In our styles category, we will discuss a single wood, door style, color, design option, etc. in each blog. Our first topic… alder wood. Alder has recently gained popularity as a wood in most middle and upper quality cabinetry. Is alder the right choice for you?
Alder is a smooth grained wood that often mimics the look of more expensive maple or birch. Lighter colors reveal slight variations, but overall alder will give you a very consistent appearance. While not as hard as oak or hickory, alder is a fairly hard wood that should look great for years. And the color will stay consistent, with only slight deepening as time goes by.
Because of its smooth grain, alder goes well in a variety of design themes. It looks great on a shaker style door, but is equally at home in a traditional raised panel kitchen. Alder is easily machined into more detailed door designs as well. If you are looking for a more rustic, country appearance, alder also is available as a “rustic” wood. Knots, mineral streaks, and pitch marks make rustic alder an excellent alternative to pine in a rustic setting. Alder will take stain more consistently than pine, and is MUCH harder, so you will not have the durability issues that you have with pine.
Who should NOT select alder? The only time I recommend against alder is for the client who wants extreme color variations or coarse graininess. Those kitchens are better done in a wood such as hickory or pecan.
With the increase in popularity of alder, most cabinet manufacturers have added it to their offerings. Almost all custom manufacturers offer numerous finishes on alder, so if you are looking for a higher end cabinet with creative design options, alder will be available to you. Also, many middle price point cabinets, and semi-custom manufacturers have added alder to their line as well. So if you are looking for a good quality cabinet without breaking the bank, alder is a great wood selection as well.
Here is an example of an alder kitchen.