10 Types of Wood for Furniture

10 Types of Wood for Furniture

Choosing the right types of wood for furniture can help you achieve your desired aesthetic. Whether you're moving into a new home or want to redecorate, the lumber that constructs your new furnishings can mean the difference between classic cabin and refined regality.

When crafted from the right materials, everything from dressers to bed frames, tables, and accent pieces can add to your style. With options ranging from humble maple to rustic alder, nature provides dozens of unique wood styles to admire in your home.

Read our guide to learn more about different wood types, the difference between hard and soft woods, and how they fit into your interior design.

Hardwood vs Softwood: Which to Choose?

When it comes to wooden furniture, you’ll have three main wood options:

  • Hardwood
  • Softwood
  • Composites (manufactured)

We recommend using solid lumber for most of your furnishings whenever possible. Hardwood is one of the most reliable options for furniture. However, it is on the pricier side because it is more fire-resistant, grows slower than softwood, and is only made from the core of the tree.1

With that said, many softwoods are as durable as hardwoods and are resistant to rot and insects, making them another viable option.2 Choose whichever one best meets your needs, both budget-wise and aesthetically speaking.

Best Types of Wood for Furniture

Solid wood furniture works well in many homes, whether you have a rustic farmhouse or a chic and elegant MCM look. With plenty of colors, durability ranges, and prices, it’s easy to find the right one.

Below, you’ll discover several hard and soft wood species in a range of aesthetic, budget, and furnishing categories.

Oak Wood furniture

1. Oak Wood

With 90 oak species in North America, it’s become a favorite for many home furnishings.3 Oak is an abundant type of wood with an open grain, giving the wood its quintessential natural feel. It can also work well as a veneer or a thin layer on the outermost part of a piece of oak wood furniture.

Oak is primarily red, black, or white, allowing you to choose the one that best matches your color palette and mood. Other benefits include:

  • High density
  • Durable against wear and tear
  • Stain- and scratch-resistant
  • Prominent grain that adds character

For these reasons, oak is a quality material for desks, chairs, and dining or coffee tables. Those who want a vintage, traditional, or contemporary look will undoubtedly enjoy oak furniture, especially the modern elegance of white oak pieces, like a white oak dining table.

Pine Wood

2. Pine Wood

Pine is a lightweight softwood, but it is also versatile and abundant, making it less expensive than some of its rarer cousins. It often contains “knots,” or those grainy swirls in wood reminiscent of a tree branch. Pine is generally cream or yellowish brown and has a close grain with visible growth rings.

Many people choose pine for furniture because it offers flexibility without compromising strength. It also takes stains well, which is helpful for customizations. Furnishings made from pine can include:

  • Dressers
  • Bookshelves
  • Bedroom furniture
  • Dining tables

Choosing pine for these pieces can work well if you’re going for a casual or rustic feel in your home.

Maple Wood

3. Maple Wood

Maple is a classically beautiful wood, typically a light brown or red wood, though there are darker variations depending on the species you choose. It’s naturally heavy and moisture-resistant, making it beneficial for frequently used furniture like kitchen tables.

Maple also has a straight and even, or “bird’s eye” grain, a delicate dappling throughout the wood grain that gives it a texture all its own.

This lumber is a worthy choice because of benefits like:

  • Staining – Maple is easy to stain to make it resemble other wood. Staining it can also emphasize color variations.
  • Low cost – Compared to other types, maple is a low-cost option that can help you stay on budget.

If you want a versatile wood that can flex and adapt to a multitude of styles, opt for brown maple furnishings. It creates chic dining tables, dressers, and bedroom sets, among others. Additionally, hard maple is an excellent choice for those seeking durability, while soft maple offers a more delicate touch for intricate designs.

4. Cherry Wood

Cherry, a common tree in the Midwest and Eastern parts of the United States, has a creamy white and reddish brown coloring that deepens with age. You can also stain it to bring the natural red color forward.

A smooth texture and uniform grain make it an appealing choice for carpenters and decorators alike. Cherry often has mineral streaks and knots, which add visual texture. That said, cherry is among the more delicate woods, making it more likely to scratch or dent.

If you enjoy a farmhouse, country, or timeless interior design, choose cherry for your dining room table, TV stand, bedroom set, or dresser.

Walnut Wood

5. Walnut Wood

Many of us are familiar with walnut wood due to its undeniably rich, chocolate color—although other shades are available. Sometimes, you may even notice purplish hues in the grain. Walnut is a strong wood, though avoid pairing it with iron because it can cause staining.

While this lumber works as a veneer, it's also a high-quality choice for whole furniture pieces, including:

For those who enjoy darker tones in their interior design, or are looking for stand-out wood pieces that set the tone of a room, walnut is a stunning choice.

Alder Wood

6. Alder Wood

Alder, a light brown wood with yellow or red undertones, is an economical alternative to cherry. It often has pinholes, knots, and small cracks, giving it its common nickname of “knotty alder.” Alder is also suitable for sanding, painting, or staining, making it easy and versatile to work with.4

Since alder is common throughout North America, it’s an accessible and affordable option for furniture. Choosing kiln-dried alder ensures your furniture stays sturdy and free of cracks and warps, making it a perfect option for centerpieces like pedestal tables or trestle tables.

7. Mahogany Wood

Mahogany is less common today than in the past due to poor logging practices, which has led it to the threatened species list.5 However, these trees still thrive in warm climates, including Florida and the Bahamas.

Mahogany is a reddish brown lumber that darkens over time, with a straight grain and high polish. Since it typically runs at a higher price point, mahogany veneer is often a popular alternative. With that said, it is a durable wood, making it an optimal choice for:

  • Buffets
  • Cabinets
  • Dining tables
  • Antique reproductions

If you think about a cozy library or study from the 1920s, you’re likely to envision those reddish-brown, mahogany-lined walls and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Teak Wood

8. Teak Wood

Teak is a versatile and durable wood common to tropical areas of Asia and Africa.6 Its high oil content helps with moisture, fungus, and decay resistance. Teak is also able to withstand high heat.

Since it can handle the elements well, teak is an optimal lumber for indoor and outdoor furniture. If you enjoy a rustic aesthetic, consider using teak for coffee and dining tables, patio sets, garden benches, or lounges.

Birch Wood

9. Birch Wood

Birch is a cost-effective wood for furnishings that’s common throughout North America. This pale white, reddish brown, or yellow lumber offers several benefits, including:

  • Durability
  • Stability
  • Scratch-resistance
  • Versatility via taking stains and finishes well

These attributes make birch an economical choice for everyday furniture, including chairs, seating, and cabinets.

Ash Wood

10. Ash Wood

Ash is a grayish or reddish-brown wood with a straight grain. Ash grows throughout most of the United States, making it prone to many variations in grain, color, and texture.7

The appearance is similar to oak, though it is easier to bend. The ability to bend it makes it less likely to split, which is ideal for furniture with curves. Since ash is durable and flexible, you can use it in several ways throughout your home, such as:

  • Hutches
  • Dining tables
  • Bed frames
  • Accent tables

Final Thoughts On Selecting Wood for Furniture

When choosing wood for furniture, what you select will depend on multiple factors. You’ll want to consider:

  • The furniture piece – Think about what furnishings you need—a dining table? Bed frames or wood chairs? Hutch or accent pieces? Knowing what you’re looking for, and the durability it may require, can help you determine which lumber will work best.
  • The furniture’s use – What will you use this wood furniture for? Will it live in a kitchen with lots of moisture and dishware sitting atop it? A kids’ room where bumps and scratches are more likely? A sitting room to be admired for centuries?
  • Your budget – Keeping your budget in mind can help you choose the one that fits your needs and design style within your price range.
  • Your design style – Many woods are versatile in various spaces, especially if you finish or stain them. However, some may look better with a farmhouse style, while others fit in with sophisticated elegance.

Generally, if you’re looking for wood for high-use furnishings, choose hardwood. Sturdy softwoods are worthy alternatives for accent or decorative furniture.8

Customize Your Furniture at James+James

If you’re ready to customize your furniture to match your home’s aesthetic, James+James can help you get started. Our handcrafted furnishings, like our custom wood tables, are handmade in the United States and designed to last a lifetime.

We start with the highest-quality woods, including white oak, black walnut, knotty alder, and maple. Then, we make it yours: whether you want a round oak dining table or a knotty alder coffee table with a deep gray finish.

Having trouble landing on a design vision? Ask one of our design consultants for assistance. We’re here to help you determine the right size, style, and customizations for your furniture. If you’re ready to get started, shop our site today for unique and beautiful wood furniture pieces.


  1. Wood Supply Research Institute. Main Types of “WOOD” Furniture. https://wsri.org/main-types-of-wood-furniture/
  2. Wood Supply Research Institute. Different Types of Wood & Their Uses. https://wsri.org/different-types-of-wood-their-uses/
  3. National Park Service. Species Spotlight - Oaks. https://www.nps.gov/articles/species-spotlight-oaks.htm
  4. American Hardwood Information Center. Alder. https://www.hardwoodinfo.com/specifying-professionals/species-guide/species-guide-a-g/alder/
  5. University of Florida. Mahogany. https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/trees-and-shrubs/trees/mahogany.html
  6. The Wood Database. TEAK. https://www.wood-database.com/teak/
  7. American Hardwood Export Council. AMERICAN ASH. https://www.americanhardwood.org/en/american-hardwood/american-ash
  8. Apartment Therapy. These Are the Best Types of Wood for Furniture, Flooring, and Cabinets. https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/types-of-wood-37081844

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