8855 Cypress Woods Lane | Olive Branch, MS 38654662-895-4795
March 22, 2021
by Eric Presley

A Full Guide to Choosing the Best Wood for Your Kitchen Cabinets

Finding the best wood for kitchen cabinets can be a challenging process with so many different options to choose from. With everything from different types of wood to the stain and style, choosing wood for kitchen cabinets takes some time and consideration, but with the right background knowledge, we can make the process a lot easier.

To help choose the best wood species for cabinets in your home to perfectly match your design, here’s a guide from our team at Pro Stone Countertops to lead you through the decision.

Features to Consider When Choosing Wooden Kitchen Cabinets

Features to Consider When Choosing Wooden Kitchen Cabinets

Consider these factors when choosing the right wood for cabinets in your kitchen with so many options to sort through.

Grain

Since wood is a natural material, different types of wood for kitchen cabinets will have varying grains that impact the appearance.

When referring to grain, we are talking about the markings, knots, and patterns in the wood that make it unique. These can take on different appearances, from spiral or curvy to straight grain. The grain is what makes each cabinet so unique, although it may be hard to find the perfect match for this same reason.

Color

No matter your home’s style, there’s a wood color to match. Wood comes in a wide range of hues, including dark brown or a warm, light yellow. To select the right wood to match your design, you’ll want to pay special attention to the undertones. Will warm, neutral, or cool undertones match your kitchen best? This will help narrow down your selection and what type of wood to use for kitchen cabinets.

Construction

Quality is key! Beyond the best type of wood for cabinets, consider how they are constructed, too. For a high-quality construction, you’ll typically want to look for cabinets that have:

  • A solid wood box construction
  • Hand-applied stains or glazes
  • Drawer glides with full-extension
  • A dovetail cabinet assembly

With this kind of construction, your wood cabinets will be built to last.

Budget

At the end of the day, no matter your taste, it’s important to stay within your budget. Rarer woods or a custom design can greatly increase the price of the cabinets, with solid hardwood with unique finishes costing the most. On the low end, plywood and chip wood will cost the least, however, they simultaneously won’t last as long as natural hardwood.

Before diving too deep into the different options, iron out your budget and look at the cabinets that best suit your needs within that range.

Popular Types of Wood Cabinets

There’s a wide range of woods to choose from for your cabinets, and which wood is best for kitchen cabinets depends on your style and needs. From oak and maple to hickory and cherry, we are breaking down the most popular kinds of wood for cabinets.

Cherry

Cherry Wood Cabinets

Cherry wood is the go-to, best type of wood for cabinets for an elegant, classic appeal. This versatile wood can boost every style of kitchen, from contemporary to traditional.

Characteristics

This high-end wood offers a rich grain and can feature knots and markings to show off its natural attributes. While cherry is hardwood, it is one of the softer options.

Style

With a timeless style, cherry is the best wood finish for kitchen cabinets in many homes, particularly those with a classic style.

Availability

Cherry wood is popular in many homes as it is readily available. However, this choice is more expensive than some other wood species for cabinets, like maple.  

Finishes

Often featuring dark, rich hues, a cherry wood looks great with red and brown stains for a warm-toned kitchen style.

Maple

Maple Wood Cabinets

Is maple good for cabinets? Absolutely. If you’re looking for a smooth and uniform grain and durable cabinets, maple is a go-to.

Characteristics

With a fine, smooth grain, maple comes in a variety of colors. Its light, creamy tone is often most popular in homes. You can use hard maple or soft maple for cabinets, with soft maple providing a richer shade with a stain, while hard maple will be lighter in color.

Style

Based on the cabinet’s construction and shape, maple is ideal to use in nearly every style of kitchen - from traditional and classic to contemporary and modern.

Availability

Since maple is a good wood for cabinet making, easy to work with, and readily available, it’s very popular to use for kitchen cabinets. This popular wood choice should be easy to find.

Finishes

Due to the fine grain, maple is the best wood to use for painted cabinets, as it can easily be stained or painted for a stunning finish.

Knotty Alder

Knotty Alder Wood Cabinets

If you’re looking for a more natural finish, knotty alder is the best wood for cabinets to show off natural wood characteristics.

Characteristics

As the name indicates, this softwood typically features an array of knots. Ideal for a more rustic design, this wood boasts natural features that will heighten over time as nicks and dents accumulate over the years. Plus, it’s easy to stain to match your kitchen’s color palette.

Style

Knotty alder is a good wood for kitchen cabinets if you’re aiming for a distressed, worn, rustic finish. While this style isn’t as popular as it has been in years past, it still offers a beautiful, unique finish to a kitchen.

Availability

Knotty alder is most available in the West, where its style is most used. However, it can be pretty readily available in other regions, too.

Finishes

Knotty alder is easy to stain but glaze and paint, making it one of the best wood for painted cabinets. Due to its softer construction, it’s also convenient to distress.

Knotty Hickory

Knotty Hickory Wood Cabinets

Perfectly embodying a more rustic aesthetic, knotty hickory is a more affordable option that looks wonderful in a range of kitchens.

Characteristics

Hickory is considered a more affordable alternative to cherry wood. It features a two-tone look with natural elements including knots, streaks of white, and reddish-brown hints.

Style

Wondering what type of wood is best for kitchen cabinets in a rustic kitchen? Knotty hickory is the answer. This wood offers a rustic aesthetic with lots of natural features and knots that make it a unique feature in your space.

Availability

Knotty hickory may not be as commonly chosen as other wood choices but is still pretty available. Plus, it’s more affordable than cherry yet offers a similar tone - a win-win.

Finishes

Knotty hickory is much more challenging to stain than other wood selections, so instead, this cabinet choice is usually finished with a clear seal. Although it can’t be stained, this cabinet choice will last for years.

Oak

Oak Wood Cabinets

Timeless yet rustic, when choosing wood for cabinets, oak is always a go-to. Available in a range of colors, oak can complete both traditional and modern designs.

Characteristics

Featuring a coarse, uneven grain and colors ranging from light to medium brown, this super hardwood is a popular choice for cabinets.

Style

Oakwood was typically associated with an outdated kitchen. However, the lowered price point has now regained popularity, offering new finishes that can better match a more modern style.

Availability

Oak is one of the more affordable cabinet choices and is very readily available - perfect for a budget-friendly remodel.

Finishes

In the past, oak was often stained, but for a more modern look, it can be painted to match a contemporary aesthetic.

Popular Types of Wood Cabinets

FAQ

What makes a good quality kitchen cabinet?

With so many different kinds of wood for kitchen cabinets to choose from, what ultimately makes a good quality kitchen cabinet is premium construction. Additionally, the wood finishes can make it more durable, like a sealant, and protected for years to come. Focus on finding a real wood cabinet when looking for quality.

What is the best wood to use for kitchen cabinets?

There is no single, best wood for kitchen cabinets. Ultimately, what’s best for you depends on your kitchen’s style, color palette, and budget. Any real, natural wood will have the durability your kitchen needs.

What is the most durable material for kitchen cabinets?

Solid hardwood is arguably the most durable material for your kitchen cabinets. However, when working with a team of experts, you’ll want to be sure the cabinets are actually “real” wood, and fillers or particle boards aren’t being incorporated as these will impact the durability. Additionally, opting for a sealant on your wood can help increase its longevity.

Conclusion

We know choosing wood for kitchen cabinets can be a tiresome process. Still, with the right knowledge of the types of wood for kitchen cabinets and the differences between the options, you can make a more informed decision that best suits your needs.

For more advice on choosing the best wood finish for kitchen cabinets and a team to provide and install your cabinets, our experts at Pro Stone Countertops are here to help. Call us at 662-214-5039 for help finding your perfect kitchen cabinets today.

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