Wood Characteristics and Properties

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There’s a lot to love about Cherry: It has a rich color that deepens with age, gorgeous woodgrain, and versatility that balances workability and strength. Over time, Cherry has earned a beloved place in homes, taking the form of everything from decorative bowls and chess sets to premium furniture and flooring. Plus, American Cherry trees take less time to mature than other hardwoods, making it a more sustainable and readily available option for cabinetry. Let’s dig into Cherry wood characteristics to see exactly what makes it so beautiful.

KraftMaid Shaker-style Cherry wood cabinet door in Natural finish

KraftMaid Shaker-style Cherry wood cabinet door in Natural finish


The smooth, straight-grain pattern of Cherry gives it a clean overall appearance that is well-suited for a range of looks, whether you’re going for something rustic, traditional, or chic.

Cherry has a generally uniform woodgrain, with occasional natural brown flecks, pin knots, and gum pockets or streaks that make each piece unique. Aside from these attractive imperfections, the character of Cherry grain is understated compared with the dramatic color variations, knots, and burls of a wood like Hickory, but it has a stunning natural luster and is well-suited for a variety of finish possibilities.


You can often identify Cherry wood by the reddish tone. The undertones of Cherry begin as light pink and darken over time in a process called “mellowing.” The final result of this breathtaking transformation is a rich, lustrous red tone.

Leaving Cherry in its natural state and appreciating its dramatic color journey is a wonderful – and popular – choice. But it’s not the only way to appreciate this wood.

  • Darker stains enhance the innate warm and cozy feeling of Cherry and heighten the feel of grandeur and elegance.
  • Choosing a lighter stain for Cherry will accentuate the wood’s natural grain variations and brighten up a space while still showing off the much-desired mellowing process.
  • For an on-trend signature statement, finish Cherry with an eye-catching grey-based stain, like Baltic or Cannon Grey. Or create the lived-in, rustic look of a farmhouse with Weathered or Aged Bourbon specialty finishes.
  • No matter which stain you choose, our exclusive DuraKraft™ Plus finishing process brings out Cherry’s beauty and protects its appearance.


American Cherry is considered a North American hardwood based on the distinction of it being a deciduous, flowering tree versus a needle-bearing softwood conifer.


When most people hear the term hardwood, they think of strength and durability – the literal hardness of the wood – not the biological type of tree. Look to the Janka Hardness Rating to measure how well a wood species can stand up to dings and dents of real life.

Janka Wood Hardness Chart for Cherry

Here’s how Cherry compares to a few other common wood species you might find in and around your home. The higher the Janka rating number, the harder the wood:


Red Mahogany Hardwood 2,697
Teak Hardwood 2,330
Hickory Hardwood 1,820
Hard Maple Hardwood 1,450
Red Oak Hardwood 1,290
Cherry Hardwood 995
Southern Yellow Pine Softwood 870
Alder Hardwood 590
Eastern White Pine Softwood 380
Balsa Hardwood 70

Cherry has a Janka Hardness Rating of 995, so it offers good stability and durability – desirable characteristics when it comes to cabinetry. If you want something a little tougher, consider Maple in Ginger or Kaffe stain. The reddish undertones of these stains can mimic Cherry’s natural color, while the light, uniform woodgrain and smooth texture of Maple is similar to the finished appearance of Cherry.

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