Whether you are building furniture from scratch, restoring it, or just looking to buy, understanding the types of wood for furniture is important.
Real wood furniture has been a household staple for hundreds of not thousands of years. While you can get modern furniture in a variety of materials, including steel, plastic, and even cloth fabric, wood is the go-to for quality furniture that lasts and looks great.
If you are purchasing furniture, especially online, be sure you are getting real wood and not fake wood! Pressed particle board may come in a “cherry” finish, but it is not real cherry wood.
Real Wood vs. Particle Board for Furniture
Most people would agree that real, solid wood furniture is far superior to particle board, but both have their strengths and drawbacks.
Particle board is made from wood chips, shavings, sawdust, and resin or glue. It usually has a veneer placed on top of it to simulate actual wood.
1. Particle Board is Cheaper Than Real Wood
Of course, the synthetic wood, particle board, will be cheaper than the real thing. Sometimes the savings are quite extensive.
2. Real Wood Lasts Longer
Generally speaking, real wood will last longer and even become more beautiful over time, depending on the wood.
3. Real Wood Can Dent or Warp
However, real wood can dent, if it is a soft wood like pine, and it can warp over time. Particle board will not warp (unless it gets really wet underneath the veneer) and it won’t dent like pine wood can. However, particle board can chip easily.
4. Particle Board is Weaker than Real Wood
Even though real wood can have its areas of weakness, as mentioned above, it is stronger than particle board. You don’t have to worry about a piece of real wood snapping in half if it is used as the shelf for a bookshelf, as with particle board.
7 Popular Types of Wood for Furniture
Which wood you choose for your furniture will depend on the style and strength you need. Do you want a darker wood, such as a mahogany or walnut? Or a lighter wood like pine or birch? Price is also a factor, because, as you might expect, the best woods can be quite expensive.
1. Cherry Wood
Cherry wood, or black cherry, is an excellent wood choice for fine furniture such as ornate cabinets. It is a hard wood and very expensive. The color can run from light brown to a darker brown with reddish tones, and sometimes stain is applied to emphasize that “cherry” color.
2. Mahogany Wood
The distinctive deep reddish color of mahogany makes it not only a popular hardwood but makes it a popular choice for mimicking on particle board veneers. It also has a very distinctive grain that adds a lot of texture to a piece. It is of course, very expensive.
3. Walnut Wood
Walnut trees aren’t just terrific for their great nuts, they also create some amazing hardwood. With a very interesting grain pattern and a dark chocolate color, walnut is a popular choice for fine furniture, and it is also very expensive.
4. Maple Wood
Maple wood is such a strong hardwood that it is used for butcher blocks. The color is typically a lighter brown, and the grain tends to be straight, though it can get a little wavy. It is also expensive.
5. Pine Wood
Pine wood is one of the cheapest woods used for furniture, which is why it is so prevalent at discount furniture stores like Ikea. It is a softwood, which makes it prone to dents and markings. The color is light with a close grain that is not very appealing on its own, but it can be easily painted.
6. Cedar Wood
Cedar is another softwood that tends to be a lighter wood color with reddish hints to it. Because its scent repels insects, it is often used for closets and chests. It can be a little pricey but not as expensive as some of the other premium woods.
7. Oak Wood
Oak comes in two main types: red oak and white oak, which is the more expensive option. Because oak is so easy to obtain, and it is a very strong hardwood, you will find it in a lot of different types of solid wood furniture.
Many More Types of Wood are Available
The list above barely scratches the (wood) surface of all the different types of wood available for furniture. With an abundance of natural wood to choose for your next furniture project, you are sure to find the exact type of wood to make your furniture look fantastic.