Learn the characteristics of wood being used in kitchen cabinets today.
Kitchen cabinets are the major focal point in every kitchen. Cabinets must strike a balance between style, support, and functionality. Choosing the right material and quality of workmanship is paramount to creating an aesthetically pleasing design that will stand the stresses of everyday use for many years. Here’s a look at some of the most common cabinetry materials used in the construction of kitchen cabinets.
Quality, Workmanship, and Materials Create Kitchen Cabinets That Last
Professional cabinet makers are artists that create stunning, classic, sophisticated cabinetry using select hardwoods and beautiful veneers. A quality cabinet maker creates kitchen cabinets that showcase the unique beauty of the materials used, and offer durable construction as each cabinet is crafted, joined and finished. For many homeowners, the variations of color and grain meet their creative vision. Others who seek a more uniform look favor paints and stains for a more consistent appearance.
Here are some of the most popular wood choices being used to create kitchen cabinets. (Looking for kitchen design and inspiration? Click Here!)
Popular Cabinet Woods
- Oak – By far the most popular choice for solid wood cabinets, oak offers a strong “flowery” grain that is visible through any color stain. If you are looking for a lighter, less red patina, consider white oak. If you want more depth of color, red oak will take a darker stain. To truly enhance the grain of red oak, consider using a cherry stain.
- Pine – The only “softwood” commonly used in kitchen cabinet construction, pine is a pale yellow color and often shows knots. It’s stunning in distressed or antiqued finished in a rustic kitchen. It’s often featured in English, French and American country kitchens. Eastern and Western white pine is sometimes used in select semi-custom cabinetry.
- Cherry – Cherry is durable and resists knocks and marring. It’s an elegant wood that is often used in formal cabinets with raised panels. Cherry offers a versatility that can provide a contemporary personality for your kitchen.
- Hickory – Hickory offers a similar grain pattern and strength to oak while being a “lighter” wood. Its rustic style means that it’s a rare choice for semi-custom and custom cabinetry.
- Birch – A very pale, durable wood that accepts stain well, birch is often used in contemporary cabinets that feature raised and recessed panel doors.\
- Ash – Another wood that is similar in strength and durability to oak, it has a lighter color and very little noticeable grain. It’s often used in cabinet interiors and takes both veneer and stains well.
- Hard Maple – While hard maple takes stain well, it’s a light color and fine grain is often naturally finished to provide a light contemporary look in the kitchen.
Common Natural Grain Patterns and Characteristics
Wood is a common choice for kitchen cabinets because it brings warmth and texture that stands apart
from the other elements in the kitchen like modern stainless steel appliances and tiling. All-natural wood offers unique and defining natural characteristics that enhance its beauty and those “imperfections” can be brought out by using stains and glazes.
- Bird Pecks – small marks in the grain caused by birds. No, really!
- Burls – swirls or twists in the wood caused by a “disease” that affects the wood during growth. Burls do not contain knots.
- Gum Streaks – Mineral like streaks of color only found in cherry wood.
- Heartwood – The mature, darker wood that extends from the sapwood to the pith.
- Sound knots – solid knots across the face that show no signs of decay.
- Mineral Streaks – Color, usually olive to blackish-brown that typically follows the grain pattern of the wood.
- Sapwood – The lighter colored parts of the wood that grows from inside the bark to the heartwood
- Wormholes – Small holes in the wood that range in size up to 1/16th of an inch.
- Sugar Tracks – yellowish to dark brown streaks that run throughout the wood.
Choosing Your Kitchen Cabinets
Choosing between custom, semi-custom and stock cabinetry generally come down to your budget. Your family spends a lot of time in the kitchen and your cabinets are one of the most used elements in your kitchen so it makes sense to opt for the highest- quality, most durable cabinetry you can afford.
Custom cabinets will last the longest and usually come with a longer warranty, but you can mix and match, for example, using custom cabinets for hard to fit areas or as focal points in your design.
The wood you choose for your kitchen cabinets affects their aesthetic look – meaning your overall kitchen design, as well as how they will stand up to daily use. The most popular choice for cabinets materials are solid hardwoods, but to lower costs, the woods are often applied as veneers over another layer such as plywood.
A design/build contractor or kitchen designer can help you understand your options when it comes time to choose your kitchen cabinets. If you are considering a kitchen remodel or home renovation in Greater Dallas, contact us to learn more about our design-build services. We will take into account your lifestyle, how you use your kitchen, and your budget to help you choose the cabinets for your dream kitchen renovation!