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Alder cabinets: an inexpensive, eco-friendly wood

by Jim Mallery

While many people enjoy the taste of alder-smoked salmon, some are skeptical of the idea of alder cabinets. Perhaps due to its widespread availability, alder wood is becoming popular for cabinetry.

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5 good important considerations for alder cabinets

  1. Cost. Alder wood is less expensive than cherry, oak, and maple. One note about pricing wood: make sure you are considering the same grade, including color, grain-match, knots, pitch pockets and the like.
  2. Finish. Alder wood is prone to blotching, when stained. Blotching gives the wood a rustic look. If rustic is not the look you want, make sure either you or your cabinetmaker have the expertise to stain the wood for an even finish. Applying a coat of wood conditioner before the stain will help eliminate blotches.
  3. Durability. Alder wood is soft and subject to denting and scratching. The Janka hardness test, which ranks the strength of different woods, rates alder at 590. Compare that to a hardness of 1290 for red oak, 1450 for maple and 1820 for hickory.
  4. Renewability. Alder cabinets are as eco-friendly as wood cabinets get. Alder wood grows rapidly, up to 3 feet a year and can grow as tall as 90 feet.
  5. Rock-n-roll. For music buffs and guitar enthusiasts, homeowners with alder cabinets can enjoy the vibe of knowing that their kitchens are rocking the same wood as the venerable Fender Stratocaster and other electric-guitar bodies.

If all this is music to your ears, then consider choosing alder cabinets for your kitchen.


About the Author

Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing and rebuilding homes.

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