So you’re shopping for cabinets, huh? Maybe from Wellborn or Waypoint, and you’ve not quite figured out what kind of material you’d like to use in your kitchen or bathroom. Fact of the matter is, there are plenty of variations to choose from when it comes to cabinetry, one of the defining characteristics being wood type. Today, I’d like to list the several wood types that are available in cabinets and mention some of the qualities to give you a better of understanding of what you’re getting!

Red Oak Cabinet Wood Type

Oak, in general, is a very hard, heavy kind of wood, which often gives the impression of strength and durability. And in actuality, for such a solid, long-lasting cabinet wood type, it’s not as expensive as one might think. The course grain in this material often varies from vertical grain swoops to a more distinctive “swoop” pattern, providing more curvature in the grain. It’s an absolutely timeless material, for sure.
One of the main reasons why I prefer this material over others is it’s versatility. Choosing this material gives you the option of staining it to your fancy. Which, if you’re like me, and grow too accustomed to a certain look over a period of time, then this will be the way to go. A refreshing look is merely a couple stain coats away.


White Oak Cabinet Wood Type

White Oak is obviously very similar to its “red” counterpart, except for one bit – it’s a little stronger. With more golden tones, this wood type will give you the elegant look that you desire, and is literally perfect with any style. As pictured, White Oak is definitely more subtle in its grain. It seems softer, gentler than the red oak. I’d love to tell you that it’s similar in price, but the fact is, most times it’s only available in custom order.
I’ll say this much, too, a clear finish will brilliantly highlight the grain in this cabinet wood type. On the other hand,  stain could possibly oversaturate it, exaggerating the grain, making it look kind of two-toned. Not a good look.


Maple Cabinet Wood Type

Maple gives you this lovely look of fine-grain with a gentle, light color. Now, it is slightly more expensive than oak, but it’s not near as dense. It can be stained, but in my opinion if you want to achieve the best look, simply apply a thin coat of clear or natural finish to enhance the texture of this wood type. Trust me, the effects are magnificent in Maple.
This look provides a more contemporary approach to your kitchen or bath remodel. It’s known as a shock-resistant material, as well, and is incredibly durable. It takes paint like a breeze, too! Very versatile, and it’s made to withstand great temperatures and won’t crack or warp like some other materials may do. Sidenote: Because of the aforementioned, this material is quite popular for heavier cabinetry, such as dressers and kitchen cabinets.


Hickory Cabinet Wood Type

Lighter than oak, but very, very similar in grain pattern and durability. It’s one of the strongest, hardest woods out there! There’s a sort of yellowish hue to it, almost creamy, and where it can also be stained, this material (much like Maple) is better suited with a fine layer of clear coat or natural finish. This is simply to emphasize the wonderful grain lines.
I’m a sucker for them, so I’ll be going that route each and every time. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right? More often than not, this material has been used to achieve that lovely rustic style. Because of this, it’s rarely seen as a custom or semi-custom cabinetry. It also needs to be noted that where this type is usually seen with a creamy color, it can also be seen in a dark reddish brown color OR nearly black. Dark hickory is 100% a favorite of mine.


Cherry Cabinet Wood Type

This material is hard enough to withstand a number of mishaps. Attention parents, if you have little ones running around your kitchen, this material just might be the one for you. It can be used for a number of styles, but is more commonly seen as elegant and formal as a traditional style. Although, there is some versatility to it. I’ve seen this wood type achieved magnificently in contemporary kitchen designs.
One of the absolute best qualities of this cabinet wood type is how it literally ages in time, growing darker with the days. Yes, just like fine wine, the unique look deeps through the years. Now, this type is a bit costly, mind you, which is why it’s often seen as a “luxury” wood.


Birch Cabinet Wood Type

A fine, fine, durably built wood that is slightly darker than maple, but not by much. It takes finishes very well, and is versatile in that it can guise as a more luxurious wood with a few, simple tweaks. When it’s stained properly, the look can do wonders, disguising as a Maple or Cherry wood type. Because of it’s irregular color, birch is relatively inexpensive. In fact, it’s 25-75% cheaper than other types like cherry or maple.


Pine Cabinet Wood Type

Ah, now here’s one that sits apart from the rest. Pine is the ONLY softwood species that is commonly used in cabinetry. Because of this, it dents more easier than the others. Definitely not impenetrable, this one. Interestingly enough, this wood type is often used for rustic pieces, like farmhouse-style tables and chairs. If you’ve ever been to Cracker Barrel, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. And now I’m thinking about biscuits and gravy. Excellent.
It’s low-cost, takes paint well, but where some might say it’s perfect for kids’ furniture, I beg to differ. Kids can be a rowdy bunch, especially in the playroom, and this material simply isn’t built for that kind of debauchery. Just throwin’ that out there.


Okay, people, there’s seven of the most commonly used cabinet wood types found in kitchen and bath cabinetry. As you can see, the majority of them get an A for durability, which should be a significant factor in your decision-making process! I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we offer some fine cabinetry here at Builders Surplus that features these amazing cabinet wood types. Come check out what we have, and we would be glad to offer our professional advice during a free kitchen design consultation. Until the, be safe, stay blessed, and enjoy 2017!

Builders Surplus is a full service renovation company with locations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Newport, Kentucky, which also serves Cincinnati, Ohio. We are the leading provider of Ledge Stone, wall tile and backsplash tile in Louisville, Newport, and Cincinnati. We specialize in interior design, kitchen design, bathroom remodel, building materials, and home improvement. Interior Design and measurements come as a free service to our clients. We sell building materials ranging in every price point, from unfinished kitchen cabinets to top of the line Wellborn cabinets. In addition to interior design, we also offer installation services. If you have any questions or would like to set up a free design consultation with one of our interior designers, we would encourage you to do so. We love sharing our knowledge with clients & potential home renovators. We write about interior design, home decor, decorating ideas, and home improvement. We hope you’ll check back in for our next article! Happy Renovation!
Written By: Chris Chamberlain