Cherry is Best Wood for Kitchen Cabinets

Cherry is the best wood for kitchen cabinets

Cherry is Best Wood for Kitchen Cabinets

Cherry wood kitchen cabinets are undeniably beautiful, thanks to the rich red color and straight grain of this popular hardwood. Cherry has been used for kitchen cabinets and fine furniture since the time of the American Colonists. And for good reason. (Advantages to follow).

Stained wood kitchen cabinets are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Certainly, this is backlash against all the years of white painted kitchens. However, this is good news for lovers of cherry wood kitchen cabinets who want to see this lovely wood restored to its rightful place as “Queen of the Cabinet Hardwoods”.

Although this wood from the American Black Cherry fruit tree has been used for traditional styles such as Mission, Farmhouse and Shaker, it also works well in modern style kitchens. People continue to request cherry wood for their kitchen cabinets because of its classic, warm good looks. They simply do not seem to go out of style. Consequently, cherry cabinets make a timeless addition to any kitchen.

Advantages of Cherry Wood Kitchen Cabinets

Although cherry is known for its beautiful color variations and characteristic aging process, woodworkers like it for more than its beauty. They prize cherry wood for its moderately hard texture, strength and good shock-resistance, the traits that make it a great choice for kitchen cabinets.

1. Smooth, Satiny Texture

When we talk about a wood’s texture, we’re describing how a wood feels. Different woods will feel smoother than others. Cherry has a uniform, satiny smooth texture paired with a moderate natural luster.

2. Strength / Shock Resistance / Durability

Cherry wood is known for its hardness that resists cracking and warping. It is also especially shock-resistant, so cabinets are an excellent choice for a kitchen with small children. Banging cabinet doors is not a problem. (Not that cabinet door banging happens much anymore with soft close hinges, but if cherry wood cabinet doors do get banged, the wood can take it.)

Cherry wood is quite strong and durable, despite it being an intermediate to lightweight specie due to its 12 percent moisture content. It is one of the go-to wood types for cabinet makers when they’re building cabinets that need to hold heavy items over time. As such, cherry wood is a perfect pick for cabinets. Further, their wear and tear resistance is unequaled by other hardwood kitchen cabinets.

3. Accepts Stains Beautifully

Another advantage of cherry wood is that it takes stains and finishes very well and sets to a smooth finish. Few finishes are as stunning – and as timeless – as a Natural Cherry cabinet finish, one that lets you truly savor the beauty of Cherry wood’s gorgeous red undertones.

Stains other than Natural work equally well, of course. Anything from light to dark will look wonderful on versatile cherry. Be advised, however, that cherry cabinets are rarely painted. You want to reveal the natural grain and enhance the beauty of the wood, not cover it with paint.

4. Easy to Maintain

Cherry wood cabinets are particularly easy to maintain when compared to other kitchen cabinet materials. They can be re-stained, re-painted or re-finished. In case there are scratches on the cabinet door, they can be patched up and concealed with the help of wood filler wax.

5. Color

Cherry wood has a lot of natural variations in color and tone. It can display a range of colors, from reddish-brown to blond. However, it is best known for its striking signature deep red exterior color.

The colors of cherry wood kitchen cabinets range from red to brown to light blondish-vanilla. Small mineral streaks, pitch pockets and sapwood occur naturally and are part of the distinctive nature of this wood species. Cherry may show some darker areas when stained, due to a higher absorption rate at the burls.

Over time and with exposure to natural sunlight, Cherry will slowly mellow into a beautiful rich golden red. And it can change more over time, depending on the natural light in your kitchen. (See #8 below for more on the cherry darkening phenomenon.)

6. Cherry Wood’s Grain

The grain in cherry is varied and distinct. It displays random swirls, gum streaks, curls and pin knots. As Cherry wood naturally darkens, it brings out different grain patterns.

Hardwoods can be either open grain or closed grain, and cherry features closed wood grain, which relates back to its smooth texture.

7. Increases Home Value

When maintained properly, cherry wood kitchen cabinets will increase the resale value of a home. Thanks to their strength, shock resistance and durability, cherry cabinets can keep their timeless appeal for decades. We all know someone or someone’s parents — even grandparents — who have a cherry wood kitchen that’s lasted for 20 years or more. And still looks good.

8. Darkens Over Time

Cherry wood is a favorite choice for kitchen cabinets because of its distinctive aging process. It reacts to sunlight, and as it is exposed to the light, its color intensifies and darkens over time.

This darkening process begins when the wood is first cut. As it is exposed to light, the wood gradually turns into the rich brown-red shade cherry wood has been known for. Once it reaches this color, it will not continue to darken.

Many homeowners consider this characteristic of cherry wood to be a beautiful feature. They specifically request cherry for their kitchen cabinets for this reason. They like the natural variations and enjoy seeing the color of their cabinets mellow over time.

Disadvantages of Cherry Wood Kitchen Cabinets

We could only find two disadvantages to cherry wood kitchen cabinets, further proving that cherry is the perfect wood for kitchen cabinets.

1. Expensive

Cherry wood is expensive. However, it’s expensive for good reasons: see the advantages listed above, i.e., strength, durability, beauty, warmth, timeless appeal. All these advantages contribute to its price.

In addition, cherry wood is considered a premium hardwood and costs approximately 15 to 25 percent more than maple or oak.

2. Darkens over time | Unpredictable

Isn’t Cherry’s characteristic aging process also listed as an advantage?! We said “Cherry wood is a favorite choice for kitchen cabinets because of its distinctive aging process. It reacts to sunlight, and as it is exposed to the light, its color intensifies and darkens over time.” Those who fell in love with the look of cherry wood need to be aware of this color change. It may not always be their taste when the color they purchased will change as it ages.

Not everyone loves this feature of cherry, thus it is listed as a disadvantage.

There’s no way to tell exactly how any individual piece of cherry will react to sunlight. Wood experts confirm that sunlight will most likely change the color in unpredictable ways. When the wood comes from different trees, it can darken at different rates. The only real way to avoid this is to only use wood from the same cherry tree because they are much more likely to darken at the same or a very similar rate.

Some people don’t mind the differing coloration. There are homeowners who want to see their cabinets look like the samples they selected. Further, they expect the color to remain consistent forever. If you are especially particular about the color palette in your new kitchen, then the changing color of cherry wood may be a turn-off for you.

One more thing – Character Cherry

Character cherry contains heartwood that gives the wood a reddish brown color. Compare this to solid cherry that contains sapwood, giving it a creamy white color. Character Cherry shows knots, mineral streaks, discoloration, pitch pockets and wormholes. Many people who like the look of wood love the rustic details and natural characteristics.   

The photo shows a cherry kitchen cabinet door with a character cherry inset panel. The designer specified character cherry to create a vivid contrast to the solid wood cherry panel.

Are Cherry Kitchen Cabinets Outdated?

Based on current kitchen design trends, stained wood cabinets are making a comeback.  Homeowners today want a connection to nature using natural and nature-inspired products. They want a new kitchen that feels lived in, one that’s not sterile and untouchable. Cherry wood is an excellent choice to establish a viable link to nature.

If you are nervous about choosing cherry because you think it’s old fashioned or too traditional, you can mix and match textures and colors using Cherry cabinets as the foundation of the kitchen design. Add in metal grill center panels or glass fronts on a few upper cabinets. Complement the cherry further by choosing natural stone countertops or hand painted tiles for the backsplash to create more visual interest. You can safely choose cherry as the cornerstone of the design of your new kitchen with no threat of it “going out of style”.


Any kitchen, whether modern or traditional, will benefit from the beauty of cherry wood kitchen cabinets. This wood species warms up any space and adds lots of personality. Although it’s a little more costly than other hardwoods like oak or maple, the durability of cherry wood kitchen cabinets will be an investment you and your family will enjoy for years to come.

KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.