Kitchen Tune-Up
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Wood Cabinet Choices

Wood Cabinet Choices
When deciding how much your Orlando kitchen remodeling will cost, did you know that the species of wood you choose will have a direct impact on the budget that you will need to complete your kitchen or bath remodel? With so many choices available, knowing a little about each will help you plan your remodel and may even save you quite a bit of money.

Let's begin with some basics that we all learned in high school shop class but may have forgotten. We all know that wood comes from trees and there are two major categories: hardwoods and softwoods. The terms "softwood" and "hardwood" have nothing to do with whether the wood is physically hard or soft. Softwood and hardwood are actually distinguished botanically and not by their end use, appearance, or hardness. In general, hardwood comes from a deciduous tree. Deciduous trees are trees that bear leaves, which they lose annually.

Softwoods are conifers. They bear pine cones and usually remain evergreen. Hardwoods tend to be slower growing; therefore, they are usually denser (but not always). Softwoods usually grow in huge tracts of trees, which may spread for miles, while hardwoods tend to be found mixed with a variety of other species. The majority of kitchen cabinets are made from hardwoods so we will only discuss species of hardwoods.


Oak, maple, walnut, cherry, hickory, and alder are all hardwoods. These are the most common species we see. The decision to use one wood over another can drastically impact the budget of a kitchen or bath remodel project. A few years ago, red and white oak far exceeded any other species used for cabinets in the United States. In recent years, maple and cherry have increased in popularity, overtaking the demand for oak. Because of this reason, the price of oak cabinets has decreased while the price of cherry or maple has increased.

Oak -Oak has traditionally been the most popular wood for Orlando cabinets and will be found in many older homes. It has a very heavy visible grain and is very durable. There are several species of oak; the most popular being white and red oak cut either in a plain sawn, quarter sawn or rift cut. Prior to staining, red oak tends to have a slightly "reddish" color. White oak is light brown in color. Wide bold graining is a characteristic of most oak, based on the method boards, which are cut from logs and on logging of newer growth forests. In order to reduce this wide graining, oak can be either rift cut or quarter sawn. Both methods greatly reduce the harvest from a single tree and therefore increase the price.

Maple -Maple has a close fine, uniform texture and is generally straight-grained, but it can also occur as "curly," "fiddle back," and "birds-eye" figures. The wood is hard and heavy with good strength properties; in particular its high resistance to abrasion and wear.

 Cherry - Cherry wood has a fine uniform, straight grain, satiny, smooth texture, and may naturally contain brown pith flecks and small gum pockets. When sanded and stained, it produces an excellent smooth finish.

 Alder - Alder (a relative of birch) is fairly straight-grained with a uniform texture. When stained, it blends with walnut, mahogany, or cherry. While more costly than Oak, Alder is typically less expensive than Maple or Cherry

Hickory - Just a few years ago, hickory was seldom used for cabinets and furniture in Orlando because it had quite a bit of character such as streaks, knots, swirly spots, and a busy grain. The pattern can be very busy.

Birch - Birch is generally straight-grained with a fine uniform texture. The wood of yellow birch is heavy, hard, and strong.

Cherry is usually about 7-10% more than oak. Hickory, and oak usually run very close in price. Unusual cabinet woods like alder and birch will usually cost more than common oak.

If you have any questions, or want to learn more about how we can keep your Orlando kitchen up-to-date and beautiful click here to contact us today.