Decorated Life is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More

What is the Best Wood for Kitchen Cabinets?

By: Stevie Miller |

What’s the best wood for kitchen cabinets? It depends on what you’re looking for. Each type has something to offer. Some are especially strong, others are budget-friendly, and others are especially good for the environment. 

In this article we’ll take a look at the best kitchen cabinet wood choices in each of these categories, comparing them side-by-side so you can find the one that meets your priorities.

Strong and Durable Options

Kitchen cabinets get opened, closed, banged into pots and pans, and explored by kids playing hide-and-seek. There’s a lot of use for them to stand up to! 

The woods in this category are up to the job. On the upside, they are durable, beautiful, and resistant to dings, scratches, and knocks. These types of wood are often found in traditional decor styles. 

However, they can be more expensive than other woods, and sometimes they are only available for customized cabinetry.

Red Oak

Red Oak cabinets are a classic, and not as costly as other hardwoods.

Hard Maple

Hard Maple is a bit more pricey than oak, but offers a modern look. 

Hickory Wood

Hickory Wood cabinets are just as strong as oak, but lighter in color, and suited for rustic decor styles.

Cherry Wood

Cherry Wood offers a rich red tone that gets darker over time, along with the strength of other woods in this category.

Budget Friendly Options

Wood choices in this group aren’t as durable as the ones in the first category, but they can provide you with decent quality at a more affordable price point. These woods are more likely to be available without requiring expensive customization. You can use stains and finishes to make them look like their more expensive counterparts.

Birch Wood

Birch can have spotty coloring, but give it a nice finish and it will look like a pricier wood.

Pine Wood

Pine is soft and can be vulnerable to some of the bumps and bruises of heavy use. But it’s very affordable and easy to stain.


Compared to other softwoods, poplar is a stronger option, but it still needs a gentler kitchen to stay looking its best.

Eco-Friendly Options

If your home can be gentler on the home we all share, so much the better! The wood options in this category are environmentally friendly, and offer a host of other benefits in your kitchen. Bamboo is even a wood that is climate-change ready, and won’t overreact to heat and humidity in your home.


Alder is a great all-around wood choice that offers strength, ease of use, and flexibility in styles. Knotty alder will give you a rustic look, while clear alder resembles cherry.


Bamboo is a highly renewable option constructed from laminated stalks that give it a striped appearance. That lamination makes it extremely strong. Bamboo also doesn’t expand and contract like other woods.

Final Thoughts

Which wood is best for your kitchen cabinets? What do your space, budget, and priorities say to you? A variety of beautiful options are available to suit all styles and needs. Let one of these cabinet woods inspire your next kitchen update!