Red Oak Kitchen Cabinets (Benefits & Designs)

Red oak kitchen cabinets are the perfect addition to achieve functionality and the warm allure that every heart of the home deserves. Warm wood tones are coming back, and whether you’re aiming for a traditional theme or a modern one, red oak kitchen cabinets are a versatile option that can accommodate both styles with the right design. 

Kitchen with red oak cabinets, granite countertops, windows, hanging lights, gas oven, and subway tile

Craftsmen have always loved working with the red oak hardwood as it strikes a balance between hardness and workability. Compared to other types of lumber, red oak is also more accessible to source, with varying shades that offer more options for owners to choose from. 

Homeowners also can paint or stint their red oak kitchen cabinets, which makes it even easier to mix or match with their existing design elements. [toc] 

Is Red Oak Good For Kitchen Cabinets?

Kitchen with refrigerator, granite countertops, stove, window, and oak cabinets

Yes, red oak is a good material for kitchen cabinets because of its desirable qualities suitable for furniture use, especially if you’re looking for a hard-wearing storage cabinet for a busy kitchen. 

Red oaks remain one of the most favored hardwood species for furniture, so much, so that veneer options simulate the look to showcase their products. It is a popular wood species because it’s a very durable material, but costs less compared to most hardwood materials, making it a wise investment for your kitchen. 

Here are some of the popular benefits of red oak cabinets:

High Degree of Durability: Has a Janka hardness of 4700, which is relatively higher than walnut and cherry wood. 

Good Resistance to Rot: One of the problems of wood furniture in kitchens is rot; this wood variety has a moderate resistance to rot except for the European or British oaks, which is known for having a very good resistance towards decay.

There are protective coatings that can be applied to your wood surfaces to prevent water seepage and mold growth, which leaves your hardwood kitchen cabinet even more durable. 

Receives Stains Very Well: With large open pores, this cabinetry can absorb wood stains very well without worrying about blotching or uneven surface stains compared to most hardwood lumber. You can also have consistent coloring with dye layering, top coating, and gel staining. However, remember to sand each layer and finish it off with shellac to achieve a high-quality finish

Balanced Workability and Durability: While you get very durable kitchen storage, there is a myriad of designs to choose from, and for customized options, this wood is among the best kitchen cabinet materials that can be steam-bent to create curved and intricate designs. 

Does Not Show Scratches Easily: The kitchen is a hardworking space, and the wood’s strong graining means it does not show scratches easily while being a very durable surface. 

Readily Available and Cost-Effective: When you’re looking for a piece of wooden furniture for your kitchen that will last for decades, this cabinetry is your best choice as it has the desirable qualities for kitchen furniture while falling to moderately priced wooden furniture. 

Versatile Material: Gone are the days when this wood was solely for the traditional interior. With its workability and durability, you can design a sleek and modern kitchen cabinet using the wood. Its cabinetry can be combined with glass and modern hardware, and using the flat or slab type of door cabinets can produce a stylish look.  

Differences Between Red And White Oak

Kitchen with oak cabinetry, center island, countertops, windows, curtain, refrigerator, sink, and faucet

The most distinctive difference between white and red oak when it comes to lumber is their pores. By looking at the pores on the end grain, you’ll notice the red has open pores while white has pores that are filled with resin making it slightly denser and heavier. 

First off, there are a lot of species of oak trees, and the two primary groupings into which all of the major species are grouped are red and white. For example, English oaks belong to the white oak family, but California black oaks belong to the red oak family. So when you ask for the red variety at the lumber yard, you’re asking for a complete family of trees.

When you have different species with the same name, you’re bound to have inconsistencies, as some white varieties can appear redder, and some red can appear fairly pale, implying that the name has little to do with the color of the wood. 

The reasons for their respective names are often debated, and it seems to depend on who you ask, but red oaks often have reddish-brown leaf buds or leaves that turn color in autumn, while white oaks have lighter-colored bark and the leaves may have a yellow color. 

Coloring: Though we have emphasized that color is not a reliable trait to distinguish between the hues, it’s still worth noting the general color tones of each group. Red oaks tend to have a reddish to amber coloring, while white has a more brownish to yellowish hue. 

Price: There is not a major difference between the price of the two types. Because unfinished oak hardwood flooring is a commodity item, the price fluctuates from week to week.

At times, one is more expensive, than the other. The price will also vary based on the width of the boards and the grade of the wood.

Unfinished Red-Oak Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen with wood floors, mat, ceiling lights, countertops, oven, refrigerator, reddish oak cabinetry, and window

If you’re looking for a way to cut costs on your kitchen installation, opt for unfinished red oak kitchen cabinets. This customizable option typically comes fully sanded, where you can choose your own finish to match your preferred look.

There are furniture shops that have these cabinet doors, so you can revamp the look of your wooden kitchen cabinets by simply replacing your worn-out cabinet doors without spending a hefty amount.   

However, take note that while you save on labor costs when it comes to your unfinished cabinetry, the relatively easy DIY project of applying finishwill take part of your time. If you’re on a tight schedule purchasing unfinished types of furniture styles may not be counterproductive and will cost you more in the long run.   

Cost Of Red-Oak Cabinets

Kitchen with stone tile floors, peninsula, chairs, hanging lights, oak cupboards, countertop, and range hood

Compared to white oak, red oak cabinets are slightly more affordable, but then several factors will affect the price, such as your location, project size, design, and more. 

Custom red oak cabinets: $13-$19 per linear foot

Custom white oak cabinets: $15-$22 per linear foot

Compared to other hardwood cabinets such as maple or cherry, oak is moderately priced and less expensive. 

Average Costs: Stock oak cabinets for a standard-sized kitchen cost $4,000 to $5,000.

Semi-stock/semi-custom cabinets cost $5,000 to $12,000.

Custom oakwood cabinets might cost $8,000 to $20,000 or more.

Cabinet installation typically accounts for 15 to 25% of total cabinet costs. Therefore, if your cabinets cost $20,000, the installation will cost an additional $3,000 to $5,000 

Other installers may charge between $40 and $100 section or box cabinet, and you can also be charged per linear foot or per hour by your installer. 

How To Redo Oak Cabinetry

Kitchen wth tile backsplash, countertops, oven, stove, and oak wooden cabinets

Restaining your oak kitchen cabinets will restore their look while prolonging their service life. When you plan to restain your hardwood kitchen cabinets, you’ll need to start cleaning them thoroughly inside and out to remove dirt or debris. 

A damp cloth can reveal damages that should be addressed and fixed first before proceeding to the next stage of sanding. Remove existing stains by using a small sanding grinder. 

After dusting off and removing debris completely off the cabinet’s surface, finally wipe off with a damp cloth to further remove the dust and leave it to dry. 

Then, apply a coat of sealant to protect the hardwood cabinet from moisture and other sources of decay. Finally, stain or paint your cabinets. 

You can also choose to revamp the look of your oak kitchen cabinets by changing only the door cabinets instead into a modern profile. Some suppliers provide only the doors that have already been fully sanded and are ready to receive staining. 

Step 1: Clean your kitchen cabinet. 

Step 2: Assess possible damages to be repaired. 

Step 3: Sand off or use stain dilute to easily remove the existing stain. 

Step 4: Apply sealant

Step 5: Stain or paint the kitchen cabinet. 

Kitchen Paint Colors With Red-Toned Oak Cabinetry

Modern kitchen with gray wall paint, oak door cabinets, and stools at the island

If you’re aiming for a contemporary look for your red-toned cabinets, it is best to go for neutral to cool grays for your wall paint as it balances the overwhelming rich brown and reddish colors

For a more balanced look, a two-tone kitchen is a great option while using contrast. Green or olive backdrops for your red-hued cabinetry are an interesting mix. You may also follow a varying color scheme to create that depth and distinction of areas while maintaining a harmonious setting. 

Color Scheme 1: 

Crescent Cream (SW 7721)Crescent Cream (SW 7721)

Cavern Clay (SW 7701)Cavern Clay (SW 7701)

Hinoki (SW 7686)Hinoki (SW 7686)

Antique Red (SW 7587)Antique Red (SW 7587)

Wheat Grass (SW 6408)Wheat Grass (SW 6408)

Color Scheme 2:

Avenue Tan (SW 7543)Avenue Tan (SW 7543)

Bauhaus Bluff (SW 7552)Bauhaus Bluff (SW 7552)

Wicker Work (SW 0010)Wicker Work (SW 0010)

Green Earth (SW 7748)Green Earth (SW 7748)

Downing Stone (SW 2821)Downing Stone (SW 2821)

For more ideas take a look at our guide to paint colors that go with oak cabinets here. We also have a list of specific paint colors that go with red oak floors.

Red Vs. White Oak Wood Cabinets

Kitchen with center island, white oak raised cabinets, backsplash, countertop, and backsplash

Red oak tends toward a more traditional look compared to white oak kitchen cabinets. However, leveling up a red oak kitchen is possible as you can change the door profile or look and update the staining to a lighter tone (though difficult to change, especially from a reddish or dark color to a lighter colored stain. 

Red Oaks:

Features open pores that look like bundles of straws 

It can feature rays as well, which can make it easily mistaken for white oaks depending on which specific species within the family the board came from. 

Relatively inexpensive and durable indoor project 

More abundant and less expensive 

White Oaks:

Pores are filled up with resin making it denser and a little heavier too.  

The surface showed its medullary rays when its quarter sawed as seen in craftsmen or arts and crafts style furniture, which are usually made from white oaks

Great for outdoor projects due to the closed pores that keep out moisture and resist rot. 

Stain and wood sealer tend to enhance the surface of white oaks.

See more related content in our article about honey oak cabinets on this page.

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