Much like the trees from which they came, woods are all unique, with differing characteristics and choosing just the right one for your custom cabinetry can be confusing. Here is some information about the characteristics of different types of woods to help you choose:
Cherry can take on a deep red patina over time, but its natural color ranges from pale yellow to reddish brown. A warm wood, it creates an elegant appearance distinguished by mineral streaks, small pinholes, grain swirls and subtle shadings when it is sometimes called Rustic Cherry.
Maple is a durable smooth wood, has a color range from creamy blonde tones to dark reddish shaded browns, and mellows with age into a rich patina. This wood also features mineral streaks and markings, which shouldn't be considered defects, but assets as they create a unique look.
Hickory is a dense wood that is very durable and known for its dramatic color variations--from pale white to grey to deep red heartwood. With Hickory, no attempt is made to minimize discrepancies. Knots and streaks are part of the charm of this wood.
Alder is a tight and straight grain hardwood, getting more popular each year. Though it dents fairly easily, Alder accepts stain well, thus allowing custom color application. Since it is elastic, it also is good for carving intricate details and is sometimes uses as a substitute for cherry. Knotty Alder has the same characteristics, but is distinguished by knots, knotholes and pin holes, adding character to the wood.
Oak is known for its strength and durability. With a color range from tan to deep reddish brown, Oak takes on a golden glow with age. When finished with a light color stain, grain patterns (ranging from straight to arcs) will be easier to see. Darker stains make the difference in color between the open and closed grain areas more uniform and therefore less detectable. What recommends Oak for cabinetry is its ability to forgive nicks and bumps. Rustic Oak is like the regular wood but has more knots and pinholes.
Mahogany is a tropical medium-to-hard wood indigenous to South America, Central America, and Africa. Mahogany’s strength makes it an excellent carving wood. It's stability and resistance to decay makes the wood ideal for cabinetry. Ranging from tan to reddish brown, is may have ribbons, ropes, ripples, stripes or rings.
Lyptus is a strong hardwood that has similar graining to Mahogany with a mainly straight grain and occasional “ticking” to give it a distinctive look. As it ages, Lyptus mellows into a rich, deep color.
Pine is a light colored wood with brown to black colored knots which turn (with age) into a traditional yellow pin color. This wood is used to create a rustic feel and is often used in cabins and country homes.
Walnut is a rich premium hardwood, prized in North America for high-end cabinetry and furniture. Walnut provides strength, hardness, and durability without excessive weight. It has excellent woodworking qualities and takes finishes well. Walnut is light to dark chocolate-brown in color, with a straight grain in the trunk. It can be found in the United States and Canada, usually appearing as Black Walnut―smooth-grained with a dark brown color. (Lighter sapwood is never used in cabinetry.)
Bamboo is actually a grass that grows like a weed pretty much wherever it is planted, making it a highly sustainable natural resource and a good “green” choice. Bamboo is strong and hard (meaning it can take some punishment) and offers three different grains to add to its unique appeal.
Birch is a stiff, close-grained hardwood. It has good shock resistance, but its light color (predominantly a light yellow) and heavy texture makes it used less often in cabinetry.
Exotic Veneers: For those who like a veneer wood door style (considered a contemporary style), many exotic species are available, such as lacewood, sapele, zebrawood, teak, beech, pearwood, anigre, and limba.
Reconstituted Veneers: Recent developments in wood technology have given rise to “engineered” wood veneers. Made from real wood, these veneers are reconstituted products that have the grains of different wood species – from the common to the exotic – applied to them. They have all the warmth and character of the rare woods on which they are modeled, but are more cost effective with less environmental impact.
For recommendation on the perfect wood to choose for your fine cabinetry, consult with award-winning kitchen designer, Jason Landau at Amazing Spaces, LLC. Jason brings two decades worth of experience in space planning, kitchen design and working with the world's finest cabinetry firms to your project. Call him today at 914-239-3725 or visit www.amazingspacesllc.com.