Tools & Tips: Wood Cabinet Types, from Oak to Bamboo

From on June 02, 2008 in Tools and Tips

kitchen-cabinets.jpgWhen it comes time to choose a wood type for your kitchen cabinetry, you might find you spend more time than money trying to narrow down your choices. Here is a brief overview of the different types of wood commonly used to make cabinets.

Oak. Oak is one of the hardest and heaviest woods used in cabinetry. There are two common types: red and white. Red oak is strong, durable, and relatively cheap. It comes in a wide array of styles and finishes and is most commonly used for traditional cabinet styles. White oak is a bit stronger than red with a more subtle grain. White oak is generally available only as a custom option.

Hickory. Hickory, which is lighter than oak, is similar to oak in grain and strength. It is a pale yellow wood that can be stained but is most often given a clear or natural finish. Hickory is usually a custom wood that promotes a rustic feel.

Maple is a hard, finely grained, and light colored wood that is a bit more spendy than oak but less dense. Like hickory, maple can be stained but is usually coated with a clear or natural finish.

Cherry has enough strength to stand up to knocks and marring. It is reddish in color and darkens with age. Cherry is unique in its versatility as it can be used for traditional or contemporary styles. Largely because it darkens with age, cherry is often stained to maintain a uniform color.

Birch is slightly darker than maple, durable, fine-grain, and relatively inexpensive. It takes finishes well and can be manipulated to have the look of cherry or maple. Birch is often a stock cabinet wood that is prone to irregular coloring.

Pine is the only soft wood to be commonly used in cabinetry. It is prone to dents and scratches, much more so than its hardwood counterparts. Pine is pale yellow in color and can be stained. Pine is unique in that it often features knots, which accentuate traditional or country styles.

Bamboo is part of a new, eco-friendly trend in cabinetry. It is a very hearty, quick-to-reproduce plant that gives a unique look. Bamboo is still fairly rare and cabinets are custom made only.

Mahogany creates a very rich looking cabinet. It is reddish-brown and not too strong. Mahogany is one of the most expensive common wood types.

Chestnut is similar to oak in its durability and decorative nature. Due to a history of disease, the American chestnut has become very rare. Chestnut is usually only found as reclaimed lumber. In cabinetry, chestnut glazes are often used with other woods to create a colonial or traditional feel.

Alder and Poplar are less expensive and more plentiful woods, these woods work best when using glazed finishes to create an “antique” look.