At Conestoga Wood Specialties we strive to be on the cutting-edge of design trends. Every year we analyze our sales data, which highlights our top selling wood species, points out which species are growing or declining in popularity and indicates what may be driving these trends. This information is crucial as we make new product decisions. With that, we wanted to share some of our insights into a few of our top wood species.

1. Making the (Paint) Grade

We have seen an extended period of growth in demand for painted finish options. There is a vast amount of color options available for paint grade. Of the many materials used in cabinetry component production, from an operational perspective, paint grade is one of the easiest with which to work. It allows a broader spectrum of wood’s natural color and character that would not be acceptable with stain grade woods. Paints cover up heartwood, color variation and mineral streaks as well as hide blemishes and imperfections. The material can also be repaired, allowing the wood to be salvaged without jeopardizing the surface integrity.

2. The Cherry on Top

The next material option is tried and true: cherry. Customers can never go wrong with a classic cherry kitchen. This wood specie has been a popular option for many years. It has a warm, rich color and elegant appearance that is always in style. The grain is substantial without being overpowering. Cherry also accepts both light and dark stains well, and is easy to machine and finish. Many customers prefer the look of cherry with opaque finishes combined with antiquing or rub through options as the exposed wood’s contrasting color continues to darken with age.

3. Hard Maple Is a Staple

For the customer who is looking for an extremely versatile option that is easy to work with, we highly recommend hard maple. This wood offers a blank canvas. It is used often and can be found in painted, stained and glazed finishes. The dominant sales of this species are evidence that cabinet manufacturers, whether custom, semi- custom or stock, prefer working with this wood. The grain is subtle and nearly disappears with dark espresso- type finishes.

4. Red Oak Is No Joke

Red oak is another option that we lean toward as providing ease in workability. This specie has been a mainstay in the industry for years. The open grain of red oak makes it more suitable for staining than painting, although some prefer the open grain effect with paints. Oak’s dominant grain pattern makes a strong statement regardless of the finish and helps blend the wood’s natural color variations for excellent results. Quartered oak provides a completely different look than flat cut oak. With its straight grain and flake, quartered oak appeals to the high-end kitchen designer.

5. Luxurious Walnut

Walnut is regarded as very luxury species in both the cabinet and furniture industries. It offers a variety of beautiful dark tones and a strong grain pattern. In addition, walnut’s natural dark and medium brown colors place some limitations on the range of effective stain colors. The end result is typically a deep, luxurious color. The darker finishes blend the wood’s natural variation, but don’t hide the grain. Walnut provides the strength of an open grain wood, without the typical voids commonly seen in other open grain species. Natural walnut contains sap streaks, which when steamed, turn gray. If using clear or light finishes, it’s worthwhile to upgrade to a premium grade walnut to eliminate gray patches and streaks. However darker finishes will adequately blend the sapwood.

Like any other trend, the hottest wood species come and go out of popularity. What are some of your favorite wood species? Comment below and let us know.

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