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Inexpensive Alternatives To White Oak

If you are wanting the white oak look without the white oak price (which is all the talk in our Ask A Cabinetmaker facebook group), we've put together some great options. From large manufacturers' specific finish names, to how to make sure your local company is using the right technique (especially on maple), we get into all of the details so you can make as informed a decision as possible!

An assortment of white oak cabinet doors.

1. Schrock Maple in Buckskin

A photograph of a Schrock Maple in Buckskin cabinet door.

2. Decora Maple in Gunny

A photograph of a Decora Maple in Gunny cabinet door.

3. Medallion Cherry in Cappuccino

A photograph of a Medallion Cherry in Cappuccino cabinet door.

4. Timberlake Maple in Rye

A photograph of a Timberlake Maple in Rye cabinet door.

5. Yorktown Calhoun Maple in Sandalwood

A photograph of aYorktown Calhoun Maple in Sandalwood cabinet door.

The Trick To A Blotch-Free Stain On Maple

While the above options from larger manufactures are great, we still encourage you to consider your local cabinetmakers. Maple and cherry are excellent and inexpensive alternatives to white oak, and as you can see, can be finished in many of oak-colored finishes. As we've discussed before, a lot goes into a professional-grade cabinet finish that will last for decades. The trick to an even stain on maple is actually to not stain at all, rather to use a process called toning. Toning can be done in several ways, but typically it is when the stain and clear topcoat are combined (this is the "tinted topcoat" we refer to a lot).

While toning is a fairly advanced technique, it's certainly not uncommon. However, there are still many shops that are unfamiliar with the process. Unfortunately, if an unskilled finisher or painter attempts to stain maple without knowing the correct technique, things can go very bad very quickly.

(Design credit: Rita Chan Interiors)

The above vanity on the right was finished by a "professional" with the intended finish on the left. Little can be done once stain goes down, so the homeowner's only option was to paint. Our Cabinetry Consultation is designed to prevent this exact situation. We can help vet your cabinetmaker, identify any red flags, and help to ensure not only that they're capable of the finish you are wanting, but that expectations are aligned from the beginning. This is how we can ensure the success of your new cabinetry project!

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