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Cabinet Wood Types

Cabinet Design / April 23, 2013

In discussing cabinet wood types, first I want to emphasize that the appearance of wood is influenced by two things: the type of wood and the finish. Wood can be stained and dyed, and it can be painted with clear, matte, semi-gloss or glossy coats of finish. The finishes can be clear or tinted.

Wood can be finished with natural-looking colors or with colors that leave the grain visible but are obviously not natural, like black or green. Whatever wood you choose, the finish or finishes will also be a big part of the kitchen’s look.

This is a list of common types of wood that we use in kitchen construction. There are others, some very rare and beautiful. Call and talk to us if you’re interested in more exotic or unusual types of wood for your specialty wood cabinets.


Oak has a lovely, distinctive grain and a natural golden color. It’s strong and hard, and oak furniture and cabinetry can last for centuries. Oak wood cabinets are and always have been a popular choice, and they look beautiful either with a light, natural finish or stained darker.


Cherry is medium-hard and easy to work with. It starts out a reddish light brown and darkens with exposure to sunlight. It has a lovely grain pattern. Cherry wood cabinets’ medium tone will add richness while still keeping the kitchen light and cheerful.


Maple is a strong, light colored wood with a fine grain. Natural maple will make a small kitchen look bigger and will make the most of just a little natural light. Maple with a light or natural finish will add the warmth of real, solid wood to a modern kitchen design. Maple is also beautiful when stained to a medium brown; it helps bring out the grain.


Walnut is medium to dark dusty brown, usually with a straight grain. Walnut looks fantastic with a clear finish because the color is so distinctive. It’s a medium hardness and easy to work with, and it looks good in pretty much any type of kitchen.

Pine, poplar, basswood

Pine, poplar and basswood are softer, less expensive types of wood. Without a hardening finish, all of them can be dented easily. They aren’t as dense as cherry or walnut, let alone oak or maple. However, they still make beautiful custom cabinets. Since softwoods are light in color, there’s a lot that can be done to customize their appearance. They’re great choices for projects with strict budgets. They may not be as durable as harder woods, but they’ll certainly age more gracefully than veneers, composites and fake wood.

You’ll want to take a look at our galleries and visit our showroom before deciding which type of wood you want to use and how you’d like it to be finished. Alternatively, just show us what kind of look you prefer, and we can help you choose.

Classic Cabinets USA