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When it comes to deciding on kitchen cabinets, the amount of options for different types of wood and finishes may seem overwhelming. But choosing the right wood for your kitchen cabinetry isn’t the only thing to consider. Before you can begin to make your selection of wood, color, or finish, you should have a good idea of what style you are aiming for and what are the important features to include.

Do you want your kitchen to be traditional? Maybe you have an interest in a contemporary look and feel. Maybe the middle ground is where you want to be which may lead to a transitional look. Or, maybe you want the coastal appeal. Whatever you decide, it’s important to consider your options.

Next, you’ll want to think through all the options that you may be interested in. Slide out storage compartments for cookware, cookie sheets, and small appliances are important ergonomic features that deserve careful thought.

Different Wood Types and Finishes

  • White: White cabinetry has always been popular and continues to be so. In fact, white kitchen cabinets dominate the market for new and remodeled kitchens and the trend continues upward. In 2014 you’ll see more white kitchens with splashes of bright colors inter-mixed. But be careful, the splotches of bright color may be “trendy” and fall out of popularity in a few years.
  • Birch: Birch is a very versatile wood type that accepts stain well and has great shock resistance. It is generally light in color, but the wood that lies in the center of the tree is often darker and more unique.
  • Cherry: Cherry is often perceived to be a “high end” wood. But most folks don’t realize that cherry isn’t that much more expensive than maple. And, cherry is much easier to stain than maple and results in lower cost of finishing. When you apply a light stain to cherry, it darkens with age and sunlight exposure, creating the reddish-brown color that we associate with this type of wood. Use cherry to project elegance and luxury.
  • Hickory: Hickory is an extremely strong type of wood that has many different natural colors. By adding a light or natural stain to hickory, you can enhance these unique accents.
  • Oak: Oak has been one of the most commonly used woods for cabinetry because it is very strong and conducive to staining. With oak, your kitchen will project a timeless image.IMG_1966
  • Mahogany: Another reddish-brown wood, mahogany adds richness to your kitchen. Mahogany is clearly a high end choice for kitchen cabinetry and you’ll need to treat it with care. South American mahogany is one of the most expensive choices you can make for your cabinets.
  • Maple: Maple is a popular cabinet wood because it is very durable and conducive to staining. When stained, maple gives off a clean, smooth look. You can also finish maple to make it resemble other woods, such as cherry.
  • Pine: You can find pine in three variations – white, ponderosa, and yellow. White pine is conducive to staining and simple to work with, while ponderosa can be more complex. You can use pine for a rustic vibe in your kitchen. But pine is very soft and subject to dents and nicks.
  • Sapele: This wood is a strain of African mahogany and has many of the characteristics of South American mahogany. When it is plain sliced it resembles traditional mahogany and when quarter sawn it has contrasting strips of brownish-gold and dark brown (referred to as ribbon striped).
  • Walnut: This dark brown wood is also growing in popularity. The color of the wood in it’s natural state is very beautiful, or it can be stained to deeper brown resulting in rich look in traditional, transitional, or contemporary designs.

Choosing the Finish

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There are many different finishes available for wood cabinets, including stains, glazes, paints, antiqued patinas, and techniques for creating a distressed look. When choosing a finish, first take into consideration the type of wood that you are using. Different types of wood will react differently to each finish over the course of time; for example, cherry gets darker with age while oak may yellow. Next, think about the level of maintenance that you are willing to take on. One way to easily select your cabinet finish is to make it complimentary to your kitchen floors or other significant interior features adjacent to the kitchen.

To learn more about choosing the right wood and finish for your cabinets, contact A Cut Above today.


There are plenty of resources to use to help formulate your vision. Houzz.com and the woodworkingnetwork.com are two great places to start. And, here are several links to recent articles that will be helpful to you.

Woodworking Network – Big Kitchens Aren’t Better

Better Homes and Gardens – Top Cabinetry Trends

Forbes – 8 Trends to Avoid

If you want some help sorting through your ideas please feel free to call A Cut Above, Inc. today. You can reach us at 443-285-3800. There’s no risk in calling and we’ll meet with you to discuss your project without cost or obligation. We can help you get started.