Marble Today Blog

Choosing the Right Wood for Your Kitchen Cabinets

You spend a lot of time in the kitchen – and those cabinets get quite a workout. But when was the last time you stepped back and gave them a good hard look? Are they getting a bit tired around the edges?

Maybe it’s time for some sprucing-up, but you know new knobs and a fresh coat of paint just won’t do the trick this time. Maybe…it’s time for some new cabinets. There are few changes you can make that will dramatically enhance the look of your kitchen more than brand new cabinets.

Once you’ve decided to make the change, there are a number of important choices you’ll need to make, including which wood will best match your décor, budget and personal taste.

There are hundreds of possible combinations, and making the right wood choice can seem daunting. To get started, you should ask yourself a few important questions:

  • What colors go best with your room?
  • Do you prefer light or dark wood and what are the various options?
  • Do you like the wood’s natural grain and color, or do you prefer a finished look?
  • What is your budget?



There are three key factors to consider when choosing your wood – grain, color and type:

  • Grain – A wood’s grain is like its fingerprint. It shows the alignment, texture and natural patterning. Some basic terms used to describe wood grain include: Fine, Straight, Cross, Spiral, Wavy, Curly and Arch. More about wood grain patterns.
  • Color – Each species of wood is uniform in color, but displays natural variations. However, you aren’t restricted to the wood’s original color, as different finishing techniques (staining, painting, glazing, etc.) can enhance or obscure the wood’s natural markings. More about finishing techniques. 
  • Type – The two types of wood are softwood and hardwood; most cabinets are made with hardwoods. The wood type determines how your cabinets look and how they stand up to daily use. Some of the most common woods used in cabinetmaking include: Alder, Oak, Cherry, Hickory, Birch and Maple. Here are some photos and descriptions of popular cabinetry wood options.



Once you’ve decided on the grain, color and type of wood you like best, there are a few more items to consider, like: 

  • Traffic – If your cabinets will be used in a high-traffic area, choose a wood and finish that will stand up to the daily rigors they will be subjected to. (Note: pine is also commonly used in cabinetry, but it is soft and will nick and dent easily, so it is not recommended for high-traffic areas.) 
  • Door panel style – Door panels typically come in three styles – slab, square and arch. There are no advantages to choosing one over the other, so choose the one you like best. Here are some photos of door panel styles.

Of course, your costs will vary by the type of wood you choose and the wood grade (ranging from discount to designer). According to the 2015 Homewyse Material Cost Calculator this is the order of how much woods cost in relation to each other (starting with the least expensive):

  1. Maple
  2. Birch
  3. Oak
  4. Hickory
  5. Pine
  6. Cherry
  7. Alder

There are numerous ways to save on your overall cabinet costs, including skipping nonessentials like glass fronts, moldings and carved designs. You can also add embellishments to low-end cabinets to give them a high-quality look – such as adding unique hardware or applying a special stain to make your oak look like cherry.

It is always recommended that you shop around and get multiple quotes for the materials and installation fees – and beware of hidden costs that can add up quickly. It’s also important to not base your decision solely on cost. The quality of the material and the workmanship in building and installing your new cabinets will determine how they will look and perform in your home for years to come.



Now that you’ve done your research and established a budget, you’re armed and ready to shop! Remember, your kitchen cabinets will be seen and used every day, so the best choice is the one you’re going to enjoy the most.

Learn more about fine wood cabinets.


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *