Choosing the Best Types of Wood For Your St. Louis Kitchen

Written by Megan Gerdes

best wood types for your kitchenWhen you are remodeling your kitchen and thinking about what types of wood to use, it generally comes down to a few things: affordability, durability, and, ultimately, your preference.

You may love a specific type of wood grain—like walnut—but when you price it out, it might not be in the budget. Knowing the benefits of certain types of wood might help you decide.

For example, many people love walnut, but it’s costly, which can be a significant drain on the budget. If you’re dead-set on having it, you might have to do some value-engineering on your countertops or other features.

On the plus side, walnut is very hard and durable. If you do go this way, your walnut cabinets will last a lifetime, and they will definitely add value.

Best Wood For Cabinets

Of course, it all depends on what you’re going to do with the wood as well. For example, if you’re going to be painting it, this would help you narrow down your best choices.

The boxes for the cabinets are usually made from low-grade materials that are overlaid with a thin veneer. Cabinet fronts are built from solids, either plywood or hardwood.

best wood types for your kitchen

Hickory, maple, and beech are much harder and more durable than walnut and mahogany, but they are also more expensive. Oak and ash are softer hardwoods and may damage and show wear more easily over time. Exotic varieties will cost more than domestically sourced hardwoods. Cherry, for instance, is considered to be a luxury choice, so it is often more expensive.

Color Selections And Limitations

Your choice of wood might dictate—and limit—the color selections in the rest of the kitchen. You might like a reddish stain on oak or maple, but you will end up with a finish that is difficult to match.

Honey oak is another one. As beautiful as the wood is on its own, it has a yellowy tone that limits the other color choices you can make. The colors you choose for the walls, the countertops, the backsplash – you have to be careful that they don’t highlight the pinker, fleshier tones.

Some wood accepts stains more easily and evenly than others. Ash, oak, and pine tend to absorb stain uniformly, while birch and maple can blotch if they are not treated properly before staining. Other woods, like walnut and cherry, are prized for their natural colors and are better off left unstained.

Caring For Wood Cabinets

Wood tends to warp easily as the moisture and humidity level changes. This makes it crucial that the wood is finished on all sides before it is installed. Untreated, unfinished wood can warp quickly, and high humidity can have an effect. Solid lumber warps more easily than veneers in humid climates.

Wood For Painted Cabinets

best wood types for your kitchen

If you plan to paint your wood cabinets, you are better off going with a type of wood that has a tighter grain. Examples of these include maple, pine, and poplar.

Woods that have an open grain, like oak, for example, would require filler to look good painted. The texture of oak grain is very rough, even when it’s perfectly sanded and stained. The dark parts of the grain are very bumpy. You probably wouldn’t want to choose oak if you planned to paint over it.

Rounding Up Your Choices In Wood For The Kitchen

We’ve bounced around some generalities, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty:

Red oak is highly durable and moderately priced. Often used for more traditional kitchens, it has a pronounced grain and is available in a wide range of styles and finishes. 

White oak is also durable, perhaps even more so than red oak. It is more golden-toned and has a subtle grain. It is often quarter-sawn and used in custom cabinetry. 

Hard maple is a lighter-colored and less dense hardwood than oak. It takes stain easily but looks great for a contemporary kitchen when it has a clear or natural finish. 

Cherry wood is super-hard and durable. It looks sleek and formal in traditional kitchen design but does equally well in contemporary kitchens. It maintains a uniform color but will darken over time. 

Walnut has beautifully muted brown hues that range from light reddish-brown to a deep, earthy, chocolaty color. Its straight wood grain is perfect in a modern-style kitchen, although it tends to be a little more expensive. 

Of course, there’s plenty more to choose from and lots to talk about. If you would like to learn more about what type of wood will look and perform best in your kitchen, reach out today

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