Alder Wood Cabinets (Styles & How to Update)

Here’s our gallery of alder wood cabinets including what they are, design styles, prices, if they’re outdated, and tips on how to update alder kitchen cabinets.
Rustic kitchen with knotty alder wood cabinets, marble countertops, white sink and stainless appliancesWhen it comes to cabinets, nothing can beat those made of solid wood. Aside from being durable, they spell luxury, beauty, and warmth.

They can easily match with your kitchen or bathroom design and aesthetics. If you are remodeling the space, you can paint or stain them to make them match the changes you made for a breathtaking new look.

What Are Alder Wood Cabinets?

Kitchen with hardwood floors, alder wood cabinets, built in stove on glossy granite island counter and stainless steel appliancesIf you are in the process of designing your kitchen or bathroom remodel, installing alder wood cabinets will add character to this important room in your home. 

Alder wood cabinets are made from alder, which grows in North America, specifically on the west coast. Alder is considered semi-hardwood because it is softer than most of them, such as cherry, maple, birch, pine, and hickory.

Because it is soft, the wood comes with all the natural defects such as knots, wormholes, and bird pecks. Yet, these imperfections add to its appeal as they lend a rustic look to your kitchen. 

A spacious kitchen room with alder wood cabinets, kitchen island and built in stoveCabinets made from alder wood are durable and appealing. Cabinet makers love this soft and malleable wood because it is easy to make them suit any kitchen or bathroom type and design.

They are also economical because they cost less compared to those made of cherry, oak, and other hardwood. Check our gallery showcasing beautiful solid wood kitchens with custom cabinetry here.

There is an abundant supply of alder wood for cabinet makers worldwide. When the tree is cut, new shoots grow on its roots and main branches, replacing what has been taken. This means that there will always be enough raw materials for making bathroom or kitchen cabinets and other furniture. 

Clean bathroom with towels hanging in white shiplap walls, black tile floors and alder wood cabinetsPresently, there are thirty-five known species of alder wood. They come in various shades of red and yellow, light brown, and medium brown. Cabinet makers can easily find a hue that will match the color scheme of a room design when making cabinets for them. 

Is Alder Wood Good For Cabinets?

Bright rustic kitchen interior with alder cabinets, hardwood floors and bright dining with a lake viewAlder wood is currently a popular choice for people looking for wood cabinets for their homes. Cabinets made of alder wood are durable and can even last for several decades.

It is also known to withstand wear and tear better than other hardwood. Scratches and other marks can easily be covered up using wood wax. Painting or staining can make it look new.

Plenty of this wood can be found in many parts of the world, making the raw materials affordable and sustainable. One can easily have it installed in their homes by a professional cabinet maker or make it a do-it-yourself project.

The wood offers a rustic look but it can complement modern kitchen designs. Staining it can result in a blotchy look. To some people, this adds to its rustic look, especially if you are aiming for a farmhouse look.

For those who prefer uniformity in their rooms, this can be a reason to find cabinets made of cherry or other types of hardwood. See more rustic kitchen cabinets here.

How Durable Are Alder Wood Cabinets?

A measurement used to determine the relative hardwood strength is the Janka hardness scale. Alder ranks a score of 590 on the Janka scale which puts it on the softer end.

For instance, Cherry wood scores a 950 and Hickory has a rating of 1820. This means that while the wood is considered a hardwood it is on the softer side and more prone to dents and dings.

If you want a kitchen with a luxurious look, choose alder wood cabinets in a dark tone. Excellent workmanship can result in a warm and inviting kitchen. Just know that some care should be given to avoid causing damage to alder cabinets and door surfaces.

Natural Alder Cabinets

Typical kitchen room with wooden floors, natural alder wood cabinets, granite countertops and kitchen islandNatural alder wood cabinets are the best to have if you want your kitchen or bathroom to have a rustic appeal. With its natural color ranging from light to medium brown, it gives your kitchen a classic look and appeal.

The natural wood grain, knots and holes make the wood more attractive and interesting. Applying semi-transparent stain to the cabinets will not mar their natural look. Instead, they will look brighter and the grains more visible. 

Knotty Alder Cabinets

Rustic kitchen interior with newly updated knotty alder cabinets, granite countertops, kitchen island and stainless steel appliancesKnotty alder cabinets are made from alder wood that is cut so that the knots, wormholes, bird pecks, minerals, and worm tracks are positioned on the surface and can be seen clearly. 

These imperfections though, make knotty alder perfect for homeowners who want their bathrooms and kitchens to have a simple and rural look.

Knotty alder wood possesses a natural beauty that most homeowners love. It is also less costly than clear alder and there is an ample supply of raw materials, which makes it easy to find in the market.

Cabinet makers that do not like the imperfections on the wood can use clear alder wood. This wood is free of blemishes and knots. Cutting the wood properly will result in a flawless board for making cabinets preferred by those who hate to see unwanted marks and spots on the cabinet and other furniture. 

Knotty Alder Cabinets Price

If you are shopping for bathroom or kitchen cabinets that are durable and beautiful but on a limited budget, the knotty alder cabinets’ price is something you can easily afford. The price stands midway between cheap hardwood and premium-grade hardwood.

You can find unfinished alder wood cabinets that are fully assembled and ready to install starting at $3600 for an 8′ x10′ l-shape design. A 10′ x 10′ u-shaped kitchen should start at about $8000.

The abundant supply of this wood in the market contributes to its highly competitive price. The tree grows in many parts of the world. Replacing trees that were cut down is fast and easy, Because of this, alder is not among the endangered species of hardwood.

So, if you are budget conscious, buying knotty alder cabinets will let you have lovely and durable cabinets without creating a hole in your pocket.

Are Knotty Alder Cabinets Outdated?

Rustic kitchen interior with wood beams on ceiling, kitchen island with red granite counter and knotty alder cabinetsMinimalism is the current trend and knotty alder cabinets are now trending. With the open and closed knots, worm holes, worm tracks, and bird pecks act as decorations for the wood. There is no need to add any decorative designs to cabinets anymore because each piece looks interesting.

With knotty alder wood, staining it can have a blotchy effect. So, most homeowners prefer the natural look to get a country kitchen design. This trend is predicted to continue in the coming years, making knotty alder wood cabinets a popular component of modern and simplistic kitchens and bathroom designs.

How To Update Knotty Alder Cabinets

If you are remodeling your kitchen with existing alder wood cabinet kitchens, you might want to give them a new look to match the style and design of the renovated space. Check out more ideas in our kitchen cabinets styles guide.

How can you update your kitchen cabinets? If they are made of knotty alder wood, you can whitewash them. Whitewash means applying a semi-transparent stain on the wood.

This results in visible wood grain and a smoother surface. Staining it brightens the color and makes the rustic look more pronounced. Using stain with a tinge of grey will make your cabinets match any color you paint your kitchen. 

You can also paint the knotted alder cabinets in your kitchen by painting them. Yet, this will require lots of preparation.

A stunning kitchen interior with hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel stove with range hood and knotty alder cabinets and drawersHere are the steps to follow to achieve an excellent paint job on your knotted alder cabinets.

1. Clean and sand the surface.

Sand the surface, including the corners, sharp edges, and the area near the knot. Remove all the dust from sanding using a vacuum.

2. Seal the knots properly. 

Painting the cabinet without sealing the knot may make them get deformed and pop out. You must use a brush with small bristles or foam to cover the knots with shellac sealer.

Make sure to apply the sealer evenly. Wait until the knots have absorbed the sealer completely and wait until it is completely dry.

3. Sand the first coat of sealer.

Using grit sandpaper, make the surface smooth by applying even pressure. Then, get rid of the sanding dust by vacuuming them and wiping the surface, and thoroughly cleaning the wood using a tack cloth.

4. Apply two coats of paint to the surface. Get rid of bumps from the first coat of paint. Apply the second coat and wait until dry.

Alder wood cabinets that are painted to complement the flooring of your kitchen will help you achieve a rustic, yet elegant kitchen. With this type of cabinet becoming trendy again, you can look forward to enjoying your kitchen and inviting people to your home.

For more alder wood cabinets ideas, visit our guide to Alder Kitchen Cabinets.

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Written by Matthew Sherborne

Matthew has been writing about interior design since 2015 when he founded He owns a design firm and enjoys working alongside interior designers and architects to share new and exciting design trends, picture galleries, and room layouts with his readers.

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