Wood Species for Cabinets
Wood is a product of nature and will vary in color, texture and grain. Also, as wood ages and is exposed to sunlight, it will naturally change color slightly – this is called “mellowing”. These natural characteristics are part of the unique charm and beauty of wood cabinetry. We recommend viewing several cabinet door samples and displays to become familiar with the natural characteristics of the particular wood species and cabinet finish you select.
Cherry hardwoods are admired for their rich, beautiful color, satiny smooth texture and uniform grain pattern. Cherry is one of our most popular wood species and the color will range from light to medium reddish brown with some areas of light creamy color. Small mineral flecks, pitch pockets and areas of sapwood occur naturally. The rich color of Cherry hardwoods will darken with age and exposure to sunlight.
One of our most popular options, Maple is known for its smooth texture and creamy white color, which can exhibit subtle variation from white to light brown. Maple has varying areas of density that will absorb stain differently, creating a mottled appearance with darker stains. Mineral streaks (dark mineral deposits absorbed from the soil in which the tree grew) are a naturally occurring characteristic. With its smooth texture, Maple is an ideal wood species for painted finishes as well as stained finishes.
Knotty Alder is chosen for its rustic, informal appearance. Knots vary in size and distribution and include tight, sound knots as well as rustic, open and split knots. Alder is a smooth hardwood with color and graining similar to cherry ranging from a light honey color to a reddish-brown hue. With time and exposure to sunlight, Knotty Alder will slowly turn a shade lighter in color which is a natural characteristic of the wood species.
Quarter Sawn Oak is admired for its distinctive grain pattern which became especially popular with Arts & Craft furniture design. “Quarter-Sawn” refers to the manner in which the wood is cut from the log that creates a distinctive and desirable straight grain pattern with an intriguing “fleck”. The color will vary from white to light brown with reddish hues. Quarter- Sawn Oak is often selected for shaker or mission designs, but it is also favored for transitional and contemporary looks because of its straight consistent grain pattern.
Red Oak is recognized for its prominent grain pattern and texture which varies from a tight straight grain to a distinctive arch pattern. Color ranges from a creamy white to light brown with reddish hues. Occasional pin knots and mineral streaks may also occur but overall color and grain is fairly consistent.
Hickory is known for its prominent grain and dramatic color variation which can range from creamy white to dark brown within the same panel. This color variation is characteristic of the species and is completely random. Mineral streaks and sound knots are sometimes prevalent in this exceptional dense and strong hardwood.
For our Alectra® cabinetry, Exotic Veneers (Bamboo, Vertical Grain Fir, Zebrawood and White Oak) are available for transitional and contemporary designs with high visual impact. With the exception of Bamboo, which is a natural wood veneer, our Exotic Veneer program utilizes "engineered" wood veneers to achieve a desirable consistent color and graining. Natural veneers exhibit color and grain variations which are not always appreciated for contemporary design themes that require sleek consistent color. For this reason, engineered veneers have been developed to specifically address this need and desire for consistency. Additionally, engineered veneers are an environmentally friendly choice because they utilize sustainable wood species that are abundant and readily available.
Many of our engineered veneers utilize European Poplar. With its overall light coloring and subtle grain pattern, it is ideally suited to create distinctive colors and patterns for engineered veneers.
To create an engineered veneer, logs are processed as usual for veneers. A rotary lathe peels the log and then the sheet of veneer is clipped into shorter sections called "leaves". The leaves are then processed through a dyeing vat to create the various colors for the specific engineered veneer. Depending on the particular color and pattern being produced, the veneers are stacked with alternating colors and then glued together in a large block of wood. Once the veneers have been pressed into a large block, they can be re-sliced to create the desired grain pattern, texture and color.