16 Best Wood for Cabinets, Cupboards, and More!

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Choosing the best wood for cabinets can be a challenge. After all, you must pick the one that can hold up wear and tear when cooking in the kitchen while serving an eye-catching design or style. 

Perhaps you’ve been searching the net for the right wood for your kitchen cabinet doors. If so, I’ve prepared this guide to help you out.

Popular Types Of Wood Cabinets

The solid wood kitchen cabinets you must invest in should have functionality and style. However, every wood used in kitchen cabinets has a unique appearance and quality.

Here are the most popular wood cabinet varieties that I rely on:

1. Maple

soft maple

Over the years, I’ve found myself continuously gravitating towards Maple when selecting wood for cabinets. In my experience, its versatility is unmatched, effortlessly blending with a vast array of home decors. Further, you can paint them any color you desire. However, steer clear of maple as wood for making axe throwing targets

Hard Maple

Wood kitchen cabinets made of hard maple can withstand high force or abuse and are highly resistant to scratches and dents. Additionally, they’re easy to clean and eco-friendly.

Soft Maple

You must apply a pre-stain wood conditioner before applying a stain to this kind of kitchen cabinet. I learned the hard way that without it, soft Maple can turn uneven and blotchy, quite unlike its robust counterpart, hard Maple.

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2. Oak

Oak wood

Oak is typically available in different colors, from dark red to lighter shades depending on the type of oak and whether you have applied a light or dark stain.

Red and white oak cabinets also have a distinctive aesthetic quality that adapts to modern styles. 

Red Oak

Delving into specifics, red Oak, with its Janka rating of 1,260 lbf, has repeatedly proven its mettle in my projects. This allows red oak cabinets to have high resistance against harsh wear and tear. Red oak also has pink undertones, adding uniqueness to one’s kitchen cabinet.

Rift-Cut White Oak

Rift-cut white oak is much lighter in color than red oak. However, white oak still bears slight purple and pink hues. White oak has a straight grain pattern that cuts like flakes. 

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3. Birch

baltic birch plywood

In my years of crafting kitchen cabinets, I’ve observed that birch consistently complements contemporary styles beautifully. One thing I particularly admire about birch is its superior finishing properties. It takes paint so well that even when going for a farmhouse style, it looks impeccable.

Birch wood can also effortlessly absorb dark stains and fit your desired design. Additionally, birch is one of the best wood types for bathroom shelves

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4. Walnut

walnut table

Like most wood cabinets, walnut cabinets are extremely durable, with high resistance against scratches and dents. Interestingly, walnut cabinets and kitchen tables can hold heavy stuff without chipping or cracking.

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5. Pine

Yellow Pine

For those dipping their toes into the world of woodworking, especially cabinetry, pine wood cabinets have been my go-to recommendation. Pine, being a softwood, is delightfully workable. Over the years, I’ve seen many woodworking beginners find their footing starting with pine.

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6. Poplar

clean the Poplar wood

Poplar cabinets are softer than other best woods, making it easier to nail and screw. Furthermore, poplar wood cabinets vary in color. However, they look less appealing with a natural appearance.

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7. Hickory

slab of Hickory wood

Hickory wood is more rigid and stronger than oak and maple wood. Its flame-like wood grain pattern provides an illusion of a casual look. In addition, hickory cabinets have a variety of colors ranging from white to reddish brown.

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8. Mahogany

stained Mahogany boards

Mahogany wood kitchen cabinets have straight wood grains and expansiveness, making them a luxurious choice for wood materials. Though I’ve seen them grace only a few homes, partly because of their need for regular maintenance and the expensive price point, they are a symbol of timeless elegance.

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9. Cherry

milled Cherry wood

Cherry wood is something I often recommend to budding woodworkers. They are excellent for nailing, polishing, gluing, and screwing, perfect for newbie woodworkers. Aside from that, cherry cabinets look traditional, warm, and inviting.

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10. Ash

Ash wood

Ash is a wooden cabinet material that has a heavyweight handling ability. On top of that, ash wood custom cabinets are perfect for those who pay attention to details. They have an attractive unique look with a good finish. 

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11. Beech

Beechwood

When it comes to longevity on a budget, I often find myself recommending beech for both bathroom and kitchen cabinets. Beechwood has a lovely texture with a more subtle grain pattern. You can also color them as you wish while being cost-effective. 

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12. Spruce

Spruce lumber

Spruce wood is one of the most commonly used in the cabinet industry. It has a straight grain pattern with a high hardness quality. You can see spruce cabinets in garages and shops.

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13. Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir wood

The following wood material is less durable than other woods. However, the Douglas Fir woods for kitchen cabinets can last years with regular maintenance and a good finish.

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14. Alder

alder wood tv stand

Knotty Alder wood cabinet doors have a rustic natural finish that improves the woodwork quality. Its natural beauty can easily match your office, kitchen, dining room, and bathroom designs. 

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15. Bamboo

bamboo wood thickness

Bamboo solid wood cabinets have a high resistance to splits and cracks. It is also softer than some hardwoods, but its strength is unbeatable. 

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16. Plywood

marine grade plywood various thickness

Plywood frameless painted cabinets are popular cabinets in Europe. This material is not only for interior house aesthetics but also for construction purposes.

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Are All Wood Types Created Equal?

The short answer is no. The best wood for cabinetry relies on an individual’s personal taste, preference, and budget. Additionally, the construction method in the cabinet making must follow your housing’s specific needs. 

Hard vs Soft Wood

The Janka hardness test determines how hard or soft your wood is. Ensure that you have chosen the wood species that matches your house interior.

Grain

Wood patterns range from pronounced grain patterns to straight, spiral, and curvy natural grain patterns. They are an excellent touch to your space. 

building cabinet

Color

You will have no difficulties finding the perfect wood color for your cabinet wood types. Wood cabinets are available in various colors, from light brown to dark brown.

Pre-Assembled vs RTA Cabinets

Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets are the most popular options for those who want to save pennies on shipping and installation. On the other hand, pre-assembled cabinets are ideal for those who are not short on cash and have time to assemble themselves. 

Read Next: Best Wood for Birdhouses 

Conclusion

If you ask me, the best wood for cabinets has no one-size-fits-all answer. However, the vital features you must look for are its longevity, highly durable wood, and paint-grade wood with a medium-density fiberboard [1].

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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