MJNewton

Timber vs MDF Door/Drawer Fronts

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We are in the middle of designing a kitchen from DIY Kitchens and have decided to have shaker-style door/drawer fronts. They have five options available varying in price and material:

 

Malton (from £24) - Foil wrap MDF, 22mm
Clayton (from £29) - Painted MDF, 22mm
Stanbury (from £32) - Lacquered MDF, 19mm
Linwood (from £50) - Solid timber with veneer panel, 20mm
Norton (from £52) - Solid timber with veneer panel, 20mm

 

Having received a sample of each our preferred (well, my wife's - they're all starting to look pretty much the same to me) is the Norton. I don't have issues with it being the most expensive, particularly if there are some benefits to it (aesthetics, feel, longevity etc), but I am concerned about the any drawbacks such as structural stability, warping etc with it being timber. Should I be at all worried?

 

We have an MVHR system and the kitchen is part of a family room and so we strive to maintain decent air quality and so don't anticipate an overly humid environment if that helps mitigate the risks.

 

Any comments (concerns/reassurances)?

Edited by MJNewton

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My 2p’s worth:

 

Avoid foil wrapped. The glues that bond them to the MDF fail over time and even faster still if exposed to moisture.

 

Nothing wrong with painted MDF. Dimensionally stable but will swell if subject to damp/moisture.

 

I assume lacquered must be ‘painted with a coat of lacquer’. Only reason to do this would be a)improved resistance to chipping etc b)colour stability c)sheen levels. But hard to be specific as ‘paint’ and ‘lacquer’ are often interchangeable terms.

 

Not certain on the difference of the last two. I assume they must be grained? Possibly a better quality of grain with the veneer. id be very surprised if either isn’t dimensionally stable on something that’s not that large and panelled. 

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Thanks Barney12. It looks like a made an error with the last two in that they both actually have a veneer panel. The differences therefore seem to be down to appearance as the Linwood has grooved joints whereas the Norton are flush/square.

 

I think my concerns boil down to not wanting to spend more on timber only to later find that we've ended up with a worse product in terms of performance. Perhaps I am worrying too much - I do tend to.

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8 hours ago, MJNewton said:

... Perhaps I am worrying too much - I do tend to.

You are in good company- that @Russell griffiths is famous for it.😏

For the MDF - use MRMDF (moisture resistant)

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9 hours ago, MJNewton said:

Thanks Barney12. It looks like a made an error with the last two in that they both actually have a veneer panel. The differences therefore seem to be down to appearance as the Linwood has grooved joints whereas the Norton are flush/square.

 

I think my concerns boil down to not wanting to spend more on timber only to later find that we've ended up with a worse product in terms of performance. Perhaps I am worrying too much - I do tend to.


I just had a look at the website. Your choice is going to be driven by ‘smooth’ or ‘grained’. If you want a smooth finish then it’s going to be MDF (and a painted MDF door is absolutely fine). If you want grained then go for solid timber. The grained effect product in MDF is the foil wrapped one (I.e it has an imprinted foil) which is definitely best avoided. 


As for worrying too much........welcome to the forum, you’re in good company 😄

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47 minutes ago, Barney12 said:


I just had a look at the website. Your choice is going to be driven by ‘smooth’ or ‘grained’. If you want a smooth finish then it’s going to be MDF (and a painted MDF door is absolutely fine). If you want grained then go for solid timber. The grained effect product in MDF is the foil wrapped one (I.e it has an imprinted foil) which is definitely best avoided. 

 

I think you've hit the nail on the head there. We felt that, for us, the smooth doors looked a bit too modern for what we were going for and so we were drawn more towards the grained options which, as you say, effectively means timber if we want the real McCoy.

 

Thanks all for the input; you've been a really useful sounding board.

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2 hours ago, AnonymousBosch said:

For the MDF - use MRMDF (moisture resistant)

 

Not sure what DIY Kitchens use but it could be a moot point as I think we're leaning towards the timber options (for the grain, as above) and I am relieved to have not heard any scare stories about potential warping (cue scare stories about warping!).

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I wouldn't worry about warping.

 

We had shaker painted timber in our last house and I was terrified that water would get into the joins and swell the wood. It didn't happen in the few years before we moved.

 

Now we have a lacquered high gloss kitchen. I believe that it is more waterproof and easier to clean.

 

I think though any modest differences in durability are not enough to sway you from getting the kitchen that you like and most suits your house. The individual doors can always be replaced if there are any issues.

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Be very careful when someone presents a painted wooden door.  To keep costs down a number of companies use strips of inferior grade timber and veneer it over with Oak to create the impression of a solid oak stiled door.

 

Ultimately you will get what you pay for. 

 

Since you prefer a more traditional style door definitely avoid anything that is lacquered over foil (smooth or grained). Try and get to the bottom of the source of the doors you are buying and the construction of the door. If what you are looking for is a painted wood shaker kitchen, then either buy solid tulipwood doors (its a softwood but its absolutely fine and you wont be fooled into believing you have paid for some super duper timber) or pay more and get a solid ash/oak framed door. Your worst outcome is to pay for a door as described above believing its something that its not.

 

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