Alder Wood Cabinets (Styles & How to Update)

When it comes to cabinetry, nothing can beat those made of solid wood. Aside from being durable, they spell luxury, beauty, and warmth. Alder wood cabinets can easily match 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.

Rustic kitchen with knotty alder wood cabinets and marble countertops

Here’s our gallery of alder wood cabinets, including what they are, design styles, prices, if they’re outdated, and tips on how to update alder kitchen cabinets.

What Are Alder Wood Cabinets?

Kitchen with hardwood floors, cabinets and built in stove on glossy granite island counter

If you are in the process of designing your kitchen or bathroom remodel, installing alder wood storage units 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. The lumber from this tree 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. 

Kitchen with white ceiling, black countertops with wood base and windows

Cabinets 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. 

Bathroom with towels hanging in white shiplap walls and black tile floors

Presently, 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 Good For Cabinets?

Kitchen with cabinets and bright dining space with a lake view

Alder wood is currently a popular choice for people looking for wood cabinets for their homes. These cabinets 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 home 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 Is Alder?

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 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 is more prone to dents and dings.

If you want a kitchen with a luxurious look, choose wooden 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

Kitchen with wooden floors, natural wood cabinets and kitchen island

Natural alder wooden storage units 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 design 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

Kitchen with vertically oriented backsplash tiles and natural stone flooring

Knotty textured cabinetry is cut in a manner 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.

The knotty imperfections showcase the natural beauty that most homeowners love. It is also less costly than the clear-grade variety, and there is an ample supply of raw materials, which makes it easy to find in the market.

Cabinet makers who do not like the wood imperfections can opt for the clear-grade type lumber. This lumber category is free of blemishes and knots. Cutting the wooden sections 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. 

Price of Knotty Alder

If you are shopping for bathroom or kitchen cabinetry that is 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 light-colored wooden storage units that are fully assembled and ready to install starting at $3600 for an 8′ x 10′ l-shape design. A 10′ x 10′ u-shaped kitchen should start at about $8000.

The abundant supply of this lumber 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 cabinetry without creating a hole in your pocket.

Are Cabinets Made of Alder Outdated?

Kitchen with wood beams on ceiling, red granite counter and red drapery on window

Minimalism is the current fad, and knotty alder cabinets are trending. With the open and closed knots, worm holes, worm tracks, and bird pecks act as decorations for the cabinet. There is no need to add any decorative designs to cupboard fronts anymore because each piece looks interesting.

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

How to Update Alder Cabinets

If you are remodeling your kitchen with existing cabinets made of this wood, 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 cabinet styles guide.

How can you update your kitchen drawers and cupboards? If they are made of the knotty variety, you can whitewash them. Whitewash means applying a semi-transparent stain on the cabinet surface.

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

You can also paint the knotted alder cabinetry by painting them. Yet, this will require lots of preparation.

Kitchen with stove, hood and single hung windows

Here are the steps to follow to achieve an excellent paint job on your knotted alder cabinetry.

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 it, wiping the surface, and thoroughly cleaning the surface 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.

The cabinetry that is painted to complement the flooring of your kitchen will help you achieve a rustic yet elegant design. With this type of cabinetry becoming trendy again, you can look forward to enjoying your kitchen and inviting people to your home.

For more wooden storage unit ideas, visit our guide to Alder Kitchen Cabinets.

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