Hickory Kitchen Cabinets (Types & Pros and Cons)

Wooden kitchen cabinets are known to uplift a home’s interior and give it a cozier and more welcoming vibe, taking you to a warm comfy log cabin. The dilemma, though is that there are endless choices you will need to consider based on different factors, including designs, materials, and styles. 

Rustic kitchen interior with RTA hickory cabinets, stainless steel appliances hardwood floors and island

Kitchen cabinets serve both functionally and aesthetically. They function as excellent storage in the kitchen for pans and pots, small appliances, and other kitchen tools and utensils. But they also need to aesthetically complement your kitchen so you need to consider these two basic aspects in choosing a wooden kitchen cabinet to install. 

If you’re looking for somewhere to start, hickory kitchen cabinets are a good place to check out. You can focus on this option first and then explore the different benefits and drawbacks you might experience once this becomes your final choice.

What Are Hickory Kitchen Cabinets 

Nicely decorated kitchen with hickory kitchen cabinets

Learning about this wood and its characteristics means exploring the benefits and drawbacks of using this type of wood as a material for this piece of furniture.

It is one of the hardwood options you can use for your kitchen cabinets, and it is popular for its dramatic knots and mineral streaks, as well as burls and pitch pockets. These features give the cabinet a bold personality that stands out. 

There is a wide variety of colors to consider, made possible by its sapwood and heartwood. It is also notable for its smooth and close-grained wood, complete with the heavy flow of the grain pattern.

Its grain is also unpredictable since, while mostly straight, there are irregular lines and waves sometimes, which is responsible for its rough texture and rugged look. To help you decide, here are the pros and cons you can consider.

Types of Hickory Cabinets

Wood grain cabinets

There are many different finishes and styles when it comes to solid wood cabinets. Here are some of the popular product variations available for kitchen designs.

Natural Hickory

Large kitchen with knotty natural wood hickory cabinets and beige granite countertop island with rustic bar stools

Natural hickory cabinets are known for their authenticity. Having this natural look is not difficult to achieve because of their wood graining and striations. More than that, though, the aesthetics of unfinished cabinet doors and drawer fronts make the entire room feel like the outdoors.

If you want the natural beauty and aesthetics of this hardwood cabinet to shine, you don’t need any addition to the furniture, from paint to darker stains, since the appearance of the wood itself is dramatic enough. If your cabinetry is feeling too rustic, you can add stylish hardware like knobs and pulls to give a more decorative edge.

Rustic Hickory

Rustic panels

Rustic cabinets are aesthetically dramatic with an appeal of antiquity. The combination of light and dark colors swirling in one panel gives the cabinet a bold vibe. And the colors can vary from creamy-white to midnight black in wavy and irregular patterns.

The rustic appearance of this glazed cabinetry is improved by random knots, wormholes, burls, and mineral streaks. Check our gallery featuring rustic kitchen cabinets here.

Knotty Hickory

Knotty hickory

Knotty hickory kitchen cabinets usually come in two contrasting colors, specifically dark heartwood and lightwood sapwood, creating a stunning effect presented in medium-textured wood. 

These specific cabinets are filled with natural grain anomalies, fine knots, and little worm tracks scattered all over the moderately porous and medium-coarse textured panel.

These irregularities, coupled with contrasting hues, give knotty variations a bold effect that stands out. 

Farmhouse Hickory

Farmhouse cabinets

A farmhouse vibe involves a practical and simple style, and when it comes to solid wood cabinets, it’s all about natural and clear-coated pieces of furniture. 

Farmhouse hickory kitchen cabinets often have neutral colors mixed with light and dark knots, holes, and streaks. Since the farmhouse design style is all about simplicity and a country vibe, you need to choose panels that have fewer irregularities and wavy patterns. 

For a more modern farmhouse design, you can use Shaker style doors with brighter color hardware, such as knobs, pulls, and hinges, paired with contemporary finishes such as an updated glass tile backsplash.

Stained Hickory

Kitchen with stained hickory

The right kind of stain, coupled with an excellent sealant, can help your wood cabinets last longer than when you just keep them bare.

Stained cabinets can easily last for years. The great thing about these cupboards is that there is a variety of stains to choose from, with different colors to consider.

You can go for lighter-colored stains if you want to preserve all the knots, holes, crevices, and grain patterns on the wood and see them clearly. If you want to lessen them and think they’re too dramatic, you can go for a darker-stain instead. 

RTA Hickory

Kitchen with RTA hickory

RTA (Ready To Assemble) cabinets offer a more affordable and convenient approach to the usual hardwood cabinetry. RTA wood cabinets are mass-produced, and getting them on the market is easier.

Since they are pre-made, they can easily be installed and even have different styles and configurations; you can choose to customize the cabinetry when you assemble them. 

The downside is that they come with a high price tag, and some may not have enough budget for them.

With RTA products, though, they are more affordable. Instead of spending at least $500 per linear foot, you can lower your expenses to at least $175 per linear foot for RTA cabinets.

Pros and Cons of Hickory Cabinets

Wood island with metal brackets


These solid wood cabinets are not a common choice, and they may be worth a shot considering them before of the following benefits:

• Cozy and warm vibe – It’s a warm hardwood, and if you feel like your kitchen is too cold and needs more warmth, it can look magnificently cozy, comfortable, and welcoming. The wood also has this natural and authentic look that whether you stain it or not, what you have will be a stunning experience to look at.

• Safe to use – This hardwood option is considered a safe material and won’t cause any allergic reaction or other health problems. 

• Easily restored and repaired – If you want to upgrade the current look of your cabinets, you can easily do that. Cabinetry can be sanded and painted, varnished, or glazed to bring to life to their appearance.

• Incredibly strong and durable – This wood is considered one of the hardest and strongest hardwood options you can use as kitchen cabinets. It is even stronger than oak and maple and can last for a lifetime. 

• Easy maintenance – You only need to wipe them with a sponge dipped in water and soap solution to clean any dirt on them. And for spills, wiping the surface with a dry cloth is all you need. Make sure to avoid abrasive detergents that can damage your cabinetry. 


Besides the advantages you will enjoy when you choose them, these are the drawbacks you need to prepare for:

Full sized kitchen with breakfast bar and siding

Expensive – These storage cabinets are costly and on the high end when it comes to price points, which start around $249 for each standard kitchen cabinet with two doors and a drawer. 

• Weak with humidity – This wood can’t handle humidity, so make sure you pay attention to this little info. 

• Prone to scratches – The wood surface can easily be scratched, so it’s best to avoid situations that might cause them, like cross-grain sanding when updating. 

Can You Paint Over Hickory Wood Cabinets?

Yes, you can paint over your hickory kitchen cabinets. If you have dark-stained cabinetry, you can lighten it by painting it white. Of course, you need to follow the right process to successfully paint over the cabinetry without them looking like a messed-up job. 

Preparing the surface of the cabinets is vital to painting them over. Sand over the surface, but make sure not to sand against the grain since scratches may be present.

After that, follow these simple steps:

1. Apply putty to fill the grains of the wood, and then apply the surface with standard oil-based primers. 

2. Flatten the putty by sanding the surface with a rough grit and remove any dust by wiping the surface.

3. Get a roller or brush and apply a primer.

4. Once the primer dries, get another brush to paint the cabinet, starting from the inside panel and center of the door, and then work towards the outside of the cabinets. 

After the paint dries, apply polish if you prefer to do so. 

How To Update Hickory Wood Cabinets

Wooden kitchen interior with built-in desk

These cabinets are durable and can last for a long time, and let’s face it, there will be a time when you want to see something different. You can do so by updating the look of the doors and fronts to change how they look.

There are two ways to update your hickory cabinets without changing their main structure. One is to paint over the surface, and the other is to change the stain, whether to go lighter or darker, depending on your current preference. 

A classic white paint can turn your rustic design into a modern minimalist ensemble. With stains, though, you can go for something in between, like a gray stain, to change the natural color of the wood while retaining the stunning grain patterns that this wood is famous for. 

What Countertop Would Look Good With Hickory

This solid wood has warm colors and usually comes in farmhouse or rustic style. You can pair these mid-tone hardwood cabinetry with the same hardwood countertops, especially if you’re going for a full-on cozy and rustic vibe. 

If you want to balance your traditional cabinets, you can add a modern element to the twist like copper-veined marble countertops. 

Besides the running style of your kitchen, you also need to consider its size. Small and compact kitchens can benefit from warm-colored cabinets since the color helps the space look brighter, more open, and bigger.

Pair it with a light-colored countertop too so as to keep this effect. Integrating a darker countertop might negate this illusion and actually make the space feel and look smaller than it actually is. Read more about what backsplash goes with hickory cabinets on this page.

What Color Paint Goes With Hickory

Light color paint in kitchen with stained cupboards

If you’re thinking about sprucing up your kitchen with a new paint color, you need to match it with your wood color. This is a hardwood option popular for its warm hue and two-toned aesthetics.

If you’re looking for recommendations, here are some options worth checking out:

Neutral Colors

• Cream

• Warm gray

• Soft sage

Warm Colors (Avoid bright orange and yellow)

• Dark red

• Rust

• Burgundy

Cool Colors

• Navy blue

• Hunter green

• Turquoise

• Grey-purple

• Sky blue

The option of which color is compatible with your hickory kitchen cabinets can refer to the room’s walls, ceiling, and even pieces of furniture. It can also include other home indoor elements like curtains and interior decor.

Balance the warmth of your cabinets by using cool colors, complement them by using warm colors, and let them stand out by using neutral colors. 

See our guide to colors for kitchens with hickory cabinets for more stunning and modern design ideas.

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