Best Types of Wood for Desks

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Choosing a suitable home office desk is a rather personal affair. Your desk at home is the focus of your individual, private space. When you sit at your desk, you want to be comfortable and practical with all your stuff at arm’s reach.

Oak, Walnut and Cherry are three of the best types of wood for desks. However, these are relatively expensive. More affordable wood species include Birch, Elm and Pine. The wood for a desk should be durable, and provide maximum utility and support. Expensive hardwoods are often used for high-end desks for the aesthetics of their grain and finish.

Your desk should also be sturdy but look good as well so that it complements your surroundings. The most critical factor in all of the above will come down to the species of wood you choose.

As the cost of wooden furniture rises, it’s not surprising that many DIYers opt to build their own work desks. But whether you end up making your own desk or are in the market for buying one, this article will help guide you to decide which type of wood is the right choice based on your intended use, budget, and personal style.

Recommended Types of Wood for Making Wooden Desks

The selection of material is an essential factor that enables you to express your style through your desk. Let us then embark upon the details of the different varieties of wood that we can use for wooden desks.

Oak Wood

Oak Wood
Oak Wood (Image: William Warby)

Solid oak is a common choice of wood for making desks. Oakwood is sturdy and durable, and you can enhance its looks through some great finishes and colors. Although oak can be expensive, the wood lasts a lifetime literally if appropriately maintained. So when considering the price, keep in mind the extra money spent on oakwood furniture is often justified in the long run.

Features of Oak

  • Appearance: Medium to dark brown
  • Durability: Extremely durable if maintained properly
  • Hardness: 1,290 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 0.6-0.9 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: it responds well to both hand and machine tools
  • Cost: Expensive in most regions of the US because it’s mostly imported

Cherry Wood

Cherry Wood
Cherry Wood (Image: CG Masters)

A desk made of cherry wood creates a dramatic effect in any office space. Your choices of finishes may get limited because of the darkness of this wood. However, it is this same dark reddish-brown that makes it such sought-after lumber. You need to take care while working cherry wood and maintaining it as it quickly shows scratches due to wear and tear.

Features of Cherry Wood

  • Appearance: Reddish-brown
  • Durability: Highly-durable if maintained properly
  • Hardness: 950 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 0.38-0.56 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Easily workable, and takes nails and screws well and glues well, too.
  • Cost: Moderately expensive to prohibitive

Maple Wood


Maple is a popular choice for making desks due to its durability and reasonable price. It comes in a variety of finishes, but all in lighter shades. If a maple desk is not subjected to heavy abuse, it will last for several years.

This wood takes dark stain quite well but tends to be splotchy, so you need considerable skill while applying it. Although moisture-resistant, maple is susceptible to attack by insects. Hence, ensure that your maple desk is treated with an insecticide for longer life.

You also need to remember that maple is a softwood, so the wear and tear show up more quickly. You need to maintain a Maplewood desk regularly for the best results.

Features Of Maple

  • Appearance: Light, yellowish-brown
  • Durability: Highly durable if treated with insecticide
  • Hardness: 1,400-1,500 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 0.71-0.85 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Easy to work by hand and machines, but tends to burn with high-speed cutters.
  • Cost: Medium-priced

Walnut Wood

Walnut Wood
Walnut Wood (Image: Geraint Morgan)

If you want to create a stunning impression, you can do so with a walnut desk, preferably with a high polish.

Walnut wood is renowned for its strength and good looks. It enjoys a highly durable rating but can still fall prey to insect attacks, so insecticide treatment is in order.

With a clear varnish, the beauty of walnut gets enhanced. This wood takes on furniture wax easily so that you can get a glossy, natural-looking desktop.

Features of Walnut

  • Appearance: Straight grain with natural luster in deep brown
  • Durability: Highly-durable if treated for insects
  • Hardness: 1,000-1,100 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 0.49-0.70 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Easy to work with but with a tendency to planer tearout
  • Cost: Expensive


Pinewood (Image: decar66)

You will find no difficulty in working with pinewood due to its extreme softness. However, this softness brings in the need to be careful about how you work it. This wood is prone to dents and scratches, so you need to handle it with care. Even the finished product needs to be maintained carefully for the same reason.

Pinewood has a yellowish, light brown color, and you get many knots and reddish-brown striations in the grain. However, if you are careful about how you finish it, you can have a great-looking desktop in no time.

Features of Pine Wood

  • Appearance: Yellowish, light brown with several knots and striations
  • Durability: Needs careful maintenance as it is susceptible to dents and scratches
  • Hardness: 380-410 (Janka hardness)
  • Density: 0.35-0.51 (103 Kg/M3)
  • Workability: Easy to machine
  • Cost: Cheap

Tips on Finishing a Desktop

How you apply a finish to a wooden desktop is what adds character to it. Here are a few basic tips:

  • Do not try to stain softwoods like pine or maple. A clear finish is the best choice, or you can leave it as it is.
  • When you use a sander to sand a desktop, exert no more pressure than the weight of the machine. It prevents the machine from gouging into the wood and leaving swirly patterns on the surface.
  • Make sure to apply a clear finish that is adequately waterproof and durable for your desktop to last longer.


Choosing a suitable home office desk poses quite a challenge. You have to take into consideration so many factors to get a suitable desk. However, your desk is your haven whether you live in a rented space or your own property. It’s a place where you go to be on your own. To work things out. To plan and strategize.

You need to have a desk that looks good, has all you need at hand, and offers physical and mental comfort. Using all the information that we have provided here, you should find an excellent desk for your needs.

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