Using Red Oak Cabinets for Your Kitchen

Ever considering red oak for your kitchen cabinets? Although this type of wood is most offered in most door styles, this can be a great material for your kitchen cabinets too. Red oak is favored for its sense of warmth, durability, and most importantly, the affordability.

It is a very hard and heavy wood that has grain pattern with a texture on the surface. You can see the characteristic of it from the bold grain and subtle to the rich color ranges. Red Oak has a wide ranges of color from white, cream, brown, etc. When you decide to paint this type of wood, it will create a unique texture. The uniqueness will show in the grain texture of the wood.

Red oak wood cabinets have been a go-to in kitchen design because of the timeless look. These cabinets typically feature a unique grain which impacts the aesthetic of your kitchen. If you’re considering purchasing oak as your kitchen cabinet material, here are the pros and cons that you should know.

Oak Kitchen Cabinets Pros and Cons

red oak kitchen cabinets pros and cons
red oak kitchen cabinets pros and cons Source


  • Oak cabinets are durable and water-resistant.
  • Oak has that traditional timeless aesthetic as trends come and go.
  • It’s available in many color options ranging, but the most popular one are between red and white oak.
  • Stains and shellacs can increase the color options for oak cabinets.


  • Although the grain can be the main uniqueness from this type of wood, it also can be the cons. It’s because the distinctive grain that may show up through different finishes.
  • You can’t modify the look from this type of wood because the grain in oak cabinets is difficult to change.
  • Kitchen resale value may not be as high with budget-friendly oak.
  • If you want to do something new or unusual to your kitchen, this type of cabinets won’t suit your style. Because it has a traditional look to it.

Red Oak Kitchen Cabinets Ideas

After reading the pros and cons, let’s dive into some red oak kitchen cabinets ideas to get inspired. Red oak coloration runs from a light tan to pink with a reddish tinge. Red oaks with arched grain patterns are commonly used because it’s strong, durable, and has reasonably priced. This red oak wood cabinets material available in a wide range of styles and finishes and features pronounced grain patterns. Compared to white oak, red oak has smaller rays.

red oak wood cabinets
red oak wood cabinets Source

If you’re into this classic traditional style you can copy this idea. They use a similar countertop color, so it matches the red oak cabinets perfectly. You should put enough lighting in the kitchen’s ceiling, so the wood can look glazing and shiny.

red oak kitchen cabinet solid wood
red oak kitchen cabinet solid wood Source

Adding a contrast wall color in the kitchen can make the red oak cabinets stand out even more. It looks clean, rustic, and classic. Make sure to use a brighter flooring too.

red oak custom kitchen cabinet
red oak custom kitchen cabinet Source

Here a great example of the red oak cabinets kitchen that show the arched grain detail. This color basically can go with any flooring and any wall color.

kitchen island cabinets with granite countertop
kitchen island cabinets with granite countertop Source

Another inspiration for the red oak kitchen cabinet is to pair it with this coastal brick wall. The greyish marble countertop also matches with a stainless steel oven, stove, and dishwasher. It matches one another perfectly!

kitchen cabinets with nice gray stained white
kitchen cabinets with nice gray stained white Source

This custom red oak kitchen cabinet has a matte finish but looks so warm and homey.

Cerused Red Oak Cabinets

Don’t want your red oak cabinets to look too plain and bland? Maybe this method will help your red oak turn into something unique and custom. Cerusing is basically a finishing technique for woods. This technique will open the grain of the oak. Because the oak is filled with white pigment inside them. The colors of the wood and the pigment will blend together to make a unique combination. It’s not just a texture that you can see, but you can actually feel the difference by touching it.

cerused red oak cabinets
cerused red oak cabinets Source

Cerused oak can have many different colors due to a technique that is used to bring out the grain. Don’t worry this technique will not damage the wood surface. Among a variety of woods, red oak is the most preferred for this method. Why? Because this wood has a lot to offer the building and design industry. Cerusing is used to bring back the natural texture of the wood, in this care red oak gives a beautiful finish. It comes from the unique grain, coarse, and uneven texture from the wood.

The Right Finish for Red Oak Kitchen Cabinets

unfinished red oak kitchen cabinets
unfinished red oak kitchen cabinets Source

Confused to decide about the right finish for your unfinished red oak kitchen cabinets? You can either leave it unstained or paint it. Choose the red oak cabinets with clear finish if you want to have the contemporary look. It’s simple enough because all clear film finishes work well if applied in thin coats.

But if you want to paint it, you have to fill all the pores of the wood. You can use a paste-type filler to fill them in. Filled the wood with this paste will give less grain contrast. You can see a smoother surface after you finish painting it later.

Remember to follow these three tips if you decide to paint your red oak kitchen cabinets:
Avoid choosing the water-soluble dye for your wood, because it won’t color the pores as well. For more even color, add pigment stain over the water-soluble dye. Then wipe off the excess stain.
Finish the wood with a thin layer of shellac.
For the best result when you filling the wood, use a colored wood filler. It’s a great way to fill the large pores of the red oak wood.

How to Paint Red Oak Cabinets

how to paint red oak cabinets
how to paint red oak cabinets Source

If you decide to paint your oak cabinets, follow this step by step tutorial:

  • First, you have to remove the cabinet doors. Use a numbering system when you’re doing this to confuse installing them at the end of the job.
  • Then clean the cabinet doors and wall boxes. Clean it using trisodium phosphate (TSP) for removing the greasy cabinets. A scrubbing pad or sanding sponge works great for cleaning it.
  • Next you want to sand the cabinets. Make sure to sand before you apply the primer. This will make the primer and paint blend perfectly to the surface. Sand the oak until it feels so smooth for the best result. Use a vacuum and a tack cloth to remove the sanding dust.
  • After that fill the cracks and small holes in the grain with a grain filler. These cracks show through the paint unless a filler is used to smooth the surface. Some people like the grain to show, but if you want your cabinets to look as smooth as possible, using a filler is best.
  • Next use an oil primer to prime the cabinets. Make sure you won’t skip this step because it’s important to prepare the oak cabinets before painting it. Remember to prime with oil primer, not latex primer. Apply primer and paint with a sprayer so you can get it done faster. But if you prime the doors by hand, use a brush and a foam roller. One coat of oil primer on cabinets is usually adequate, but two coats is even better. Leave it overnight for drying.
  • Lastly, use an airless sprayer to paint the cabinet doors. You can either spray the cabinet boxes, or paint them by hand. Cabinet doors should be sprayed with two coats of semi-gloss paint on both sides.

Red Oak Wood On-Trend Style

oak wood trend style
kitchen oak wood trend style Source

Oak isn’t in the same style as decades ago. Oak is surprisingly make a quick comeback to a totally new style. It becomes trending again because of all the finishing techniques and newer design styles. A lot of people decide to cerused, stain or paint so it can be on trend again. Here some red oak wood on trend style:

  • Traditional – If you like the traditional style, paint and stain it with neutral color. Industrial – This style characterized by practicality and functionality reigns rather than elaborate decoration.
  • Transitional – This style is a combination between traditional with clean, modern designs. Oftentimes people taking simple styles and upping the game with ornate or sleek hardware.
  • Contemporary – This style focused on simple, with hard edges, as well as colors and textures that speak for themselves.
  • Arts & Crafts – It’s a simple, yet intricate style that often utilizes reddish undertone stains.


Even though some people say that red oak is a non-option for kitchen cabinets, believe it or not red oak is not outdated at all. It’s back in style with some upgrades and updates. Just like what we say before you can change the finishes using cerused techniques, or you can repaint or restain it.

Something about this classic looking oak cabinets makes us feel nostalgic and connect to the past. So a lot of homeowners choose to add this vintage material to their living space, especially the kitchen area. Despite all the traditional and classic looking, this material is very sturdy, durable, and affordable too. So we can say that red oak cabinets are the safe option if you want to redo your kitchen area.

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