What to Know When Choosing Your Cabinet Material

Written by Chad Kurtz
Updated November 7, 2016
Making an informed decision about your kitchen cabinets will ensure you love the final look. (Photo by Nancy Hugo)

When you buy cabinets, one of the most significant decisions you make is the type of wood species or the cabinet material.

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It’s the selection that many people make without really knowing why. Deciding which wood species for your cabinet affects how your kitchen will look when you walk in, as well as how long your kitchen may last. 

Many people know the basics, like cherry cabinets have a rich look, or that maple cabinets stain well in many finishes. But such an important decision needs more depth to it. 

The wood you choose is important

Some things to think about are how well the wood will show the stain or color you want, what the grain looks like stained and how subtle or strong the appearance of other characteristics are. The look you’re going for is strongly supported (or detracted) by the wood you choose.

There are three characteristics you should learn about wood as you consider what type you want:

  • Wood type/hardness

  • Color characteristics 

  • Grain characteristics

These three aspects affect the look, feel and durability of your cabinets. The following chart gives you an understanding of these across the most popular wood species for cabinets:

Make an informed decision about the best material for your cabinets. (Image courtesy of Brakur Custom Cabinets)

Consider wood variation

Keep in mind different wood types may show more variation in the wood, meaning the stain on the wood may not appear uniform. This is something you should ask your cabinet company before ordering cabinets. If you do not like variations in the wood of your cabinets, you may want to get a veneered door cabinet. Wood veneers are more consistent across the panel of the cabinet door, giving you much less variations.

Know the wood species

If you’re looking for a particular cabinet style for your kitchen or other room, like a log cabin feeling or a country cottage look, wood species is a very important decision.

Understanding the different wood species and their characteristics will help you with your kitchen renovation so you don’t have regrets.


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