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There are many wood options from which to choose when shopping for or building your kitchen cabinets. Hardwoods and softwoods are the most popular choices in North America, but you can also find tropical hardwoods that are not native to North America, such as mahogany, teak, rosewood, and wenge. These woods are imported for domestic use. In this article, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of oak and cherry, both popular hardwood options for your kitchen cabinets.

Beautiful and Strong Oak Cabinets


The earthy beauty of oak graces both traditional and modern kitchens, its visible grain highlighting this durable natural hardwood. Both red and white oak is used in kitchen cabinet-making, with red oak being the more popular choice. While red oak does have a distinct red undertone, it’s actually the lighter of the two colors, with distinct whorls and knots fleshing out an interesting grain pattern, usually highlighted with a flattering stain.

Oak Pros

  • Oak is a durable hardwood, its natural hardness resists warping and damage from hot and humid conditions in a kitchen
  • Oak’s timeless beauty never goes out of style
  • As a popular hardwood choice for kitchen cabinets, oak is reasonably priced
  • In addition to multiple colors of oak wood, stains increase the color options available for kitchen cabinets

Oak Cons

  • Oak has a distinct grain pattern that is highlighted with even the lightest stain and might not be pleasing to every taste
  • Incorrect staining can highlight wood grain and imperfections
  • Could discolor over time

Timeless Cherry Cabinets


Cherry has been a kitchen standard for hundreds of years. It’s a time-honored classic that’s beauty and style never goes out of style. Cherry’s warm finish will gradually darken over time, lending a rich and full aesthetic to a modern kitchen.  Whether you choose the rich heartwood or the lighter sapwood for your kitchen cabinets, cherry is a traditional kitchen wood that you will compliment and enrich your home.

Cherry Pros

  • Rich, warm appearance that easily accepts stain or can be left unstained with clear stain or gloss varnish for a lighter finish
  • Multiple color choices, with heartwood and sapwood lending different hues to the wood
  • Light grain pattern
  • Easily cut and sanded with a nice balance of workability and strength

Cherry Cons

  • Cherry darkens over time and might not fit with a darker kitchen
  • Cherry is an expensive wood to manufacture
  • Not easily resistant to scuffs and scratches

The Bottom Line

Both oak and cherry are North American hardwoods that easily stand the test of time. Whichever you choose for your kitchen cabinets, your kitchen will reflect a timeless tradition of craftsmanship. Either of these woods will gladly accept paint, but honestly, why cover the natural beauty inherent in both species? The application of any stain color or a simple clear varnish will highlight either wood and make it unique to your kitchen and home.