What Type of Wood Should I Use For My Kitchen Cabinets?

What Type of Wood Should I Use For My Kitchen Cabinets?

There are several types of beautiful wood to choose from for your kitchen cabinets. These include pecan, walnut, oak, maple, cherry, birch, alder, and hickory etc. Each type has its own unique natural characteristics, but the ultimate choice will really come down to your personal preference. One of the most important decisions you will need to make when starting your kitchen renovation project, you will need to choose the right wood for your cabinets.

Justin York of York Construction, a kitchen renovation contractor in Toronto, says it’s important to choose the type and quality of your kitchen cabinet wood as you want it to last the life of your expected kitchen renovation project.  The last thing you want is to have your cabinets deteriorate before you are ready to remodel your kitchen again.

To help you choose, we’ll provide you with some information below on some of the most popular types of wood cabinets available.  If you decide to let your contractor purchase the cabinets for you, be sure you understand what brands they use as the wood quality can vary from brand to brand.

We used a Design Build contracting company in Toronto for our renovation project and it turned out awesome and was less of a hassle than working with a traditional general contractor.



Cherry typically comes with red undertones, but in reality, the cabinets can vary when it comes to colour from rich deep-brown to white. The wood has a close-grained and smooth appearance along with random markings and a generally uniform texture. Finishes can be easily applied due to the wood’s random markings. The wood also darkens with age since it’s light sensitive.



Maple cabinets generally appear creamy or white in colour and may have some reddish-brown tones in them. Maple cabinets have a smooth and uniform look due to the wood’s subtle grain pattern. They also work well with several types of paints, stains, finishes and glazes. The wood is strong and resilient and will darken beautifully when stained.


Oak kitchen cabinets generally feature distinct grain patterns and may appear to show several colour tones such as white, pink, red, green, black and yellow because of the wood’s mineral deposits. The grain characteristics of the wood often feature random knots and wormholes while creating very distinct, random patterns. Rustic oak and red oak are very popular.


Alder cabinets usually show off reddish and light-brown undertones and the wood grain is even textured and straight. Rustic alder has a dramatic grain and sometimes contains knots of different colours and sizes along with wormholes, small cracks and mineral streaks. This type of wood is generally lighter and softer than others, which makes it a bit easier to mark and/or dent.


Hickory cabinets often range in colour from white to dark brown and reddish brown. The sapwood and heartwood makes for an interesting contrast. In addition, hickory is a strong, smooth close-grained wood which features flowing and heavy grain patterns. The wood has a coarse texture and comes with a strong rugged look along with knots, pinholes, and streaks of colour.



Birch kitchen cabinets feature a strong, tight grain and smooth surface texture. The sapwood is predominantly creamy yellow to white and the heartwood varies in shades of brown from medium to reddish and dark. Birch is a strong type of wood which is hard to mark and is ideal for polishes, stains and paints.



If your prefer a wood which features muted brown hues and graceful patterns in its grain then walnut could be for you. The wood is fine and smooth and ranges in colour from light-reddish to chocolate brown. The warm, rich colours typically lighten and mellow as the wood ages.



Pecan cabinets generally range in colour from white to dramatic dark brown and reddish brown. The close-grained wood is very strong and smooth with a strong flowing pattern in the grain. This is also a coarse-textured wood with a rugged look which often features knots, pinholes, colour streaks and burls.