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Oak Kitchen Cabinets

Along with maple, oak is the most popular choice for kitchen cabinets in the U.S., but the resemblance pretty much stops there. Whereas maple is noted for its smooth, fine, uniform grain, oak shows a very distinctive flame-like grain that, depending on your finish choices, can be very pronounced. Hence, while maple lends itself well to practically any style, designers recommend oak chiefly in kitchens with a traditional, casual, rustic or “country” theme.

Oak is heavy and durable (as evidenced by the fact that it’s often used for flooring and holds up well for generations). It’s also porous enough to take stains and varnishes very well; the darker the stain, the more the grain stands out because of its different absorbency.

Because oaks are among the most common trees in North America, and there are many varieties in different regions, you have a wide choice of wood color; white, yellow, red and more, often with streaks of green, black or other shades unique to a particular tree. Take your time looking at what’s available from different vendors to get an idea of the look you like best — after all, those oak cabinets are going to be gracing your home for quite a long time, so it’s worth the effort to get it right. Be sure to discuss your likes and dislikes with your designer and building professional so they can advise you effectively on making the right choice.

Praised as one of the least expensive kitchen cabinetry options, oak is a good choice for traditional, rustic or country kitchen designs. Oak cabinets are easily painted or stained and will last a lifetime. Read on to learn if oak is the right choice for your home.

Costs

On average, basic stock cabinets cost between $4,000 and $5,000. Since oak is a popular and inexpensive material, they may cost a bit less. The total price will depend on the cost of installation (based on the size of your kitchen) and the quality of materials used. A kitchen contractor in your area will be able to provide specific cost estimates for your project—get in touch with a licensed professional to get started.

Pros

Porous enough to take stains and varnishes very well.

Wide variety of color options (e.g. white, yellow, red, or even streaks of green or black, depending on the tree).

Oak is a less expensive cabinetry option than maple or cherry.

Cons

Some homeowners are turned off by the grainy look of oak.

Oak cabinets in direct sunlight can fade over time.

Durability

Oak is heavy, very durable, and will hold up well for generations. This is evidenced by the fact that it’s often used for flooring.

Maintenance

In addition to being durable, oak cabinets are also very easy to maintain. Here’s how to keep yours in top condition:

  1. Wipe down cabinets with a sponge and warm water.
  2. Apply a small amount of cleaner to a clean cloth, or spray cleaner directly onto the cabinet. Wipe entire cabinet.
  3. Repeat step 1.
  4. Use a clean dry cloth to remove any excess water or cleaner.

Common Questions and Answers

What is the difference between maple and oak wood?

While maple is known for its smooth, fine and uniform grain, oak shows a very distinctive flame-like grain that, depending on your finish choices, can be very pronounced. Hence, while maple lends itself well to practically any style, designers recommend o

After sanding oak cabinets with fine grit paper, they don’t hold stain. Why is this?

Anytime you sand wood with fine grit paper, you are actually removing the pores that would allow them to hold the stain or finish in the first place. To undo the damage, use a tack cloth to get rid of the sand left over and continue with the staining proc

History

Oak has been a popular building material since the Middle Ages, when it was used to panel the interior of important buildings. It was chosen as a prime material for cabinet making because of its durability.

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