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What is Poplar Wood?

Poplar is the cheapest hardwood used in construction. It is inexpensive because it is also the softest of the hardwoods. Most general consumers may have never heard of Poplar because it is not typically an advertised material name. What makes it popular is actually its versatility. With the right preparation and attention, Poplar can be stained to resemble many of the more expensive woods on the market including Mahogany and Cherry. If the budget for a cabinetry run is low, but the space calls for a dark hardwood appearance, then considering Poplar would be an excellent alternative choice.

A problem with Poplar softness is that it is often discolored by the saw mill’s cutting blades, which leave the boards with irregular color patterns. Many choose to simply paint Poplar boards and completely avoid the difficulty of staining it. The greatest challenge to transforming Poplar into a replica of harder woods is in the staining stage. This wood has a tendency to absorb irregularly and create blotches or discoloring. To overcome this problem, begin sanding the poplar surface with sandpaper progressing from 80-grit to 220-grit. Then use 300-grit to remove the marks left by the sandpaper. Once the surface is free of dust, apply a pre-stain conditioning mixture of 1/3 polyurethane and 2/3 mineral spirits for 15 minutes before wiping off the excess and reapplying. After two applications, the Poplar wood will be much more receptive to even staining.

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