talk to me about natural cherry and how it darkens with time

scrappy25July 20, 2013

I thought for sure I would get white painted cabs but over time I have really liked the slightly darker natural cherry cabinets that I see here (badgergal is the classic example). However, some of the new natural cherry kitchens posted seem much lighter- Barker cabinets and Scherr's for example). Will all natural cherry cabinets darken over time, and does anyone have an example of of natural cherry cabs taken several years apart in comparative lighting? thanks in advance.

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See the thread on the Barker forum

Here is a link that might be useful: Cherry after one year

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 11:53AM
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All natural, even stained cherry, will darken or "amber up" over time. I think our cab manufacturer told us it would finish ambering within 2 years (between 1-2 years?). It starts darkening pretty much right away, especially when exposed to the light. Our cabinets are very lightly stained (basically a watered down Harvest Gold stain--our cabs looked like natural cherry when they were delivered). They are much richer and deeper now, than at delivery.

For example, our sink base cabinet sits directly under a window. After it was installed, it sat for a couple of months while the remaining cabinets were installed, etc., before the counters were installed. During that time, the sun streaming into the open topped cabinet, darkened the insides of the cabinet doors somewhat, but only the part that was not blocked by the interior wood framing. You can still see the slight demarcation line between the ambered, and lighter portion of the doors. Every day or so, our cab installer would re-position any unattached cabinet doors, which were leaning against a wall in the adjacent room during the installation. He did this to prevent uneven darkening, or demarcation lines where any of those doors overlapped.

I believe it all eventually evens out or catches up. I know someone here replaced a panel or drawer front (shortly after her kitchen was completed?), and the replacement piece, though lighter initially, did darken up to match the rest after not too long a period of time.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 11:57AM
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Here's ours right after install. I can't say it's much darker a year later, but we don't have natural light in the kitchen.

One thing I didn't want was sapwood, especially where a door is pieced together with different boards. It doesn't seem to darken like the heartwood and gives a streaked appearance to the doors. Our custom cab maker said he didn't use sapwood. KDs here have said it's quite a bit of an upcharge to have all heartwood.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 1:44PM
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Lucas, thanks, that is a great link! Shows exactly what I was looking for.

Cat_mom, thanks for the confirmation.

may_flowers, that is a beautiful kitchen and one I would love to have. Thanks for the info about the sapwood.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 3:57PM
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Here's a photo of my still-in-progress kitchen with natural cherry cabinets: From House Progress - 2013-07-16

The cabinets were installed in late May and have already darkened noticeably. Look at the trim piece along the bottom of the island. It's noticeably lighter (even more so in person than in that photo) because it was installed about a month later. This room gets a huge amount of natural light -- look at the other photos in that gallery to see all the windows.

I have 22 year old natural cherry furniture in my bedroom where I'm sitting right now. It's even darker than the cabinets in that photo, but still a medium tone, not really dark. Sort of as much additional darkening as you see between the new trim piece and the cabinets in that photo.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 5:15AM
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thank you iwerner! These posts are very reassuring, especially that you have such surprising amount of difference in a short amount of time, likely from all your natural light. Is that unoiled soapstome that you have? If so, what kind?Great island/continent. Wish I had room for that!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:27AM
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Scrappy, since you mentioned my kitchen, I thought I should add a comment. My cabinets are now almost 2 years old. I loved the natural cherry the day it was installed and I love it even more now. I think the wood looks richer and warmer than it was initially. I have pictures from the install day and current pictures but the lighting, wall color and counters were not for the initial pictures so its hard to show the true difference.
When you open the cabinet doors you can see that the parts of wood that were not exposed are indeed lighter. So the picture below with one of my china cabinet doors open should give you yet another example of how cherry darkens with time. I think its just enough to make it even more beautiful.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 11:01AM
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