Which Types of Wood Look Best with Espresso Stain?

Cabinets Kitchen Design and Style

Any wood can be stained, but that doesn't mean that any wood will take stain well. So, if you find a stain you like for your customized kitchen cabinets, the next step is to find the wood species that will do the best job at showing that stain off to its fullest glory in your home.


Espresso Stain Kitchen


While the options available to you are practically endless, if you're a fan of the rich look of espresso-stained cabinets, it's important to choose a hardwood species that will preserve the stain's luxurious integrity.


What factors affect the staining of your wood cabinets?

The bottom line is that wood has unpredictable properties. Before it was harvested, that wood lived in a tree that was grown, formed, and shaped in accordance with moisture availability, the soil's nutrient content, and seasonal weather patterns. The wood was exposed to pests and diseases and the tree's immune system was activated to battle these forces.

As a result, the development of its wood grains varied between seasons and over the years. Knots and other abnormalities may have formed as well. Strong winds bent it this way and that, which further altered the finished product.




Once the wood is harvested, milled, and cured (typically using a kiln-dried method), there are several factors and characteristics that affect how a wood species takes a stain.

1. Consider the color

The color of the wood itself makes a difference. Lighter woods will typically take a stain much quicker and take in more of the stain than darker wood. And that makes sense, right? It's like dying hair - dying blond hair black will make a much more dramatic statement than dying brown hair black.

2. Porosity

We often write about how porous countertops are prone to staining, and porous woods are more prone to staining too. Larger, more open pores will stain darker than smaller, tighter pores. However, some woods, such as pine, have larger pores, making staining them somewhat challenging. As the wood grains are open, stains can penetrate deep into the wood, resulting in blotchiness and uneven finish. 

3. Humidity

Although wood is typically dried until its internal humidity levels are between 6% and 8%, that can change according to how it is stored and the humidity levels where you live. As you can imagine, dryer wood soaks a stain right up while more saturated wood will result in a lighter stain.


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What type of wood is best for dark stain?

Kitchen cabinets can be crafted from a variety of wood types. We are going to focus on three that are popular choices for darker wood stains among our clients: cherry, hard maple, and red oak.


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Based on the factors we explained above, let's see how these three popular cabinet wood candidates look with a deep, dark stain-like espresso.


Elegant & diverse cherry wood

Cherry is quite dark on its own, enhanced with deep red hues. As the below swatch illustrates, an espresso stain almost dulls the cherry's inherent luminosity and makes for a more plain-Jane finish, which is contrary to cherry cabinets' reputation, or the desired outcome.

If you're looking for a dark wood cabinet finish that doesn't have too much visible grain, cherry would be an excellent choice. Some designers will seek this type of lookout for their modern kitchen designs.


Cherry Cabinet with Espresso

Cherry wood with espresso stain

Distinctive & Durable Red Oak

Red oak has a similar effect to cherry, in that the natural vibrance gets a little dulled by the stain. On the other hand, the grain is still visible and gives the wood a textural appeal that many homeowners and designers covet. As indicated by its name, red oak will result in brown espresso with red overtones.

Oak has one major drawback in this regard, even though it's generally a good candidate for stain, the stain doesn't absorb as well as the option we’ll cover next.


Red Oak with Espresso Stain

Red oak wood with espresso stain

Practical & Attractive Hard Maple

We've found that Hard Maple is the best choice for optimizing the look of espresso stain. It has just the right color and fiber density to soak the espresso stain up, optimizing those rich, dark brown hues. As we mentioned, lighter-toned woods will be more accepting of the stain, which gives maple a leg-up on the competition here.


Hard Maple with Espresso Stain

Hard maple wood with espresso stain

To get an idea of how different woods take different stains, check out our Wood Cabinet Doors page, and scroll down to the Wood Door Colors section. Woodgrains are particularly popular options in the Pennsylvania region, including in the Lehigh Valley. 


Who offers the finest customized kitchen cabinets in Lehigh Valley?

Are you in need of a kitchen renovation? Do you need expert advice on choosing the perfect kitchen cabinets for your home? Let the Kitchen Magic professional team redesign your cooking space to your complete satisfaction.

If you'd like to see samples of different espresso and other dark-stained, hardwood species, schedule an appointment for a free in-home consultation with one of our expert design consultants. Get in touch with us at (866) 525-7999 to schedule your free design consultation today!



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