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Is it safe to use pine and poplar interior trim pieces together or will I have trouble later from things expanding/contracting differently in the future? Specifically, I have pine door jambs and would add poplar doorstop trim. Curious if poplar casing on pine door jambs would have issues too. I'm guessing most people wouldn't hesitate to do this but I am extra cautious about having pieces warp later on.

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  • Totally fine. (Assuming paint, rather than stain…) May 26 at 14:01
  • "or will I have trouble later from things expanding/contracting differently in the future? ...I am extra cautious about having pieces warp later on." Warp is a completely different issue to the natural expansion/contraction cycle. Except in specific circumstanced that we don't need to concern ourselves with here, ALL wood expands and contracts in service. But very little of it warps. Do you need a primer on wood movement to help firm up on the relative rates of expansion/contraction along the different axes?
    – Graphus
    May 26 at 19:34
  • @Graphus Ok, "cautious about pieces warping" is too specific. I'm cautious about not doing something stupid that will screw up my work later on. What I was thinking is something like adjacent pieces moving out of unison and working fasteners loose or just cracking the paint. Another primer on wood movement probably wouldn't kill me. I think I've read them before but they just don't translate to subtle stuff like this for me. May 27 at 0:51
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    Hi, can you provide images showing parts that concern you?
    – Volfram K
    May 27 at 4:58
  • @Volfram I'll see if I can take one later but it's door stop molding, the ~1 inch wide strip on the face of a door jamb that keeps the door from swinging through. That's the specific problem in front of me now but I do want to understand this in general, not just for this exact case. May 27 at 19:07

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Every piece of wood will expand and contract at somewhat different rates. Even two pieces of pine from the same tree will likely be different.

Old furniture (like a chest of drawers) used to be made of oak or maple or mahogany, while the backs were often made of pine because it was cheap and nobody would see it. If these pieces have lasted for centuries, there's no reason your jambs and trim made of poplar and pine will have any issues.

As noted in a comment, though, you'll want to paint this, not stain it. Poplar isn't a particularly pretty wood for staining, but it's fantastic for painting.

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    It's got a very tight grain that doesn't print through the paint. Makes it much easier to get a nice smooth finish with a minimum of prep time. Also, it's cheap. Maple also has a nice tight grain, but it's not so cheap... OTOH, poplar often has a greenish color to it that makes getting a nice looking stain job difficult because you end up with that green tinge coming through the stain.
    – FreeMan
    May 26 at 16:57
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    Forum denizens that complain about grain raising have forgotten the basics of painting. Prime, lightly sand between coats, apply at least 2 finish coats. (Not rocket surgery!) May 27 at 14:54
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    Well, @aquaticapetheory, you are, of course, always welcome to stain your poplar and have the mismatched grain show through, just like it will with the Doug Fir. It's your house and you're the one who has to live with it. I was attempting to offer up some of the conventional wisdom. I've not tried staining poplar myself, but I can see where it wouldn't match the look of pine at all. It might just be time to bite the bullet and buy some pine stock that you can mill down, or live with what you've got. Only you can make that call.
    – FreeMan
    May 27 at 15:01
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate, well put. I would have imagined that any pro would accept grain raising as just par for the course, and, one could argue that a true pro might pre-raise the grain in as many cases as possible. Assuming waterbased paint naturally, with oil-based primer and/or paint it's basically a non-issue.
    – Graphus
    May 27 at 17:14
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    @aquaticapetheory Go ahead and stain it. If you don't like it, paint it. Highly recommend doing it in this order. The other way is much harder.
    – gnicko
    May 28 at 1:37

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