Wood Characteristics

There’s a reason why people love cabinets made from Cherry. Or Alder. Or Oak. Each wood has natural color variations and grain patterns that create a unique look.

Which wood look do you like best?

Choosing a type of wood goes hand-in-hand with choosing a stain or translucent finish. Each has characteristics that those finish options will accentuate (or disguise). Just look how different our Ginger finish looks on each wood:

Corner of a KraftMaid cabinet door showing Alder wood in Ginger finish


Ranges from pale pink-brown to tan

Features knotholes, burls and mineral streaks

Commonly used for a rustic or industrial look

Corner of a KraftMaid cabinet door showing Cherry wood in Ginger finish


Reddish-brown hues that mellow (darken) over time

Smooth, straight-grain pattern

Cherry wood features light and dark color variation which becomes more pronounced as it ages.

Corner of a KraftMaid cabinet door showing Maple wood in Ginger finish


Off-white with light, creamy hues of gold

Consistent, fine grain with occasional mineral streaks

Maple is typically used with paints because of it’s smooth uniformity

Corner of a KraftMaid cabinet door showing Hickory wood in Ginger finish


Dramatic color contrasts from light cream to dark reddish-brown

Random grain pattern with burls and knots

Corner of a KraftMaid cabinet door showing Oak wood in Ginger finish


Light to medium brown

Richly-textured, wavy grain pattern

Remember, wood is a natural material.

KraftMaid cabinet door and drawer with callout numbers indicating various characteristics that can appear with natural wood

1. Joint Lines

Since wood is in a constant state of expansion and contraction, visible surface cracks at joints may appear in the finish. This is normal and will not weaken the strength of the joint or the integrity of the finish.

2. End Grain

You may notice a darker appearance to cabinet doors where end grain is exposed. End grain is a softer surface that may accept more stain than the facing surface. Variances are not controllable.

3. Aging

As wood ages, the appearance may change or darken. For example, a lightly-stained Cherry will “mellow” adding depth over time. This is often considered a desirable characteristic.

4. Telegraphing

Wood grain, pin holes, knots and mineral streaks may remain visible as a dark area or texture under painted finishes. Open-grain woods (oak, hickory) tend to show more than fine-grained species (maple, cherry).

5. Mineral Streaks

Wood may feature dark, blackish-blue streaks that run parallel with the wood grain. These discolorations come from mineral deposits trees extract from the surrounding soil.