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maple vs birch plywood for cabinets

Maple vs. Birch Plywood for Cabinets: Which Is Better for Your Kitchen?

You’ve been thinking about updating your cabinets for a while now. Yours have served you well, but they’re starting to look worse for wear, and you’ve finally accepted they need to be replaced. You have countless options available, but wooden cabinets have a natural appeal that can add a nice, homey feel to your kitchen. Maple and birch stand out the most from the many options available — and deciding between them can be difficult.

Maple vs. birch plywood for cabinets — which is the superior option? Both are incredibly popular, and that’s for good reasons. Current Cabinetry, a manufacturer of premium kitchen cabinets in Baltimore, is here to break down the pros and cons to help you make the right decision for your property, budget, and lifestyle.

Hardness and Durability

If you’re debating between maple vs. birch plywood for cabinets, you’ll want to consider how durable each option is. The harder the wood, the less prone it is to damage, so it’ll hold up better in high-traffic kitchens. For some homeowners, this factor is just as important as looks.

Maple wood tends to be the harder of the two, ranging between 1400 and 1500 on the Janka Hardness Scale. That said, birch is still relatively strong, ranging between 1200 and 1300. Birch works great for most standard kitchens, though if you’re worried about potential damage, you may want to invest in maple instead.

Appearance and Grain

Maple and birch can look very similar to the untrained eye. Both are paler and have a subtler grain that works well with most finishes. That said, it’s helpful to be aware of a few differences that set the two types of wood apart.

Birch is slightly yellower than maple, ranging from a pale brown to an almost golden yellow. Because it tends to have straighter grain lines than maple, it is better at hiding scratches from everyday use. This wood also tends to be rougher, affecting the finish’s overall appearance.

Maple leans more toward reddish-brown. Its grain lines are a little bit wavier than birch’s, which can make some of the patterns more intricate. Maple is also much smoother than birch, leading to a glossier look.

Neither wood type has a particular aesthetic advantage over the other; both can look amazing, so your choice will ultimately depend on personal preferences and the space’s existing décor.

Stain and Finish Compatibility

After installing your cabinets, you’ll want to add a beautiful finish to complete the look. It’s important to remember that the option you choose and how it looks will depend on what material you go with, so paying attention to the nuances of each can go a long way in achieving the effect you want.

Stains are popular for most woods, and birch and maple are no exception. Staining is a great way to enhance these materials’ natural beauty and highlight their grain lines to give your kitchen an old-fashioned touch.

Birch has a rougher texture, so it tends to have more of a matte finish. Maple, in contrast, has a glossy finish due to its smoother surface. That said, you can use high-gloss or matte finishes to help combat this if you prefer one look over the other.

While stains can be a great choice for many wood types, using them effectively can be harder when working with birch. Birch is a porous material and will likely absorb the stain at different rates. Because of this, you may end up with a blotchier finished product.

If you don’t want to stain your cabinets, paint is another great option. Because of their naturally subtle grains, birch and maple are both suited for painting; just pick a color you love and get to work.

Cost and Affordability

The actual cost of your cabinets will vary, depending on several factors. These can include the following:

  • The current state of the market
  • The grade of the wood
  • What manufacturer you use
  • How big your cabinets are
  • Whether you want any unique details

That said, maple cabinets are more expensive than birch, costing between $2,500 and $6,000, while birch costs between $2,000 and $4,000. Birch will likely be the preferred option for the more budget-conscious homeowner.

Maintenance Requirements

Because maple and birch are equally durable, they’re relatively low maintenance. Cleaning these cabinets is simple; every once in a while, wipe them down with a suitable cleaning solution, then dry them off with a towel to keep them looking pristine.

That said, there are a few minor concerns for each. Maple, for example, shouldn’t be in direct sunlight since that could lead to discoloration. Birch might not discolor in the sun, but you may need to redo the staining because of its potentially blotchy finishes.

If you choose to use paint as a finish, you’ll likely need to apply a new coat now and again. Both types of wood will expand and contract with changing temperatures, leading to paint cracks. Keep an eye on your cabinets so that you can address issues when too many cracks start appearing.

Environmental Impact

In today’s world, paying attention to how our actions affect the environment has become increasingly important. Choosing a more environmentally friendly material for your cabinets can be an excellent way to reduce your overall impact. In addition to the beauty it adds to your kitchen, you can feel good about being kind to the planet.

Between the two materials, birch is slightly more environmentally friendly. Birch grows faster than maple, making it easier to regrow once a tree is cut down. That said, birch and maple are relatively common trees, so neither will greatly impact the environment in the grand scheme of things.

Choosing the Right Option for Your Needs

Deciding between maple vs. birch plywood for cabinets can be a difficult task. Both are fantastic materials with their advantages, and ultimately, your choice will come down to a matter of preference and layout. The following are the key points to keep in mind:

  • Birch tends to be the best choice for people working on a budget. It’s also a little better for the environment overall, so it may be preferable if you’re concerned about the environment. Birch is also great for people looking for matte finishes, though it may not suit those worried about a blotchier finished product.
  • Maple is harder than birch, so it’s preferable for kitchens that see a lot of heavy use. The smooth finish can add a very nice final touch to most kitchens, though the price point may make some buyers hesitant to invest in it.

Before purchasing your cabinets, take the time to weigh the pros and cons of each option. Consider what sort of look you’d prefer, your budget, and how durable your cabinets need to be; use your answers to determine which material would best suit your needs.

Purchase Premium Cabinets From Current Cabinetry

You’ve weighed each material’s advantages and decided what you’d prefer. Now, you need to find someplace that can provide high-quality cabinets.

That’s where we come in. At Current Cabinetry, we offer premium, solid wood cabinets with beautiful finishes, slow-close doors, and other fantastic features. We can help you decide between maple vs. birch plywood for cabinets, explain the intricacies of painting birch cabinets, and provide additional advice. With our help, you’re guaranteed to find an option you’ll love.

You deserve nothing less than fantastic cabinets. We’ll help you get them. Call 410-609-7077 for more information today.

Daniel Kermaier

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