Finishing poplar doors

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Topic by Todd Thomas posted 12-24-2008 03:38 PM 30225 views 1 time favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Todd Thomas

735 posts in 5283 days

12-24-2008 03:38 PM

Good day…...
My door and trim guy is trying to talk us into putting poplar doors in. Saying it will save us a lot of money. He showed us some pictures of some poplar doors and they look beautiful. MY problem is this:
1. never finished/stain poplar door before
2. heard it can be a real problem getting it to look right.

with 18 doors to finish I really don’t want this to turn into a nightmare on finishing street, if you know what I mean.

Any ideas or tips or suggestions on this.


-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

View MRTRIM's profile


743 posts in 5543 days

12-24-2008 08:48 PM

i almost never use stain on anything , i usually use paint or clearcoat . i can only tell you first hand that poplar can be quite pretty with a clearcoat on it , but it may not be the color your looking for . ive also heard people say they had problems staining poplar . with that said you may well have problems with about anything your not used to doing . maybe your painter does this a lot and wont have any problem . i might suggest if its possible to see the doors not the pics . pics can play tricks especially with colors . ill add this , in years long gone we used to build a lot of staircases out of poplar that got stained and or clearcoated . i dont remember there being any problems . thats the best i can offer you on it !

View Todd Thomas's profile

Todd Thomas

735 posts in 5283 days

12-24-2008 09:06 PM

MrTrim….thanks for the advice on the doors…..the issues I’ve heard of are it staining out blotchy like pine can/will if you don’t treat it or use a tint like TransTint instead of stain. Not want to spend a lifetime finishing these doors BUT wanting them to run out nice I’m a little worried that I’ll run into issues that I would not have it I just go with oak, pricing is not that much different between the two. Part of my problem is we do like the look of the light and dark grains in the poplar vs. the grain in white oak. We were planing on not staining anything and just putting a finish coat, 3 or 4, on the floors and doors. We are using Waterlox satin on the floors and it would be the top coat on the doors as well. We looked at staining/coloring the poplar doors because of the green coloring in the wood, not having any experience with poplar I’m not sure if I just top coated them if the green would darken, turn brown, like I’m told it does naturally. . So I guess a second part to the question would be; if I just put the Waterlox product on them would the green tint turn brown, which would be o.k., wife doesn’t think the green would look good

Thanks for any and all help.
confused in TN

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

View MRTRIM's profile


743 posts in 5543 days

12-24-2008 09:40 PM

this is an cabinet that stays out on my carport , the faceframe is poplar with a clearcoat of minwax helmsman . the green usually turns what id call a golden brown.


the rails were made of the green color poplar , you can see the sap wood at the very bottom . the stiles were made of the straight white color poplar .

View PaBull's profile


694 posts in 5490 days

12-25-2008 07:47 PM

Thomas, Poplar is a soft wood, so if the ware and tear is not too bad, this is not a problem. It will stain very dark, because it is not a dense wood. It will paint just fine. It is easy to mill, but during milling it is not very stable; it might worp on you. Once it is finished it is just fine.

I would buy some poplar and take it to your painter and start sampling some stains and paint before you get too far along.

Click for details
The frame around the doors is made of poplar, the doors are clear pine.

View Todd Thomas's profile

Todd Thomas

735 posts in 5283 days

12-25-2008 10:30 PM

Thanks PaBull…...I think I will do just as you guys suggest…samples..Not sure if the ware and tear would be to bad but they are doors and doors seem to get allot of ware and tear…....got my prices from the trim guy yesterday and they are not any better than the prices I got from Jeld Wen for Oak doors…..
these are the interior doors we are looking at.

and this is the exterior door.

Thanks for all your help….and PaBull the fireplace and wall unit looks great!

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

View PaBull's profile


694 posts in 5490 days

12-25-2008 11:11 PM

Thanks TT, and good luck with your project. I like the choice of doors.

12-28-2008 05:48 PM

As posted in other areas popplar does work very well but you would want to use a pre stainer, sealer, the wood does sometime and places will have a mismatched stain look. Like pine.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

10 posts in 5543 days

01-08-2009 02:47 PM

I apologize for not getting around to this sooner but it is hard to find time to get over here from LJs. Here is a post I put up a while ago on this same subject. It contains some pictures of stained poplar doors that we put in our finished basement. We did the entire area in poplar trim to match the doors as well. Basically I treated poplar similar to pine and put a conditioner on it before staining. The green tint that is present in some of the wood will fade to a nice brown after with time.

Hope this helps.

View PaBull's profile


694 posts in 5490 days

01-08-2009 06:24 PM

Thanks Scott, I looked at your pictures. The stain worked well on the Poplar doors. I would not have been able to guess that these doors were poplar.

View Todd Thomas's profile

Todd Thomas

735 posts in 5283 days

01-08-2009 10:50 PM

Scott your doors look great…now I just need to decide if I want to go through the extra step with all the doors…..not sure what to do the way your doors look I might want to do it. Thanks again

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

View RichinsCarpentry's profile


10 posts in 5239 days

02-01-2009 09:58 AM

Wood conditioner is a great way to keep the “blotchy” look away. As has been said if your just going to lacquer them then it isn’t necessary.

-- Dion, www.richinscarpentry.com

View Todd Thomas's profile

Todd Thomas

735 posts in 5283 days

02-01-2009 03:02 PM

thanks for all the responses….you’ve all been very helpful…..I’ll let you know how it turns oout

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

View GregfromKitchener's profile


8 posts in 5246 days

02-07-2009 12:58 AM

Poplar takes very well to priming and painting. As smooth or smoother than MDF. I have also heard that if it is treated properly it can be made to look like Cherry. That would require a wood conditioner to make sure it stains evenly. As far as the rest of the process I am not sure. Try doing a Google on it. Or perhaps your trim guy knows a good painter that could stain them for you. Its grain is very nice but it will take some doing to make it come out the way you want. I would suggest you get yourself a board of it. I believe Home Depot calls it white wood which is a joke because half the time its green not white.

View Todd Thomas's profile

Todd Thomas

735 posts in 5283 days

02-25-2009 12:33 PM

Thanks for all the good responses…...we ended up getting the doors from my lumber guy…...in oak…same style….we thought oak would take the beating from the grandkids better than poplar and wouldn’t have to deal with the staining issues…I am going to make and stain something out of poplar…I like the different colors in the grain…so I’m going to try some of the ideas I got here and will let you know how it turns out…..

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

2 posts in 5171 days

04-09-2009 11:31 PM

poplar is a very vag term. True poplar stains great when sprayed.

-- Quality hardwood moldings

View millmgr's profile


3 posts in 4949 days

11-17-2009 09:58 PM

Poplar is the wood of choice for paint grade mouldings from hardwood wholesalers. It grows fast and produces wide, long, clear lumber for a bargain price. The sapwood is mostly white , some light and dark greens and then purple and black near the heart. Colors not an issue in paint grade. Left natural, the white and greens will turn a fairly uniforn honey color. The purple and black will stay dark. Poplar can be stained to match cherry, walnut, mahogany and many other species with the correct finishing products. It is one of the best “bang for the buck” wood species available for millwork.

View april_luv's profile


10 posts in 4618 days

11-03-2010 08:49 PM

Well, looks great in a frame around the doors is made of poplar.

-- aluminum decorative fences

View dbray45's profile


157 posts in 3337 days

05-12-2014 05:20 PM

Poplar is considered a hard wood but it is on the soft side. It has a nice fine grain. It you are looking to varnish, the green will turn brown over time. I like to prime it and paint it. If you use something like an oil based Rust-Oleum, a paint that actually hardens, and you sand it with 400-600 grit between coats, the results can be seriously nice.

Same goes with polyurethane – use a high gloss for the first coat, dries harder.

-- Love woodworking and fixing most anything

View trevorcharles's profile


4 posts in 2723 days

12-23-2015 08:22 AM

Here as sample http://caldwells.com/interior-doors/shaker-doors transformed to poplar door, perfectly fit and great for bedroom.

View vilatiywindowstrong's profile


3 posts in 2690 days

02-02-2016 08:18 PM

Do you have a photo of your poplar doors? Include the materials that you use too.


View Diyjunkie's profile


33 posts in 1848 days

06-07-2018 02:42 PM

I’d say the Poplar will look dark when it’s stained since it’s a soft wood. I realize this is late but I found some tips on how to stain Poplar doors: https://www.repcolite.com/7-tips-when-staining-poplar/ I’d be interested to know how your doors look with the new stain.

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04-29-2019 06:59 PM

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-- stepsbobet , www.stepsbobet.com

View srebu's profile


1 post in 1485 days

05-14-2019 09:31 AM

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03-08-2020 08:31 PM

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