Clearly, we think that our furniture is made of the best material out there - solid wood. Nothing comes close to its classic beauty and durability. We carry pieces that are perfect for anywhere in your home, and are pleased to share what makes some of the most popular types of wood unique and desirable. When you’re ready to find the right pieces, this guide will help you with your choices.
What Goes Into Selecting Wood for Furniture?
You’ve probably appreciated the different types of wood furniture, without giving them a lot of deep thought. There’s a lot of variability in the type of grain, the hardness of the wood, how well it takes to carving and shaping, and the natural color.
These all combine to give distinctly different looks, and add a variety of style choices that are available to consumers. American hardwoods easily provide top-notch furniture material. To make a good piece, makers have always looked for woods that have a finer, denser wood grain, that is easy to work with, without being too soft or prone to splitting or warping, and that looks attractive.
The patterns in the wood grain vary from species to species, making some types of wood showier, and some more neutral in decors that mix the woods that are used.
A Little Bit About Wood Hardness
You’ll hear the terms “hardwoods” and “softwoods” used often. For general purposes in furniture construction, hardwood trees will be used. These are slower-growing, have a denser wood grain, and provide a more durable, heavier piece of furniture.
Wood hardness can actually be measured on the Janka Hardness Scale, which ranges from soft to hard. Fir, for example, comes in at a 690, and Rosewood at 3840. Softwoods are faster growing and lighter grained - they come from evergreen trees like pines and cedars.
Their primary use in quality furniture is in providing linings that add fragrance and keep items free of moths: cedar-lined chests, for example.
What Makes the Best Choice for You?
With a little bit of guidance, you’ll be able to select a piece of furniture that combines the hardness and durability you might need with the look and color that will best fit your home. The wide range of quality hardwoods we carry will help you find the perfect pieces to work with your budget and decor.
Types of Furniture Woods - A Quick Guide
The versatility and attractive grain of Birchwood can be stained or painted to many different colors. The natural version, however, comes in two varieties: Yellow and White. Yellow Birch ranges from a light yellow to white, while White Birch is much whiter. Both are hard and make excellent table tops and veneers. It’s generally straight-grained and has a fairly plain pattern to it. Janka Score: 1260
Cedar is the fragrant red wood that makes fabrics smell sweet and fresh. The softer wood is left unfinished on the interiors of pieces like blanket chests and armoires - this allows the natural fragrance to work its magic. Cedar has been used for centuries as a natural insect repellent. You’ll recognize Cedar by its distinct red color that is highlighted with lighter colored streaks, as well as the unmistakable scent. Janka Score:350
Traditional and beautiful, Cherry is a hardwood that has retained its sense of elegance and classic good looks. It’s particularly beautiful on pieces where the satin-smooth texture can be appreciated. Its grain is tight and straight.The natural color matches the name to an extent: it ranges from a lightish brown to a darker reddish brown, and will naturally darken with age to a deeper tone. It’s not quite as hard as some of the other common furniture woods. Janka Score: 950
An American favorite, Hickory has an association with being tough and durable. It’s actually one of the hardest woods, and rather heavy. The wood makes an excellent and versatile veneer, and is a good value. The natural color is a light brown and it can take any number of stains, producing a close-grained look that blends well with a variety of other wood types. Both Hickory and Pecan are closely related and are virtually indistinguishable from each other in furniture. Janka Score:1820
Maple has a well-deserved reputation for toughness - in addition to its popularity for fine furniture, it is used for things like gymnasium floors, cutting boards, and worktops. It has a high resistance to wear and abuse - which also makes it valuable for furniture. The grain is attractive, with a lot of natural swirls and patterns throughout. The natural color is rather pale, which allows it to be stained to several depths of color. Janka Score: 1450
The tight grain and nearly knot-free textures of Mindi wood have made it a newer favorite for fine veneers and other applications. You may have heard it referred to as White Cedar - but it’s a true hardwood. It’s quite similar to Red Oak in its density, making it a durable choice for use on even floors. The color is a distinctive brown tone that mellows with age, and it blends well with teak woods. Janka score: 1550
Classic and available in two varieties - White and Red, Oak has a warm look that lends itself to pieces like tables and rockers. Although tough, it handles treatments like distressing beautifully, and can add a rustic touch to interiors. Ranging in tone from a natural grayish brown to a redder tint, the two types of oaks both have a distinctive grain pattern that is easily recognized. Janka Score: 1290 - 1360
Lighter colored Parawood is a highly sustainable hardwood that matches Maple and Oak in durability. It has a unique look that can look lovely in many settings, and is tough and resilient. It finishes beautifully and has a grain texture that is similar to Beech, Ash, or Mahogany. It’s durable and low-maintenance - enough to be used for flooring. Janka Score: 930
Last alphabetically, but not in popularly, Walnut makes beautiful furniture, and the rich tones and colors are distinctive. You’ll see the wood in antique paneling, cabinets, gun stocks, and of course fine furniture pieces. The wood develops a rich patina over time, and the hardness of the grain allows it to stick around and develop it. The grain can be fine and straight, or can have distinct patterns, making it a good type for veneer. Janka Score: 1010