Wood Types and Their Finishes

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Wood Types and Their Finishes


There are many types of unfinished wooden kitchen cabinet for you to choose from, so, just how do you know what type of wood is best for your brand-new kitchen?

First, think about how you intend to finish your unfinished wood kitchen cabinets, because different wood will respond differently depending on the stain, paint or finish and completing techniques you are planning to use.

How much do you want to spend on your unfinished wooden kitchen cabinet? Wood prices vary, therefore keep this in mind when you are browsing for an incomplete wood kitchen cabinet.


Mahogany, oak, cherry, hickory, maple and pine are six of the common wood species for kitchen cabinets.


Mahogany for Kitchen Cabinets

Mahogany was one of the most sought-after types of wood in the mid-1700s and early 1800s and is found in many quality antiques today. It was prized because of its straight wood grain and because very wide mahogany boards can be produced. Mahogany trees can grow to over 150 feet in height and over six feet in width at the base. They come from Cuba, the West Indies, Africa, Asia and a host of other countries, but the most prized wood comes from Cuba and the West Indies


It’s known around the world as an excellent wood for cabinets. Today it’s one of the most expensive options available, and only the select few people have quality mahogany cabinets in their kitchens.  There are a few key benefits to using mahogany cabinets over other more common types of wood. For some people they make the added cost of the cabinets worthwhile.


One of the main reasons mahogany is chosen for cabinets today is because of the beauty of the wood.  Mahogany is known for its durability and rot resistance which are excellent qualities for kitchen cabinets.  Mahogany cabinets have a very unique look that you can’t replicate easily. As the cabinets age they also take on a deeper and darker tone that gives them a richer look many people enjoy.


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Oak for Kitchen Cabinets

Oak is the most popular for an unfinished wood kitchen cabinet since it is relatively inexpensive. There are more than 200 species of oak with various shades, but the one most often observed is a tan or yellowish dark brown color. Oak is tough plus dense.

Like a movie star, oak possesses natural good looks. Unlike a movie star, oak is easy to work with—even during finishing. Oak’s distinctive grain pattern is what people are responding to when they say, “I love the look of oak.” The best finishes for oak celebrate its grain.

If you’re considering oak kitchen cabinets in your kitchen redesign, you might want to consider that oak comes in a wide range of colors.


Red oak is strong, durable and relatively inexpensive. It is often featured in traditional cabinet styles as it shows off the pronounced grain patterns that oak is known for.  White oak is as durable as red oak and even a bit stronger. It has more of a golden tone than red oak and a more, subtle grain pattern. White oak is generally quarter-sawn for custom cabinetry—a process that creates a distinctive grain pattern with a characteristic fleck


For a budget-friendly kitchen design, oak is lower in price than maple, cherry or hickory. The lower price allows you to buy sturdy yet inexpensive kitchen cabinets in many different styles. Oak is commonly available in stock kitchen cabinetry, which allows for much less expensive kitchen remodels.


Planning on renovating or remodeling your kitchen?  Give Paint Ovations a call for a FREE in home consultation.

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 Cherry for Kitchen Cabinets

Cherry kitchen cabinets are a favorite because of their warm tones and rich look. Cherry tends to have predominantly red undertones. The texture of cherry wood is smooth and satiny, which allows it to accept stain beautifully. Another reason for its popularity is that it matures over time and changes in color. Cherry wood becomes warmer and richer as it’s exposed to the air—a feature when choosing wood cabinets for their kitchen.


Cherry wood also shows a beautiful fine grain that gives cabinets character and unique personality. It is moderately heavy and strong, which makes it durable and able to withstand the wear and tear of everyday cabinet use.


Cherry cabinets, while not as expensive as other premium woods such as mahogany, are more costly than lighter woods.  Cherry is gorgeous wood. If you want to give cherry a dark color right away, don’t use oil stain. It colors cherry’s pores and makes it look unnatural. Sealing the surface and then applying coats of colored glaze is the way to go.



Hickory for Kitchen Cabinets

A few North American hardwoods may be stronger than hickory and a couple harder, but of all domestic commercial species in common use, none matches hickory in its combination of hardness, strength, stiffness, and shock resistance (yet it readily steam-bends). It may have been the reflection of these traits that led the Tennessee soldiers under the command of General Andrew Jackson to nickname him “Old Hickory” at the battle of New Orleans in 1815.


While hickory tends not to darken with age, it takes all stains and finishes equally well. Because of the hardness of hickory, sanding may take more time.  The wood’s open grain can be filled to arrive at a glass-smooth, reflective surface on your cabinets.


Give Paint Ovations a call for a FREE in home consultation.

(972) 741-4995


Maple for Kitchen Cabinets

For generations, maple wood has been used in the construction of kitchen cabinets. It is hard to pass up the natural beauty that this wood offers. The unique, rich color combinations are stunning, not to mention the wood’s glossy finish. Maple is a surefire choice for anyone looking to spruce up their kitchen’s current design and is surprisingly affordable compared to other alternatives.


If you are searching for a wood product that features a fine, consistent grain pattern, look no further. Maple cabinets consist of a glass-smooth finish and have a uniform appearance throughout, which can be difficult to find with alternative materials. With maple cabinets, you get consistency that is perfect for that elegant and stylish designer kitchen.


In addition to its smooth grain patterns, maple is highly regarded for its staining capabilities. The wood’s warm shading makes it receive just about any stain product.  Including the popular line of modern near-noir shade styles, which provide the deepest and richest coloring styles.


For homeowners who prefer their maple cabinets to be painted instead of stained, you will find no issues in this department either. Thanks to that fine-grained appearance, every paint hue looks absolutely amazing when applied to maple.


Pine for Kitchen Cabinets

Pine kitchen cabinets are a popular choice among homeowners, especially those interested in a more rustic or country kitchen design.  Pine is less expensive too.

Pine wood tends to be lighter in color, although it can be stained to a darker hue. Pine wood also tends to have many knots, giving it a distinctive, immediately recognizable look.

The color can be white, yellow-colored, or ponderosa. The yellow this tree is straw colored and is not really too solid. White is similar to yellow-colored as both take to stain plus paint well. Ponderosa pine is usually either from sapwood, or heartwood. The sapwood is yellow within color and the heartwood is of the reddish hue or orange. Ponderosa will need special preparation in order for the particular stain or paint to take correctly.

Another reason pine is popular with homeowners is that it is an extremely cost-effective wood. Although the cost of pine may vary among retailers, in general pine is a cheaper wood than oak, maple, cherry, mahogany, or more exotic woods.

One thing to remember when choosing pine kitchen cabinets is that pine is a distinctly less durable wood than some other higher-end woods. That is because it is a softer wood and thus is more vulnerable to scratches, dents and dings. This is an important consideration as the kitchen is often the command center of the home and can be susceptible to daily abuse.


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