What types of woods are used in cabinetry manufacturing?

My wife bought a piece of furniture recently for our living room. She brought it home so excited that the salesperson had shown her this real cherry wood piece that was at such a low price. After looking at it, I realized that it was actually soft birch that was stained like cherry. I had to go back to the store and show my wife how to distinguish between the different types of wood so she would know exactly what she is buying in the future. Do you know how to describe wood types with your clients? If not, let me give you a few talking points.

Cherry wood is a luxurious wood with rich red highlights. Cherry could have tiny pin knots, pitch pockets and streaks of gum. Cherry is very sensitive to UV light, which causes it to darken over time. It does contract and expand slightly as the humidity of its locations changes. Cherry is typically on the higher side of pricing.

Maple wood is a straight grain wood and has birds eye, fiddle back, mineral streaks and curly grain patterns. Maple has a natural luster. It is the most common wood type sold today and is what is considered an average price. It is great for stain and paint. Maple cabinet doors stand up to daily use while resisting dings and dents. Make sure you know what type of maple is being used though. There is a soft maple and a hard maple. Hard maple is the best. (also called sugar maple)

Oak is open –pored and has distinct grain patterns. You can see less grain patterns if you choose dark stains. Oak is exceptionally wear-resistant, so it doesn’t develop dings, dips or curves easily. If choosing oak try to get the authentic “American Red Oaks” for your materials. Oak is making a comeback and looks great with stains. And, oak is currently priced less than maple right now.

Hickory is a very strong open grain wood. It is heavy, hard, strong and stiff. Its’ colors vary from light to dark throughout the wood. The characteristics make this wood a hard choice for some people. You will need a few drill bits with this wood and the hard wood will burn your bits quickly. Hickory and oak are comparably priced.

Laminate is considered a decorative panel that is resin saturated print paper. It is thermally fused with particleboard or MDF. It is very durable but if chipped or scratched it takes some effort to fix. This is typically your most cost effective option.

MDF, or medium density fiberboard, is combined wood fibers held with high pressure when mixed with resin. It has a wood veneer and is denser than particle board. MDF is durable and tough. MDF is made for paint and depending on manufacture could save you 15% in price for paint compared to using a hard wood.

Make sure you know the woods that are being used because the type of wood could cause distinctive characteristics in the finished product. Best to let your homeowner know these things upfront and to be able to answer their questions.