What are standard grade cabinet doors?

What are standard grade cabinet doors, and when should you order them? Standard grade cabinet doors are the most common choice; here’s why.

Two employees standing next to a lift of raw lumber, with more lifts of lumber visible in the background.

Have you ever tried to place an order when you aren’t sure what you need? The stress of that uncertainty is overwhelming. You are left wondering if what you have ordered will work or if you have made a choice that will cost you time and money.

In the woodworking industry, there is a lot of confusion about material grades. It can be hard to know what material grade will work best for your cabinet door order. 

You can assume that the standard grade cabinet doors will work, but how can you be sure? 

If there’s one thing you want to avoid, it’s having to replace an entire kitchen’s worth of cabinet doors because you chose the wrong grade. 

It would be helpful to know exactly what each cabinet door grade is, right?

At Cutting Edge Doors and Woodworking, we have worked in the industry for over 20 years. Our team has taken the time to create specific material grades that have clear quality expectations. Now, we are passing that information on to you to make your decision easier.

After reading this article, you will know:

  • the quality expectations for our standard grade doors.
  • how this grade compares to other cabinet door grades.
  • when and why you should order standard grade doors. 

Quality expectations for standard grade cabinet doors

A builder grade cabinet door with a mineral streak circled.

At Cutting Edge Doors and Woodworking, we recommend standard grade cabinet doors for orders receiving a medium to dark stained finish.

Stained finishes are recommended because standard grade doors may have up to 25% color variation on the flat surfaces of the cabinet doors. A stained finish will hide most color variations.

Mineral streaks up to 3mm wide by 15mm long are allowed. You might be thinking, ‘That’s nice, but what are mineral streaks?’ Mineral streaks are dark-colored lines in the wood caused when the tree absorbs and deposits minerals from the soil. You can see a mineral streak in the picture to the left.

In standard grade cabinet doors, no open or closed knots are allowed. However, pin knots (knots smaller than ¼” in diameter) are acceptable as long as they aren’t in a noticeable pattern.

Now, is standard grade the best grade out there? Or are there other grades out there that might work better for your order?

Comparing common cabinet door grades

Our standard grade cabinet doors are called standard grade for a reason: they work for most orders. However, there are other options available that may be a better choice; it will depend on what you or your customer is looking for.

There are a lot of other options available. We will briefly look at the other available cabinet door grades and when you might choose to order those grades.

A Rustic White Oak door with a beaded center panel.

1. Rustic cabinet doors

Rustic cabinet doors have the fewest quality restrictions. Almost anything is OK in a rustic cabinet door. Knots, mineral streaks, cracks – as long as there are no structural issues or machining defects, the door is up to our quality requirements.

Because of the wide range of acceptable wood, rustic cabinet doors are a great option if you want to showcase the natural features of wood.

A Knotty Alder cabinet door with a solid wood center panel.

2. Knotty cabinet doors

Knotty cabinet doors can’t have any open knots or see-through holes.

Other than that, knotty cabinet doors are much like rustic cabinet doors. As long as there are no structural issues or machining defects, anything goes.

Knotty cabinet doors are the best choice if you want most of the natural characteristics of wood, but don’t want to be able to see through knots in the cabinet doors.

A paint grade Poplar cabinet door.

3. Paint grade cabinet doors

This one’s pretty obvious, right? Paint grade cabinet doors are for orders that are getting painted. 

Since you can’t see the wood through a painted finish, any color variation or small defects are acceptable. 

However, anything that might show through the painted finish (knots or cracks) will either be filled with putty to make the flat surface level or rejected.

A builder grade Maple shaker-style cabinet door with a plywood center panel.

4. Builder grade cabinet doors

If your order will get a dark stained finish, you might choose builder grade cabinet doors. This grade costs approximately 8% less than standard grade cabinet doors.

Any color variation is acceptable for builder grade cabinet doors as the dark stained finish will hide the color variation. However, defects like knots and cracks are unacceptable because they will be visible through the finish.

5. Standard grade cabinet doors

Our hero! Standard grade cabinet doors are the middle-of-the-road option. They are the best choice if you want wood doors but don’t want all the natural features of wood (like knots and color variation).

A select grade cabinet door.

6. Select Grade Cabinet Doors

Select grade cabinet doors are the premium option available and have a price tag to match. At approximately 20% more expensive than standard grade cabinet doors, you can expect almost perfect doors. No color or grain variation on the flat surface of the cabinet doors is acceptable.

This grade is for orders getting a light stain, clear lacquer, or whitewash finish. 

With that out of the way, when and why should you choose standard grade cabinet doors over all the other options?

When and why should you order standard grade cabinet doors?

As you have already seen, our team recommends standard grade doors if your order is getting a medium to dark stained finish. The recommended finish range is important because a lighter finish might require a higher grade, while a lower grade might work for orders getting a darker finish.

What are the benefits of standard grade doors?

Because standard grade allows for some color variation and wood characteristics, the price is reasonable. The cost of raw standard grade Maple doors ranges from about $24.46/square foot to $66.42/square foot depending on the door style.

Standard grade doors work well for a wide range of finishes. If your customer isn’t 100% certain what finish their order will receive, standard grade material will be a safe bet.

Also, standard grade wood is readily available, so your order shouldn’t encounter delays.

Standard grade cabinet doors: the common choice for a reason

Before reading this article, you knew several cabinet door grades were available. While you knew standard grade was an option, you weren’t sure it was the best choice for your order.

Now, you know when and why you should choose standard grade doors. You also know when another grade might be a better choice.

What next? Look at this article about the cost of standard grade doors and what factors affect the price