Published: Oct 20, 2021 | Updated: Feb 21, 2023

Are Solid Wood Kitchen Cabinets Right for You? Pros and Cons

Solid wood cabinets are the ultimate for luxury kitchens. We'll look at the pros and cons, the types of wood that are popular for cabinets, and more...

Stained maple wood cabinets and hickory wide planked floors in a luxury kitchen

Kitchen cabinets are a major component of your kitchen interior design and aesthetics. Today, many people are moving away from white kitchen cabinetry that has been so popular in recent years toward more natural materials with more depth of character.

In years past, the kitchen island, upper cabinets, and lower cabinets all had to match to be in style. Today, people are opting for a bit more variety. The kitchen island cabinets don’t have to match the rest of the kitchen. Many homeowners like the effect of something special and unique for the island to make it stand out and look more like a piece of furniture.

As long as the design ideas of the cabinets compliment the living space and dining room, especially if it is an open-concept floor plan, you have the freedom to make the upper and lower cabinets different colors and make the custom cabinets of the island something altogether unique.

For instance, try white upper cabinets and wood lower ones or white base cabinets and a different paint color for the upper cabinets.

Shaker Cabinets

We generally use shaker cabinet door style for wood cabinetry regardless of the finish — whether the cabinets are painted, stained, or natural. This style coordinates with a Craftsman or Farmhouse style architecture, which is the majority of what we build.

We recommend cabinets rather than open shelving because cabinets allow a much more put-together look and prevent the kitchen from feeling cluttered or unorganized. Plus, you don’t have to contend with dust. If you’d like to be able to display china or crystal, why not use a cabinet with a glass insert so that you can have the best of both worlds?

For more information on wood grain cabinets including why you should use solid wood cabinets, popular types of wood cabinets, what finishes are available, and how to match your cabinets to your backsplash and wood flooring, please read below.

French Country Modern Kitchen With Custom Cabinets And Large Woodgrain Kitchen Island With Farmhouse Sink And Custom Pendant Lighting

Why Choose Solid Wood Cabinets for Your Luxury Kitchen?

You may wonder if solid wood kitchen cabinets are worth the expense. We believe they are. And here are some of the biggest reasons why.

Advantages of Solid Wood Cabinets

Solid wood kitchen cabinets are the best material you can get. They are also:

Durable and Strong

Solid wood cabinets last for decades. They hold up to wear and tear, some more than others, depending on the species of wood.


Another great thing about real wood cabinets is that you can stain or paint them to match your aesthetic. 


There is nothing more beautiful than the warmth and character of natural wood for floors, cabinets, and furniture. You are bringing in a bit of nature into your home that doesn’t look artificial or manufactured.


You can have any size or shape you like because wood is easy to work with for cabinet makers.

Easy Maintenance

Wood cabinets are easy to clean. They can also be refinished, restrained, or repainted, unlike other cabinet materials. You can even repair scratches in cabinet doors by sanding and refinishing if needed.


Wood is a renewable resource that creates less stress on the environment than cabinets that involve petroleum products. If you want something extremely environmentally friendly, opt for bamboo, lyptus, or reclaimed wood cabinets.

Great Value Retention

Solid wood cabinets, if well-maintained, generally keep their value over time, unlike some cheaper or trendy materials that may lose value. This can make a big difference in your resale price for your home if you decide to sell in the future.

Modern Craftsman Kitchen With Industrial Stainless Steel Range Hood Cover

Disadvantages of Solid Wood Cabinets

Every material has its pros and cons. For solid wood cabinets, there are some potential downsides, although most are easily overcome, including:

Water Damage

If your home is flooded, the kitchen sink overflows for a long time, or family members are careless about allowing water to pour down the front of the cabinets when they wash the dishes... your solid wood cabinets may be in trouble. Especially if they are not sealed.

Wood is hygroscopic, meaning, it absorbs moisture from the environment and can swell with prolonged exposure to water. A simple way to take care of this issue, generally, is to seal the wood.


Wood cabinets can crack or warp over time particularly if they are exposed to temperature extremes or high humidity over a long period. Wood can also shrink and crack when humidity and temperatures get very low.

Generally, it is easy to prevent these issues by wiping up any water/liquids that spill on the cabinets immediately and by running your HVAC. If you have extreme humidity issues in your home, investing in a humidifier/dehumidifier can also help prevent problems with your wood cabinets, not to mention, with mold and other issues.

More Expensive

Solid wood cabinets are more expensive than some other types of cabinet materials like plywood, particleboard, laminate, MDF cabinets, and some other products. But wood is also more durable, beautiful, and valuable. And it is the clear choice for luxury homes.

Custom shaker cabinets painted white with kitchen island with dark wood stain.

Most Popular Types of Wood Cabinets for Kitchens

There are many types of wood for kitchen cabinets available on the market. But what is the best wood for cabinets?

For real wood kitchen cabinets, here are some of the most popular and best types of wood materials to choose from:

Types of Solid Wood Cabinets


Cherry wood kitchen cabinets are extremely popular and very durable. They have a uniform grain that provides timeless beauty. The medium reddish-brown color has an exquisite beauty. 

Cherry wood cabinets are more expensive than some other types of wood, but it is a solid investment.


Ebony wood kitchen cabinets are perfect if you want something stunningly beautiful and different. The color is a very dark black, providing plenty of drama and sophistication for your kitchen, working well in a modern architectural style. Another plus — ebony wood doesn’t show scratches and stains.

The downside to black kitchen cabinets is that they do show up a lot of dust and require frequent cleaning.


Hickory wood cabinets are as strong as oak and have a similar grain pattern to oak, as well. The pale yellow color looks great with a natural finish in a rustic style architecture and design.


Mahogany kitchen cabinets are the premier wood for fine cabinetry with their deep reddish-brown color and the beautiful swirl pattern in the grain. Mahogany is very strong and durable and the absolute epitome of luxury kitchen cabinets. Of course, it is also the most expensive.


Maple wood cabinets are a pale color, easy to paint or stain, and very durable. They are lighter than cherry with a smoother surface. The soft grain, with waves and bird’s eye patterns, works well with traditional and modern architecture. Consider American sugar maple.

These cabinets can be more expensive than other wood cabinets. But they will not disappoint.


Walnut wood cabinets have a very fine smooth grain and can come in a variety of colors from dark browns to light yellows. It’s easy to finish in a rich color and these cabinets are very dense and long-lasting. Walnut is also less affected by water than birch or pine.

Modern Craftsman Kitchen With Glass Pendant Lights Stained Wood Kitchen Island White Shaker Cabinets White Subway Tile And Stainless Steel Appliances 2

Cabinet Finishes

Once you select the wood you prefer, then you’ll want to decide on the finish.

Distressed wood

For the ultimate in rustic wood cabinets, use distressed wood or reclaimed wood cabinets.

Natural wood kitchen cabinets

Unfinished wood cabinets are beautiful and rustic if you want to go with something simple.

Painted wood

With painted wood, you have an unlimited choice of colors to complement your kitchen style.

Stained wood

Stained wood cabinets allow you to showcase the beauty of natural wood grain while being able to choose the color to be the perfect fit for your kitchen aesthetic.

Two-tone kitchen cabinets wood and white

Consider a combination of white and wood cabinets as shown above or mix wood and painted cabinets for a unique effect.

Whitewashed wood cabinets

Whitewashed is a great finish for farmhouse kitchen wood cabinets — providing color and an informal atmosphere.

Stained Wood Kitchen Cabinets Black Granite Counter And Backsplash Black Appliances And White Farmhouse Sink 2

Choosing a Backsplash with Wood Cabinets

We recommend choosing a backsplash material and color that contrasts with your wood cabinets. Some of the most popular types of backsplash materials for luxury homes include marble, granite, quartz, quartzite, shiplap, brick/brick tile, glass tile, and ceramic tile.

Be sure that the material you choose coordinates with your architectural style. If you are designing a contemporary kitchen, for example, a white shiplap backsplash may not be a good fit. But for a Craftsman or Farmhouse-style kitchen, it would be perfect.

White kitchen cabinets with dark hardwood floor and dark stained wood kitchen island cabinets

Wood floor and cabinet combinations

You have several options when it comes to choosing your wood floor to go with your wood cabinets.


You could have the floor and cabinets match or be a close match if you want more of a monochromatic effect whether that is dark wood, light wood, or something distressed and rustic.

Wide contrast

Another option is to have the wood cabinets be a very different color from the hardwood floors in your kitchen to complement each other.

Small contrast

Or you could go just a shade or so darker with your floors or your cabinets so that there is a clear contrast but it is not dramatic. Then you could make the counters or the backsplash the real source of color contrast.

Marble Topped Kitchen Island And Farm Sink 1

Building a home in Columbia, SC?

At Blythe Building Company, we have been in the business of building custom luxury homes since 2004. With over 100 custom homes in the Greater Columbia area, we have the experience you need and the trustworthiness you are looking for in a luxury home builder.

Please contact us today to get started.

We build in areas like Chapin, Lake Murray, Lexington, Columbia, West Columbia, and more.


Shiplap Addiction? 5 Ways to Use Shiplap in Your Home

Kitchen Island Ideas

What Is Board and Batten? Plus 7 Ways to Love It

Why Are Marble Bathrooms So Popular?

Which Is Better? Quartz VS. Quartzite for Kitchen Countertops

Recommended Articles