Features of Wood Markings in Cabinets

Updated on: September 02, 2021

Cabinets.com kitchen cabinets are constructed using many pieces of solid wood and wood veneers. Graining differences, as well as normal color change can be expected. Wood species in all finishes will exhibit color change when exposed to different types of light. Color differences in wood are caused by variations in minerals found in the soil in which the tree was grown and the absorption of these minerals. End grain surfaces and softer areas of the wood may accept more stain and often appear darker than other surfaces. This is a natural reaction when finishing a wood product and potential variances cannot be controlled.

Additionally, every wood species exhibits other characteristics including knots, pinholes, sap runs, and darkening with age. It is the beauty and nature of wood to have these characteristics, as well as natural variations in graining and color, and will be present throughout our cabinetry.

Note: All wood species and finishes should avoid long term exposure to moisture.

Types of Wood

  • Bark is the tough outer covering of the woody stem of the tree and can appear to be more abrasive.
  • Sapwood is the newer growth around the core that is lighter in color and surrounded by the tree's bark.
  • Heartwood is found at the core of the tree and tends to be darker in color.

Cherry Wood

Cherry Wood

Cherry is characterized by its red undertones, but may vary in color from white to a deep, rich brown. Cherry is a close-grained wood with fairly uniform texture, revealing pin knots and curly graining. All wood will age with time and the finish will darken. This is especially true for cherry. This is a sought-after quality in cherry cabinetry, and those who select it, should expect this evolution. Features described below are typical and not considered defects:

  1. Small sap pockets, pin knots, and streaks.
  2. Color ranges from pale yellow sapwood to deep reddish brown heartwood, with occasional shades of white, green, pink, or even gray.
  3. Staining reveals subtle variations and colors that typically darken over time.
  4. Variations within a single door and side-by-side cabinets.
  5. May accept nicks and bumps over time.

Maple Wood

Maple Wood

Maple is a close-grained hardwood that is predominately white to creamy-white in color, with occasional reddish-brown tones. White maple typically features uniform graining as compared to other wood species. Characteristic markings may include fine brown lines, wavy or curly graining, bird’s eye dots, and mineral streaks. These traits are natural and serve to enhance maple’s natural beauty. Features below are typical and not considered defects:

  1. Creamy white to light blonde tones to dark reddish brown tones.
  2. Mineral streaks are a natural characteristic and will appear darker with stain.
  3. Wavy, curly bird’s-eye, or burl graining, as well as worm tracking across the grain that will darken when stained.
  4. Variations within a single door and side by side cabinets.

Birch Wood

Birch Wood

Birch is a heavy, close-grained hardwood with a light brown or reddish colored heartwood and white or creamy yellow sapwood. Birch has distinct, moderate grain patterns that range from straight to wavy or swirly. Like some other woods, Birch isn’t easily mottled or discolored over time. Due to its closed pore structure, Birch wood stains and finishes easily. It has a smooth, hard surface. Features described below are typical and not considered defects:

  1. Areas of “short grain” will be present throughout.
  2. Mineral streaks will appear darker with stain, creating contrast.
  3. Irregular spots or patches of color can be evident due to various densities in the wood.
  4. Wavy, curly, and burl graining may appear darker with stain.

Common Wood Features

Mineral Streaks

Mineral Streaks are caused by the nutrients that the tree absorbs from the soil. This causes the grain to have olive, brown, or black streaks. Depending on how your cabinetry is finished, mineral streaks can appear darker or lighter.
Cherry mineral streak

Pin Knots & Sap Pockets

When small branches are torn off a tree or naturally dies, the decaying area then turns a darker color than the sapwood. The knots are a half-inch in diameter or smaller. These markings do not affect the quality of your cabinetry.
Maple pinknot

Aging of Wood

Wood naturally ages over time. It can lighten, darken, or even change color. Different environment exposures, such as sunlight and temperature, can cause the wood to age more rapidly. This is not considered a defect.
Maple aging wood comparison