Cherry 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. 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

cherry kitchen cabinets finished in natural stain

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 the wood feels. Different woods will feel smoother than others. Cherry has a uniform, satiny smooth texture.

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 excellent in 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

cherry wood with natural finish

Another advantage of cherry wood is that it takes stains and finishes beautifully and sets to a smooth finish. Few finishes are as stunning – and as timeless – as a Natural Cherry cabinet finish. Cherry kitchen cabinets with a natural stain lets you see the beauty of Cherry wood’s gorgeous red undertones. (Photo shows cherry wood with natural finish.)

Other stains work equally well, of course. Available finishes range in color from light to dark. Doors made from Cherry are rarely ever finished with paint. The goal is to reveal the natural graining and beauty and enhance the wood, not cover it.

4. Easy to Maintain

Cherry wood cabinets are especially easy to maintain when compared to other kitchen cabinet woods. They can be re-stained, re-painted or re-finished. In the unlikely event the cabinet doors get scratched, they can be patched and concealed with wood filler wax.

5. Color

Cherry wood has a lot of natural variations in color and tone.  It can show a range of colors, from reddish-brown to blond. However, it is best known for its striking signature deep red exterior color. To make cherry even more complex, it is usually two-toned, with a light yellow, brownish tint interior. As is typical of most wood, the heartwood is darker while sapwood is much lighter.

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 burling or darker areas when stained, due to a higher absorption rate at the burls.

With exposure to sunlight, Cherry will slowly mellow into a beautiful rich golden red. And it can change more over time, depending on how much natural light your client’s kitchen gets. (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 texture and also how well it accepts stain. It has a smooth surface and stains beautifully.

Cherry wood's distinct grain pattern

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 darkens over time.

This darkening process actually 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.

Cherry wood kitchen cabinet door

Disadvantages of Cherry Wood Kitchen Cabinets

We could only find two legitimate disadvantages to cherry wood kitchen cabinets. That tells you how awesome they can be.

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 popularity and thus contribute to its price.

Many remodeling homeowners want cherry kitchen cabinets. We know about supply and demand and how that affects the price of goods. 

In addition, cherry wood is considered a premium hardwood, and cabinet manufacturers price it accordingly.  Integrity Cabinets charge 10%, while Brighton Cabinetry charges 8.5%.

2. Darkens over time | Unpredictable

Isn’t this also 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 darkens over time.” People 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 changes as it ages.

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

It is not known 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. In addition, the colors can vary enough to detract from the overall appearance of a run of cabinets.

Some people don’t mind the differing coloration. The only real way to avoid it 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.

There are homeowners who want to see their installed cabinets look like the samples they selected. Further, they expect the color to remain consistent forever.

If your clients are especially particular about the color palette in their new kitchen, then the changing color of cherry wood may be a turn-off for them. You will need to explain how manufacturers source, build and finish cherry wood cabinets so they can get the color they want.

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.

character cherry door panel insert

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 with life that feels lived in, thus cherry wood is logical choice.

If your clients are nervous about choosing cherry because it’s old fashioned or too traditional, you can recommend they 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. Specify minimalist decorative cabinet hardware. Complement the cherry by using natural stone countertops or hand painted tiles for backsplash for more visual interest. The photo below shows excellent use of cherry’s strong grain pattern.

You can safely recommend cherry as the cornerstone of the design with no threat of it “going out of style”.

Modern cherry kitchen cabinets


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 wood, the durability of cherry wood kitchen cabinets will be an investment your clients will enjoy for years to come.