What are the Different Types of Wood Cabinets?

Sheri Cyprus

There are many different types of wood cabinets available today for both kitchens and bathrooms. You can choose from light, medium and dark colors of wood. Each type of wood has its own intensity of grain and distinct style. Popular woods used for cabinets in homes today include birch, hickory, pine, cherry, maple and oak.

An inexpensive way to get the look and feel of hardwood is to opt for wood veneers.
An inexpensive way to get the look and feel of hardwood is to opt for wood veneers.

Oak is a light to medium toned open-grained hardwood. You can find oak cabinets in white, yellow and red varieties and the tone ranges from cool to warm within these colors. The texture of oak is very grainy, so it is best suited for country and traditional kitchen decors rather than contemporary looks. Oak is a durable wood and is usually less expensive than cherry and maple.

Cherry wood is a more expensive and elegant choice for cabinets.
Cherry wood is a more expensive and elegant choice for cabinets.

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Maple is a strong hardwood with a more subtle grain than oak. Although the graining is toned down, it's also more interesting since it's not uniform in shape. Maple is a popular choice for hardwood floors as well as cabinets. The look of maple wood cabinets is adaptable to both contemporary and traditional home decor styles. Maple cabinets are available in creamy light to rich dark shades and many different room looks are possible.

Entertainment centers may include built-in cabinets.
Entertainment centers may include built-in cabinets.

Cherry wood cabinets tend to have an elegant look and the price often reflects that. Cherry is a high quality hardwood used to make upscale furniture including fine cabinetry. The graining in cherry wood is pronounced and this is considered an advantage by many people, although some prefer more subtly grained woods. Cherry cabinets are available in medium toned reddish colors to very dark browns. The colors in cherry wood may be inconsistent.

Kitchen with hardwood cabinets.
Kitchen with hardwood cabinets.

Pine is a light colored wood with darker knot holes in it. Pine wood cabinets have a very natural, rustic look, so they are suitable for country rather than contemporary decors. Pine cabinets are often the least expensive type of wood cabinets, but they are not as durable as other types as pine tends to dent and scratch quite easily. This may just add to the rustic appeal in a country cottage look, yet in other settings, it may detract from the decor scheme.

Hickory cabinets work well for those who like wood with inconsistent light and dark patches, as minerals cause streaks in hickory wood. Hickory is rustic looking, yet heavy, strong and very durable. Hickory cabinets work best when a top quality, yet informal appeal is wanted. Hickory cabinets usually cost less than cherry cabinets.

Birch ranges in color from light cream to reddish-brown. Birch is a wood that features small knots with a smooth, fine grain and an even texture. Birch cabinets tend to suit traditional style rooms and coordinate well with classic, neutral paint colors. Birch wood cabinets are a popular choice as they resist scratches and are less expensive than many other cabinet woods.

Wood cabinets are often made by hand by a tradesman.
Wood cabinets are often made by hand by a tradesman.

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Discussion Comments


Good point Heavanet. I have also found that when you move into a home with wood cabinets that do not look good with the decor, updating the paint in the room is a good way to give the room and the cabinets a fresh look.


I have had cabinets made of different types of wood, and I have found that the best all wood cabinets for your decor depends on the colors in your home. For example, I prefer light wood like natural or pine in rooms with bright colors, and deep wood like walnut in rooms with rich or dark colors. White wood cabinets look fresh and crisp with almost any decor.

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