MDF vs. Solid Wood Cabinet Doors

MDF vs. Solid Wood Cabinet Doors

When searching for new cabinets for your kitchen, one of the big decisions you will face is around the material used for the doors. Options are a-plenty and include plywood, particle board, solid wood and MDF. Often the style that you are after will determine the materials used, as each have both unique characteristics and limitations when used for cabinet door construction.

To help debunk some myths and explain the best uses of various cabinetry materials, we’ve broken it down for you by material.

Plywood Cabinet Doors

Plywood is rarely used but can be the material of choice for some cabinet makers when constructing slab or flat panel doors. Furniture grade plywood with a hardwood veneer face layered over a softwood plywood core can produce solid slab doors. A veneer tape applied to the edges will ensure a good match to the fronts. The layered construction of plywood doesn’t allow for the machining of the face so they really are only suited to slab style doors.

A photo of three plywood sheets in a stack.
Plywood creates a strong base for building cabinet boxes, but has limits if used for cabinet doors.

Solid Wood Cabinet Doors

Solid hardwood doors in maple, oak or cherry are commonly used for stained doors where the natural beauty of the wood grain is both enhanced and protected by a professionally applied finish.   Wood doors are strong and durable, and scratches or dents can be repaired with a little sanding and a coat of matching stain. Stained wood doors are a great choice for homeowners wanting a classic looking kitchen using a traditional design that shows off both the beauty and the sturdiness of hardwood doors.

As a painted door however, solid wood has its limitations. As durable as solid wood is, it also has a weakness of expansion and contraction when exposed to varying degrees of humidity. Just like a solid wood entry door that seems a little harder to close in the heat of summer, solid wood cabinet doors will expand in high humidity as they accept more moisture and contract in the winter as the air dries out. Since most cabinet doors are constructed using stiles and rails that frame a center panel, changes in humidity can cause the joints between the rails to shift ever so slightly as the wood expands or contracts.

On a painted door these small shifts between the joints can result in a hairline break in the painted surface resulting in a dark line at the joint. Over time as seasons pass and the wood continues to expand and contract, these breaks can lead to the paint actually chipping at the joints making for a less than perfect looking door in just a few years.

A man installing wooden cabinet doors into a kitchen.
Wood cabinetry has unique variation and texture when left unpainted.

MDF Kitchen Cabinet Doors

MDF, or Medium Density Fiberboard, like plywood, is a manufactured wood product that combines wood fibers with resin. While plywood uses thin layers of wood sandwiched together with pressure and glue, MDF uses compressed wood fibers and glue. When manufacturing MDF, wood chips are sorted, cleaned, and fed into a defibrator that uses rotating disks to break the wood chips down to small fibers. Wax and resin are added and the fibers are then dried and become fluffy. The fluffy fibers are then arranged into mats, and compacted by heat and pressure to form the dense sheets of material available at the local building supply store.

MDF is denser than hardwood and offers a much smoother finish with no grain. This makes MDF an ideal material for making painted cabinet doors. Due to its density and consistent structure, MDF can be machined using high speed CNC cutting tools to create a variety of different 3-D profiles perfect for cabinet doors.

A two-piece shaker cabinet door constructed using MDF will consist of a single piece forming the four-sided frame and another piece used for the center panel. MDF will expand and contract although less so than hardwoods, but since the frame and the centre of the door are made of the same material they move together. With a the shaker frame machined as a single piece, there are no joints to split apart like solid wood rails and stiles. The super smooth and consistent surface of MDF allows for a high-end painted finish, while solid wood doors are harder to achieve a glass like painted finish, as deep grain and knots create rough areas that paint accentuates.

Painted white shaker MDF cabinet doors in a contemporary kitchen.
MDF can be precisely cut, sanded and painted for a glass like finish.

Painted Cabinet Doors

When designing your space with painted cabinetry in mind, a professional looking finish is easily achieved by using MDF cabinetry. Before tackling a large painting job, or ordering solid wood doors to paint, consider the variety of quality cabinet door styles available in MDF. If you’re feeling adventurous, order them raw or primed and paint them yourself!

5 Common Questions about MDF

Is MDF Waterproof?

  • MDF as a material on it’s own is not waterproof. But by painting the surface of MDF it does become highly water resistant and is recommended for use in high humidity like bathrooms and kitchens. It’s also a favorite for cottages to hold strong with hot and humid summers, while staying beautiful in your lakeside retreat!

Is MDF Stronger than Plywood?

  • Plywood is stronger than MDF and for this reason plywood is the choice for floor sheeting cabinet wall construction. The cross graining of plywood makes it an ideal choice over MDF for those areas in the home where weight is applied.

Is MDF a Sustainable Product?

  • MDF is made using wood products that might otherwise be discarded – in other words it is a sustainable use of wood fiber. In most regions MDF is a recyclable product that stays out of landfills and is used for making other wood products.

Is MDF Safe to Work With?

  • When cutting or shaping any wood product dust is created that can cause nose and eye irritation and MDF is no different. Protective eye-wear, dust masks and proper ventilation are always recommend when working with any wood product.

What is the difference between one piece, two piece, or five piece MDF cabinet doors?

  • One piece doors are manufactured by routering out the cabinet door design from one piece of MDF. Due to the way they are made, it is more difficult to achieve precision in cutting and sanding in tight areas like corners or where the rails and stiles meet the center panels.
  • Two piece doors consist of a frame made from one piece of MDF, and a flat center panel inserted into the frame. This method produces doors that allow for easier finishing, are less prone to warping, and provide a more stable finished product.
  • Five piece doors are created with each rail and stile cut and assembled in a frame, and attached to a center panel. These doors have more seams which can result in a less stable door at the corners than a two piece door.

If a custom looking painted kitchen is what you’ve always dreamed of, choose trusted MDF products to bring your kitchen refacing project to the next level.


2021 Kitchen Design Trends You Don’t Want to Miss

2021 Kitchen Design Trends You Don’t Want to Miss

A few years ago, it seemed like all kitchens were white. There wasn’t a lot of room to get creative, if being stylish was your goal. Recently that’s begun to change. While white is ever popular for a clean aesthetic, and a great option for resale, kitchen design is swinging back in the direction of funky, eclectic and open-ended. You can make your cabinets different colors, install new and unique types of countertops, and explore a variety of new materials – all while following 2021 kitchen trends. If you’re seeking ways to make your kitchen look beautiful this year, here’s what’s popular. 

Natural Marble Countertops

Granite was the king of countertops for many years, because it was ultra-durable, scratch-resistant, stain-resistant and came in many patterns and colors. The tides have turned now, and homeowners seeking a new countertop have turned their sights on marble

In all honesty, this natural stone isn’t as scratch-resistant as granite – but it’s possibly the most elegant stone you’ll ever see in any home. It comes in a range of colors, including soft white, dove gray and some surprising hues like red, blue, green, gold. Just like granite, marble needs regular sealing to be protected from stains. Cutting boards can help protect your marble from scratches, and hot pads and trivets can prevent heat damage. 

A marble kitchen countertop with sink and kitchen items on the counter.
Marble countertops come in a variety of colors and patterns, but are most frequently white with grey veining.

Countertop Hutches

If you like the openness of floating shelves, but crave storage behind doors, you’ll love countertop hutches. Fitted with glass or solid doors, countertop hutches are practical items that add classic beauty to your kitchen while creating storage space for dishes, spices, teacups or whatever you’d like to store. Add a coat of paint to your countertop hutch to make it stand out. If you’re feeling extra creative, consider distressing or antiquing your piece to give it a care-worn timelessness. 

Warm Tones

Cool tones were very popular for a long time. White, gray, navy and nickel/chrome finished dominated kitchens for a decade or more. Now, in 2021, warm tones are finally finding their way into kitchens around the country. Warm paint colors, warm metals and wood tones make your kitchen look and feel homey, inviting, and cheerful. 

Go ahead: order your new cabinet doors in a warm creamy color. Install a brick or terracotta backsplash , and try out brass or oil rubbed bronze hardware. Your kitchen is the heart of your home, so it should look the part.  

Slab Backsplashes

For ages, the backsplash was a tile mosaic, often an artistic and attractive, but sometimes busy and distracting part of the kitchen. This year, some of the most contemporary backsplashes are a continuation of the countertop. Is your countertop made of marble? Extend that marble countertop up the wall into the backsplash. Homeowners love this design because it makes your kitchen look a little more open, airy, and less cluttered. 

Slab backsplashes are also easier to clean, with far fewer cracks and crevices, and no grout to get stained. If you’ve been cleaning a tile backsplash for the last several years, you’ll love this change. 

A photo of a marble backsplash with dark grey veining behind a faucet.

Plaster Range Hoods

Plaster range hoods are a fresh look from the traditional stainless steel hood, or older microwave/hood look, and provide a fresh look and focal point in your kitchen. Often nestled between floating shelves or as a standalone accent surrounded by dramatic backsplash, plaster hoods contain the range hood extraction unit, but are surrounded by drywall and typically finished with joint compound, Roman clay, paint, or limewash.

DIYers are turning to plaster range hoods as a fun project in their kitchen remodel. By following these simple steps you can transform the look of your kitchen from simple and functional to modern and custom!

An image of a kitchen with stainless steel range, plaster exhaust hood and dark blue cabinets.
A DIY plaster hood. Image source: Plank and Pillow

Gold Finishes and Mixed Metals

Gold and warm metal finishes are very popular right now, in part because they match the wood tones and warm colored cabinetry popping up in renovations. Mixed metals are also popular, with copper tones, brushed brass and oil rubbed bronze all taking a front-row seat in kitchens.

Faucets aren’t the only fixtures to consider for these interesting and beautiful metals. Everything from cabinet knobs and pulls, to light fixtures and range hoods come in metals of different colors. If you’re feeling brave, take this opportunity to mix and match.

A brass kitchen faucet with porcelain handles.
Consider swapping your faucet as a simple change before replacing cabinet hardware.

Loosen Up and Enjoy Yourself. It’s 2021. 

If there’s one thing you can take away from this article, it’s that you can have fun designing your kitchen. Let your hair down, figuratively speaking. Fill your room with interesting new colors and materials and patterns. Don’t be afraid to try something different, and break out from the styles of previous years. This is your chance to make your kitchen eye-catching, beautiful, and wholly different from its previous existence. 


How to Create a Pot and Pan Stack of Drawers

How to Create a Pot and Pan Stack of Drawers

A common complaint about kitchens is the lack of drawer storage. Many builder’s grade kitchens only have a single stack of 4 drawers, and often these are not large enough to store large items like pots and pans.

Installing a wide pot and pan stack of drawers in an existing ‘doored’ base cabinet is a simple yet highly effective way to increase the usable storage space in a kitchen. Refacing your kitchen is a great time to not only replace your cabinet doors but also to increase the functional storage space with pot drawers.

What is a pot and pan drawer stack?

A pot and pan stack is typically made up of three drawers, two 10” high drawers at the bottom, and one 4” high drawer at the top. The deep drawers typically house your frequently used pots and pans while the shallower top drawer is for utensils or cutlery.

We’ve summarized into a few simple steps everything you need to know to create a pot and pan stack of drawers.

1. Find the Best Cabinet to Convert into Drawers

  • Pot and pan stacks are best if they are not next to a corner. Select a base cabinet that is central in the kitchen. A double door cabinet in a frameless kitchen is a great spot to convert to pot and pan drawers as it will offer a width that is typically anywhere from 24” to 36” wide.
  • In a framed kitchen, look for a cabinet that does not have a stile or frame running between the two doors. The stiles can sometimes be removed, but in many kitchens, they do provide support for the weight of the countertop.

2. Plan your Drawer Layout

  • Determine how many drawers you would like to install in your base cabinet based on your needs and how you use your storage.
  • The most common layout for drawers is 2 boxes at 10” high and one at 4” high.
  • You may find a two-drawer stack works best with two extra deep drawers.
  • If you want to store a lot of baking sheets or utensils you might want to consider one 10” deep drawer with three 4” deep drawers above it.

3. Measure the Inside Cabinet Width (ICW)

  • The ICW on a frameless kitchen is the inside width from wall to wall of the cabinet box.
  • On a framed kitchen the ICW is the width of the opening from the inside edge to inside edge of the framed opening.
  • The Inside Cabinet Width will determine the width of the drawer box required, as the drawer box width needs to be less than the ICW. The reduction in width depends on the type of drawer slide being used.
  • For Blum Soft-close Tandem Slides that mount underneath the drawer box, 3/8” is deducted from the ICW to determine the overall drawer width.
  • Side mount slides typically require a ½” deduction from each side, or 1” overall.
A rendering of a kitchen cabinet with a label.

4. Measure the Cabinet Depth

  • Measure the depth of the cabinet from the back of the cabinet box to the front. Most base cabinets are 24” deep. When measuring check for obstructions in the back of the cabinets. In some cases, builders may run electrical or plumbing through the back of cabinets and you may need to reduce your drawer depth to clear the obstructions.
  • The standard drawer box depth within a 24” base cabinet is approximately 21.6”.

5. Measure for Drawer Fronts

  • Armed with your drawer box layout, measure for the height of the drawer fronts first.
  • Let’s use an example of a 30” tall base cabinet with a single 6” high drawer face and two doors 24” tall. To replace the two 24” tall doors you could order 2 fronts at 12” tall, right? Wrong. The drawer fronts need a gap between them, so they don’t touch when closed. Reduce the height of each drawer face by 1/8” allowing for a gap between faces. The 12” fronts should be ordered at 11-7/8” high and the top drawer face is actually 5-7/8” high.
  • The width of your drawer fronts should be 1/8” less than the outside width of your cabinet on a frameless kitchen.
  • On a framed kitchen, keep your drawer front overlay consistent with the rest of your doors and drawer fronts.
A rendering of a cabinet showing measurements.

6. Choose a Matching Drawer Box Height for the Drawer Face

  • The height of your drawer box should a minimum of 1-3/4” shorter than the height of your drawer face to allow the undermount drawer slides to clear the box mounted below and allow for the drawer front to overlay the cabinet face.
  • Back to our example above, for the 11 7/8” drawer faces, order the 9-1/16” (230mm) high drawer boxes, and for the 5 7/8” drawer front, order the 4 1/8” (105mm) drawer box.

7. Order your New Dovetail Drawer Boxes

With the measurements you took using the steps above, you are now ready to order drawer boxes using our online order form.

  • Step 1: Select how you measured; Inside Cabinet Width or Exact Drawer Box Width
    • Note – If ICW is selected we will deduct the necessary amount for our Blum Undermount Slides. If you are supplying your own slides please let us know Make, Model and Size in the Notes section.
  • Step 2: Enter the width, in inches.
  • Step 3: Select drawer box height from our standard list of sizes
  • Step 4: Select depth from our list of standard sizes
  • Step 5: Select hardware
    • When ordering drawer boxes, you have the option of adding Blum Undermount Soft Close slides to your drawers. We recommend Blum as these high quality slides will last a lifetime and installation is easy. If you are supplying your own slides please let us know the manufacturer, model and size so that we can prepare the drawers correctly.

Enhance your kitchen with a pot and pan drawer stack

By tackling these simple steps, you can enhance your kitchen makeover by adding function with additional drawer space for easy access or storage of large items like pots and pans. Quality built wooden dovetail boxes with soft close slides will give your kitchen that new-again feeling, and last for many meals to come.


Countertops 101: Materials and Costs Explained

Countertops 101: Materials and Costs Explained

When was the last time you replaced your kitchen countertop? If the answer to that question is more than 10 years ago, you might be surprised to learn all the ways that countertop trends have evolved in recent years.

Countertop materials are more varied than ever. As a homeowner, you have choices! Knowing your options, including their costs, pros and cons can help you choose the best countertops for your kitchen. 

Here’s a look at the most popular counter materials in 2021:

Quartz Countertops

Cost range: $50 – $150 per square foot

It wasn’t that long ago when most homeowners had never heard of quartz countertops. Today, quartz is one of the most sought-after kitchen counter material available – and for good reason. Quartz is durable, affordable and available in a wide variety of patterns and colors.  

This engineered material is made from crushed stone and resins mixed together to form the hardest, most scratch-resistant material found in kitchens. Homeowners also love quartz because it can be molded to take on the appearance of nearly any natural material, including marble and granite.

Want the look of a marble counter without the maintenance? White quartz countertops are your best bet. Seeking the beauty of a granite countertop, without the sealing to prevent staining? A granite look-alike quartz countertop is right for you. 

Pros:

  • No sealing required
  • Very scratch and chip resistant
  • Almost indistinguishable from natural stone counters
  • Widely available from specialty counter suppliers, or stores like IKEA offer custom quartz options

Cons: 

  • Less affordable than DIY countertops
Quartz installed alongside a cabinet refacing project in a townhome for resale.

Granite Counters

Cost range: $75 – $100 per square foot

Once upon a time, granite was the high-end countertop material that all homeowners craved. They loved its durability, longevity and its beauty. Today, granite’s popularity has declined in favor of quartz countertops. Still, homeowners who are dedicated to natural stone counters tend to prefer granite because of its incredible hardness and scratch resistance. 

Pros: 

  • Available in a range of patterns and colors
  • Scratch-resistant
  • Durable

Cons: 

  • Requires regular sealing to be protected from stains
Granite offers natural variation in the stone, and a variety of color and textures to choose from.

Marble Kitchen Counters

Cost range: $65 – $95 per square foot

Marble is a lovely countertop material available in stunning colors and patterns. Its classic beauty is unparalleled. That said, marble has never been as popular as granite, probably because it’s a soft stone that can stain and scratch easily. You can prevent some of these problems by using trivets and hot pads, and by sealing your counters regularly. Families who are rough on their kitchens or have small kids often opt for an imitation marble-look quartz if they’re not prepared to maintain marble.

Pros:

  • Timeless beauty
  • Long-lasting when properly maintained

Cons:

  • Susceptible to staining and scratching
  • Regular sealing required
The veining and one-of-a-kind nature of every slab of marble make it a beautiful countertop choice.

Butcher Block Kitchen Counter

Cost range: $75 – $150 per square foot

Butcher block a.k.a wood countertops have their own unique charm. They’re not as hard as stone, which some homeowners like (no noisy clinking sounds when glasses and plates are set down!).

On the other hand, wood can rot, so special care is needed to clean up any spills as soon as they happen. Wood also needs regular oiling to remain water-resistant. Over time, that oil leads to the development of a patina that some homeowners like and others dislike. In a farmhouse or coastal style kitchen, butcher block can be a huge hit, and can softens the harshness of all-white kitchen cabinets.

Pros:

  • Unique appearance that can’t be replicated with other materials
  • Soft surface that is not as loud as hard stone
  • Wood is antimicrobial
  • Scratches and stains can be sanded out

Cons:

  • Can be stained by liquids
  • May swell or shrink with changes in humidity
White cabinetry pairs well with butcher block for a warm, farmhouse look.

DIY Kitchen Countertops

Cost range: variable

Whether you’re making your own wooden counters, creating an epoxy countertop surface, or trying your hand at concrete countertops, there are many pros and cons to this kind of home improvement project. 

Pros:

  • Most cost-effective way to install a countertop 
  • Can be fun to install, if you enjoy DIY projects

Cons:

  • Done incorrectly, DIY counters may not be as durable as commercially sold countertops
  • Many people are not comfortable installing their own counters
  • If the work is not done properly, it may not look like your dream counter
Concrete countertops in a recent bathroom transformation by @allthingsnew_home, paired with the Shallow shaker cabinet door in Totally Taupe.

How to Choose Your Countertop Material

Before deciding which counters to install, you’ll have some things to consider. Doing research in advance can help. 

Make a budget. If the material of your choice seems like more than you can afford, be prepared to shop around.

Visit a material supplier. Visiting a material store is a great way to find the look and product that appeals to you the most. It’s always helpful to see these materials in person, and take home a sample if you can!

Consider value, durability, maintenance. Be sure you’re prepared to perform maintenance on the countertop of your choice. Do not install a counter you’re not willing to care for.

With a little research, you can find the kitchen counter material that’s right for you, whether that’s solid surface countertop, a DIY, or the ever-popular quartz. Shop around! Be sure to see the materials you’re considering in person. Seeing the materials up close will give you a much better sense of how you’ll feel about those countertops if you decide to install them in your home. 


6 DIY Projects to Beautify Your Home in 2021

6 DIY Projects to Beautify Your Home in 2021

Now that 2020 is behind us and the holidays are over, many of us are looking around the house for something to do. With more time in our homes than ever, it’s going to be a long, hard winter – unless you can find satisfying tasks to fill your time. We’ve got the answer with these fun DIY ideas! 

Keep yourself entertained with a DIY home project – or several DIY projects. Beautify your property with new finishes, colors, hardware and fixtures. Improve your home’s functionality and boost your quality of life in subtle ways through DIY projects. 

1. Glam Up Your Kitchen with Cabinet Refacing

Are you tired of the same old look in your kitchen? Make a change. You don’t have to install all new cabinets to give your kitchen a facelift. Refacing is one way to make your cabinets look new without the expense. You don’t even have to hire a contractor to do the work – you can do it yourself.

Start by measuring your cabinets, then go shopping. You can pick your color, or paint them yourself. Buy your new cabinet doors from a reputable company to ensure long-lasting beauty. 

2. Refresh and Refinish Furniture

Old furniture has a way of getting scratched up. Refinishing makes old furniture look like new. Use environmentally-friendly chalk paint to give your old end table or bench an antique look, or try re-staining your old wood chairs to give them a like-new glow.

Furniture refinishing is something that many people do as a hobby, and there’s also many small businesses that offer custom furniture refinishing. It’s a great DIY home project if you’re looking for an ongoing task to occupy your time. Once you’ve refinished one chair or table, you won’t want to stop! Before you know it, everything you own will look like new.   

A photo of a young woman painting a chair.

3. Clear Clutter with Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are the perfect contemporary furnishing for improving home organization in 2021. Get clutter up off the floor with your floating shelves. If it’s not the kind of clutter you want to see, use attractive baskets to keep it hidden, organized and tidy. 

Customize your floating shelves to get the perfect fit and look for your home. With the right tools, you can install floating shelves yourself. They look great in the living room, bathroom, kitchen and so on. Want to make your small room look a little taller and airier? Try installing them near the ceiling. Want a pop of color in your room? Paint them before installing.  

4. Create a Wallpaper or Mural Accent Wall

Painted accent walls were very popular a few years ago. That popularity has waned, but recently new types of accent walls have taken their place: board and batten accent walls and wallpapered accent walls! Adding texture to a wall creates an intant focal point in any room.

Board and batten, chevrons, plaid, and abstract accent walls can create a 3D effect and add depth to your room. Paired with a bold or neutral color, you can take a bold stance or play it safe depending on your style. Wallpaper accent walls are slightly more understated but still add focus and a sense of thoughtful beauty to home interiors. Installing wallpaper isn’t the easiest of DIY projects, but as far as wallpapering projects go, one accent wall is doable even for inexperienced homeowners. 

Check out this step by step explanation of how to create a board and batten accent wall!

A photo of a grey plaid board and batten accent wall with tall vases and a hardwood floor.
Accent walls can take a variety of shapes, textures and materials.

5. Get Creative with Cabinet Hardware

You don’t have to completely reface your kitchen cabinets to make them look like new. Replace your kitchen cabinet hardware with something unique like leather pulls, ceramic knobs or modern minimalist handles. This is a relatively inexpensive home improvement project that can easily be completed in an afternoon. 

6. Make Rustic DIY Wall Hooks

Just about anything attached to a board can become a wall hook. Wine corks. Old railroad ties. Even a bent spoon! Find a piece of reclaimed wood, refinish it, attach the hooks of your choice, then install your new wall hook board on a space like the wall of your bedroom or maybe near your backdoor.

DIY wall hooks are convenient, cute and and easy DIY for a rainy afternoon. There are lots of tutorials online that you can follow – just find the one that you like best.  

A photo of a bag hanging from a rustic wall hook.
DIY wall hooks can be made with scrap wood for a rustic touch

Don’t wait. Get started with winter DIY home projects today!

Have fun remaking your space for the new year with these DIY projects. Try a kitchen refresh with all new cabinet doors for your kitchen, or to get started with your custom floating shelves today.