When designing your kitchen space, your cabinetry holds more importance than you may realize. You can as much as you want, but the cabinets themselves are the cornerstone of a kitchen’s aesthetic. Using the right material is essential for ensuring long-term functionality.

There are many things to consider when choosing the best wood for your kitchen cabinets, from density to finish, grain, versatility, price, and beyond. Below, we’ve highlighted six of the best woods for .

1. Paint Grade Wood

If you love a little DIY touch in your space and are planning on painting your cabinets, paint-grade wood is a good choice. Open-grained wood has a rougher outlook and might need filler to deliver a clear, smooth finish. To avoid a blotchy outlook, make sure to choose paint-grade woods if you plan on installing painted cabinets.

Paint-grade woods include woods like maple, pine, and poplar, which all fall in the tighter-grained variety. The most popular among these are maple and poplar. Most paint-grade wood is made from a poplar frame, which is versatile, affordable, and easy to work with.

2. Oak

Oak is one of the most popular wood choices for kitchen cabinets. The two types of oak most often used in furniture are red oak and white oak, both of which are good options but have distinct characteristics.

Red oak wood is sturdy and durable and is a relatively inexpensive cabinet wood option. Most traditional cabinet styles are made of red oak, highlighting its reddish-brown color and pronounced grain patterns. Red oak wood also stains easily and is available in various finishes, giving you plenty of options to choose from.

White oak is as durable as red but is a bit stronger and offers a sleeker, more contemporary finish. It has slightly golden undertones, and the subtler grain takes paint and stains quite nicely.

3. Alderwood

Alderwood is technically classified as a hardwood, but it’s a softer hardwood that is generally straight with a fine, uniform texture. It is softer than oak and maple and has great working properties, which make it a solid choice for kitchen cabinets.

Although alder has excellent finishing properties, it requires a bit of extra care when staining. When installing alderwood, it’s important to ensure proper wood sealing to prevent an uneven, blotchy outlook. If done right, alderwood cabinets can be sanded to give a smooth finish, bringing a warm, homely feel to your kitchen space.

4. Hard Maple

Hard maple is a light-colored, hard, and heavy wood that is less dense than oak. It has excellent strength and is highly resistant to wear and tear, making it an ideal choice for kitchen cabinets.

Maple is fine-grained, and the wood patterns appear beautifully through paints and stains. However, many choose to dress maple wood with a clear or natural finish for a lighter, more contemporary outlook. Although hard maple comes with a higher price tag, it is highly durable and can be an excellent long-term investment for your kitchen design.

5. Ash

If you want a more chic, contemporary feel in your kitchen, ash might be your top option. It has durability and strength similar to oak but has a lighter color and clearer finish. Ash wood cabinets can help bring together a clean-cut, refined kitchen space and you’re most likely to spot ashwood cabinets in custom cabinet work.

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6. Cherry

Cherry wood kitchen cabinets are sturdy, strong, and durable. They are typically used for traditional cabinet styles with an elegant look, but this wood can also be customized for a more contemporary feel. Cherry wood is a smooth, fine-grain wood with rich, reddish-brown undertones that darken with age; it adds a warm, inviting touch to any kitchen space, and can withstand knocks and marring.

Cherry wood is more expensive than other wood options on the list but lives up to its price tag with its smooth grain and ability to be carved into delicate, detailed designs.

Wood cabinets can change the entire feel of a kitchen, and hopefully, we’ve guided you towards a choice that’s perfect for you. For further details on revamping your cabinet look, be sure to check out our post on the cost of replacing kitchen cabinets.