Moso Carmelized Bamboo Door in Natural | Colorado Kitchen Designs - CO | Photographer: Christine Kosoff

Character of Wood

Wood Species

When designing a custom kitchen around the way you live, there is one simple thing you need to know — each wood has a very different character that will determine the feel of your kitchen. To help you better understand the various factors that affect the look of wood, we’ve put together a sampling of what you need to know. Kitchen designers can also show you wood samples that translate words into wood. Communication is key. Express yourself with fine custom cabinetry from Holiday Kitchens.

Cabinets with character

Select a wood species for your handcrafted kitchen cabinets that is in sync with your life — the drama of varied hickory grains, the reassuring hues of cherry, or the durable comfort of oak. So, if you were a tree — what tree would you be? Your wood. Your life. Fine wood cabinetry you can live with — Holiday Kitchens.

Alder (Red Alder or Western Alder)
  • Color is a very consistent light brown with a reddish tint
  • Straight grain with no distinct grain pattern
  • Even texture
  • Hardwood that is softer than cherry
  • Porous, moderately light and soft wood that is less shock resistant than other species and tends to dent more easily
  • Sensitive to changes in humidity
  • Lightens with age, reds diminishing and shifting toward a soft yellow
  • Finishes smoothly and takes stain well, absorbing more stain at the end grain because of its porous nature

  • Characteristics of bamboo are similar to hardwoods, but bamboo is not a wood.  It is classified as a grass
  • Bamboo is much denser and stronger than hardwoods, making it a renewable resource
  • Fine, even grain
  • Less susceptible to mold and fungus
  • NAF (no added formaldehyde) and FSC certified

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  • Colors range from creamy vanilla to deep, rich red
  • Darkens with age, mellowing to robust reddish-brown with golden luster
  • Straight, satiny, more subdued grain
  • Small gum pockets can produce distinctive markings
  • Distinguished by an occasional pitchpocket or birdpeck
  • Fine, uniform, smooth texture
  • Sensitive to changes in humidity
  • Machines, glues and holds fasteners well
  • Good shock and dent resistance
  • Excellent finishing qualities because of its uniform texture

 Coconut Palm 
  • Fast growing tropical wood
  • Will naturally range in color from pale caramel tones to deep browns 
  • Deep, distinctive grain pattern which naturally separates as the wood ages
  • Unique surface texture and appearance
  • Fibrous wood, as can be seen in the distinctive end grain texture of the wood.  

  • Color varies dramatically from white sapwood to near-black heartwood, sometimes with inconspicuous fine brown lines
  • Use of both sapwood and heartwood provides striking contrasts called “calico”
  • Generally fine and straight-grained, but may also have flowing variations in grain
  • Can exhibit dramatic and random burls, mineral streaks or specks
  • Course and even texture
  • Extremely tough and resilient
  • Sensitive to changes in humidity
  • Stains and finishes well with natural grain pattern accentuated by medium to dark finishes


Maple (Hard Maple)

  • Color ranges from cream to light reddish-brown
  • Light, creamy brown color accentuates mineral streaks and color variations
  • Usually straight-grained, but sometimes has highly figured bird’s-eyes that resemble small circular or elliptical figures
  • Color will take on a golden hue with age
  • Sometimes exhibits a burl grain - clusters of round curls
  • Fine and uniform texture
  • Extremely durable, strong and stiff with excellent resistance to shock, dents, abrasion and indentation
  • Sensitive to both ultraviolet light and changes in moisture
  • Machines well and holds fasteners well
  • Sensitive to changes in humidity
  • Uniform texture and tight grain make it excellent for stains and paints
  • Mineral streaks darken with stain

Oak (Red Oak)
  • Color that varies from rich wheat to warm yellow and rich reddish brown
  • May be streaked with green, yellow or black minerals
  • Medium-coarse to coarse texture
  • Straight prominent open grain distinguished by rays that reflect light and may vary from sweeping arches to tight grain patterns
  • Very high dent and shock resistance
  • Machines and glues well
  • Holds nails and screws well because it is heavy, strong and hard
  • Sensitive to changes in humidity
  • Responds well to a wide range of finish tone

Quarter Sawn Red Oak
  • Harvested from northern red oak by a special sawing process, with boards cut along the radius of the log
  • Hallmark of the Arts & Crafts and Mission style, prized for the medullary ray flecks that are revealed by this specialized cut
  • Distinctive patterns include wavy and interlocked grains, flake figures, pin stripes, fine lines, leafy grains and watery figures
  • Appears darker than regular oak due to the tight grain
  • Reduces twisting, warping and cupping
  • Holds finishes better
  • Does not allow liquids to readily pass through it

White Oak
  • Dense, durable hardwood
  • Wood color ranges from a greenish-gray to a light brown, occasionally with a slight pink hue
  • Arching grain and porous texture
  • Some small pin knots and mineral streaks are common

  • Strong versatile wood 
  • Consists of a mix of heartwood and sapwood
  • Ranges from light brown to dark chocolate, with some blonde or yellow as well
  • Color lightens over time
  • Beautiful rich color with a unique grain pattern

Character Cherry, Character Oak, Character Maple and Character Alder
  • Known as “rustic” or “knotty,” these fine wood species have the added character given them by the random size, quality and placement of knots within the wood.
  • Character wood is specially selected to have more knots, mineral streaks, sapwood and color variations.
  • Knots will vary in size, quantity and placement, but will be sound.
  • Holiday Kitchens carefully selects the types and placements of the rustic features that comprise its character wood.