Four Common Types of Hard Woods

Home builders and furniture makers alike agree that hard wood is the best type of lumber for what they do.  Obviously, by the name alone—hard wood—you probably agree that it makes sense to build durable goods from this type of lumber.  Indeed, these materials provide an authentic and natural appearance and, fortunately, can last for several decades, sometimes never requiring repair or replacement.

Basically, there are four popular choices for precut hardwood cut stock used by wood workers today:


Perhaps the most common type of hardwood, oak is as durable as it is beautiful.  This type of lumber is commonly used as the foundation for cabinetry and household furniture as well as housing trim, doors, decks, and patios.  It is a popular wood for drum sticks, too, because it is among the hardest to splinter by force.

Oak has a grainy appearance but can be differentiated according to color.  Red oak ranges in color from light brown to pink; it has a bit of a swirling pattern.  White oak has yellow flecks and yellow rays; it has a tiger-stripe pattern.  These wavy lines highlight nicely with stain, though the naturally lighter hue can darken if you use too much.


Creamy in color and texture, maple looks softer than it actually is.  While it might look like pine (which is much softer), it is among the hardest woods you can use and that makes it ideal for use in many household items.  Actually, there is a quite a good chance that your bedroom dresser or your kitchen cabinets are made from maple.

One of maple’s most attractive characteristics, though, is that despite its durability, it is surprisingly affordable.  This is why many builders also choose it for use in home building.  Be careful, though, with stains and seals, though, because if you do not apply them properly, maple can appear blotchy.


Cherry wood has straight, fine grains and a reddish brown hue (characteristic of the fruit, of course).  This wood is popularly among furniture builders for Shaker-style tables and cabinets.


Finally, walnut is unique with its deep, chocolatey-brown color.  It can sometimes be a little lighter but its natural hue is certainly easy to distinguish as walnut. This brown tinting means you typically do not need to stain walnut, which is excellent since this type of wood is popular among furniture builders too.