If you search for wood for indoor furniture, the primary consideration will be the quality. But the color and grain pattern are also important among other factors. Indoor furniture should last for several years and even decades. You need to take special care in selecting the wood for furniture for a home.
Indoor furniture occupies a major area in the world of woodworking. It has particular characteristics that set it apart from outdoor furniture. It tends to be more delicate and exotic, although perhaps less durable. Indoor furniture comes in both hardwood and softwood. It is important to know about the best wood for indoor furniture to get the best results.
Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Furniture
Before we get into the details of the wood that we use for indoor furniture, let’s look at the difference between indoor and outdoor furniture. Here are some of the fundamental differences that distinguish one from the other:
While outdoor furniture has a bit of a rugged look, indoor furniture looks more sophisticated. Indoor furniture tends to have a high polish because it isn’t likely to face the elements. A delicate finish will last indoors.
Indoor furniture will last much longer than outdoor furniture. But it also depends on how well you maintain your furniture whether indoors or outdoors. Even outdoor furniture can last a lifetime if maintained properly. However, the fact remains that indoor furniture requires relatively less maintenance than outdoor furniture.
Indoor furniture generally costs more than outdoor furniture. The workmanship and finish of furniture meant for indoors are more sophisticated and delicate. The extra work involved in making indoor furniture is what makes it more expensive than outdoor furniture.
You will get a better degree of comfort from indoor furniture. Would you be sitting for hours on outdoor furniture? Probably not. But, when you are indoors, you tend to sit for hours on the couch watching TV or napping on your day off in the living room.
Due to the above reasons, indoor furniture tends to have soft embellishments like cushions and padding to enhance comfort. You cannot add such layers to outdoor furniture as within a few months, the material would be ruined by the weather and birds.
Wood Varieties and Types
Last but not least, the wood that we use for indoor and outdoor furniture varies. For outdoor furniture, we use woods of medium strength, like teak, or some hardier types like Iroko, Acacia, or Redwood. Indoors, you can indulge in delicate woods like a variety of softwoods, or hardwoods like walnut, cherry, and mahogany.
Best Wood for Indoor Furniture
When we come to the best wood for indoor furniture, we can divide the categories into two types – hardwoods and softwoods.
Hardwood vs. Softwood
Generally speaking, hardwoods are harder than softwoods. But there is a fair degree of overlap in the hardness of these two categories of wood. Here is the best way to distinguish hardwood from softwood:
We get hardwoods from trees that shed their leaves during winter and we call them deciduous trees. Under their reproductive systems, these trees come under the category of angiosperms. Hardwoods are usually slow-growing trees.
The trees of softwoods are evergreen by nature, which means that they don’t shed their leaves during winter. The reproductive system of these trees puts them in a category called gymnosperms. The rate of growth of softwoods is more rapid than hardwood.
Hardwoods for Indoor Furniture
Hardwoods are the all-time favorite for making indoor furniture. But that is not to say that you don’t get softwood furniture as well. But you are more likely to get indoor furniture made from hardwood. Here are a few of the popular varieties of hardwood that we use to make indoor furniture:
Walnut grows over a vast area in the United States from Vermont to Texas. The different types of walnut wood that you might encounter are Brazilian walnut, American black walnut, and Caribbean walnut, just to name a few.
This durable wood is a popular choice for carving. So, you may find walnut furniture ornate and intricately designed. It is a durable wood that lasts for years. Walnut is hardwood. Black walnut, for example, has a Janka hardness rating of 1,010 lbf.
The wood is coveted for its figured and burl grain patterns. The deep, rich chocolate-brown color of walnut makes it a coveted type of wood for indoor furnishing and it blends into most surroundings.
The hardness of walnut makes it a bit challenging to work with. You need a high degree of skill while working with walnut. It is also one of the more expensive varieties of wood.
Here’s another golden great in the world of indoor furniture. Mahogany’s rich reddish-brown hues make this lightweight but strong wood an excellent choice for indoor furniture.
It is native to Mexico, Central America, and South America but you will find it in Africa as well. African Mahogany is more popular than the American variety today, but you will get some antique furniture made of South American mahogany.
The wood has a fine, straight grain conducive to making indoor furniture. It allows woodworkers to achieve a high level of intricacy. Mahogany trees are huge, allowing you to get bigger boards to make larger objects. It also makes good musical instruments.
Oak is a wood that grows in the eastern and central regions of the United States, but also in many European countries. The light-colored variety (white oak) is more prevalent in Europe and the red in the US. But European oak is also imported.
The slow growth of oak trees makes the wood extremely dense, making it a long-lasting and durable type of wood. The color fluctuates between light brown to pinkish-red with occasional swirls and stripes.
Oak is stain-resistant and scratch-resistant and takes finish well. You will find both traditional and modern furniture made from this wood. Due to its high durability and good looks, oak makes ideal indoor furniture. If well-maintained, oak can last for centuries.
Cherry trees grow in the eastern region of the United States. There are many varieties of cherry wood, and black cherry is among the most prominent and widely used.
The wood is pinkish-brown and darkens to a deep red over time. Cherry has a straight and uniform grain and polishes well. It plays an important role in making antique furniture. It is the type of wood that looks better as it ages.
Cherry wood is highly durable but not suitable for exterior applications. We use cherry wood for Cabinetry, fine furniture, flooring, interior millwork, veneer, turned objects, and small specialty wood items.
Maple is one of the most versatile yet inexpensive hardwoods and among the hardest. You will find maple growing in the Great Lakes region of the United States. This is a light-colored wood, so you can easily stain it to resemble high-end woods.
The wood doesn’t scratch or dent easily, so makes good bedroom and dining room furniture. It is also the ideal wood for homes with small children and pets due to its high resistance to wear and tear.
Ash is a light-colored wood that you will see growing in most states throughout the United States. It resembles oak in many ways. There are many varieties of ash, so you get to choose from many shades.
It is a strong wood, with high resistance to shock. The wood is readily available and you will find it easy to work with. It holds screws and nails and glues quite well. The cream and light brown shades of ash offer exciting possibilities for applying a finish.
When it comes to the king of all wood, it’s got to be teak. This golden wood enjoys a wide range of indoor and outdoor applications and it is in its element when used for indoor furniture.
Teak grows in Indonesia, Myanmar, and all across the Indian subcontinent. It is extremely durable thanks to the natural oil that it produces. It is also hard and strong but easy to work with.
We use teak to make all sorts of indoor furniture, as well as cabinets, shelves, and flooring. You can also get a wood veneer of high-quality teak that can give lower-grade wood and even plywood a classy, teak-like finish.
Not to be left out, softwood makes some pretty durable and attractive indoor furniture. You can make good furniture from various softwoods like pine, juniper, cedar, redwood, yew, and spruce.
We also call this wood Parana pine. It grows in South America mostly in Southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The wood has a high shear strength and holds nails and screws quite well.
The wood is medium-light brown and is strong enough to make robust indoor furniture. The straight, uniform grain pops out with a suitable finish, but you will have to use a sealer for added protection.
You will find this species of pine in Canada and the western region of North America. It is good for using on paneling with intermittent dimples. It is light reddish to yellowish-brown with a low, natural luster.
Lodgepole pine tends to warp and distort during the process of drying and may distort further while processing. However, it glues and finishes well. For best results, you need to apply an oil-based or water-based polyurethane finish to this wood.
Eastern White Pine
You will find eastern white pine growing in the eastern region of the United States. It is one of the most valued species of softwood that we use for making indoor furniture. It is not only readily available but also quite economically priced.
Eastern white pine is light brown with a reddish hue. It is a lightweight variety of wood with a low density. The grain is straight and tight. The best finish to apply to this wood is oil-based or water-based polyurethane.
White Spruce grows in the northern regions of the United States and different locations of Europe. This wood is light yellow or reddish-brown with a straight wood grain pattern.
It takes screws and nails quite well. The wood is moderately hard and is easy to work within areas devoid of knots. It finishes nicely as well, but you need to take care to avoid blotching. You need to use a toner or gel stain to finish this wood.
There are numerous types of wood that we use for indoor furniture but the best wood is mentioned here. You can take any of these woods and expect spectacular results.
When you are making indoor furniture, it usually doesn’t make much difference whether you use hardwood or softwood. Take the precautions we have mentioned here and you can come up with some spectacular indoor furniture.