Can natural cherry cabinets remain light in color?

msbrandywinevalleyAugust 22, 2013

We're in the early stages of planning and designing a kitchen remodel. After looking at thousands of photos on Houzz and other websites, I find myself continually drawn to the look of natural cherry cabinets. But from what I've read, wood cabinets, particularly cherry and pine, turn darker with time. I want the cabinets to remain that lighter, natural color. Is there anything that can be done during the manufacturing/finishing stages that will preserve the lighter finish of the natural wood?

I'd like to add that on one of the kitchens pictured on Houzz, the architect, in answering a question, wrote, "We have used a white paint wipe after first sealing when clients have a preference for a lighter final color." Can anyone tell me more about this technique? How does it affect the natural finish that I'm after?

Thanks for your help and advice.

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I think that a white paint wipe might produce a lighter pickled look, but I don't think it would look the same as the natural color.

Part of the color change occurs due to exposure to UV so a UV resistant coating could slow it down, but I don't think it would totally stop it. It doesn't take that much exposure to darken cherry - most of the change occurred within the first few months with my cabinets and our kitchen doesn't get direct sun.

How much darkening would be okay for you. Cherry doesn't turn all that dark. To me it gets richer looking but it still stays in the medium dark range. It doesn't look like dark stained cherry furniture.

Here is a picture of the aged cherry sample door that we used when selecting colors for our kitchen and a brand new cherry door and panel for our prep sink cabinet:

Here's our natural cherry cabinets when they were about 6 years old (and presumably about as dark as they will get).

The maple floor had just been put in so please overlook the lack of cherry toe kicks - they hadn't been reinstalled yet.

If you want a lighter final color than that, a lighter wood like maple, birch or beech might work better for you. That's what we were initially considering because I was worried that cherry would be too dark for us but I kept coming back to the cherry and it went so well with our quartzite that we chose it and I'm glad we did.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 2:03PM
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I agree with cloudswift, natural cherry cabinets do not turn all that dark but they do get warmer and richer looking. 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.
This picture of my china cabinet with the door open shows a bit of the wood that has not been exposed to light like the rest of the cabinet. You can see that the exposed wood is darker but not extremely so. Hope this helps you with your decision.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 3:03PM
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I don't have a photo, but I agree with other comments. We've had our natural cherry cabs for 12 y. They aren't really dark, but just richer looking .

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 9:37PM
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I have had natural cherry cabinets in my bathroom for nearly 15 years. They aren't dark, and have even "bleached" a bit where they get a lot of sun.

I'm wondering the same type of thing with walnut, but hoping it will lighten. Decided to use rift sawn oak maybe stained so I have some continuity of color.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 8:08AM
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But from what I've read, wood cabinets, particularly cherry and pine, turn darker with time. I want the cabinets to remain that lighter, natural color.

Don't use cherry, use alder and have it stained a light cherry stain exactly the color you want. It will stay very close to that color.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 11:45AM
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