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MDF slab doors for kitchen cabinets

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George_N

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I've just been reading the poll on preferences in kitchen cabinet types with some interest. Kitchen refurb is to be my next major project and I'm looking for ideas for doors and drawer fronts. I've already decided on frameless cabinets made from melamine faced chipboard for simplicity of construction but I'm not sure about the doors. Slab doors would also offer relatively simple construction..cut panel to size and add edge profile at the router table (when I get it finished)...and my wife would probably prefer a light, easy to keep clean surface. Will I be able to get a smooth enough surface on the edges of the MDF for a paint finish? Maybe this should go in the finishing forum but are the polyester finishes, mentioned in the kitchen cabinet poll thread, brush-on or spray-on (I don't have spraying equipment)? How easy is it for a DIYer to get a smooth, durable finish with either the polyesters or regular paint? I know that is a lot of questions but I'm sure the collective wisdom of the forum will come up with plenty of answers.

cheers

George
 

Jake

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I don't think you would be getting a polyester finish done yourself - as I understand it is a pretty nasty two-pack finish, and certainly only suitable for spraying. They do something like 2 coats of sealant, sand, two of colour, sand, two more colour, sand and then about 6 coats of gloss sanding each time between coats, and then hand-rub the top coat to a mirror finish. The end finish is nearly a mill thick. They have the advantage of spray booths, wide belt sanders, and breathing gear. I'm ducking out of that one...
 

George_N

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jake,
sounds pretty involved and expensive...any idea of the likely cost?

George
 

Jake

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Following on from that, polyester isn't a budget option, and nor is any other lacquer finish. I'm going for it because it will be a better finish than the fancy german poggenpohl etc lacquer finishes, but a much reduced cost over those high end brands. I thought long and hard about trying to do some kind of gloss finish myself, but the area involved and the time it would take do it, and the risk of not being able to get a good finish put me off.

One of the problems is that the plainer the form of the door, the more you need to have a 'perfect' finish that gives enough interest, but also doesn't have any blemishes that the eye will be drawn to in the absence of any ornamentation. A painted shaker door can get away with a less than 'perfect' finish because it is part of the more craftsy feel, there is more to distract the eye, and because it isn't going to be high gloss. It would be difficult, I think, to better or even get near the gloss finish of a bog standard foil laminated off-the-shelf door at the same price. If you wanted a matt finish, you would stand more chance of success, but the simplicity of the door still means that much more attention is focused on the finish.

Along the same lines, if you are going to do the carcasses in MFC, it is very difficult to save any money over buying them off the shelf. If you look at, say, a drawer unit, the cost of the unit will be not much more if not less than the retail cost of the drawer hardware.
 

LyNx

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For a cheaper option, why not laminate the fronts with a high gloss sheet. You can get some really nice colours and have a timber element by having concealed lippings. All easy enough to do yourself.

Andy
 

Jake

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George_N":2fqjo0ff said:
jake,
sounds pretty involved and expensive...any idea of the likely cost?
These guys said roughly £100 per sq m. As did another sprayshop who were going to use a polyurethane, but their sample was much more like the poggenpohl type finish, less glossy and if you catch the light at an angle you can still see sanding swirls in the finish. The polyester is like a perfect piano finish, or a 'wet look'.
 

Scrit

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George_N":20zth2ml said:
I've already decided on frameless cabinets made from melamine faced chipboard for simplicity of construction but I'm not sure about the doors. Slab doors would also offer relatively simple construction..cut panel to size and add edge profile at the router table (when I get it finished)... ...Will I be able to get a smooth enough surface on the edges of the MDF for a paint finish?
Yes, certainly. The trick is to completely seal the severed fibres at the edge. One dodge I use is to use drywall jointing compound - smear it thinly over the edges and let it dry (15 to 30 minutes), then sand off with something like an abrasive net (what they sell for sanding plaster). Next seal the entire surface of your doors with MDF sealant - Rustin's make and acrylic MDF sealant, but they are all much of a muchness. This will raise the grain, so sand off (denib) lightly (120 to 180 grit or use an abrasive finishing pad - rather like pan scourer, only finer) and give it a second coat. Denib again then paint to finish.

George_N":20zth2ml said:
How easy is it for a DIYer to get a smooth, durable finish with either the polyesters or regular paint?
I'd forget polyesters. As Jake pointed out they are a spray-only finish, especially as the more durable varieties are two-pack - which requires breathing gear and a properly set-up spray booth/extraction system. You can, however, get a pretty good finish with paints, rollers and brushes provided you use a good quality paint and take care to denib and flat-off between coats (400grit or so wet and dry or abrasive finishing pad - use soapy water as the lubricant). Remember that more thin coats are better than one or two thick ones.

What you can't achieve without spraying is the extremely deep, high gloss finish favoured by some kitchen designers - on MDF that requires at least two seal coats, one undercoat, two or three coats of matt solid colour and finally two to six coats of clear gloss lacquer. Between coats you need to buff out using an automotive buffing machine with a sponge mop and an auto buffing compound such as Farecla. I've done a couple of pianos this way and it was a heck of a lot of work! The best gloss is really from acrylic or polyester, but for durability a 2k (2-pack) polyurethane is generally better - you just can't get an ultra-high gloss in it. I did quote a potential customer for doing a job this way last summer (she wanted a particularly virulent bright red colour) and she had to sit down when I told her the estimated price - it wasn't a lot cheaper than having solid acrylic slab doors :shock: Needless to say she didn't opt to go that way.

Jake - sorry, but no hand rubbing - you simply can't get the quality of finish you need. It's quite a performance even with a body buffer! And if the sprayer is leaving swirl marks then he's cutting corners - you wouldn't get away with that on a Roller (car), would you?

For anyone wanting the high gloss look there are a couple of good door makers doing a limited range (styles/colours) in vinyl wrapped MDF (and a lot of people doing a much more h*lf-*rs*d job of it) - even going that way is difficult as there are a lot of problems overcoing orange-peeling in the glue process. I did ma in law's kitchen in a high gloss white that way last year, so got a few brownie points there! Another alternative is to us MF-MDF with a high gloss finish - quite a few companies do a whitebut for a range of colours you'll need to find a Polyrey (French company) stockist.

Scrit
 

LyNx

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I would make sure as we use this alot and are quoted £180 a metre, plus i think, you have to get the back faces done the same, so double the cost.

But it does look nice

Andy
 

Scrit

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Jake":1f3xk4xl said:
These guys said roughly £100 per sq m. As did another sprayshop who were going to use a polyurethane, but their sample was much more like the poggenpohl type finish, less glossy and if you catch the light at an angle you can still see sanding swirls in the finish.
That's why they are so cheap - cutting corners

Scrit
 

George_N

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For a cheaper option, why not laminate the fronts with a high gloss sheet. You can get some really nice colours and have a timber element by having concealed lippings.
laminating would be a possibility...lots of contact adhesive but I could do it myself. Would I need to laminate both faces to ensure the doors stay flat (would probably look better anyway)?[/code]
 

Jake

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Scrit":1xzil4rf said:
Jake - sorry, but no hand rubbing - you simply can't get the quality of finish you need. It's quite a performance even with a body buffer! And if the sprayer is leaving swirl marks then he's cutting corners - you wouldn't get away with that on a Roller (car), would you?
No doubt you're right, I was describing it from memory and its a good year ago I got the info from them, if not two. House renovations are such slow progress...
 

LyNx

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George_N, i'll dig out some links to kitchen done with high gloss laminate. They do look good. You will have to both facing or the panels will start to bow.

Andy
 

Jake

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Scrit":j22bqa9z said:
Jake":j22bqa9z said:
These guys said roughly £100 per sq m. As did another sprayshop who were going to use a polyurethane, but their sample was much more like the poggenpohl type finish, less glossy and if you catch the light at an angle you can still see sanding swirls in the finish.
That's why they are so cheap - cutting corners

Scrit
The London Polyester sample was stunningly good, unlike the polyurethane sprayshop who were definitely cutting corners (as do most of the highend german/italian kitchen makers, from those I've seen).

Interesting you say polyurethane is tougher, that isn't what I was led to believe in my researches, amateur as they were.

As Wizer says, you do have to count the back as well, although you can cut quite a lot of cost by dropping the finish level there.
 

Scrit

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Jake":2gwbg4nc said:
Interesting you say polyurethane is tougher, that isn't what I was led to believe in my researches, amateur as they were.
That's the opinion of the tech. guy at oner of my suppliers, although he reckoned that spray melamine was the most durable of all. The melamine is durable because it is hard whilst polyurethane supposedly flexes a bit. I suppose different manufacturers have heir own takes on this depoending on their particular formulation. In any case you'll not get the same high gloss that is achievable with acrylic. Personally I'm not keen on having a high gloss kitchen on grounds of practicality - but it wouldn't stop me building one for a customer.

Scrit
 

Scrit

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George_N":1z5s9tkn said:
laminating would be a possibility...lots of contact adhesive but I could do it myself. Would I need to laminate both faces to ensure the doors stay flat (would probably look better anyway)?
Yes you need to balance both sides of the door to prevent it warping, although the inside can just be a plain white low-cost laminate. I'd still recommend trying to find a high gloss melamine faced MDF (MF-MDF) simply because the board manufacturer has already done the donkey work for you (and has matching edge bandings), hence my references to Polyrey (POLYREY (UK) LTD, VICTORIA HOUSE, 49 CLARENDON ROAD, WATFORD, HERTS, WD17 1HP - Tel: 01923 202700), although I'd also suggest looking at Abet Laminati as they, too, do a range of high-gloss laminates and some very interesting designs.

MF-MDF is commonly used by the shop fitting trades over MFC as it is more durable, if a bit more expensive. From your point of view it has the advantage that it chips out less when cutting it on a saw without a scoring blade.

Scrit
 

engineer one

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like many of our american friends, i have found that using car body filler to aas it were water proof the edges, and then spray can primer done really mist like gives quite a good base for coloured doors, but as has been said you need smooth surfaces, and that takes FOREVER. :cry:

also slab doors are quite heavy, why not make recessed panel doors
they are lighter in weight, look better, and reduce material costs.

but as many people have said, buying the carcases and then making the doors is often a good way to go.

paul :lol:
 
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