Maple Cabinets Vs. Oak, Birch, Cherry, Mdf, And Hickory: Which Is Right For Your Home?

Choosing cabinets for your kitchen can sometimes be easier said than done. For example, do you think you want to purchase maple wood cabinets, but then remember there's oak, birch, cherry, MDF, and even hickory, and now you're back to square one?

Throughout this post, we will discuss which cabinet type is truly best for your home. With that said, let's dive right into everything!

For those wanting maple cabinets for their kitchen, there are some things to consider. Overall, maple cabinets are beautiful and well-crafted but don't always offer the same variety as other woods.

In contrast, some other cabinets won't hold a candle to maple, so this can be tricky. Let's compare the various cabinetry styles below:

  • Maple Vs. Oak: Maple is harder than oak, although oak cabinets offer more options for grain patterns.
  • Maple Vs. Birch: Maple is stronger than birch and tends to have a more expensive appearance.
  • Maple Vs. Cherry: Cherry has better resale value and takes stain better than maple.
  • Maple Vs. MDF: Maple is genuine wood, while MDF is manufactured, although MDF tends to have a smoother finish.
  • Maple Vs. Hickory: Maple has a more elegant look, although hickory narrowly beats it out in terms of overall hardness/durability.

As we begin, we will cover all things maple cabinetry and discuss whether it's better than other options. We're here to assist if you're building your dream kitchen, want to renovate, or need ideas. With that said, let's dive right into this topic below!

Rustic modern kitchen. - Maple Cabinets Vs. Oak, Birch, Cherry, Mdf, And Hickory: Which Is Right For Your Home?

Is Maple A Good Material For Kitchen Cabinets?

Yes, people who choose maple for their kitchen cabinets tend to be satisfied. Besides having a timeless charm, maple wood cabinetry tends to have a soft grain and fits modern and traditional designs.

Custom kitchen cabinetry with a maple drawer pulled out for demonstration.

In recent years, natural wood has made a comeback in interior design, so choosing maple cabinets would be an on-trend decision.

Furthermore, many experts claim maple is the best option for painted wood cabinets in the home, so it lives up to the hype.

On top of being trendy, maple wood is also incredibly durable and can withstand wear and tear. Your cabinets shouldn't show scratches or stains easily, which is perfect for the kitchen.

So, if you want something hardy, nice to look at, and on-trend, we recommend maple kitchen cabinets.

Is Maple Considered A Hardwood?

Maple product: Maple sugar on a rustic background.

Yes. Maple, cherry, and oak are all considered hardwoods. As we covered above, maple is highly durable and resilient to everyday scratching and staining.

Notably, maple is one of the strongest hardwoods available, hence why people choose it for heavy-use items, like dressers and kitchen cabinets.

You can also expect maple to handle paint and staining well, as it has a softer grain. So, maple is the best option if you prefer a painted cabinet for your kitchen.

Another benefit to using maple cabinetry is that it won't break the bank. Typically, maple cabinets cost between $2,500 and $6,000 for an entire kitchen, which isn't as bad as it seems.

Certain materials can cost upwards of $10,000-$20,000 for a kitchen, so that puts everything in perspective.

One of the reasons maple is so much cheaper is that it doesn't cost as much to produce and treat. Because of its strength and naturally soft grain, maple won't require as many additional treatments before going on sale.

Comparing Maple And Other Cabinet Materials

Dream Kitchen With Hardwood Floor, Cabinetry, and Marble Counters

Now that you know the basics, it's time to compare maple kitchen cabinetry to some other popular alternatives. Let's check them out below:

Maple Vs. Oak Cabinets

Between maple and oak cabinets, you can expect maple to be stronger. Even though these two cabinet materials are hardwood, maple beats out oak overall for durability.

Many experts recommend oak flooring over maple, but if it's cabinetry, maple gets the green light. Again, that's not to say oak is bad for your kitchen: it just won't be as durable as maple long-term.

Price-wise, maple will also be slightly less than oak on average, so from a financial standpoint, we also recommend it. However, this may not remain accurate depending on the current market and trends, so keep that in mind.

Maple Vs. Birch Cabinets

Although birch wood is strong, it doesn't quite compare to maple. Maple and birch are both hardwoods, making either a great idea for high-traffic areas.

However, painting over birch or staining it can be difficult, as it is darker than maple. Birch also has a medium density versus maple has an extreme denseness, which makes a difference.

One benefit to choosing birch cabinetry for your kitchen is that it typically costs less than maple. Again, this isn't always the case, but birch is a bit lighter than maple, so it won't cost as much on average.

Birch being a lower grade turns people off, but it's still a great hardwood option.

Maple Vs. Cherry Cabinets

One of the more difficult materials to compare to maple is cherry. Not only are cherry cabinets beautiful, but they also take darker stains better than maple.

However, maples have a hardness rating of roughly 1450, while cherry comes in at 950. Again, that's still very impressive, but maple takes the crown in terms of which will last longer and look better.

Appearance-wise, cherry cabinets have more of a natural, distinct look versus maple. You will typically have a more noticeable wood grain on cherry cabinets than maple, which is something to think about.

In addition, maple cabinetry will cost less than cherry wood, as cherry is considered a more premium option. Cherry has a higher resale value, so it's a tough contender.

Maple Vs. MDF Cabinets

Another popular maple alternative is the ever-loved MDF material. Besides being synthetic and costing less than most wood cabinetry, MDF is also perfect for painting over.

Maple and MDF also tend to resemble each other, so they're an easy way to trick your guests. However, your synthetic wood cabinets won't live up to the durability your maple naturally offers.

It's also worth mentioning that most maple cabinets have a middle layer of MDF material. Furthermore, MDF reacts less in humid climates and can handle temperature changes better than natural wood.

So, if you're in the tropics and need cabinets that can handle a bit of humidity, we recommend MDF!

Maple Vs. Hickory Cabinets

Lastly, you might wonder whether maple or hickory cabinets are better for the kitchen. Generally, hickory is stronger than maple (not by a lot) but tends to have a more rustic appearance.

Most people prefer the look of a soft maple cabinet over a more natural hickory finish, so from a design standpoint, we recommend the maple.

Furthermore, maple cabinetry is cheaper than hickory options because it is less durable. Remember, maple is one of the strongest hardwoods available, so hickory is the real deal to beat it.

Again, this will come down to your home's aesthetics and price range, but maple is a more streamlined option overall.

What Is The Best Wood To Use For Cabinets?

Couple look at cabinet samples in a hardware store. The woman touches one of the cabinet samples. The man is taking notes.

In the kitchen, you should generally stick with pine, oak, hickory, cherry, and maple cabinets. Hardwoods tend to be better against everyday wear and tear, so cherry, maple, and oak all stand out.

However, pine cabinets are timeless and tend to have a more luxurious appearance, hence why we included them. Again, you want to try and find a wood that works for your design and fits your budget.

You can also expect to spend the most money on hickory, maple, and oak, while pine will be cheaper, so that's something to know.

From a design perspective, maple and cherry are the best woods for resale value, as they fit most aesthetics and spaces.

When people think of oak wood, they tend to gravitate towards the flooring, so although a great choice, oak isn't always the first idea for designers and homeowners.

Do Kitchen Cabinets Need To Be Wood?

Beautiful maple woodwork on kitchen cabinets

No. If you don't want to find an all-natural cabinet material for your kitchen, endless synthetic options are readily available. For example, laminate, MDF, and Thermofoil can all work nicely in a kitchen.

Just because a cabinet material is synthetic doesn't make it cheap or lackluster. Most times, synthetic materials can look very close to natural wood, all at a more affordable price.

However, melamine resin is one faux material you want to steer clear of. Although it is the cheapest cabinet option on the market, it can't handle wear and tear and has a less-than-ideal appearance.

Regardless, if you can, we recommend going with semi or fully-natural wood cabinetry, as it will age better and increase your home's resale value.

To Wrap It All Up

Whether it's time to renovate or you're building your dream kitchen from scratch, it's always good to go over cabinet materials. We found that maple cabinetry is a winner overall, even when compared to other hardwoods.

However, if you prefer something more elegant, cherry wood cabinets are a close contender to maple. If you want something stronger than maple, we recommend hickory, as long as you don't mind its rustic appearance.

One of the many benefits of using maple wood is that you can stain and paint it without worrying if it will look tacky when you're done.

Again, this comes down to your style, budget, and kitchen aesthetics, so feel free to explore the various kinds of wood (and non-woods) and have fun planning your space!

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related home posts below!

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