Alder wood came into popularity as a low-priced alternative to cherry wood, which is how it earned the nickname “poor man's cherry.” Today, Alder has grown in reputation as a desired product on its own. Many owners will specifically request alder wood to be used in the construction of their cabinets because of its interesting properties.
Alder wood exhibits two basic natural colors depending on the finishing technique used. If a water white lacquer and blond shellac are used, then the Alder will take on a light gold color. This style of finishing is often used in conjunction with knotted pieces of wood to achieve a rustic aesthetic. However, the first cabinet makers that began using alder wood use an amber-toned finish to create a reddish color that resembled young cherry wood. At the time, alder wood was significantly cheaper than cherry because it was considered a “weed” tree. A characteristic of red-finished alder is that it will not darken with age.
Located in many northern continents, beech wood forests provide a versatile wood. It has a pale color that is ideal for staining, and it cuts easily without showing damage from power tools.
Beech wood is a reddish-brown wood that can be incorporated into many areas of the house. It is often used for making chairs, stools and hardwood floors. The medium wood is ideal for sturdy furniture that must withstand frequent use. It is also used for making lumber and cabinets. The grain of beech wood is tight, and the large rays and fine lines resemble those found in maple wood and birch wood. It is easy to stain, which makes it perfect for many household projects. Beech wood has a medium resistance to shock, which is one reason it is suitable for high traffic flooring or everyday furniture.
Birch is a durable hardwood with a high tensile strength rating, meaning it holds nails and screws well, and is particularly useful for frequently opened and closed cabinet doors. Birch is a naturally light-colored wood that can be finished naturally or stained to resemble maple, walnut or cherry.
Birch is a plentiful hardwood that grows in forests in Canada and throughout the Northeastern United States. This abundance makes birch the most affordable solid-wood material for kitchen cabinets. Birch is a pale wood with a slightly yellowish cast. For this reason, it usually looks best in natural finishes and is more popular in traditional kitchens. Birch wood generally exhibits a straight and uniform grain. Curling and wavy grain patterns are more unusual but not unheard of.
Cherry wood cabinets are a fixture in traditional cabinets where they have been a standard for hundreds of years. So you may find yourself asking "are cherry cabinets out of style?" Traditional, yes. Out of style? Never. The look and durability of cherry endears it to picky woodworkers, cabinetmakers and homeowners alike.
Cherry is a traditional hardwood that woodworkers and carpenters have used for years because of its color and quality. It is a closed-grain wood with a color ranging from light/white to light brown, often with a reddish hue. The heartwood is a darker color, while the sapwood tends to be lighter. Cherry offers a moderately hard texture, extreme strength and good shock-resistance. The grain in cherry is varied, with pin knots, curls, random swirls and gum streaks. It stains and finishes to a smooth finish. Cabinetmakers and carpenters in the colonial times frequently used cherry. Thus, the wood became the commonly used wood for traditional furniture styles such as Mission, country and Shaker.
Maple is a hardwood of amazing strength. It offers a subtle, visually interesting grain. Unlike birch and other softer woods, maple takes a wide variety of stains evenly, and the finish lasts for years. Equally as beautiful in contemporary and traditional kitchens, maple cabinets always add a touch of class. Maple-based, American-made kitchen cabinets are some of the finest examples of traditional American craftsmanship.
Maple is durable; one of the hardest woods suitable for cabinetwork. Maple cabinet doors stand up to daily use while resisting dings and dents. Maple has a smooth grain and a non-porous surface that provides the perfect canvas for a variety of paints or finishes, ranging from warm golden spice tones to deep mahoganies. Maple cabinets are one of the most popular kitchen cabinet options and are easy to obtain in many styles and colors to suit any budget or kitchen design.
Oak is one of the best-selling woods for kitchen cabinets and it’s not hard to see why. Oak has interesting, open, uniform grain patterns that are distinguished by light-reflecting rays. The wood is a heavy, strong hardwood that is durable in the face of all hazards, including those dished out in a family-friendly kitchen. Oak is exceptionally wear-resistant, so it doesn't develop dings, dips or curves easily. Oak cabinets can last for years with few signs of wear. Oak is also moisture-resistant, so water runs off rather than soaking into the wood and triggering warping.
Oak also has many color options. Natural oak wood has variations ranging from light tan to dark red, and includes pink, beige and brown colors in between. Stains and shellacs increase the possible color variations in finished cabinets.