How To Identify High-Quality Red Oak Wood

May 12th 2021

When it comes to choosing oak for your kitchen cabinets, it’s helpful to know a bit about the different types of oak. There are two types of oak: white oak and red oak. However, they are typically used for very different purposes because of the characteristics of the wood.

White oak is often used for boats, flooring, furniture, and even whiskey barrels because of its closed grain. The closed grain makes it more resistant to moisture, but it also makes it tricky to stain and finish evenly. Red oak, on the other hand, is one of the most popular woods for cabinets because of its consistent color and grain qualities. Because it is an open grained wood, red oak tends to take dark stain beautifully, while white oak’s closed grain makes it take stain unevenly. As such, red oak is a reliable, durable, and beautiful wood when used for cabinet doors.

However, not all types of red oaks are equally beautiful. There are many varieties within the red oak family depending on where the red oak tree is grown. This discussion is limited to those red oak varieties more commonly used in the manufacture of cabinet doors.

Types of Red Oak by Region

Red oak is divided into three main growing regions, Southern, Appalachian, and Northern. Each of these regions can be further subdivided based on the color and quality of the red oak tree that grows within the sub-regions.

As a broad overview, oak from the southern regions has a faster growth rate and tends to have the widest color range of the regions. Oak from the Appalachian regions grows slower than the southern oaks with a color range somewhat more consistent than the southern oaks.

The northern oaks are generally considered to be the highest quality. The northern red oak trees have a shorter growing season and therefore have a slower growth rate. This means there is less moisture in the wood, making it stronger and less grainy. The color of northern red oak is also much more consistent.

It is worth noting that the mill prices for this high-quality northern red oak are typically higher than that of the Appalachian or southern red oaks. However the most attractive cabinet doors and furniture are made from the most attractive wood, not the cheapest wood. In the case of red oak, you absolutely get what you pay for.

The Best Red Oak Wood for Cabinet Doors 

The best of the best when it comes to red oak is a subgroup of the northern oaks which grows in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Red oaks from this region are commonly referred to as glacial northern red oak. The growth rings tend to be very tight indicating the very slow growth rate, and the color consistency is exceptional. Glacial northern red oak is typically a light wheat color.

Most mills can supply limited quantities of wheat-colored red oak by performing a color sort, but the wide color spectrum of red oak from the Appalachian and Southern regions makes color sorting labor intensive. However, red oak sorts from the glacial sub-region of northern oak are easy as the majority of those oaks are naturally a light wheat color, so the pricing of this red oak wood tends to reflect the grading rules more than the color sort labor constraints.

Why Northern Red Oak is Often Used for High-Quality Cabinets

Northern red oak features a more uniform color and a finer texture that makes it easier to work with for a variety of purposes. As such, northern red oak is often preferred over southern red oak for making cabinets. This is particularly true for craftsmen and custom cabinet makers.

Cabinets used in higher-end housing tend to be made by local custom cabinet shops, while cabinets used in more affordable housing are more likely to be modular cabinets made overseas using the lower cost southern oaks. Those custom cabinet shops that supply custom home builders are expected to supply a product that is noticeably superior to the modular cabinets, and part of that superior requirement applies to a very uniform and consistent color in the red oak doors.

Northern red oak is able to provide that consistency in color and texture, which is why uses glacial northern red oak in every one of the red oak doors we make. Not only is a high-quality product, but this glacial northern red oak produces consistently excellent results for beautiful cabinet doors.

Get Your Northern Red Oak Wood Cabinet Doors at

When it comes time to choose the best wood for your cabinets, red oak wood is a beautiful choice. If you need a high-quality red oak door for your kitchen cabinets, has you covered. We use only the best of the best for our cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and the glacial northern red oak we use is consistently beautiful.

If you’ve always wanted custom red oak kitchen cabinets, but have worried about the price, can help. Our cabinet doors and drawer fronts can be customized in the size, wood type, and finish you want. Just sort through your cabinet door options and choose a style you like. Then opt for oak and enter the exact size specifications and finish you want. You can even choose to have hinge holds bored for you and Blum Soft Close hinges included.

Why You Should Choose

Built to the sizes that you need, and shipped directly to you.

There is a definite convenience in purchasing directly from the manufacturer and having your custom cabinet doors and drawer fronts. However, there are many more benefits you might not be aware of yet. Let’s take a look at the benefits of ordering your custom cabinet doors from

When you purchase factory direct, you get to skip the middleman, which saves you a significant amount of both time and money. You won’t have to go to a retail store and try to explain what you’re looking for to the big box employees. Instead, you get to choose exactly what you want from the comfort of your home. You’ll also get to order to the precise specifications you need.

In addition, you won’t have to pay the retail markup, which means you’ll save money. In fact, at, our prices are 30-50% below the prices you’ll see at big box stores—even when they’re selling our products! That means you can get a custom product, but at a lower price than other products you’d find at a retail store. has been manufacturing high-quality cabinet doors since 1980, and we take great pride in being one of the most experienced cabinet door manufacturers in the country. Our four decades of experience and loyal customer base can help you rest assured that with, you’ll get an excellent product and great service. We stand by our workmanship and we’re confident that you’ll love our products. Explore our most popular cabinet doors today and get inspired.

Buying from can save you from spending extra time and money in a big box store, and it also ensures that you’re getting our high-quality product. Even better? You get the benefit of our expertise. You can contact us via our website or by phone to ask any questions, or explore our Cabinet Doors Blog to get tips, tricks, and advice. We look forward to helping you achieve the look you’re after in your space. When it comes to red oak cabinet doors, always delivers.  

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