the flat slab Vienna door at a close second. When selecting MDF, choose from a One-Piece or a Five-Piece constructed door. Professional Kitchen Design Experts will always tell you to select a door pattern that works for your style, budget, and performance expectations. Choose something you will love, rather than like, and you can’t go wrong.

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