When it comes to furniture design and structure, there are a lot of woods to consider. Are you confused about which wood would suit you best? In this article, I’ll break down some of the key features of each wood. I’ll also recommend which wood is the best overall for certain situations.
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What is the best overall wood for furniture?
In the categories, to deduce the best, I’m accounting for durability, cost, and aesthetic.
Best general for indoor furniture
The wood I’ve chosen for best general wood for indoor furniture is cherry wood. Although cherry is a little on the pricier side when it comes to furniture, there is a good reason.
Cherry has a beautiful design, it is truly a unique wood with great tones. It can come in a variety of colors depending on where from the tree a piece of wood comes. This variance will create interesting designs and styles.
Cherry is also an incredibly durable piece of wood. It will never bend or warp, and will be difficult to crack as it is so strong. Despite its durability, it is still very easy to work with. This means cherry makes furniture that both looks beautiful and also lasts a long time.
Although it is more expensive, cherry wood will last a life time, and so is worth it.
Best for outdoors
Not all woods are created equally. That’s definitely the case for cedar, that loses out on the inside, but thrives in the great outdoors. This wood is not particularly effective as there are some that do the same thing for cheaper. However, when we move outside, this wood comes to life.
Considering the light oil content of the wood, cedar will be impenetrable by moths. This natural resistance, combined with the fibers of the tree, make it very strong. This durability makes it perfect for constructing fence posts.
Alongside this, cedar also smells fantastic. It gives off a pleasant aroma that will fill the area around where you place it. It has a uniform reddish-brown finish and has a great final texture.
Best for cheapness
If you’re looking for furniture that is of a good quality, but also on the cheap side, then you’re looking for birch. Birch is one of the most common timber forms out there. While it is a hardwood, it is still on the cheaper side.
Birch is durable and very strong. It has a pale white color, which can look great in the right environment. It is also lightweight, making it great for furniture (especially when moving!).
Pine wood is an alternative to birch, but is more expensive. Due to this, birch comes out on top as the best wood for cheap furniture.
If money is no object
Finally, we come onto the more expensive woods. Walnut is a breathtakingly beautiful wood, with deep brown tones throughout. The deep grain of this wood gives the timber a sense of depth, creating an interesting visual. This wood is one of the most expensive out there in furniture.
It is incredibly durable and very strong. While it is mostly used for carvings, it is also used in furniture. These pieces of furniture will last a lifetime, as well as looking fantastic as they do. Walnut becomes darker over time, meaning that it will only increase in beauty.
If money is no object to you, then I strongly recommend you take a look at some walnut furniture.
List of the best types of wood for furniture
Ash is a hardwood that is very durable. It is flexible and bends easily. It often contains a lighter colour, and fits well into design pieces. Most commonly, ash is in things like backrests for chairs or guitar necks. Anything that needs a lot of durabilities and is frequently used will often employ ash. The final color will often look pale brown, with a tinge of white.
One thing to note, ash is becoming more expensive as time goes on. Due to mass deforestation, the number of trees are dwindling. This means that ash furniture is becoming more revered and costly.
Bamboo is a bit of a sneaky one to put on this list, not actually falling into a ‘wood’ category. Bamboo is actually categorised as a grass. This also means it grows very quickly, so you can obtain it for a fairly low price.
Bamboo has a light and warm tone, often containing soft blonde tones. It is stronger than conventional wood, and used as a point of contrast to more traditional woods.
Birch is a hardwood that is commonly used in the timber industry. It is a cheaper form of hardwood, meaning it is often employed in furniture building. Most frequently, it is as an alternative to pine wood.
Birch has an incredibly fine grain, meaning it is often used as a veneer wood. It is very durable, used in objects such as skateboards. The color is pale white, or sometimes yellowy-brown. As it is both lightweight and dense, birch is a great option for furniture.
The first softwood on the list, cedar is a beautiful type of timber. While many of the woods on this list are good for indoor use, cedar is best used outside. Considering there is a high oil content in the wood, it resists moths. It is an incredibly durable wood, also giving off a pleasant aroma.
The color is tinged-red, with some forms being reddish brown. Cedar has a beautiful texture and is most frequently used in fences and decks.
Cherry is one of the most sought after woods. It is excellent for furniture as it doesn’t warp or bend. Cherry is also very easy to work with, meaning you can shape it into intricate forms. This wood is moderately expensive, but its worth it in the long run.
The color is either creamy white or dark brown, depending on how deep into the tree the wood is from. If it is from the sapwood, it will be white. If it is from the heartwood, it will be darker.
Douglas Fir Wood
Douglass Fir Wood is a very common type of softwood. It grows in many places around the world, such as most of Europe, North and South America, and New Zealand. It is a very cheap form of wood, often used in cheaper furniture.
Douglass Fir Wood has a straight grain pattern, making it a very uniform print. This means that flooring is of Douglas Fir wood commonly. The color is light brown with sharp red hints throughout.
Elm has one of the most naturally luxurious patterns throughout the wood. It is very hard to work with, and resists splitting. Considering its density and how hard it is, this wood is most commonly used in shipbuilding.
Elm is, without a doubt, one of the most prized lumbers in the world. It is a reddish-brown color.
Hickory wood is one of the best hardwoods out there. It contains a fantastic balance of qualities, being both durable and straight. Hickory also isn’t very expensive, meaning it is often used in furniture. The color is light brown and uniform in pattern. Walking sticks often commonly employ this wood.
Mahogany has a beautiful deep red color. It is one of the most durable hardwoods, and is fantastic for furniture. Even though it is durable, it is also very easy to work with. Mahogany also becomes darker over time, meaning it only increases in beauty.
Undoubtedly one of the best woods on this list, mahogany is great for furniture working.
Maple is incredibly dense. It is one of the hardest woods and is durable to the end. Even though it could withstand anything, maple is surprisingly not that expensive. It is a little hard to work with, so its functions reduce to more solid objects. You will find maple in flooring, butchers blocks, and cricket and baseball bats.
Maple has a reddish-brown color. However, it also sometimes comes in a creamy white, depending on the tree.
Oak is one of the most famous types of tree. It is very durable, and has a beautiful internal appearance. This is a type of wood commonly used in furniture. Although it comes in a few variations of colors, mostly commonly it will be medium brown.
Pine, as a species, is very varied, having over 100+ varieties. The most common of these are scots pine and red pine. Both of these are commonly used in construction, as they are easy to work with. The wood is soft, meaning it’s molded into panelling and frames for furniture.
Pine is dense and durable, meaning it will last a lost time. The color is between creamy white and yellow.
Spruce is a softwood tree that is incredibly popular. Around the world, they call this tree the ‘North American Timber’, as America relies on this wood. It is common and only really useful indoors. Outside, due to a lack of oil in the tree, it will decay quickly.
Spruce is moderately hard and fairly strong. It has a reddish-brown color. You will frequently see spruce used in structural supports.
Walnut is one of the most expensive woods out there. It has a deep grain, containing shadowy notes of black throughout. It has a truly beautiful appearance and is only used for the most expensive furniture. Walnut is frequently used for carvings for sculptures as it is very strong.
It is a dense wood, and will last a long time. The dark brown uniformity to it gives it a certain lustor. If money is no object, this is some of the best quality furniture you can get.
Willow is a popular tree, most commonly used in creating toys. It is both strong and flexible, meaning it is very useful. It is a dense wood, often shaped using a unique steaming bending tactic. Willow is almost always black or brown.
The final entry on our list, Yew is a softwood tree from Europe. Yew is incredibly flexible, having elastic properties in the fibers of the tree. This has commonly made this material used in archery and bow-making.
Perhaps the most durable of the softwood trees, Yew is very strong. It is straight-grained and comes in shades of orange and brown.
If you’re looking for the best wood, you’ll need to set yourself some factors you’re looking for. If you want a deeply elegant, although costly, wood, then go for walnut or mahogany.
If you want something cheap and durable, go for birch. If you need something for outdoor furniture, then stick to cedar.
Finally, if you want a great all-rounder, then cherry provides a unique and durable wood type.