Veneer kitchen cabinet doors?

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Hi all,
We are embarking on a kitchen renovation. We would like flat slab doors for our cabinets. Any opinions on wood veneer on MDF, which seems to be most prevalent, as opposed to flat glued-in panels of solid wood? We've heard the latter can move around and warp, and you should have battens on the back, whereas veneer is what used to be used for good furniture and is a fine product. We're afraid veneer will chip or crack or peel.
We don't know what is the best to get a good yet economical flat slab cabinet door.
Thanks.
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I have made kitchen cabinets and other cabinets with solid doors (as opposed to floating panel). Yes, they move around some, though if made correctly they shouldn't warp or twist very much, not enough to be objectionable. I have never used "battens". The trouble with veneer on MDF is that it is going to be fragile. Most of it is only slightly thicker than a sheet of copy paper. But veneered doors on MDF (itself a sorry kind of material) will not warp, certainly. And I guess if you handle everything very gently and don't envision ever having to refinish the doors, the veneer is what you want. Personally I would never consider veneer--I like solid doors, and if I really want them to be as stable as possible, I use floating panels.

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Thanks. I've had so many different opinions on this I don't know what to think. Even on the MDF question -- at woodweb.com the cabinetmakers are of 8 opinions on MDF -- whether to use it or not, how strong it is, etc. etc..
Various KD's have told me that veneer is used for fine furniture and people have uninformed bias against it, as if it's "only" a laminate. We are not doing a super-high-end kitchen, mind you, but we are concerned about resale value. The cabinets we saw and are considering, in veneer, are by Lescare, looked very nice and sturdy. We were also considering Thermofoil just because we get a ridiculous amount of dirt because of truck traffic outside our window (in New York City) and it would be easy to clean. And I didn't want any routing, any grooves to have to clean -- that's why we wanted flat slabs. There seems to be a lot of veneer out there, from Plain and Fancy and Canac to Ikea, so I'm really curious if there are problems with it if it's made by these established cabinet companies -- if they have good reputations and the veneer is a crappy product, wouldn't that reflect on them?
And another consideration is that I'm afraid the solid wood doors would break our budget. I'm awaiting a quote on those in the same line in which we're looking at the veneer.
I suppose if we are really scared of veneer we'll just have to get a panel door, shaker or something, to evade the question of slab -- veneer or solid.
Is there any place or resource where I could find out about pros or cons of veneer?
Thanks for the response.
donald girod wrote:

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One of the problems with veneered MDF is if the veneer gets split and the MDF gets wet, most likely in a kitchen, the MDF is prone to swell and start breaking down. Any cabinet shops in yellow pages? Wood is much safer than MDF or particleboard.
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Barri Brown wrote:

MDF isn't strong at all. Very weak, particularly in shearing; i.e., if you try to bend it it will break easily. OTOH, you don't need any strength to speak of for cabinet doors.
MDF is also quite heavy and holds fasteners poorly. The combination of those two characteristics means that hinges will tend to come loose if they are screwed on. _________________________

True, veneer is used in making furniture - fine or not - and has been for 100s of years. The advantage was that wood that was either inherently attractive or which had an attractive figure could be applied over a less attractive surface. In the case of figured wood, it was and is in short supply and was and is used as accents.
I doubt that much veneer is used nowadays to dress up plainer but solid wood...most is applied over a man made surface such as plywood, particle board, MDF. The big advantage here is that the resultant panel is stable...it doesn't expand and contract with humidity changes as would a solid panel. In the case of cabinet doors, that means they could be full inset, 3/8 inset or overlay (relative to the cabinet face frame).
Until a few decades ago, veneer ranged from 1/12 - 1/16" thick. Then the de facto standard became 1/28. Nowadays, it is nominally 1/42; I say "nominally" because much is even thinner. _________________________

I see no reason to be scared of veneer. It isn't going to crack or peel. Not if it is applied correctly and I can't imagine you finding any that isn't.
I wouldn't be keen about it being on MDF - I'd prefer plywood or even particle board - but even MDF should be OK. Particularly if the hinges are what is known as "cup" hinges...hinges that are mounted in an approximately 1 1/2" hole in the back of the door. Personally, I am less than fond of those but I would prefer them to screw on hinges when using MDF, _________________________

Google?
BTW, do you like Scandinavian case goods? Office cabinets, credenzas, bookcases, etc. It is all veneer, looks great.
-- dadiOH _____________________________
dadiOH's dandies v3.0... ...a help file of info about MP3s, recording from LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that. Get it at http://mysite.verizon.net/xico ____________________________
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Well made solid wood wont warp if the wood was cured. Im sure good companies warranty against that. Not your regular HD stuff though.
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I've made 2 kitchens with frame and panel cabinet doors with veneered 1/4 plywood, which I veneered myself. The panels are absolutely flat, stable in all weather conditions, and look great. Veneer has an undeserved reputation as an inferior quality product, but in fact it is good for the environment, easy to work with, avoids wood movement problems when adhered to the proper substrate, allows tremendous design flexibility (like curved doors) and is relatively inexpensive. Look at any collections of fine furniture (like Fine Woodworking's Design Book series) and you'll see that a large percentage of the projects are veneered somewhere. Comments about refinishing difficulty are valid (standard commercial veneer is 1/40th thick), but with good initial finishing technique, refinishing kitchen cabinets isn't going to be necessary. When properly applied, quality veneer certainly won't crack and peeling or delamination risk is strictly related to the quality of workmanship, glue (urea-formaldehyde, not contact cement or PVA), and substrate preparation. Exposed veneered edges are prone to chipping. I place the veneered panels in 1/4" dados in frames of solid wood-- no exposed edges. I personally don't like to use thin MDF for door panels. I find it fragile and heavy. MDF is the preferred veneer substrate for heavier applications, like tables and countertops.
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I would second most of what Jim has said . The major problem these days with veneer, whatever the substrate is it is much too thin. I have seen some stuff where the veneer was so thin the glue came right through to the finished side, which makes it virtually unstainable. Surfaces cannot be refinished, as soon as one takes a sander to it then you are through to the substrate.
Most MDF stuff is low end.
Using high quality veneer ply is almost as expensive [and can be more at times] solid wood construction . Here is what I would recommend .Use solid wood and contract the job out to a small shop well out of the city. Quality rough sawn lumber such as close grain white oak is available at very reasonable prices ,cherry to a lesser extent . I would go solid totally but with framed panel doors . The panels can float in the frames and can look like a flat panel door with the exception of a small reveal to allow of wood movement .That way you can end up with a clean attractive design, at a reasonable price .....thats my 2 cents
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