October 5, 2018
Every type of wood has different characteristics. Recently we received the edited inquiry below on our blog.
2017 Swarthmore PA Kitchen
I am looking for cherry wood cabinets in a light stain. I do not like it when a door has very different shades of color. I read all your posts and agree that getting a veneer panel will give me a more consistent color. However, looking at photos of Kraftmaid and other brands they still have very different shades between the panel and the individual parts of the frame on the doors. What cabinet line would you recommend?
Here is an edited version of our response:
All wood pieces on a cabinet door will have color variations between each piece of wood. Cherry wood in particular. While not as severe as hickory or walnut, cherry has more color variations than many woods. Another property of cherry wood is cherry pits (small holes on the surface of the wood). These characteristics are natural and while some more expensive custom cabinet lines will have slightly less variation in their cherry cabinetry than say the Kraftmaid line you mentioned, you must expect any cherry kitchen to have these properties.
Customers that can’t accept the properties of the wood they select for their kitchen can be a nightmare for kitchen designers. Maple has mineral steaks, oak and birch are consistent but people like the grain and colors of other woods more. You can not have your cake and eat it too as the saying goes.
I think that you should not be looking for a cherry kitchen but for a wood that can look like cherry or at least be stained to a cherry-like color but that will be more consistent. Some people select maple cabinetry and a stain that has a red cherry-like tone. In the Kraftmaid line you mentioned the chestnut finish looks cherry-like on maple. Or Alder is a wood that can be more consistent than cherry, and look like cherry, but you would need a more expensive manufacturer to avoid the knots that can also be found in alder.
All good kitchen designers explain the properties of the wood and finish a customer selects to that customer. It is incredibly frustrating coming to a customer’s home to go over their concerns about their cabinets to find dozens of pieces of blue tape on cabinetry marking variations in the grain, wood tones differences, pits, or properties of the stain and glaze that were selected and that customers should have been expecting. These blue tape customers will usually tell us that they “feel” that they should have gotten more consistent cabinetry for the money they spent.
When I have explained or even warned a customer repeatedly about their selections before they order their kitchen and they then have these unrealistic “feelings”, I tell them that I “feel” like I should be 6 feet tall but am actually 5’9″ and shrinking with age. While very few enjoy the joke, they get the point and we compromise from there. Replacing 3 or 4 doors that are fine but have characteristics a customer doesn’t like for an entire kitchen is fine and par for the course for kitchen designers. Customers that want more than that will find some cabinet dealers more flexible than others.
2017 Warrington PA Kitchen
Below is a list of the most common types of wood kitchen cabinetry is made from, and the properties of each type wood. And here is a link to wood descriptions from Osborne wood products.
Cherry – Larger grain. Medium to high variation in wood color. The lighter the stain the greater the variation. Cherry pits.
Oak – Large grain. Less popular today for kitchen cabinetry. Medium color consistency.
Quartersawn Oak– More popular than regular Oak. Very tight grain and very consistant in color
Maple – Light graining. Consistent color. Mineral streaks (grey blemishes)
Birch – Consistent tight light grain.
Hickory – High color variation between pieces. Expect “stripes” on your cabinets. Also large grain and some small knots are possible.
Walnut – Available in custom cabinetry. The most extreme variations in color.
Bamboo – VERY consistent VERY tight grain.
Mahogany – Usually actually Liptus wood today. Tight consistent grain.
Main Line Kitchen Design wants all our customers to love their completed kitchen. But please make sure you understand the properties of the wood you are selecting and keep the blue tape within reason.
Paul and Julie