Profile picture for eknauer

What wood species for kitchen cabinets are best for resale?

I'm remodeling my kitchen, but trying to do so on a small budget.  I've looked at cabinets in cherry, maple, alder and birch.  My neighborhood is made up of 1960 ranch houses that are 1500-2000 sq ft, valued around $200-250k.  Does the wood species matter that much?  In a lower value neighborhood, could I install birch or alder cabinets instead of cherry or maple and still get roughly the same result?  There's a big variance in pricing between some of those.

Put simply, is it more about the door style/amenities or the wood species?  Are there stylistic elements for cabinets that are more important?

For the rest of the kitchen, I'm putting in granite counters, double bowl 60/40 ss undermount sink, porcelain tile and recessed lighting, so the rest of the kitchen is already planned.  Help!

Thanks!
  • August 21 2009 - Scottsdale
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Answers (17)

Best Answer

Light Maple Cabinetry!!! Hands Down!!!

 Lets just talk numbers...

 About 65% of all combined cabinetry sales are Maple... this is a very strong indicator or what the Consumer wants... Home buyers are also Consumers, they are just buying a package, but why not appeal to the largest percentage of them??

 Local markets and areas do sometimes have specific looks that need to be considered, but in general... the same consumers who are buying Maple cabinetry are also attracted to Light to Medium stain colors on those cabinets and the want a traditional doorstyle with a strong contrast in counter top color...

 So if your remodeling to sell... buy affordable solid Maple cabinets with a Honey color. Get Dark granite counters

Granite is still the way to go... It is very easy to clean, has a natural beauty unmatched by any of the man-made products, and is way more affordable than most of them anyway. And granite does not offgas any harmful anything... (Jessica, shame on you for spreading the bogus radiation rumor further)

 And stay away from the double bowl sink... They are soooo outdated and utterly useless in today's kitchen... New dishwasher are so adjustable you can put so many things in them you would have had to wash by hand before and the larger things that won't go in the DW don't fit in the Double Bowl sinks... I think I've sold 3 double bowls in the last 3 years!

The only question left un-asked is how long before you sell...? If you are planning on being there for 3 years or more... you should really try to make choices based on what you want, but temper those choices with what the general market wants...

 I hope this helps some... Good Luck!
  • September 08 2009
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Maple cabinets seems to be more durable and stronger, you will still see the wood grains if you use a stain, also if you want to save some money you could use a thermo foil door.
  • October 31 2013
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You might want to take a look at Alder or Knotty Alder.  It's an inexensive wood, it takes all different kinds of stain well and is easy to work with.  More importantly is going to be look and overall compliment to the design.  You will get a better deal working with a "big box" cabinet company and as long as you can come up with a good design using what they've got (and most can) then you'll save money there.  Then it will be up to you if you do things like dovetail corners -vs- "stapled" or even adding soft close.  If you are under $300k in total value of the home then make it look good but I wouldn't spend $$ on dovetail corners or soft close.  But if you are going to live there for a while and you like them, then go for it.  But you won't see that extra money come resale time.
Jay Feaster
  • October 18 2013
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Maple seems to be the winner around here too but I have to disagree on
the double bowl, I use them in all kitchens and I make sure I get the ones
that are deep and use a high tap faucet.
I have clients that have insisted on single bowl and they hate them.
Resurfacing the old farmhouse sinks are great to, I have a 52in one now
awaiting its design which I hope to get to in the spring.

I would not throw out the door the use of unfinished cabinets and painting
them either, that is the least cost effective way to get a new and different
look, you can also use plain pcs. of wood to build or bridge cabinets
together and make them match easily.

Granite, I don't use a lot of it and I have had clients past 2 yrs. that don't even want the samples brought to their homes.
Quartz , solid surface, recycled glass seems to work here.

Stainless steel appliances are also not being selected as much, clients
are using the black and stainless combos.
I think the retro appliances look great too.
-Joseph-
  • October 18 2013
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Profile picture for skoglund
We are in a very expensive neighborhood of "estate" homes. Our home is only 2 years old and we have a dark mahogany finish on birch cabinets. They are spectacular. The hand scraped wood floor is also dark. The counters are a lighter granite. We have the benefit of a wall of windows across from the kitchen and a 9'x 5' island that adds to the wow factor. I could never paint good wood so would not be a buyer for the latest trend in white cabinets. There's a buyer for most styles and so long as the cabinets were a high quality look and wood, I doubt many will care what wood it is beyond the natural wood characteristics. Our builder states that many upscale homes are going with alder as it is viewed as less formal than birch since you will likely see more knots and textures in the wood.
  • October 18 2013
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Profile picture for Terra Cooke

Style and design often win the day over 'species of wood'.  Also, invest in some nice 'harware' for the cabinet pulls.  It can really change the whole look of a kitchen!

  • August 15 2010
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To answer your question:  What wood species for kitchen cabinets are best for resale?  Alot depends on the market area you are in.  Each area has it's own trends.  In your question you are asking about re-sale, are you selling now or in a few years.  The color, type of wood, design of the cabinets are constantly changing (at least in Miami) from dark wood to light wood, from Dark Cherry to Light Oak and shades and type of wood in between (like Maple). The builders and buyers are looking at White Wood Cabiniets now (as well as dark).  If you are looking to sell now, check with local realtors, visit the models of new homes or condos, look in the kitchen and bath shops (ask what is popular and with what age group).

If you are not selling now, than pick a more "timeless wood, design and color", your counter tops (Granite still rules), sink, and faucets are very important, as is the quality and durability of the cabinets and hinges.  Appliances are easily replaced (except for the Refrigerator, be sure to leave room for a Large 2 or 3 door (French Door) Refrigerator. Be sure you have good lighting, and beautiful floors.





  • July 06 2010
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If they look good, are installed correctly and feel solid, the buyers are not going to even ask the species. 

  • July 06 2010
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Profile picture for garyhartmark
I have been designing and creating custom fit cabinetry for almost 30 years now. What have I noticed is that people are much more concerned with the style, finish type and end result that makes their cabinets unique then what wood species and processes I use to acheive their unique end result. I do occassionally run into those that care about what species of wood but they are a very small percetage compared to those most interested in the end result to hit their large or small budgets.
Ironically it is the lower end production jobs i found that put a large emphasis on wood species since they have nothing else in design or finish to interest the end buyers. It seems the developers use Maple wood only because they are told they should and don't want to take a chance doing something others aren't. Our site at www.Hartmark.com explains better what i am saying. A large percentage of these high end cabinet projects use Alder or other more appropriate woods for the finish and style rather then the more expensive, hard to finish Maple.
In the end however we use any wood the end user prefers with all considered and love using Maple, we just always try and help the homeowner invest wisely in what matter most rather then just throwing money into materials that won't make any difference in the end result.
  • July 06 2010
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I would recommend to keep the kitchen at the same scale as the rest of the house. It makes no sense whatsoever to do a knotty alder kitchen when the rest of the house is modern, so within the style, I would do a lite glaze and create some sort of focal point ( usually the hood ) in a different solid color. It will make the kitchen look more custom and expensive. Dark cherry is out and so are dark granites. There are other things to keep in mind, such as the flooring, lighting and so forth. My advise would be for you to really plan this project, get quotes and double sinks are still functional and preferred by most homeowners. 
  • November 09 2009
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Look into Hickory. I looks just like maple with a little more red in it.
The thing that drives the price of cabinets up is the door style, hinges, pull out shelves and drawer guides.
Maybe upgrade to the look you like but save money on the other "parts" of the cabinet.

  • November 09 2009
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Profile picture for DanaEv
I agree with Maple, although Oak is gorgeous also.  I think the larger issue would be the style you picked and the stain you used.  Cabinets with insets, cabinets that have some glass doors on the upper level to give it a different look, and cabinets that are well made with up to date handles are all important.  The first thing we did, before we even moved into our new house was to take all the old handles off and replace them with matte stainless steel long handles instead of the white round knobs they had originally.  It completely changed the look of the kitchen.  Some of our cabinets have glass insets on the upper level and those cabinets hold the items we entertain with (specials bowls, items given to us that give the kitchen a special feel, etc.).

Also think about cabinets that aren't just standard cabinets.  The bottom cabinets could have drawers in them when you open the door.  4 of ours do and each cabinet door, when opened, has 3 large drawers that pull completely out and hold so much more than just a regular cabinet would. Lazy Susans, cabinets that you can open and twirl the inside section around to get to various items are very neat items.

You don't have to go for expensive materials.  It's the finishing of the cabinets, the color of the stain, the correct handles, etc. that can make or break a kitchen.  You can spend a fortune and end up with cabinets that look like they don't belong with the room.

I feel like the dark cherry is starting to go out, and that's what we have.  My husband and I intend to lighten the cabinets when we get a chance (we have 2 cabinets that are 10 feet high, cabinets on the top and bottom where the stove is, cabinets on the granite island, etc. so it's a lot of work.  Unfortunately our granite is a lighter shade and we worry about having light cabinets and light granite.  We've put in dark slate back splashes, and may put Slate down on the floor (currently it's wood) and that could help with having color differences so the room isn't matchy matchy.

It's your choice though.  If you are doing it for you and don't intend to sell, go to home stores, specialty stores and so on and get a feel for the different looks you can get on the front of the cabinets.  Heck, you can just about use any wood if the finishing is done correctly!
  • November 09 2009
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Profile picture for Mr Caveat
i like oaks and cherry. maple is about the last thing i would ever install... that said i am not the average joe and sadly i see more maple than anything... i think it has a cheap look to it, 0.02
  • September 08 2009
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The type of wood you choose should best match the style and budget of your home.  As a rule of thumb, when doing something on a budget, don't go with your cheapest option as it usually costs more in the end due to poor qualiltly.  The more expensive products usually require more maintenance.  Select the mid priced product you can find with the highest quality and haggle for the best price.
I do not recommend granite counter tops.  They have reached the point of being passe style wise and are rumored to give off some sort of radiation.  Most of my clients these days are going with quartz, which is a bit more durable than granite, requires less maintenance, and comes in a variety of colors.  There are also lots of eco friendly materials for counter tops that are priced reasonably (if they are available in your area).  I have used terrazzo, and a recycled glass compound (looks a bit like marble crystal).
  • August 26 2009
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Go with cheap in this current market. 

Renovations often make a house more attractive to Buyers, but you may not be able to recoup the money you spend on expensive upgrades.


Best wishes,
  Fred
  • August 24 2009
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I agree with Nancy's point on newness being more important than wood species.

Nancy: "special cleaning care needs"?  Like?  Let's not forget granite is just a rock, with small fissures that need to be sealed periodically to minimize bacterial growth.  In my opinion, granite is one of the most elegant, beautiful materials available for countertops and floors.  The warmth of real stone cannot be matched.  Why spend the same $$$ for artificial stone, that attempts to approximate the richness of the real stuff, but fails miserably short?  Just my $0.02 of course :)

FYI:  I'm not affiliated with anyone in the granite industry, I've just designed and installed hundreds of kitchens in my past life as a contractor.
  • August 24 2009
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I stage a lot of houses in that price range and, over here in the NC mountains, what seems to matter is that the kitchen is completely renovated.  Color, look, condition, and newness is more important than the materials used.

On a related note, if you are not already committed, you might consider looking at other solid-surface materials than granite.  Granite, with it's special cleaning care needs, seems to be fading in popularity - especially for busy families who want to be able to use one product to clean the whole kitchen.  You might find some cost-savings (without losing look or potential buyers) there.

Now, stagers and agents in Arizona, what is the answer, locally? 
  • August 22 2009
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