Best Wood for Cabinets Kitchen

Wood cabinets are a standard sight in many home kitchens.

They beautify the area and provide critical storage space.

Homeowners love wood cabinets because of their durability and cost-effectiveness.

The best and most liked wood types for kitchen cabinets include oak, pine, hickory, maple, and cherry.

The first three (oak, pine, and hickory) are readily available and affordable.

Whereas maple and cherry, being considered luxury woods, are pricier and harder to find.

This guide aims to make it easier for you to choose the best wood for kitchen cabinets.

What to Look for When Choosing Cabinet Wood Type?

an image of wooden kitchen cabinets

The best wood types for cabinets share a few qualities you should prioritize while shopping.


Kitchen cabinets are heavily exposed to moisture and liquids, including water, juices, and liquors.

Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to liquids disposes kitchen cabinets to accelerated decay.

Therefore, the best quality wood material should be most resistant to water damage and deterioration.

The estimated lifespan of kitchen cabinets is about 10 to 30 years.

But some wood cabinets could last much longer depending on the type of wood.

For instance, cabinets made from hardwood types having remarkable wear and tear resistance could last 50+ years.


Many types of color and grain patterns for wood cabinets may interest you.

Wood cabinets come in various colors ranging from white, pink, and reddish to luxurious golden, dark brown, and black tones.

Alternatively, you may go for custom cabinetry.

If so, remember that custom cabinets complement your decor best with unique cabinet wood types.

Finally, you may opt for painted cabinets.

In that case, factors such as grain patterns become less important.

Instead, it would be best if you looked for good paint-grade wood.

Dimensional Strength

Wild temperature changes happen in the kitchen.

The temperatures may shoot to 100+ degrees while cooking and drop significantly afterward.

Unfortunately, rapid temperature changes can result in dry wood expanding, contracting, and ultimately losing shape.

Therefore, it’s sensible to find dimensionally stable wood that can resist warping or other deformations.

Related Reading: What Are Standard Kitchen Base Cabinet Dimensions – Click Here To Find Out.

Popular Wood Choices for Kitchen Cabinets

1. Pine

Pine is an excellent option as it offers much durability at an affordable cost.

White pine has a 420 lbf rating on the Janka scale, making it hard enough to withstand minor strikes.

So, it would remain in good shape if you don’t hit it hard with blunt objects.

It also has an excellent bending strength of 9,400 psi, compensating for the lower hardness rating.

So it doesn’t crack too easily.

Another essential advantage of pinewood kitchen cabinets is their aesthetic appeal.


  • Pinewood is readily available and affordable
  • Has a beautiful, consistent color
  • soft and highly functional
  • boasts exceptional finishing properties


  • Pinewood shows surface scars.
  • It gets dented and scratched easily.

2. White Oak

White oak is a little dark and features a straight grain pattern with a medium coarse texture.

However, it’s a good cabinet material for three reasons.

Firstly, white oak is more resistant to moisture.

Secondly, it is harder (1320 lbf), hence more durable.

Finally, it offers a greater bending strength, meaning it is less prone to breaking under load.


  • White oak is rugged and durable.
  • It’s more moisture and rot-resistant.
  • It’s a highly sustainable, fast-growing wood species.


  • White oak accepts fewer stains than red oak
  • It is relatively more expensive

3. Red Oak

Red oak is one of the most preferred choices for kitchen cabinets.

It’s a sturdy, durable wood species and very beautiful too.

Red oak is reasonably hard, having a 1290 lbf rating on the Janka scale.

So it doesn’t easily break, dent, or get scratched.

With good maintenance, the cabinets could last 50+ years.

Secondly, red oak has a light brown heartwood and reddish-brown heartwood with shades of pink.

Therefore, red oak cabinets easily stand out, and the distinctive wide grain pattern makes them even more unique.


  • It’s very durable, lasting for decades.
  • Easily stained without blotching.
  • Easy to sand with a block or pad
  • Has a distinctive color and grain


  • It gets stained too quickly.
  • Requires proper sealing due to large pores

4. Hickory

Hickory comes in various shades, from white to deep reddish-brown and dark grey, with natural knots and twists.

Hickory is solid and durable.

At 1820 lbf on the Janka scale, it’s the hardest and strongest material on this list

. Therefore, splintering, denting, and scratching are rare on hickory cabinets.

So, hickory cabinets would last a lifetime with proper care.

Secondly, hickory’s unique look and strength make it the ideal choice for rustic styles.

Above all, hickory is maintenance-free.

You can freely stain or paint your cabinets, but let the cabinet take care of itself.


  • The most durable option on this list
  • Essentially maintenance-free
  • Perfect for rustic-style cabinets
  • Highly resistant to scratches


  • Not suitable for modern styles
  • Challenging to work with

5. Cherry

Cherry is one of the most attractive wood because its colors range from reddish-brown to blonde.

Moreover, cherry wood is hard (950 lbf on the Janka scale), durable, and rarely gets dented.

It is highly customizable and shock resistant and has a closed, fine-grain pattern.

Cherry wood easily bends through steaming, so it is easy to carve and shape.

It is also highly shock-resistant and doesn’t break or dent easily.


  • Cherrywood is a beautiful material with attractive grains.
  • Highly shock-resistant and durable
  • Easily customizable


  • It is costly
  • Difficult to clean

6. Bamboo

Bamboo cabinets are getting more popular as they offer a modern look.

Besides, bamboo is suited for kitchen cabinets because it is tough and can endure a lot of wear and tear.

Being a very versatile material, it can be painted or stained to match any décor.

However, bamboo is a bit more costly than other woods, though it is worth the investment since it lasts for many years.


  • Very tough and durable
  • Eco-friendly
  • Offers a modern look
  • Easy to maintain
  • Versatile


  • Expensive
  • Hard to find
  • Quality may vary

7. Maple

an image of kitchen

Maple wood offers beautiful shades and attractive grains that are well-suited for modern kitchen styles, hence the best material for painted cabinets.

The sugar maple is rated 1450 lbf on the Janka scale.

So it resists scratches and dents more than soft maples.

Sugar maple is easy to shape and nail, absorbs stains, and finishes exceptionally well.


  • Easy to customize and personalize
  • Hard maple is solid and durable
  • Beautiful shades and consistent grains
  • Maintenance is easy


  • Comes with a high price tag
  • Sensitive to extreme temperatures

8. Birch

Birchwood is more affordable than other alternatives, such as cherry and maple, though more expensive than red or white oak.

It’s mainly an excellent alternative to maple as the colors nearly match.

Birchwood is highly workable and can be sanded to a fine texture using 80 to 400-grit sandpaper.

The wood also flues and bends well.

A stain coat protects it from weathering, allowing birch cabinets to last for many years.


  • Beautiful appearance
  • An affordable alternative to maple
  • Suits many interior decor styles
  • Highly workable


  • Splits and tears too easily
  • Sensitive to extreme weather

9. Poplar

Poplar is also a light-colored material that can brighten up your kitchen.

It accepts paint with a perfect texture, so you can refurbish it easily. 

Although it belongs to the hardwood category, this wood is known to be soft.

That means it dents and scratches easily, so not the best option if you want your cabinets to show no signs of wear and tear.


  • Easily customizable
  • Less pricey
  • It has a light tone to brighten up the kitchen
  • Takes paint very well


  • Less durable
  • Gets scratched easily due to being soft
  • Not long-lasting

10. Mahogany

Mahogany is also an attractive wood with a rich red shade that can bring elegance to any kitchen.

As it ages, Mahogany becomes even more beautiful, developing a more deep, rich color.

Only a few homeowners use this wood because of its high cost.

But if you have the budget, Mahogany is undoubtedly the way to go!


  • High durability and strength
  • Beautiful rich red color
  • It’s a relatively rare wood, so considered a luxurious material.


  • Costly
  • Needs a lot of care
  • It is a relatively hard wood, so it can be challenging to work with.

Related Reading: Best Wood For Cabinet Doors – Click Here To Read.

Best Wood for Cabinets Kitchen – FAQs

1. What type of grain is white oak?

White Oak generally has a straight grain and an uneven texture.

2. Which is the most durable wood for kitchen cabinets?

Hickory cabinets are the most durable and resistant to scratches and dents, although they cost more than other hardwood kitchen cabinet materials.

4. What is the best type of paint for kitchen cabinets?

Oil-based paints are recommended best for kitchen cabinets due to their leveling qualities and ease of cleaning.

Related Reading: How Many Cabinets Can Be Mounted In A 10×10 Kitchen – Click Here To Find Out.

In Summary

Pine, oak (red and white), hickory, cherry, and maple are the most popular options for kitchen cabinets.

These are tough, durable, and elegant wood types; all five are relatively easy to procure.

However, birch, poplar, and bamboo are great-looking and affordable alternatives.