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Birch Kitchen Cabinets - Complete Guide

January 23, 2022 | Updated on: September 21, 2023

Birch Kitchen

A well-designed kitchen is not just about visual aesthetics – rather, it is a combination of both beauty and quality. Kitchen features such as cabinets, furniture, and fixtures should be made of quality materials for it to last decades. Tasks in the kitchen such as cooking, baking, and preparing meals makes everything prone to stains, scratches, and damages that is why it is very important for homeowners and designers to pick the right material for cabinetry.

One of the most common materials that designers love to use for cabinetry is birch wood. Birch kitchen cabinets are so popular among homeowners because of their characteristics. If you have existing furniture or a built-in cabinet feature in your kitchen, it is likely to be birch cabinetry.  

Kitchen Cabinets

Birch has many characteristics and features which makes birch cabinets a prominent feature in every kitchen. A birch kitchen also looks visually appealing and colorful since birch can handle a variety of material finishes.  

We’re going to talk more about birch cabinets kitchen so if you’re planning to do a kitchen remodel and thinking of using birch wood material for the cabinetry, this guide is for you.

Birchwood Characteristics

Birch is a natural hardwood. There are around a dozen birch tree species native to North America and Russia, however the most common are the white birch, yellow birch, and black birch. In Canada, when people talk about using birch wood as a material to make birch wood cabinets, they usually refer to the yellow birch or what is popularly known as golden birch.

Natural birch kitchen cabinets are frequent in homes way back in the 1960s. People’s love for birch wood kitchen cabinets is still as strong as it was decades ago. If you have a home that was built in the 1970’s chances are, your kitchen has natural birch cabinets and after many years, it is still as durable and looks as good as new.

If you’re wondering “is birch wood good for cabinets?” definitely yes. Based on the finished and even unfinished birch kitchen cabinet you see in older homes; it is an extremely durable material for kitchen use.

Top Birch Kitchen Cabinets Stains and Finishes

Birch Wood Finishing

If you are planning to use birch wood to remodel your kitchen cabinets, you need to know what kind of stain to use, how to cure the wood, as well as the best type of finish to use on the material. Many people confuse the difference between stains and finishes. The distinction between finish and stain is fairly straight forward. Wood stains enhance the natural birch cabinet colors, while wood finish seal it and keep it dry and free from moisture.  Staining Birch wood can be a bit challenging compared to other types of wood but applying stain colors on birch wood is a much more economical approach to protect the wood and enhance its natural color.

Different Types of Stains for Birch Wood 

  • Water-based birch wood stain

Coating your birch wood cabinets with a water-based stain enhances the wood grain thus giving your wood that natural wooden surface. It is also environmentally friendly since it does not contain any harmful chemicals and has less polluted elements. Water-based stains are ideal if you wish to have light birch kitchen cabinets. You can also apply a second coat for grey birch cabinets if you want to make it a bit bolder and darker.

  • Oil-based birch stain

An Oil-based stain is a popular type of solution to stained birch cabinets. This stain penetrates deeply into the wood and makes it durable and resistant to any form of damage. It contains non-toxic oil chemicals which preserve the wood or whatever type of finish and paint that is applied on the surface. It takes around 2 to 3 hours for an oil stain to dry and should be dried at room temperature.

  • Pre-stain wood conditioner

Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner is a stain-preparation product that is used to prepare raw wood for staining. It infiltrates the wood grain to ensure that oil-based dyes be accepted uniformly. By leveling out the penetration of oil-based stains, Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner prevents streaks and blotches.

Different Types of Finishes for Birch Wood

Finishes refer to the final coat of stain or paint that is applied to the wood. If you have color-painted birch cabinets in your kitchen, the wood was probably treated with different kinds of stains and finishes for it to arrive at that particular color and texture. There are a variety of birch cabinet colors you can find Red birch kitchen cabinets, for example, are not naturally red. A red finish or paint has been applied to its surface to make red birch cabinets look naturally reddish.

  • Oil-based finishes

Oil-based finishes are an ideal finish for the natural color of birch wood. It gives an amber hue to the wood and makes the birch as lighter as possible. If you want to have lighter or white birch cabinets in your kitchen, this type of finish is the best one to use.

  • Water-based conditioner

To simulate the texture of the birch wood, apply a single coat of water-based conditioner to get an equally colored finish.

  • Water-based conditioner + water-based stain

If you want to revive the once was the shiny color of your rustic birch cabinets, a water-based conditioner finish coated with a water-based stain gives aged wood a brighter and shinier look.

  • Paint

Paints offer birch wood the best protection from UV deterioration and degradation of any of the finishes. A painted surface prevents outside moisture from penetrating the wood, inhibits harmful UV rays, and protects natural polymers as well as other compounds that would otherwise be worn away.

Birch Kitchen Cabinets Pros and Cons

Birch Kitchen Cabinets

Let’s talk about birch cabinets pros and cons. There are many kinds of cabinet designs that you can create using birch wood. Whether you are opting for a contemporary style like flat-panel birch cabinets or shaker birch kitchen cabinets, each of which has its own sets of advantages and disadvantages. Knowing these will help you make an informed decision on what design to choose.



  1. It is versatile. Plywood is the most versatile building material that people commonly use in their homes. This makes plywood birch cabinets a versatile material that’s perfect for almost any interior design style you choose to incorporate in your kitchen. Whether you want birch shaker cabinets for a traditional aesthetic appeal or modern birch cabinets, one thing is for sure, birch wood will never disappoint.


  1. Susceptible to wear. Birch is perishable, and if exposed to the weather, it will rot and disintegrate quickly. Insects can also cause damage to the wood.


  1. Easy to work with. The reason why birch is a popular material for cabinets and furniture is appropriate for handiwork and cabinetmaking and easy to work with machine tools.


  1. Can get easily cracked. Due to its hygroscopic nature, Birch Wood may readily warp and break in a dry atmosphere, hence it should not be exposed to high levels of humidity especially when used indoors. 


  1. Durable. Birch is strong and durable and can last for a long period of time if properly taken care of and maintained.


  1. Can be prone to discoloration. Birch wood, while attractive in its natural state, can be susceptible to discoloration over time due to exposure to sunlight and environmental factors.
  1. Less expensive. Among the several varieties of wood used for woodworking, furniture, and cabinetry, it is the least costly. Birch is an excellent choice if you're just searching for a cost-effective approach to update your kitchen, such as installing birch cabinets with white countertops.


  1. Has a rough texture. Birch has an irregular texture that feels coarse to the touch, so it's not the best choice for shiny cabinets.
  1. Can be finished naturally. Birch wood, especially yellow birch is lighter in color and has an attractive pattern. Birch also reacts to different kinds of stains and finishes quite naturally so it can be finished easily for added durability and beauty.


  1. Not good for darker stains. Because birch is porous, deeper stains typically result in blotchy and uneven effects.

Are Birch Cabinets Still Modern?

Yes. Although birch cabinets started to gain popularity a few decades ago and modern kitchens you see in contemporary homes are either made of stainless steel, aluminum composite panels, or high-density fiberboards, birch wood still has the flair and characteristics to compete against these materials and look good in the modern setting. Modern birch kitchen cabinets are usually designed with flat-panel doors which are commonly seen in Scandinavian and minimalist homes. This gives the kitchen a natural, crisp wooden look that’s refreshing and visually pleasing to the eye.

How Much Do Birch Cabinets Cost in Canada?

Birch kitchen cabinets cost is determined by the size of your kitchen, the level of craftsmanship, accessibility, and the cost of labor to install the cabinets if you engage a contractor. Birch cabinets cost are less expensive compared to other types of wood like maple for example. While the cost of birch kitchen cabinets changes from time to time and varies from one supplier to the other, let’s talk about the average cost of birch cabinets in Canada.

Cabinets made of birch are less expensive. A typical ready to assemble 10 by 12-foot kitchen cabinet costs anywhere between CA$5,000 to CA$15,000. If you are looking for birch cabinets lowest cost, you can buy per board foot which costs around CA$2-5 per board foot. If you are assembling it yourself or you’re only remodeling a small portion of your kitchen cabinetry, buying the wood per board foot will save you a lot of cash.


Article by:

Valentina Melnikova - Lead Designer at Cut2Size

Office 403.366.7411

Hi there! I’m a millwork designer and an owner of a kitchen cabinet manufacturing company. With a team of professionals, I work on designing and manufacturing high-end millwork. Combining professional designing and manufacturing skills is what allows us to develop and translate our plans into a reality through our uniqueness and exclusive ideas. Our employees are highly skilled and creative thinkers that also utilize their professionalism and experience to take millwork to the next level. I’m very familiar with the industry and I take on each project from the design to the final product. With that said, if you’re looking for design advice or technician help, you’re in the right place.