Types Of Wood: Guide To Choose The Best For Your Furniture

Choosing the right type of wood is one of the most important decisions when buying or making furniture. The type of wood determines how sturdy, durable, and attractive your furniture will be. This guide will walk you through the major types of wood commonly used for furniture and help you determine which is best for your needs.

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Hardwoods vs Softwoods

Firstly, there is a significant difference between hardwoods and softwoods. The deciduous trees that produce hardwoods annually shed their leaves. They are typically stronger and denser. Coniferous evergreen trees like fir, cedar, and pine provide softwoods. They are typically less expensive but less resilient.

Here are some of the most popular hardwoods for furniture:

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Oak is a classic furniture wood valued for its attractive grain patterns and natural beauty. It’s very durable and resistant to scratches and dents. Oak can vary quite a bit in color from white oak which is lighter in color to red oak which has a reddish tint. Oak works well for many furniture pieces including tables, chairs, dressers, beds, and cabinets.


Maple is an exceptionally hard wood known for its strength. It has a fine, straight grain and a light color that ranges from nearly white to light brown. Maple is often used for countertops, cutting boards, cabinets, and flooring in addition to furniture. It’s easy to stain which makes it versatile for many styles.


Cherry wood has a distinctive reddish-brown color and smooth, delicate grain pattern. The wood darkens and takes on a richer tone with age. Cherry wood resists warping and is suitable for carved details. It’s often used in finer furniture pieces like beds, dressers, dining room tables, and cabinets.


Walnut is prized for its rich chocolate brown color and accented grain markings. It’s strong, easy to work with, and takes stains very well. The luxurious look of walnut makes it popular for executive office furniture, home libraries, and media centers. Modern furniture manufacturer also utilize walnut in coffee tables, console tables, beds, and dining chairs.

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Popular Softwoods

While they lack some of the prestige of fine hardwoods, softwoods have their place in furniture making as well. They tend to cost less and be more readily available. Here are a couple of top choices:


Pine is the most commonly used softwood. It has a light tone and distinctive knots in the grain pattern. Pine stands up reasonably well to scratches and dents. It’s often used for cabinets, tables, beds, and shelving. Furniture manufacturers utilize pine as an affordable option for pieces painted or stained to mimic pricier hardwoods.


Cedar has a lovely reddish hue and sweet aromatic scent. It has a natural resistance to rot, making it suitable for outdoor furniture. Cedar is also popular for lining chests and closets thanks to its pleasant fragrance and insect-repelling abilities. Many furniture manufacturers offer cedar chests, garden benches, patio tables, and yard swings crafted from beautiful weather-resistant cedar.

Choosing Wood For Your Furniture

When selecting wood furniture, either from a manufacturer or for your own projects, consider the following factors:

  • Use – How will you use the furniture? Choose a harder wood like oak, maple, or walnut for pieces subject to heavier wear and tear. Opt for softer pine or cedar for kids’ rooms or casual spaces.
  • Style – Think about the look you want to achieve. The color and grain of woods like cherry, mahogany, and walnut give the furniture a formal, elegant look. Softwoods like pine or whitewashed maple have a more casual, beachy vibe.
  • Budget – Exotic imported woods are pricier than domestic options. Cherry, maple, and oak provide an attractive look for a more moderate cost. Pine is the most affordable furniture wood.
  • Availability – Some woods like mahogany and teak may be harder to source locally. Opt for more readily available woods like oak, maple, cherry, or pine.
  • Environmental Concerns – Many furniture manufacturers now utilize woods certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to promote responsible forest management. Seek out FSC-certified woods when possible.

No matter your style or budget, there is furniture wood to meet your needs. Consult with furniture manufacturers to select quality woods that will stand the test of time and use. With the right choice, you’ll enjoy attractive, durable furniture that lasts for years to come.


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