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Comparing High-End Kitchen Cabinet Materials for Your Remodel

December 13th, 2023 | 4 min read

By Dianna Corsi

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Are you feeling the frustration of a kitchen that falls short of your vision? Do the mismatched aesthetic or outdated materials leave you yearning for a culinary space that reflects your style?

Kitchen remodeling isn't just about updating, it's about creating a space that resonates with your lifestyle.

At Custom Built, we understand that the kitchen is more than just a practical space—it's the heart of your home. With over 15 years of kitchen remodeling experience, we have actively engaged with evolving trends and timeless elements.

We know the struggle of balancing style preferences, functionality, and the long-term durability of cabinet materials.

In this article, you'll gain invaluable insights into the characteristics, trends, and considerations of various high-end kitchen cabinet materials:

  • Quarter-Sawn Oak
  • Maple
  • Cherry
  • Hickory
  • HDF (High-Density Fiberboard)
  • Exotic Veneers

Your kitchen remodel is a promise to yourself—a promise of a kitchen that harmonizes with your vision, endures the test of time, and becomes the vibrant heart of your home. Let's embark on this journey together:

1. Quarter-Sawn Oak: Where Trend Meets Tradition

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Quarter-sawn oak has emerged as a prominent choice, riding the wave of popularity in the past year. This trendsetter is not merely a fashionable option but a testament to timeless durability. Renowned for its aesthetic charm and remarkable robustness, quarter-sawn oak offers a unique blend of style and functionality.

From warm hues of red oak to the true brown undertones of white oak, this hardwood provides a touch-up-friendly solution. This makes it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas, such as bustling family kitchens.

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Beyond its durability, the distinct wood grain of quarter-sawn oak adds character to any kitchen. Instagram design enthusiasts, including Studio McGee, have embraced this option, showcasing its versatility. While it's currently trending, it's essential to consider its long-term relevance and how well it aligns with your style.

2. Maple: Smooth Elegance and Enduring Consistency

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Enter the realm of smooth elegance with maple cabinets. Known for their creamy white color and soft wood grain, maple cabinets bring a consistent and refined texture to your kitchen. What sets maple apart is its ability to absorb stains differently, offering versatility for painted and stained finishes.

This hardwood's expansion and contraction resistance in varying humidity levels makes it an ideal choice for Michigan homeowners. Because of this characteristic, maple achieves a consistent and refined look over time.

Maple's smooth texture and fine grain contribute to its versatility in kitchen designs. Whether you opt for a painted finish or a stained look, maple cabinets complement various styles. In doing so, you ensure your kitchen remains a timeless space that withstands evolving trends.

3. Cherry: Timeless Richness and Natural Patina

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For those seeking timeless richness and a touch of luxury, cherry cabinets stand out as an exemplary choice. Renowned for their rich, beautiful color and satiny smooth texture, cherry cabinets exude a sense of opulence. Cherry ages gracefully, setting it apart from other materials, darkening over time with exposure to sunlight.

While most materials lighten when exposed to sunlight, cherry achieves a deep, rich reddish-brown hue. This is called a "natural patina."

This leaves you with two choices:

  1. Let your kitchen colors change naturally over time.
  2. Use UV inhibitors to slow down the color change.

4. Hickory: A Symphony of Variations and Density

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Hickory cabinets introduce a symphony of variations and density to your kitchen, making a distinctive statement. Hickory is tough and has a strong grain, giving your space a rustic charm and unique character. The tonal variations and color differences within the same panel add character and depth, creating a visually dynamic aesthetic.

Exceptionally dense and durable, hickory cabinets are an excellent choice for those who prioritize aesthetics and functionality. The mix of color palettes and patterns in hickory makes the kitchen feel welcoming and full of character. Consider hickory if you desire a kitchen that stands out with its unique personality.

5. High-Density Fiberboard (HDF): Crafted Consistency for Painted Finishes

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High-Density Fiberboard (HDF) is often subject to misconceptions, with some unfairly likening it to cardboard. However, when crafted with premium-grade density, HDF is a consistent and reliable choice, especially for painted wood finishes. HDF creates smooth, high-quality doors with little change in size, keeping the look consistent over time.

HDF cabinets provide a canvas for various painted finishes, allowing you to explore different colors and styles without compromising consistency. The ultra-smooth and dense material lends itself well to achieving a polished and refined look, making it an ideal option for those who prioritize a sleek and modern kitchen design.

The Difference Between HDF, MDF, and Particle Board Cabinets

While MDF and particleboard are commonly used for cabinets, they are typically not the materials of choice for luxury kitchens.

Let's explore the distinctions between HDF, MDF, and particleboard:

HDF is similar to MDF and Particle Board cabinets. However, the MDF and Particle Boards offer very different compositions and performances.

HDF Cabinets

  • Creates smooth, high-quality doors.
  • More expensive cabinet material option.
  • Dense material achieves a polished and refined look.

MDF Cabinets

  • Offer a smooth surface for various finishes.
  • Consists of wood fibers mixed with wax and resin.
  • Less dense than HDF but still durable and suitable for painted finishes.

Particle Board Cabinets

  • Cost-effective cabinet material.
  • More susceptible to damage from moisture.
  • Made from wood particles and adhesive, making them the least dense.

The choice between HDF, MDF, and particle board cabinets depends on budget, desired aesthetics, and intended use.

6. Exotic Veneers and Acrylic High Gloss: Elevating Aesthetics

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Beyond traditional wood options, consider exploring exotic veneers and acrylic high gloss for a unique and contemporary kitchen aesthetic. Exotic veneers bring luxury to your cabinets with intricate patterns and rich textures, adding depth and sophistication. Acrylic high gloss, on the other hand, brings a modern flair, reflecting light and creating a sleek, polished appearance.

While these options may deviate from traditional materials, they open doors to endless design possibilities. Exotic veneers highlight craftsmanship and natural beauty, while glossy acrylic adds sophistication to enhance your kitchen's atmosphere.

Next Steps to Installing Kitchen Cabinets

Recall the initial frustration and yearning that sparked your quest for the perfect kitchen:

  • Outdated aesthetics
  • Mismatched elements
  • The desire for a culinary space that genuinely mirrors your style
  • Warm, inviting space to call the heart of your home

These challenges are not just problems. They matter to someone who wants a kitchen that's more than just functional. They desire a kitchen that mirrors their style and lifestyle.

In this article, you've gained a deeper understanding of the unique characteristics and trends defining various high-end kitchen cabinet materials.

With this knowledge, you can make informed decisions that align with your vision. This will ensure your kitchen becomes a true reflection of your taste and lifestyle.

At Custom Built, our commitment to creating dream spaces extends beyond this article. With over 15 years of expertise, we engage with evolving trends and intricate decisions in crafting exceptional kitchens.

We invite you to explore our gallery, connect with our design experts, and envision your dream kitchen. Our team is ready to turn your newfound knowledge into a personalized and seamless kitchen remodeling experience. Contact us today, and let's bring your dream kitchen to life.

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Now that you know what kind of kitchen cabinets you can install for your remodel, let’s explore how Custom Built will approach your project and how much your cabinets and luxury culinary oasis will cost:

Dianna Corsi

Dianna Corsi is a highly experienced professional with over 14 years in the remodeling industry. She has lived in the Greater Lansing area for the last 3 decades and currently resides in Okemos. Dianna specializes in kitchen and bath projects, and currently holds the roles of Project Advisor and Cabinet Specialist with Custom Built Design & Remodeling. With her extensive knowledge of the remodeling industry, she is able to provide her clients with high-quality services that enhance their experience.