White Oak Cabinets: New Kitchen Trends on the Rise

Posted by Melissa Hollobaugh on Mar 14th 2023

Interior Design: Blackband Design. Photography: Manolo Langis & Ryan Garvin.

Natural wood tones have become commonplace in designer kitchens in recent years, and this look is here to stay. The only question is which natural wood to use. However, when you discover the natural beauty and practicality of white oak, it won’t be a question at all. Learn more about the benefits of this wood type and see why you should make white oak cabinet doors a part of your kitchen.

What is White Oak?

White oak, unsurprisingly, comes from the white oak tree. You can distinguish white oak from other wood types due to its beautiful and distinct grain pattern. White oak features a detailed, coarse grain that runs in straight lines down the length of the wood.

White oak is considered a hardwood, meaning that it is stronger than other woods and durable enough to withstand the elements. Thanks to this durability and natural detail, white oak kitchen cabinets are an increasingly popular choice in a range of home design styles.

What Are The Different Types of White Oak?

When you hear designers talking about white oak, you are likely to also hear rift-cut white oak come up in conversation. Rift-cut wood is most easily identified by its tight and linear grain pattern—also known as radial grain. 

To create rift-cut or rift-sawn boards, the wood is cut at a 90-degree angle to the tree’s growth rings. Only the cuts for the three center rings are kept and defined as rift wood. This is what provides the planks with the straight lines that make them hard and durable. The rest of the wood is either discarded or used as quarter-sawn planks. 

Because only a portion of the log is used to make “rift wood”, the material is considered a premium product and is, therefore, more expensive than plain sawn planks. Pictured below, you can see the difference between these boards.

types of rift white oak

quarter sawn wood

Quarter sawn: The ripples and flecks seen here are known as medullary rays in this quarter sawn wood and are highlighted when the wood is cut this way. These ribbon-like cellular structures appear perpendicular to the growth rings and use sap to transport nutrients to the tree.

rift sawn wood

Rift sawn: In comparison, this rift sawn wood has a straight uniform grain with no medullary rays.

Rift white oak has become a popular option for its high quality and prominent grain pattern. However, rift oak has its own challenges, as it is high in demand, is difficult to source, has long product shipping times, and is often expensive. On the bright side, standard quarter-sawn white oak is a reliable alternative, as it offers many of the same practical benefits at a lower cost while being much easier to find.

The Benefits of White Oak Cabinet Doors

White oak offers a trifecta of advantages, featuring an eye-catching natural design, fitting a range of trends, and lasting for years. Altogether, there are several reasons to choose white oak cabinet doors for your space.

1. A Clean Modern Look

Every 10 years or so, we see a change in kitchen trends. This is only natural, but white oak is the perfect solution for those who want a style that will keep up with the trends.

One of the most popular trends today is the white kitchen. However, all-white kitchens can feel like show kitchens if you’re not careful. Adding natural woods is a great way to break up white walls and cabinets for a more casual look.

White oak is a breath of fresh air in this modern trend, as it adds variety and color to the white space but stays consistent with the bright, clean feeling we love.

Rift White Oak trends

White oak wood kitchen featured in Luxe Interiors and Design, designed by Peter Harris of O’Brien Harris.

2. Natural Beauty

Natural wood is becoming a staple in homes today, and authenticity is key to creating the perfect interior design. Oak naturally varies in coloration and grain, so you enjoy the clear appearance of real wood along with intricate detail. Its prominent grain pattern also gives it a beautiful design that stands out even with light finishing.

Many of us are used to seeing darker woods, like red oak and mahogany, but white oak is a great way to introduce lighter tones into the home. This gives a more delicate appearance and pairs very well with glass cabinet doors, as seen below.

natural wood cabinet doors

Featured in Luxe Interiors and Design and designed by Peter Harris of O’Brien Harris.

3. Oh So Versatile

Probably the best part of white oak is that it’s extremely versatile and fits almost any interior design style. Depending on the finishes you choose, it can lend itself to coastal,  traditional, or modern designs. White oak works with a wide variety of color patterns and many different materials and cabinet hardware, so the design stands the test of time.

Its versatility gives you many options for your kitchen design, both now and in the future. When you invest in white oak cabinets, you know you can build your kitchen around them however you’d like and still change it up later.

The white oak in the image below is used to create a definition that ties in beautifully with the matching wood detailing above the stove.

rift white oak kitchen design

Via: LSL Design Co

4. Both Beautiful and Practical

Durability never goes out of style. Not only does white oak stand out to the eye, but it is also one of the most durable woods that can be used for cabinet doors. When you choose white oak cabinet doors, you receive doors that will stand up to the elements and last you for years with easy maintenance.

Here are some of the biggest highlights of white oak kitchen cabinets:

  • Water-resistant – Oak’s characteristically tight grains mean that less water can get into the wood and cause damage.
  • Easy to clean – This wood is easy to maintain for long-term beauty.
  • Wear-resistant – White oak’s strength means that you will see fewer scratches and dings on your doors over time.
  • Rot-resistant – If you live in more humid climates, white oak’s moisture resistance will minimize the risk of rot and warping to provide you with long-term peace of mind.
  • Easy to refinish – Oak accepts stain and paint well, so if you do eventually want a change, this wood works well.
  • Less expensive – At a 20% lower cost than other hardwoods such as cherry, maple and birch, white oak is well worth the investment.

White oak is also a great choice for laundry rooms and bathrooms alike due to its durability and water resistance.

oak cabinet doors in laundry room

Interior Design: Blackband Design. Photography: Manolo Langis & Ryan Garvin.

White Oak Kitchen Cabinet Design Ideas

Once you realize the versatility of white oak, it’s up to you to decide how you want to use it! Here are some white oak kitchen cabinet inspirations for your home from top designers:

1. Pair white stained oak cabinets with white cabinets for a bright kitchen.

via: Parkes and Lamb Interiors

2. Create sleek and modern white oak cabinets with brass hardware and glass door fronts.

rift sawn white oak glass cabinet doorsrift sawn white oak glass cabinet doors

via: House of Silver Lining

3. Grab the eye by combining white oak cabinet doors with a colorful backsplash for an electric look.

cabinet doors with colorful backsplash

Interior Design: Blackband Design. Photography: Manolo Langis & Ryan Garvin.

4. Pair white oak kitchen cabinets with dark cabinets for a contemporary feel.

contemporary cabinet doors

via: Houzz

Revitalize Your Kitchen with White Oak Cabinet Doors

Between its bright, versatile appearance and its impressive durability, white oak is the perfect wood choice for your kitchen cabinets. At, we offer an expansive selection of high-quality kitchen cabinet doors to accentuate and complete the look of your home. Explore our popular selection of white oak cabinet doors to brighten up your home and keep up with the trends for years to come.

You can choose from a wide range of door styles and weigh options from unfinished doors to doors painted in the color of your choice—all delivered straight to your front door. Explore our inventory of custom cabinet doors today and start designing your space.

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