Species and Finishes

You’ve picked out your new cabinet door style — now it’s time to select the wood and finish you love. If your desired look is painted or stained there are a few characteristics you should be aware of before you commit.

Most people would agree that hardwood doors, even when painted, are the best option. However did you know that wood naturally expands and contracts depending on the humidity levels and temperature changes? This natural occurrence of expanding and contracting may cause minor hairline fractures at the seams on a painted door. If your home experiences these swings you might consider our MDF or Hybrid doors. Additional information is below in the painted section.

You should know that the type of wood your doors are made of will dramatically affect how a stain actually looks on your doors. It’s also good to know a few characteristics about your wood selection. For example, most wood species darken with age, and each wood species absorbs stains differently. Below is a list of the most common wood species and important specifications to help you make the right choice for your dream kitchen or bath. We’ve also included helpful color swatches to show you how a stain will look on your wood choice. Finally, there are a number of finishing styles — such as glazing distressing, antiquing — to choose from.



Alder is easy to work with and has a beautiful, rich tone that is often used as an affordable alternative to Cherry.

Color Range: Pale yellow to medium, reddish brown.
Appearance: Modular ray markings parallel to and across the grain, pronounced contrast between end and surface grain, porous end grain on panel raise and edge profile.


To make bamboo panels for cabinets, bamboo stalks are cut into strips that are then pressed and laminated together. Bamboo is sturdy and a more renewable resource than traditional wood species.

Color Range: Light tan to brown shades.
Appearance: Depending on the way the boards are created, bamboo can present horizontal or vertical “graining.” Narrow staves, scattered color and specks that resemble burls. Exposed glue on framing profiles may be visible.

Birch, Red

Birch is an affordable wood choice with endless possibilities. The wood lacks a distinctive grain pattern and typically doesn’t display obvious streaks or other patterns. Birch can be stained to resemble other, more expensive wood species.

Color Range: Red, pink, reddish brown, or purple.
Appearance: Tight, indistinct grain. Often has streaks of color, contrasting shades, and curly grain patterns.

Birch, White

A straight-grained wood with fine even texture. Heavy and very strong. Straight-grain lumber works well, however, "swirly" or irregular grain may be difficult to machine without tear out.

Color Range: Off-white to light brown.
Appearance: Fleck, glass worm. Occasional mineral and pin knots.


The rich, beautiful tones of cherry add a touch of luxury and elegance to any room. Cherry looks great in high-gloss or matte finishes. Cherry is as durable as it is beautiful, and looks even better as it ages.

Color Range: Pink to reddish brown to deep red.
Appearance: Displays gum, mineral streaks, and pin knots. Sapwood may appear.


Looking for a touch of rustic charm? You’re looking for hickory. Hickory is a durable, high-quality wood much loved for its unique appearance.

Color Range: Off-white to gray to dark brown.
Appearance: Unlimited mineral streaks and small peck marks. Contrasting sapwood and heartwood.
Knotty Wood

Rustic Knotty Grade

"Rustic Knotty" grade is available in Alder, Cherry, Hard Maple, Hickory, Pine, and Red Oak. This grade of material allows knots, split knots, ingrown bark, character marks and natural characteristics. The knots are of varying size, both sound and unsound. This material will allow all of the natural color of the specie, wormholes and any other naturally occurring defects that may be present in wood. This product will not be matched for color and may have both sapwood and heartwood present in varying amounts. Voids will not be puttied. Knotty grades can be stained, but not painted.


Maple, Hard

Maple is a versatile and beautiful wood, with natural color ranges including stain and mineral deposits. Maple absorbs stains and finishes well and is resistant to wear, shrinking and swelling, making it a popular choice for cabinetry. Maple offers a truly unique finished product, as the stain absorbs differently from one piece to another, and sometimes even within one door, giving you a beautiful range of colors.

Color Range: Off-white to light brown.
Appearance: Curly grain, sugar streaks, occasional mineral and pin knots, possible light heartwood

Maple, Soft

Soft Maple tends to have creamy white to white sapwood and light to dark reddish brown heartwood. Lumber is usually straight-grained with an even texture. Soft Maple wood is relatively stable once kiln-dried and is an excellent choice for cabinetry.

Color Range: Creamy, off-white to gray to reddish brown.
Appearance: Curly grain, sugar streaks. Occasional mineral and pin knots.

Oak, Red (Quarter Sawn)

Quarter Sawn grade is specially cut Red Oak or White Oak lumber. Logs are quartered and sliced across the grain—resulting in a tight, straight grain pattern. Quarter Sawn lumber also contains a distinct characteristic called medullar wood rays or “flake”. These flakes are clearly noticeable and will appear in a variety of sizes, patterns and directions that become more pronounced after finish is applied.

Color Range: Heartwood is a light to medium brown, commonly with an olive cast. Nearly white to light brown sapwood is not always sharply demarcated from the heartwood.
Appearance: Limited mineral and pin knots. Heavy to light flakes.

Oak, White (Quarter Sawn)

Heartwood is a light to medium brown, commonly with an olive cast. Nearly white to light brown sapwood is not always sharply demarcated from the heartwood. Quarter sawn sections display prominent ray fleck patterns.

Color Range: Tan to reddish brown.
Appearance: Limited mineral and pin knots, heavy to light quarter sawn flakes, sapwood may appear.

Oak, Red

More affordable than cherry or walnut, oak is still a high-quality, luxury wood choice. The wood stains evenly and is resistant to wear, shrinking and swelling.

Color Range: Tan to reddish brown.
Appearance: Grain pattern is prominent. Limited mineral and pin knots.

Oak, White

More affordable than cherry or walnut, oak is still a high-quality, luxury wood choice. The wood stains evenly and is resistant to wear, shrinking and swelling.

Color Range: Tan to reddish brown.
Appearance: Limited mineral and pin knots.

Paint Grade Hard Maple Hybrid

Combining the best of MDF and Paint Grade Hard Maple. The center panel of Hybrid doors are made from MDF material while the styles and rails are Paint Grade Hard Maple Material. MDF will not expand or contract with humidity, which greatly reduces the risk of cracks.

MDF (Medium-density fiberboard)

Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is used as an alternative to solid wood panels for high humidity regions. MDF uses a combination of softwood and hardwood fibers, adhesives and resins that is heated and pressed to the desired density and thickness. The end result is a very stable product that resists expansion and contraction. SouthernStone offers 1-piece and 5-piece MDF products in varying designs.

Color Range: Light tan to brown.
Appearance: Softwood and hardwood fibers

Paint Grade Hard Maple

Paint Grade Hard Maple was developed specifically for those who prefer to use only Hard Maple components for paint applications. This grade will allow all the natural color range of Hard Maple including stain and mineral.

Color Range: Products made from this grade will not be matched for color, with heartwood and sapwood present in varying amounts.
Appearance: Wormholes, knots and other defects that can cause voids are limited providing a smooth, paintable surface.


Pine is a softwood that is easy to work with and plentiful. This makes it an economical choice for those who prefer true wood.

Color Range: Off-white to yellow to light brown to reddish brown.
Appearance: Contrasting color with indistinct grain, occasional sap specks, streaks and small tight knots.


A gorgeous mahogany look-alike with a slightly finer texture than Honduras mahogany, with a typically interlocked grain. Sapele is also a lustrous wood that works fairly well in all operations — planing, sawing, routing, sanding, etc.

Color Range: Dark red brown
Appearance: Very similar to mahogany.


Walnut is a gorgeous, luxury wood type that is often more affordable than mahogany or cherry. Heartwood can range from a lighter pale brown to a dark chocolate brown with darker brown streaks. Color can sometimes have a grey, purple, or reddish cast. Sapwood is pale yellow-gray to nearly white. Figured grain patterns such as curl, crotch, and burl are also seen.

Color Range: Off-white to gray to medium brown.
Appearance: Curly grain, streaky color, with occasional mineral and pin knots.

Glazes & Finishes

In addition to paints and stain treatments, you may choose to have a glaze or other finish applied to your cabinet doors.


We offer a variety of glazing color options. All glazes are applied using a hand-rubbed application process to the entire surface of the face and back of the door, resulting in each door becoming one-of-a-kind in its appearance.

Even though every glazed door is matched to a control sample, each door will take glaze differently. We recommend that a sample door be ordered prior to ordering a full kitchen, regardless of the finish and species combination.

Pinstripe Glaze

Pinstripe glaze allows the true base color of a painted cabinet door to remain unaltered while providing contrasting, clean glaze lines. The glaze is applied by hand using a finely trimmed brush. Pinstripe glaze is applied only to the face and edge profiles of doors and drawer fronts, not the backs.

Heirloom Finishes

Each door, drawer front and accessory items will have some variations in appearance after an heirloom finish is applied, giving the finished kitchen an attractive and unique design statement.

Products coated with the Heirloom finishes are placed on drying racks after the coating application process. Small indentations or pin marks from these drying racks may appear on the backs of heirloom products. Talk to your dealer to see if an Heirloom finish is right for your project.


Antiquing is a a rub through process, in which corners and edges are subjected to a random sanding process that takes place prior to glaze and topcoat. This process is performed on bare wood, which will then be glazed and top coated.

Antiquing is the perfect complement to wear sanding and produces an authentic, worn look. Antiquing and wear sanding are not available on front frames.


SouthernStone offers three levels of distressing. Each level of distressing is random in application, designed to give fronts an aged, antique-like appearance. Most distress markings will typically not appear on raise profiles. Different door styles and species will display distressing differently. Custom distressing and antiquing are not available.

Front frames and range hoods will receive a modified distressing package. Distressing on range hoods may be limited in intensity depending on the style of hood.

Sherwin Williams

Looking for that perfect color, we at SouthernStone Cabinets believe in options. That’s why in addition to all the standard paints and stains we have already shown we are proud to also offer 1600 and counting Sherwin Williams Prism Paint colors through our partnership with Conestoga. For your convenience here is a link to those colors with swatches as well as a PDF with all the color names and corresponding numbers.

You dream it. We build it.

There are hundreds of combinations of door styles, wood species, and paint, glaze or other finishes. Now that you know more about how the wood species and finishing options will impact your final product, we recommend working with your dealer to find the perfect option for your project.

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