We Ship To Canada!(Taxes and Duties Included in Shipping Cost, No Customs Broker Needed)

The 5 Best Woods for Your Kitchen Cabinets

Dec 27th 2022

Choosing the right wood is an important decision when buying cabinet doors. When it comes to cabinet wood types, you need a material that will hold up to the normal wear and tear that comes with cooking in a kitchen, but also provide an eye-catching style. This video and accompanying blog discuss selecting the right wood for your cabinets. By exploring the different options for the best wood for kitchen cabinets, you can determine which is right for your needs.

Which Are The Best Woods for Kitchen Cabinets?

The best wood for cabinets should tactfully balance functionality and style. Choosing the cabinet wood type for you is no easy task, as there are plenty of species with different grain patterns and strength factors. Fortunately, you can’t go wrong when you start with a good list of options. The following are the best materials for kitchen cabinets, with each offering its own advantages.

1. Alder

Alder grows primarily in the Pacific Northwest, in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Although classified as a hardwood, alder is a fairly soft hardwood with medium density and is softer than oak and maple. Alder is often used more in the western states but is becoming more popular and more available across the US.

Alder’s grain is generally straight, with a fine, uniform texture. This wood has excellent working properties, making it one of the best materials for kitchen cabinets, and as a result, it’s becoming very popular in the cabinet industry. It has excellent finishing properties, too, but care is needed when staining. Alder requires careful wood sealing to prevent a blotchy and uneven finish.

  • Excellent for traditional or modern styles, but can be distressed as a complement to rustic styles
  • Similar to cherry in its color tone but a lower price 
  • Looks great when glazed or stained to highlight its subtle grain, but also excellent at holding paint
  • A durable hardwood
  • Easier to work with, shape, and paint than other hardwoods
  • Features a straight, fine, and uniform grain                                                                         

2. Oak

Oak is separated into two distinct types—red oak and white oak. Contrary to what you might think, white oak tends to be slightly darker and grayer in color, while red oak is lighter and varies from reddish brown to wheat in color.

White oak is commonly used in whisky barrels, wet environments, and cargo truck flooring, while red oak is typically used in furniture and cabinets because of its hard strength. Red oak is a slightly softer but still durable wood, which stains well and withstands damage, making it one of the best choices for wood kitchen cabinets.

The slower growth of the oak tree makes the wood denser and superior for furniture wood. Oak, especially red oak, is good for staining but not the best option for painting.

  • The detailed grain makes oak excellent for rustic, traditional, or farmhouse styles.
  • Both types offer a warm, cozy ambiance
  • Both types look excellent when highlighted with stain                                                           
  • Very elaborate and pronounced grain patterns, often with knots
  • Hardwood that features impressive strength and durability
  • Red oak is a lighter, pink tone while white oak is slightly darker and features beige tones

3. Maple

Maple is a widely available and common choice for wood, typically found in the northern Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic states. Unlike most other hardwoods, the sapwood of hard maple lumber is used more often than its heartwood. The heartwood tends to be a darker reddish brown and is seldom used in cabinets, while the sapwood ranges from nearly white to a charming off-white cream color.

The grain in maple is generally straight, with a fine, even texture. Maple finishes to an attractive light color with polyurethane alone; however, it can be tricky to stain correctly. Because maple is a tight, closed-grain wood, it requires experience to stain without looking blotchy and uneven.

Hard maple is a hard and heavy wood, as the name indicates, and it has excellent strength. That makes it resistant to wear and tear, so it is a particularly excellent choice for wood kitchen cabinets.

  • Versatile enough to fit traditional, modern, and contemporary styles depending on the door design and hardware
  • Excellent for open designs and bright spaces
  • Can be either lightly stained or painted for an eye-popping look
  • Features a detailed but fine and subtle grain.
  • Known for its strength
  • Has a lighter, brighter appearance than most woods                                                                 

4. Cherry

Cherry is one of the most charming cabinet wood types, featuring a timeless look that stands out in any space. Although softer than other woods, cherry is still a durable hardwood, that is resistant to wear and surface damage. This durability makes it an excellent choice for your kitchen.

The wood features a fine but detailed and prominent grain highlighted by a dark red hue. A dark stain helps to emphasize the elegant appearance of cherry even further and brings uniformity to the wood. Cherry often runs at a higher price point than other woods, but with this higher cost comes higher durability and a distinct eye-drawing appearance.

  • Offers an elegant, charming appearance
  • Perfect for both traditional and contemporary style homes, depending on the door design
  • Works great with a stain that highlights its natural grain and provides uniformity
  • Resistant to surface damage like dents and chips
  • Has a distinctive red hue that darkens as it ages with a fine, vertical grain             

5. Paint-Grade

If you want the flexibility to paint your cabinet doors in the perfect color, then paint-grade wood is the best option for you. CabinetDoors.com paint-grade wood kitchen cabinets are usually made from a poplar frame with a medium-density fiberboard (MDF) panel.

Poplar is widely available, growing throughout the eastern United States. This medium-density wood is often chosen for paint-grade furniture and cabinetry as it tends to be quite affordable, versatile, and extremely easy to work with for a smooth finish. Because poplar takes paint and other finishes extraordinarily well, it’s among the best cabinet wood types for painting available.

Meanwhile, we use MDF in many of the panels in our paint-grade wood kitchen cabinets because it paints incredibly well, creating a smooth finish with the poplar frame. MDF is also incredibly durable and perfect for withstanding the demand of a kitchen environment when finished properly.

  • Versatile and able to fit your needs and preferences
  • Excellent for painting to support contemporary styles and color themes
  • Is only recommended to be painted, and not stained. 
  • Features affordable but durable MDF
  • Easy to paint a smooth, flawless finish
  • Excellent for DIY projects and saving money on professional painters

Find the Best Wood for Your Cabinet Doors

When it comes to choosing cabinet doors that work best for your home, the correct wood makes all the difference. At CabinetDoors.com, we offer a handful of options for wood species and hundreds of cabinet door styles, so you can get high-quality, custom-sized doors for your kitchen cabinets made with the most attractive woods.

Explore our complete inventory of cabinet door styles to find which material and style works best for your personalized preferences. Once you’ve chosen a style and wood species that fits your needs, you can enjoy brand-new cabinet doors delivered straight to your door in just a few short weeks without any retail markups. If you have any questions about choosing the right wood for your cabinets, contact us at 1-800-342-1010 for more information.

Sign up for our newsletter: