Wood Choices for Kitchen Cabinets

The cabinets in a kitchen are the most prominent and noticeable feature. They set the mood and tone of the kitchen and also are important in the functionality of a kitchen. Choosing the right wood for the cabinets is an essential element when designing the overall feel of a kitchen. Wood choice is largely dependent on light sources, so when choosing wood and finish, a homeowner would want to consider what wood source and finish will make the best use of the light available and will create the look they want. Some of the finest woods for cabinetry are the hardwoods: Hickory, Oak, Cherry and Maple.

Maple is currently one of the most popular choices for kitchen cabinets for several reasons. Maple has a subtle and even-grain which gives maple cabinetry a smooth and clean appearance. Because of its grain, it also is a great choice for staining or painting. Maple is a hardwood and therefore it will last longer than other softer woods.

Probably the most popular option for cabinetry over the years has been Oak. It has a course, rich texture that can be very pronounced with a dark stain. The beautiful grain is a selling point for many people. That said, because it is so popular, someone looking for more unique cabinetry might want to look elsewhere. Like Maple, Oak is a hardwood and therefore long lasting.

Another popular wood choice is Cherry, especially in upscale kitchens. Although Cherry can be a little more expensive, it is a beautiful and elegant option. Its grain is smooth and uniform, which makes it ideal for stains. Though it can be stained many colors, the most popular is a deep brownish red.

These are three of the most popular wood options for cabinetry. However, there are many other options including Alder, Hickory, and Ash. A homeowner may want to look at samples and showrooms before deciding on the wood choice that is right for the kitchen.

cherry

Cherry Wood

Although Cherry can be a little more expensive, it is a beautiful and elegant option. Its grain is smooth and uniform, which makes it ideal for stains. Also known as fruitwood, cherry is a strong, fine-grained hardwood with a pink undertone, often played up with a medium or dark finish to enhance its mahogany-red tones. Its rich coloring darkens with age and exposure to light. Cherry resists warping and is easy to carve and polish. Often used for 18th-century and formal, traditional-style furniture, cherry is often considered a luxury wood. Fine-grained hardwoods, such as maple and alder, are common substitutes for cherry. Black Cherry grows in Canada, the United States, and Central America; European Cherry is distributed throughout Europe and southeast Asia.

oak

Oak Wood

Oak wood has a course, rich texture that can be very pronounced with a dark stain. The beautiful grain is a selling point for many people. Oak is the wood most commonly used for finer, more durable furniture. It’s a very hard, heavy, open-grained wood that grows from deciduous and evergreen trees in the United States, Canada, and Europe. It's found in both red and white varieties. Red oak (also known as black oak) has a pinkish cast and is the more popular of the two. White oak has a slightly greenish cast. Prominent rings and large pores give oak a coarse texture and prominent grain. It stains well in any color.


maple

Maple Wood

Offers a smooth, closed grain pattern, generally off-white in color. Maple contains a natural resin that causes the wood to turn amber as it ages. Maple has a subtle and even-grain which gives maple cabinetry a smooth and clean appearance. Maple is very light-colored medium-to-hard wood, abundant in the eastern United States. Known for its shock resistance, maple has diffused, evenly-sized pores that give the wood a fine texture and an even grain. Eastern maples are generally harder than western maples, due to the colder winters and shorter growing seasons. Both are highly durable and take any stain well. Maple can be finished to resemble walnut, cherry, or other more expensive hardwoods.

alder

Alder Wood

Alder, part of the birch family, is a softer hardwood from the Pacific Northwest. Consistent color, stability, and uniform acceptance of stains and finishes are some of the characteristics that have made Western Alder a preferred wood for furniture. Its elasticity makes it ideal for carving intricate details. Ranking second only to oak as the most commonly used wood, alder offers the look of many fine hardwoods at a value price.

hickory

Hickory Wood

Is known for its strength, open grain and distinctive color variation within each piece of wood. Ranging from light to deep brown, Hickory’s unpredictable color spread is especially noticeable in a natural or light finish, with darker stains mellowing the variation. One of the hardest, heaviest, and strongest woods in the United States, hickory is a hardwood whose varieties can also be found in Canada and Mexico. Distinguished by extreme contrasts of light and dark colors, it has a dramatic natural look. For more even coloring, hickory can be easily stained.

 

ash

Ash Wood

White Ash is commonly used in the furniture market. Ash is a long-fibered, light-colored, medium-density wood that grows in the United States and Canada. Its coarse, porous grain is similar to that of oak, but it varies from white to light-red in color. Hard and heavy enough to be used for baseball bats, it’s also flexible enough for bending. Ash takes stain well and is used mainly for chairs and stools.