A Guide to Types of Wood for Furniture

The diversity of wood species makes it possible to use all different types of wood for furniture. It can make the choice between wood types for your furniture feel overwhelming. There are so many options and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.

When choosing from several furniture wood types, there are different things to consider with each type. Let’s delve into the unique characteristics of wood.


One of the most important considerations when choosing wood for furniture is the hardness of the wood. Hardwoods like oak, cherry, and maple are known for their durability and resistance to wear and tear. Softwoods such as cedar, teak, or pine can be chosen when the insect and moisture-repellent properties are most important. Cedar, in particular, is a great choice for outdoor furniture because it has a natural resistance to both insects and moisture. This is also why cedar and pine are often used in bathrooms or closets to help keep insects and mold away. However, they cannot withstand the same weight distribution that hardwood furniture can and they are less likely to last as long as hardwood furniture. You may want to consult a furniture maker to understand which hardness level would make the most sense for you and your home.

Grain Variation and Color

Another important factor when choosing wood for your furniture is to look at the grain variation on the furniture wood type. Walnut is often chosen when people want a rich, dark hue with a sophisticated grain pattern. Oak offers more of a medium tone with an equally sophisticated, striking grain pattern.

A pale tone such as ash or birch can be perfect for custom furniture designs because the furniture maker can use the limited grain and neutral pale color as a clean slate for creating their finishes and stains. Lighter woods tend to have more subtle grain patterns and darker woods tend to have more pronounced grain patterns.

Color is an equally important factor for some. The visual aesthetic comes primarily from the combination of grain variation and color. Cherry and mahogany offer warm, reddish-brown tones and tend to deepen over time. Walnut offers a rich, dark chocolate tone. Maple and birch offer lighter, neutral bases and are great for adding stains. Oak is often the preferred color when a medium tone is wanted and a wide variation of grain pattern. There are many more wood color and grain choices that can all be viewed at your local furniture shop.

Furniture Usage

How you intend to use your furniture matters when choosing from different types of wood for your furniture. Hardwoods are great for furniture that is going to be used with a lot of weight such as couch frames, tables, chairs, dressers, and armoires. Softwoods are great for furniture that needs to repel insects and moisture such as cabinetry in a bathroom or shelves in a closet.

Considering the types of wood for furniture is an important decision. Take your time to review what you want and consider the pros and cons of each wood type. After all, it’s your home and you should feel confident in your decision.

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