Making Beautiful and Durable Cabinets with the Right Wood Materials

Choose the Right Wood to Create Beautiful and Durable Cabinets

Finally! You’ve saved enough money for remodeling your kitchen. Your head is swimming with ideas on what theme to go with, what sections of the area to redo, and what decorations to add. Planning a home improvement project is a lot of fun, yes? But it’s not all happy moments. There will be challenges, plenty of them in fact. One of the earliest problems you will encounter is identifying what materials to use—in this case, what material to choose for your cabinets.

 Will these lovely cabinets complement your kitchen’s design?



The selection process should not be taken lightly as the product you choose will determine how durable and beautiful your cabinetry will look. With so many choices available online or in hardware stores, your head will be spinning after just a few minutes of browsing through samples or catalogues. So, to narrow down the choices and quicken the selection process, get to know the common products used in making cabinets and what you should look for to identify the best one for your storage units.

What to check: 

  • What is the type?

Is it classified as soft or hard? Softwood comes from evergreen trees that bear needles such as cedar, pine, and spruce. Hardwood comes from trees that are broad-leafed such as birch, cherry, hickory, maple, and oak. Softwood has a faster growth rate, is generally less expensive, but has lower density and poorer fire resistance compared to hardwood. It is easier to work with though, making it a popular choice for construction and crafts. Hardwood may be more expensive, but it is the best choice for high-quality wooden products that need to last because it is denser and has better resistance to fire.

  • What is the color?

Wood comes in a variety of natural colors that range from light to dark hues, and different color variations can be found within the same tree. Plus, you can further enhance or change the shade of your wood by using finishes. This means there are multiple palettes and a number of beautiful possibilities for your kitchen.

  • What is the grain?

To better understand this aspect, you need to know what ‘grain’ means. Basically it is the overall texture, alignment, and patterns that appear in wood. Each tree has distinctive markings and patterns, so each piece of wood from that tree will have a unique design. Here are some basic grain patterns:

a. Straight – straight and vertical

b. Arch – Inverted V or U

c. Curly – circular

d. Spiral – funnel or tornado-like

e. Wavy – wave-like

f. Fine – invisible or inconspicuous

g. Cross – lines that run parallel to the sides of the wood 


1. Red Oak

It is strong, durable, and not too expensive. It comes in a variety of finishes and styles, and has pronounced grain patterns. This hardwood has a coarse grain with a variety of patterns from straight to distinct sweeping arches.

Commonly used for: custom-made, semicustom cabinets and is often used for traditional styles, but can blend beautifully with other designs as well.

2. White Oak

It is a bit stronger but is as durable as Red Oak. It has a more subtle grain and more golden tones. Oak is extraordinarily abundant in America (which makes it one of the most popular and affordable choices), and it can withstand dents, scratches, and rough treatment better than other types of wood.

Commonly used for: custom cabinetry that goes for a period or Arts and Craft design.

3. Cherry

It is hard enough to withstand marring and knocks. It tends to be expensive and is considered a luxury wood. It is a smooth, fine-grain wood that has a red to reddish-brown color that mellows and deepens with age, but some like to have it stained for a more uniformed tint. It provides warmth, charm, and personality resulting to a more appealing dynamic to your home.    

Commonly used for: traditional styles to achieve a formal and elegant look or for a more contemporary design.

4. Hickory

It is as strong as oak and has a similar grain pattern to it too, but has a lighter creamy, pale yellow color. Due to its light hue, it can be stained with a natural and clear finish to complement its blonde tones. It has streaks that add natural and unique accents to your cabinetry.

Commonly used for: rustic cabinets (because of its beautiful, unique graining) and rarely for semicustom or custom-made varieties.

 5. Hard Maple

It is a bit more expensive than oak but is less dense. It is popular for its durability and shock resistance, and has a light color and fine grains. Like hickory, it can be stained with a clear and natural finish when wanting to achieve a more contemporary look.   

Commonly used for: customized and semi-custom cabinetry that have a modern character suitable for a dramatic kitchen with darker finishes or a light, airy ambiance.

6. Pine

It is the only species of softwood that is used in making cabinets. It dents more easily than hardwood varieties but is a popular choice for country-style kitchens. This is because it has knots and is a pale yellow wood that can be stained, resulting to an effect of a more traditional style.   

Commonly used for: country-themed cabinets; the Western and Eastern white pine are usually used in some semicustom product lines.

7. Ash

It is similar to oak in terms of durability and strength, but it has a more pronounced figure and has a light color. It is a wood variety with straight grains and can be stained with a natural and clear finish for a more contemporary appearance. 

Commonly used for: custom work with a modern look, but can also be seen in limited semicustom lines. 

8. Birch

It is inexpensive and durable. It has a close grain with straight, wavy, or curly patterns that can create the effect of lush beauty. It is a bit darker than maple and can be mistaken for a more expensive wood variety as it finishes well. It can look like faux maple or cherry when it is stained. However, it is prone to irregular coloring.   

Commonly used for: a variety of looks due its versatility (from a formal appeal to a more casual look), and for kitchens that exude coziness and charm. 


With so many beautiful choices for wood materials, you can have more freedom in creating cabinets that are unique and complementary to your home’s personality. Don’t forget to consider your budget and the overall theme that you are aiming for when choosing what wood and style to go with. If you would like help in deciding what design and material to go for, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to schedule an appointment to discuss your kitchen remodeling details.

Will these cabinets look better with or without white paint?



 Bonus Tips:

– Since hardwood tends to be more costly, some people opt to use this material as a veneer over plywood or other substrates to reduce costs.

– As the moisture content of wood changes, it starts to warp. This is why wood should be finished on both sides before it leaves the factory.

– To prevent warping, unfinished cabinetry should be finished as soon as possible.

– If you live in high-humidity areas, go for veneered cabinets since they tend to be more stable than solid lumber storage units.


Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.


We can Help You. Call Us + 1 510 205 0441

Keep in touch with our news & receive FREE Estimate