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5 Popular Species of Cabinet Woods

POSTED ON Friday, March 10, 2023 IN Kitchen

Woods commonly used for Bertch cabinets; each with its own unique characteristics and benefits.

For a number of years, interior designers and décor influencers alike have repudiated the style of natural wood grain in home design. Coats of paint have covered natural finishes, transforming everything in the home to shades of white and gray. While white cabinets will forever be considered en vogue, homeowners these days are more appreciative of the natural warmth of wood grain.

Species of Cabinet Woods

Today’s wood cabinets can have a modern or classic take on natural wood, either letting the organic, raw pattern of the wood grain shine through with little enhancement or through a vibrant  stain to achieve a specific finish. There are several types or species of wood that are commonly used for kitchen cabinets, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits.

Popular Cabinet Woods

Modern Walnut Kitchen Cabinets


Traditionally seen as a luxury wood, walnut has grown in popularity with homeowners over the past several years. Its rich tones, naturally ranging from deep chocolate brown heartwood to creamy off-white sapwood give a deep, dimensional look to any room. Walnut cabinets are usually finished in a natural finish to emphasize the swirling grain pattern  and varying wood colors. Walnut also accepts a medium/dark brown, like dawn, to really give it a rich, luxurious feel. 

Design Tip - Use walnut as a statement or accent piece to break up a long run of cabinets and make your space more visually captivating.

Modern Oak Kitchen Cabinets

2 - Oak

Oak has long been one of the most readily available and popular wood choices for furniture making. However, oak kitchens in 2023 look a bit different than the traditional ‘90s (or earlier) flair. A modern take on oak appears above, in quarter-sawn oak with a natural finish. Hard wood with open-grain, oak accepts stain well and will darken slightly with age; its grain pattern is very evident when a solid color finish is applied. Oak is a strong and durable hardwood that has a prominent grain pattern and can be stained in various colors.

Modern Birch Kitchen Cabinets

3 - Birch

Birch is a lighter colored hardwood that is often used as a more affordable alternative to cherry. It has a close, fine, and straight grain, an off-white color, medium density, and fine texture. White birch is a medium hardwood, with similar characteristics as maple. Birch is used as a base for solid color finishes, and accepts stain well. When used on medium to darker stains, birch can produce a unique effect called mottling, which is caused by interlocked grain of varying densities. This can give a “shimmery” look on the finished product.

Modern Cherry Kitchen Cabinets

4 - Cherry

Cherry wood cabinets have a rich, warm, reddish-brown hue that can add depth and warmth to a room. Considered a medium hardwood, Cherry has a medium density, fine texture, straight grain. This makes it an attractive choice for a variety of decor styles. Cherry wood cabinets are easy to maintain and resistant to moisture, great for a high-traffic area like a kitchen. Cherry is especially sensitive to light and high levels of natural light can cause the wood to darken or redden significantly, therefore it is typically used with stains that accentuate its natural appearance.

Modern Hickory Kitchen Cabinets

5 - Hickory

Hickory is a hardwood known for its “wild” contrasting light and dark streaks created with the contrast of white sapwood and reddish/dark heartwood. Many homeowners use Hickory to add a rustic and natural feel to their kitchens. Hickory wood is recognized by its distinctive grain pattern, warm tones, and durability. Homeowners choose hickory wood cabinets for their light brown color, hard density and durability, straight grain, and strong visual interest.

Hickory also accepts stain well, but it is important to keep in mind that the darker the stain, the more you will lose that contrast between the light and dark wood.

Ultimately, the best wood for kitchen cabinets depends on your personal preferences and the style of your kitchen. It's important to choose a wood that is durable, easy to maintain, and fits your budget.

Learn more about the characteristics and advantages of each type of cabinet wood by talking to our design teams. Visit a Bertch Dealer to browse color combinations and door styles with one of our experienced designers.


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