Best Wood for Paint Grade Cabinetry

Cabinetmakers discuss the relative merits of Soft Maple and Poplar for paint grade work. September 8, 2008

What is the best kind of wood to use for cabinet facings and cabinet doors that will be painted?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
Soft maple is a good paintable wood. Poplar is cheaper but its grain is a bit more open.

From contributor A:
Soft maple with MDF panels. Poplar is like a sponge; it will soak up the first coat of primer like it was water. It is almost impossible to get rid of the grainy appearance of poplar. The cost difference is negligible compared to the extra painting involved with poplar. A lot of people will use poplar because they can buy s4s stock at a lumberyard.

From contributor J:
Another vote for soft maple. It also sands easier/better, in my opinion. Poplar gets that fuzz on it that takes forever to sand off.

From contributor Y:
Soft maple #1. Poplar will finish okay if you wash coat it first, but that's an extra step.

From contributor M:
He's talking about the best wood for painting. You don't wash coat for painting. You wash coat for staining.

From contributor Y:
If you are finishing with waterborne, putting a very light wash coat of sealer on first and letting it dry will cut down your problems with fuzz when you put on the full coat of sealer. The idea is to keep the amount of water that the wood is exposed to a minimum. We both clear/stain finish and paint with waterborne, sometimes a challenge, but the extra effort is worth it not to have employees exposed to the chemicals. Helps the atmosphere too!

From contributor R:
I use poplar a lot. I use Mohawk E-Z Vinyl Sealer. Sprays easily, dries fast, dosen't raise the grain and sands easily.