Choosing the perfect wood for a cabinet can prove to be quite difficult as every type of wood has both its advantages and disadvantages.
Acquiring knowledge about the elements that affect your decision will enhance the ease of making a choice.
When selecting wood for cabinetry, there are several factors that must be taken into consideration.
- Durability and hardness of the wood
- Aesthetics and grain pattern
- Responsiveness to stains and finishes
- Cost and budget
- Sustainability and environmental impact
- Style and design compatibility
To simplify your selection process, we will delve deeper into those factors.
The capacity to withstand wear and tear and the state of being resistant to physical damage.
The durability of the wood used determines the lifespan of your cabinets.
Cabinet-friendly hardwoods such as oak, maple, and cherry are significantly resilient against dents and scratches.
On the other hand, woods such as pine and alder which are softer may not be as durable when subjected to frequent usage.
Grain pattern and aesthetics
Each type of wood displays distinct color variations and textures which enhance the overall look of your kitchen.
Choose woods such as hickory or ash that have unique grain patterns for a bold and eye-catching appearance.
For those who favor a subdued and sophisticated look, maple or cherry woods might be worth considering.
The ability to react well to various stains and finishes.
The final appearance of cabinets can be greatly influenced by how the wood reacts to stains and finishes.
Certain types of wood, like oak, have a more consistent absorption of stains, whereas other varieties, like birch, may display unevenness.
It is important to take into account the way in which the wood you choose will interact with the desired finish.
Budget and cost
The wood you choose largely depends on your budget.
High-quality hardwoods like cherry and walnut tend to be more expensive, while alternatives like oak, maple, or even engineered wood products can offer more budget-friendly options without sacrificing quality.
Maintaining the same meaning, the text can be rephrased as: The impact on the environment and sustainability.
Homeowners who are environmentally aware may choose sustainable wood alternatives.
Search for forests that are responsibly managed and certified by organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) when choosing wood.
It is worth considering environmentally friendly options such as bamboo and reclaimed wood.
Compatibility of Style and Design
The wood species you choose should complement your kitchen’s design and architectural style.
If someone has a traditional kitchen, they could improve its appearance with the warmth of cherry or the elegance of walnut. On the other hand, a modern and minimalist design would be enhanced by using sleek maple or even engineered wood with a high-gloss finish.
With a thorough assessment of these variables, you will have the necessary tools to make an educated choice and construct cabinets.
Best Wood For Cabinets
Pine, being inexpensive and readily available, with good workability, is a great option for simple indoor projects, basic furniture, and shelving. Poplar, another softwood, boasts of a straight grain and a light hue that makes it suitable for painted furniture. Birch, affordable and an excellent choice for beginners, is another hardwood one can opt for. For quality furniture with a superior grain pattern and the ability to withstand scratches and dents, Maple and Red Oak make great starting options.
When choosing the wood for your cabinetry, take into account the factors you have acquired.
Due to its rustic and country appearance, as well as being a budget-friendly choice, pine is widely regarded as one of the finest woods for cabinets.
The allure of Pine wood cabinets lies in their gentle amber hue and polished surface, which imbue the cabinets with a sunny and inviting atmosphere.
A type of softwood known as pine is very easy to work with, making it an ideal material for crafting customized cabinets.
Hence, for those new to woodworking, Pine wood is a great choice for cabinetry. However, due to its softness, Pine is susceptible to dents and scratches. Nevertheless, with proper care, one can avoid these issues and maintain Pine cabinets effectively.
Pine wood is a breeze to screw, nail, stain, and paint. Thanks to its even texture, paint adheres to Pine wood exceedingly well.
Allowing Pine wood to maintain its natural finish over time will result in the development of a stunning patina that imparts a distinctive appearance to your cabinet.
Yellow Pine and white Pine are both great choices for areas with high humidity due to their impressive moisture resistance.
Bathroom and kitchen cabinets can be made effectively with pine.
The cabinet surface is uniquely altered by each of Pine’s identifiable knots and other distinctive markings.
It is important to check for knots when choosing Pine for cabinetry.
Opting for oak as your cabinet material is an excellent decision because of the gorgeous wood grain that imparts a distinct appearance to your cabinets.
Your cabinets will have a country, modern, farmhouse aesthetic thanks to their durability, as oak cabinets are not prone to aging quickly.
With its exceptional compressive strength, flexural strength and hardness, oak is considered to be a hardwood.
Oak cabinets are renowned for their exceptional sturdiness, strength, and durability in contrast to Pine, whose susceptibility to scratches and cracks is not a desirable trait.
Its dimensional stability remains intact even when subjected to abuse.
Oak cabinets’ durability and weight capacity make them ideal for storing heavy items without any concerns. You do not need to worry when you put heavy objects in your Oak cabinets.
Sanding the chipped or damaged area is an effortless method of fixing Oak cabinets.
Additionally, Oak wood possesses strong water-resistant qualities, making it suitable for use in moisture-rich spaces such as bathroom and kitchen cabinets.
Oak is an excellent material for cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms.
Staining and sealing oak is a straightforward process. This durable hardwood can be customized to fit various needs and has an impressive lifespan.
Oak, a water-resistant, durable, strong, and hardwood material, is capable of enduring for numerous years.
Furthermore, Oak is both non-toxic and environmentally sustainable.
Cabinets made from poplar wood are considered to be of high quality for painting. This wood is cost-effective and can be cut and milled with great ease. Poplar wood’s even texture provides cabinets with a distinctive look.
Despite being a type of hardwood, poplar falls under the category of soft hardwoods and is generally considered less dense than many other woods.
Poplar is both easy to nail and screw, and it is highly workable, making it an ideal choice for novice woodworkers.
Those who are open to painting their cabinets may want to consider Poplar as an excellent choice. It has a remarkable ability to absorb paint and can be easily crafted into any desired color.
Poplar cabinets come in a broad range of colors that do not complement the natural finish.
Conversely, poplar has great porosity and absorbs paint easily. To regulate its absorption, an extra primer is necessary.
Due to its fiber structure, Poplar does not readily accept stain. To avoid an uneven, lackluster appearance, it is important to adhere to the proper procedure when staining Poplar cabinets.
To ensure the longevity of your cabinets for years, it is necessary to apply a sealer or other protective layer as poplar is not known for its dent resistance.
Due to its less dense annual rings, poplar exhibits inadequate dimensional stability.
Poplar is unsuitable for bathroom cabinets due to its tendency to warp and twist as a result of its weed-like fiber structure and sensitivity to environmental humidity and moisture.
It is important to use fine-grit sandpaper when sanding poplar, as this type of wood has a tendency to become fuzzy during sanding.
Due to its diverse color palette ranging from white to reddish-brown, Hickory showcases a natural contrasting look. Thus, coordinating the color of Hickory cabinets with other pieces of furniture is effortless.
Maple and Oak are not as strong, tough, or hard as Hickory. They are prone to wear and tear when holding heavy items. Additionally, Hickory has a flame-like grain pattern that provides a relaxed, rural appearance to cabinets.
Despite its remarkable durability, Hickory’s ability to withstand water is weak.
It is not advisable to use Hickory cabinets in a bathroom due to the high humidity levels.
Hickory is known for its high availability and the ability to be easily stained in a range of hues, from deep to light shades.
Hickory cabinets require frequent maintenance due to their susceptibility to scratches and marks.
For maintaining the freshness and newness of Hickory, it is suggested to use warm water combined with a gentle dishwashing detergent for cleaning purposes.
Avoid using harsh chemicals that contain silicone or bleach when cleaning.
Cabinets are commonly made from Maple, which is a hardwood possessing a non-porous fiber structure and a smooth wood grain.
Due to its remarkable characteristics, Maple is a resilient hardwood that can withstand heavy use. Maple wood can be painted and stained with greater ease compared to other types of wood. As a result, you can choose any color you like to color Maple cabinets.
Maple cabinets can last for several decades if you take proper care of them and maintain them regularly.
This is a versatile type of wood that can be customized according to our preferences.
Using Maple as a cabinet material has no limitations since it has the ability to offer a modern or classical appearance, depending on the desired lightness or darkness of its color.
Maple is more budget-friendly compared to Cherry and Walnut, making it a cost-effective option that provides great value for its price.
Maple wood is considered as one of the best choices for cabinets due to its remarkable characteristics such as high durability, versatility, and availability.
Due to significant exposure to UV rays, maple cabinets tend to turn yellow as they age.
Hence, it is essential to utilize a stain, sealer, or another safeguarding coating that provides UV protection to safeguard your Maple cabinetry against UV rays that cause yellowing and damage.
Due to its straight wood grain, impressive durability, and spaciousness, mahogany is considered a luxurious type of wood suitable for making cabinets.
Although Mahogany is one of the most visually pleasing woods for cabinets, not many people opt for it due to its limited availability and high price. With its well-polished deep red surface that radiates, it is a stunning choice.
Due to its straight grain and glossy surface, little wax is required to enhance its appearance.
No other type of wood can match the shine achieved by Mahogany when it is polished and regularly maintained.
Mahogany is a wood variety that is difficult to substitute, and cabinets crafted from Mahogany are easily recognizable due to their distinct qualities and appearance.
Mahogany possesses immense strength and durability as a result of being a hardwood. It is able to withstand rot and can endure for years with appropriate care.
As Mahogany ages, its color becomes richer and darker, pleasing many individuals who desire cabinets with a luxurious appearance that enhances their style.
Your cabinet will possess a distinct visual appeal with the use of cherry wood, which boasts a stunning reddish-brown appearance and a tight-grained wood composition.
Cherry wood is abundant with various pins, curls, and knots, making its woodgrain very diverse.
Cherry is a classic wood choice that exudes a traditional aesthetic. However, due to its adaptability, it can also be tailored for contemporary dwellings.
As time goes on, Cherry wood will darken due to exposure to sunlight. To avoid this discoloration, it is important to apply a protective layer such as stain, sealer, or any other product that contains sunblock agents.
It is quite simple to achieve a seamless finish while staining or painting Cherry wood, allowing for minimal errors in the wood finishing process.
The Cherry cabinets have an inviting and warm appearance. With a glazed finish, they provide a traditional aesthetic and also safeguard the darker stain.
The natural reddish undertones of aging Cherry wood bring out a greater shine.
Cherry is known for its exceptional workability, as it offers valuable characteristics in cabinet making such as superior gluing, nailing, polishing, and screwing abilities.
When it comes to cabinets, Ash stands out as a top choice that is also budget-friendly.
The wood possesses perpetual greenery and can be adjusted in accordance with our preferences to improve its look and pattern. It is visually pleasing and ideal for ornate cabinets.
Ash is capable of withstanding heavy weights without cracking or chipping, making it an ideal choice for cabinetry due to its exceptional handling capacity.
It is effortless to stain, paint, and seal Ash wood.
For those who are detail-oriented, Ash wood provides a distinct and appealing look when finished properly.
Ash wood is capable of resisting shock. In the event that heavy objects hit your Ash wood cabinets, the majority of the force of the impact will be absorbed by the wood, thereby safeguarding it from any damage such as splitting or cracking.
Contrary to the typical heaviness and difficulty of moving hardwoods, Ash is surprisingly lightweight and manageable.
No harmful chemicals are released by Ashwood and it’s an eco-friendly option.
Beech wood has an attractive grain and is moderately hard. Despite being dense, it is also easy to manipulate. Although it originates from Europe, beech is reasonably priced. Its finish is smooth and can resemble the type of furniture sold in a flat-pack form. Nevertheless, staining it can be challenging, so it is best to leave it unsaturated after carefully sanding it.
Beech, which is widely used for cabinetry, is classified as a high-quality hardwood in the cabinet industry.
The texture of Beech is attractive and the grain is not as prominent. It is simple to paint and seal Beech due to its excellent finishing qualities.
Beech wood is well-suited for use with woodworking tools, as it allows for clean cuts and accepts stains effectively.
Apart from its weight, Beech wood is a sturdy and inflexible material that imparts a refined appearance to your cabinets.
Beech cabinets possess outstanding compressive and bending strength due to their hardwood nature, making them capable of supporting heavy items without experiencing any damage such as chipping or cracking.
As opposed to many other hardwoods, Beech wood lacks moisture resistance and therefore, it is important to properly seal, stain, or paint the wood before exposing a Beech cabinet to environments with high levels of humidity.
Failure to prevent moisture can result in warping and twisting of Beech wood.
Cabinets made from birch are known for their outstanding durability and tensile strength, making them an excellent choice. Additionally, the wood’s light brown or golden hue contributes to the cabinets’ visual appeal.
Birch wood gives a modern, farmhouse, and contemporary appearance to kitchen cabinets.
Due to its porous fiber structure, birch wood has the capacity to readily soak up stains and achieve the desired appearance. Its exceptional finishing properties make it simple to paint, stain, and seal.
In my experience, Birch appears most impressive when coupled with lighter wood stains to produce an even and smooth surface. The use of darker wood stain combinations, on the other hand, can result in the wood becoming discolored and uneven.
Conversely, Birch has a texture that is inconsistent and has a tendency to become stained unevenly when stain is applied.
It is essential to use a pre-stain wood conditioner before staining Birch cabinets to prevent haphazard blotches and streaks.
Due to its superb durability against dents and scratches, Birch wood cabinets can remain in good condition for many years with minimal upkeep.
Birch is widely used for cabinets because of its high availability and versatility, making it a popular choice overall.
The wood that is frequently utilized to produce high-end customized cabinets is walnut. This type of hardwood boasts an impressive Janka hardness score of 1,010 lbf, which surpasses that of the majority of other wood varieties.
Walnut is highly durable and has good resistance against dents and scratches due to its hardness and density.
The durability of Walnut allows cabinets and tables made of it to withstand heavy loads without causing any damage such as chipping or cracking, making it the prime choice of wood for cabinet making.
Walnut’s adequate water resistance makes it a suitable option for crafting bathroom cabinets.
Cleaning Walnut cabinets is easier than Birch wood cabinets as they can be wiped without the risk of water damage or impurities.
The fine wood grain of walnut, combined with its intricate grain style and unique dark color swirls, distinguishes it from all other cabinet-making woods and imparts a luxurious aesthetic to your cabinets.
Walnut cabinets are distinguished and exclusive due to their remarkable characteristics.
As walnut cabinets age, they transition into lighter hues, resulting in an attractive appearance for interior spaces.
The ideal wood for cabinets is Spruce, a durable softwood with a high degree of hardness and a straight grain. As a result, these types of cabinets are commonly used in garages and shops.
Despite being lightweight, Spruce possesses one of the highest strength to weight ratios when compared to various types of wood.
Despite their lightweight nature, Spruce cabinets are highly durable and sturdy.
The modern appearance of spruce cabinets is attributed to their creamy white color, which is visually appealing.
Due to its smaller knots when compared to wood species such as Pine, Spruce exhibits greater dimensional stability, making it a suitable choice for industrial cabinet materials.
The durability of spruce cabinets is due to the wood’s ease of workability.
Spruce is easy to finish and glue, and it takes stain nicely. This makes it a suitable material for protecting cabinets made of Spruce from water damage, particularly if you are creating cabinets for use in a bathroom or outdoor setting.
- Douglas Fir
The fiber structure of Douglas Fir, a softwood of great popularity in cabinet making, grants it durability and solidity.
The most common wood utilized for kitchen cabinets is Douglas Fir due to its ability to resist fire and endure the high temperatures found in the kitchen, making it the optimal choice for such cabinetry.
Although Douglas Fir is not as durable as hardwoods, it can still withstand the test of time when given the proper finishing and regular maintenance required to ensure that Douglas Fir cabinets endure for years to come.
Due to its high machinability, Douglas Fir can be easily nailed, screwed, or glued, making it a suitable choice for even novice woodworkers to learn cabinet-making from.
The color of Douglas Fir, which changes with age, is a light brown shade. Its straight grain pattern and medium to coarse texture contribute to the distinct look of cabinets made from this wood.
Choosing Douglas Fir for cabinets is a flawless decision due to its moderate workability and lightweight nature, making it an ideal softwood option.
Despite being classified as a hardwood, Alder displays a remarkable level of softness and lends itself well to being worked with woodworking implements.
In case you desire a type of wood that possesses more distinct features than those we have previously mentioned, knotty alder could be a suitable choice. Similar to poplar, this type of wood contains numerous tight knots, and it can be easily crafted using hand tools or machines. Knotty alder enables you to create furniture, doors, and cabinets with a rustic appearance.
Your cabinets will have a distinctive texture due to the uniformly smooth and straight-grained durable wood.
Knotty Alder is popular among woodworkers for cabinet doors because it has a rustic natural beauty that enhances the quality of the woodwork.
Alder wood is pleasing to the eye and offers several finishing choices. Cabinets made from alder can be customized to suit any area, such as the kitchen, office, dining space, or restroom.
Due to its softness, Alder is susceptible to wear and tear, and is not very resistant to scratches or dents.
It is advisable to avoid placing heavy objects on Alder cabinets as they have the potential to cause damage such as wood chipping or cracking.
It is very easy to stain and paint Alder wood, as it will provide even staining without creating sporadic spots or streaks.
It is recommended to sand down any blotches on Alder wood surface that become apparent after staining, and then use a pre-stain wood conditioner prior to staining.
Cabinets made from bamboo are currently in high demand due to its exceptional strength in both compression and tension.
With a superior strength-to-weight ratio, it is exceptionally strong for its weight, making it arguably the best choice of wood for cabinets.
Due to its high structural integrity and ability to withstand significant stress, Bamboo cabinets can support substantial weight without causing any damage to the wood such as chipping or cracking.
Bamboo shows a great ability to withstand and avoid dents, nicks, fractures, and divisions.
With its distinguishing knuckles and nodes, it possesses an unparalleled linear pattern. Although it has a softer composition than many other hardwoods, its durability cannot be surpassed.
Bamboo adds a natural warmth and fresh look to your cabinets, with a neutral tone that is available in white and honey shades.
Staining Bamboo is a simple process as it readily accepts stain, particularly water-based ones.
Bamboo cabinets are highly durable due to the natural resistance of the wood to dents and scratches.
Most hardwoods and softwoods are generally not as strong as bamboo.
- Bamboo is 38% stronger than Douglas Fir
- Bamboo is 109% stronger than White Pine
- Bamboo is stiffer than White Pine
Both dining area cabinets and kitchen cabinets can be made using plywood, which is a type of manufactured wood.
Plywood cabinets possess the same level of durability and strength as cabinets made entirely of solid wood.
Frameless cabinets made of plywood are currently in vogue throughout Europe. Plywood cabinets are versatile and can be utilized not only for home interiors, but also for construction projects.
Cabinet-grade Plywood is made up of twice as many plies and has an exceptionally smooth finish. Additionally, it is good for lamination.
Plywood cabinets are strong and resistant to scratches due to their protective layer and numerous plies.
Due to its lightweight design and ease of installation, the likelihood of making mistakes when handling and installing Plywood cabinets is greatly reduced.
Ensure that these factors are taken into consideration before selecting the ideal Plywood for cabinets.
- Flatness of Plywood
- Edge thickness
- Graining pattern
- Avoid subgrade core materials
- Look for curves
More Kitchen Cabinet Materials for Your Project
Solid wood is a popular choice for architects, interior designers, and homeowners when it comes to building a home. However, the material has a tendency to expand and contract, making it unsuitable for use in kitchen cabinetry, flooring, and countertops. To address this issue, engineered wood products are preferred due to their reliability and affordability. Cabinet boxes made with medium-density fiberboard (MDF), plywood, particleboard with melamine, and occasionally stainless steel are the most commonly used types.
In addition to the appearance of the cabinet door, it is important to closely inspect the interior construction of your cabinetry.
Medium-density fiberboard is a type of wood-based product with moderate density.
Manufactured from recycled wood fibers and resin, MDF is a premium quality composite material that is typically CNC-milled under high pressure to create one-piece frames with a recessed panel. Being dense and heavy, this product is commonly associated with IKEA cabinetry, as the Scandinavian company has consistently dominated the global supply of different kitchen collections. The main advantage of MDF is its ability to resist cracking and peeling, making it an attractive option for customers who prefer to paint over the surface. Moreover, it offers a smoother finish compared to plywood.
Steel that does not stain
Although stainless steel can provide a modern touch to any kitchen, it is not as popular as wood. Although more prevalent in commercial kitchens, stainless steel is difficult to clean when it comes to fingerprints and scratches. On the other hand, it is a suitable option for humid areas as it does not expand or contract like wood.
Although cabinets are usually delivered in a flat-pack form, you can opt for semi-custom alternatives if you desire additional influence over the end result. One feature of cabinetry that is commonly disregarded is the drawers. In most cases, these are composed of the same substances as the cabinet framework, but in superior-quality cabinetry, they could be crafted out of solid wood, ensuring longevity against potential overuse. Solid wood or MDF are likely to be employed for the drawer fronts.
Although selecting the appropriate material for the structural body of the cabinets is crucial, architects and their clients often prioritize the cabinet door since it’s the most noticeable and defining feature of kitchen cabinetry, and there are numerous options available for customization. If your client prefers pink or white painted doors, MDF is the ideal choice, but keep in mind that they can’t be stained due to the lack of a grain pattern. If a traditional natural appearance is more suitable for the overall kitchen design, opt for framed or slab solid wood doors, but anticipate having to sift through a plethora of wood swatch options.