What's the Best Material to Use for Kitchen Cabinets?

What's the Best Material to Use for Kitchen Cabinets?

Your kitchen cabinets make up a large part of your kitchen’s function and style. Cabinets also hold an incredible amount of weight, so they need to also be made of a very strong material to keep your dishes and glassware safe. With so many materials that cabinets can be made from, how will you choose which material is best for your kitchen remodel in Corvallis? Learn all about the different materials for kitchen cabinets, their strength level, and their pros and cons.

Solid Wood 

Everyone loves solid wood. It communicates sophistication and warmth like no other material. Natural solid wood is strong, long-lasting, and can be used in any style kitchen. Because solid wood comes at a premium, you can select the wood that suits your design style for the doors and frames while choosing a composite wood for the cabinet boxes, since those aren’t seen from the outside. 



Can be refinished


Highly customizable


Higher cost than alternative materials

Susceptible to warping

Can fade or discolor in continued sun exposure


Hickory Cabinets

Hickory cabinets have become very popular in recent years, especially in lighter tones. Hickory offers a lot of character, with tones from pale to warm and a nice grain, making it a great candidate for simply a clear finish. Also, because it’s so durable, it’s perfect for hard-working kitchens and bathrooms. 

White Oak Cabinets

Oak cabinets got a bad reputation for being the prominent orange-hued wood found in many 1980s kitchens. Today’s white oak cabinets are a far cry from the red oak of decades ago. White oak is incredibly strong and durable with a subtle grain pattern. To achieve a straight grain pattern that’s desired today, cabinet makers today use a quarter sawn cut. It raises the price of white oak cabinets, but avoids the cathedral grain pattern of those 1980s red oak cabinets. 

White oak comes in tones from a light golden wheat to medium brown, offering a great range of neutrals that pair well with a wide color palette. The lighter white oak adds a bright but warm tone to a kitchen, making it a great option for more contemporary or modern kitchens. 

Walnut Cabinets

Walnut is the “it” choice of wood for kitchens right now because they naturally offer the medium cool tone that’s currently trending. However, walnut is nothing new, and has been loved for years for its superior strength, distinctive and striking grain patterns, and unmatched durability. The natural oils in walnut is what makes this wood so durable against wear and tear, even knife marks. Another benefit? Walnut has surprising acoustic qualities that can make your kitchen quieter. 

Maple Cabinets

Maple has a fine and light grain pattern, which gives a more consistent tone. It’s a great choice for more contemporary kitchens when homeowners want to add a little warmth to the space. It’s also easy to paint or stain, but many homeowners today are using this ultra-light wood in their kitchen color palette. Maple is frequently used in custom kitchen cabinets for its color, durability, and lesser density. 

remodeled kitchen with wood cabinets by Corvallis Custom Kitchen & Baths in Corvallis, Oregon

Wood Veneer

Wood veneer cabinets are a way to get natural wood grain at a lower cost. Veneer is a thin sheet of solid wood attached to plywood, medium density fiberwood (MDF), high density fiberwood (HDF), or particle board. 


Natural wood appearance




Susceptible to water damage

Not easily repaired if the veneer is damaged



Plywood is a common material in construction overall, but also in cabinets. It’s made by layering and adhering thinly sliced wood, and covered with a wood veneer. It’s the strongest engineered wood and comes in different grades, based on its durability and appearance. Plywood holds its shape, regardless of humidity and temperature changes, is excellent at holding screws and nails in place, and resists water damage.  

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)

MDF is another engineered wood product used for cabinets but it’s made with compressed wood fibers and resin. MDF isn’t as strong as plywood and is best used as a substrate for shelves, drawers, and doors, rather than cabinet boxes. The material is easily shaped and cut, making it great for creating different cabinet door designs. It’s also a very smooth product that’s easy to paint, resulting in a high-end, even finish. MDF is a watertight material that resists water damage and warping. 



Melamine has an engineered wood core and is coated with plastic, like laminate. Thermal-fused melamine is thick and long-lasting. Melamine can be made to mimic the texture and look of real wood, but is far more affordable, and available in a wide range of colors and designs. It’s scratch resistant and durable. 



Thermofoil is a great choice for those who prefer a high-gloss surface. It’s made using a foil-like material that’s vacuum sealed over MDF with heat. It’s very easy to clean, inexpensive, warp resistant, and is available in a wide range of shapes, designs, and colors. Unfortunately, it is prone to scratching, cannot be resurfaced, and is susceptible to moisture. 

remodeled kitchen with white cabinets and stainless steel oven by Corvallis Custom Kitchen & Baths in Corvallis, Oregon

Need Help Choosing the Best Cabinet Material for Your Corvallis Kitchen?

Even with all of this information, you still may be undecided about which material is best for your kitchen. When you work with an experienced design-build team, both your designer and builder will work together to help you decide which material is best to achieve your design style and your storage needs. Corvallis Custom Kitchens & Baths has served the Corvallis area to deliver remodeled spaces that address your home’s challenges and create excellent design solutions that refresh your space and make your home work better for you and your family. Interested to know more about our design and building process? Contact us to schedule a consultation today. 


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