When we think about furniture, we think about wood. You can get some beautiful furniture made up of steel, plastic and a variety of different materials. However, nothing can beat well-made wooden furniture made from good-quality wood.
Wood is one of the most widely-used materials in the world, and you can make furniture out all types of wood. Different types of furniture call for different types of wood, depending on various factors. Apart from the requirements of strength and durability, you may need to consider aesthetics, social responsibilities using sustainable wood, and so on. Then, of course, all wood is dictated by budget considerations.
Before we launch into the full details of the best types of wood for furniture, here are two broad categories of timber – hardwoods and softwoods.
Hardwoods Vs. Softwoods
You can easily get both hardwoods and softwoods in the market. Each type has a unique set of characteristics that play a critical role while choosing wood. Let us take a look at the difference between each type:
We call the wood that comes from deciduous, broad-leaved trees hardwood. These trees produce seeds, and they take a long time to grow. Hence, hardwoods come from flowering trees or “angiosperms.” Hardwoods tend to have dark shades and generally cost more than softwoods and are more durable. However, it is interesting to note that all hardwoods are not hard, for example, basswood and poplar. Another interesting exception is Yew, a relatively hard softwood.
This category of wood comes from trees that do not produce seeds, like conifers – they produce needles and cones instead, and are called “gymnosperms.” Although the density and hardness of softwoods are less than that of hardwoods, they still enjoy wide popularity. Softwoods occupy almost 80% of the wood being used for timber. These woods are widely used for furniture, building frames, and producing paper and engineered wood.
Best Types of Wood for Furniture
You can get furniture out of both softwoods, and hardwoods. Hence, let us take a closer look at the various types of wood that we can use for making furniture:
Fiberboard plays a significant role in furniture making. It is a derivative of the fibers of different types of wood, which are molded into boards and bonded by applying heat, wax, and resin. There are different grades of fiberboard, and the most popular is medium-density fiberboard. Manufactured wood-like fiberboard plays a prominent role in furniture making today.
Particle Board or Chipboard
This variety of manufactured wood uses wood chips and shavings to make its structure. Chipboard is a very versatile form of manufactured wood, used in a wide range of ready-to-assemble furniture. You can buy this furniture online, and it comes to you shipped in parts. On receipt, all you have to do is to assemble it by following a simple, step-by-step manual.
Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)
Here is a type of manufactured wood that is a refined form of fiberboard. You can get more information about Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF), plywood, and particleboard in another interesting post on our website. Today, MDF enjoys massive popularity in the manufacturing of ready-to-assemble furniture. You receive the furniture in parts and can quickly assemble it. Although MDF doesn’t have a grain, it can have a thin film on its surface which imparts a very realistic wood-like, classy appearance.
Last on our list of manufactured woods is plywood. This variety of wood is created by bonding layers of wood veneer to create boards of varying thicknesses. The layers are arranged so that the grain of each successive layer is opposite to each other. This arrangement makes plywood so tough that it is impossible to crack it.
Plywood makes suitable cabinets and tabletops. It also forms parts of chairs and serves well as shelves. However, unfinished plywood looks unsightly, hence you need to paint, veneer, or laminate it for it to look attractive.
No discussion types of wood for furniture would be complete without mentioning veneer. Veneer is a thin sheet of wood obtained by shaving it off a tree and later bonded onto a substrate.
Veneer is as expensive as the wood from which it originates. Therefore, you could end up paying more for furniture made from high-end veneer than for solid wood furniture. The advantage of using this material is that you can stain or varnish it to make it look like solid wood. Click here to learn more about veneer in another of our posts.
There are countless types of solid wood that we use for making furniture. Mentioning all of the types of wood here would be indeed impossible. However, here are some of the most popular types of solid wood used for making furniture in the United States and Canada:
This wood is sturdy and heavy. The elegant, tight grain of beech combined with its light color makes it possible to give it a high polish. Furniture made from beech provides a room with a warm ambiance.
Maple is a durable and dense wood. It is well-known for its resistance to moisture and is a suitable choice for making furniture that will last for years of wear and tear. Like beech, maple is also a pale-colored wood. The grain exhibits attractive swirls and twists that look appealing when you apply a stain or varnish to the surface.
A hardwood known for strength and durability, walnut has a vibrant chocolate-brown appearance that gives it class. Although lighter shades are available, we usually choose walnut wood for its dark-brown tone. This wood is expensive, but walnut furniture remains a popular choice for its classy looks.
Here’s another popular wood that wears well and is heavy and robust. Oak owes its popularity to its good looks due to the attractive grainy patterns that it exhibits. You get oak in two shades – white oak with a grey-brown shade or red oak with a reddish hue. It is usually an expensive wood, but you can get some cheaper varieties of oak as well.
If you are looking for a cheaper wood option that also looks good on finishing, pinewood is the choice. It is light in color and weight as well. Because of its color, pine furniture blends nicely with existing furniture made of other types of wood. Pinewood takes staining very well. However, it is not as durable as other varieties of solid wood.
Mahogany is a hardwood that comes in a variety of different shades from medium brown to dark brown or reddish-brown. It can resemble cherry wood at times. Mahogany is an expensive wood, and you will find it in many veneers due to its classy grain.
Cherry wood is one of the most sought-after types of wood in the Americas. Although most fruitwoods are well-known for their classy finishes, cherry is the only one that comes in sizes big enough to make furniture. The deep, reddish-brown hue of cherry creates a warm ambiance in a room with cherry-wood furniture. The special feature of cherry is that it darkens with age.
Listing out every single type of wood that we use for making furniture is an impossible task. Nevertheless, after reading this post, we hope that you will gain a good insight into the different varieties of wood available for making furniture.
We have highlighted some of the best types of wood for furniture here. With this information, you should be able to get suitable wood for some great woodworking projects. In case you want to focus on outdoor furniture, click here for another informative post on outdoor furniture.
Featured Image by Indo Gemstone IndoGemstone