The Best Types of Timber & Finishes for Your Furniture

Wood furniture gives your home an instant dignified air, no matter whether it’s a pine cabinet or a large oak kitchen table. Multiple types of woods see use in home furnishings, and these woods receive different finishes to achieve a distinctive look.

The cost of the wood used in furniture varies because not all species of tree grow naturally in the same place. In tundra and cold climates, you’re more likely to see pine. Oak sees more use in temperate zones. These are just a few examples. We’re here to give you the basics of different favourite types of timber and their finishes

Types of Timber

First, a bit about timber types.

Oak for Solid Furniture Pieces

An oak table in a designed room

Oak is a hard, heavy wood used in furniture meant to support a lot of weight. As one of the more expensive solid woods, you’ll see it in cabinets, tables, and occasionally chair legs. You can also use it as a veneer. Oak comes in two colours: red and white.

Red oak is a bit stronger than white oak, but both are beautiful in their own right. The open grain texture gives it distinct patterns. Oak grain is almost always straight along the wood. This tree grows throughout many of the forests in temperate climates.

Pine for Light Colour & Texture

A pinewood dining table

Pine wood sees a lot of use when it comes to untreated furniture pieces, mainly because the light colour and texture make it easy to paint, stain, or otherwise alter.

Pine is a soft wood that works well for curved and ornate-looking furniture because of how easy it is to shape.

Because it’s a soft wood, it is easy to damage, especially without treatment. If you want wood with a distinct curved grain with knots, you should consider pine furniture. As a coniferous tree, it grows more in northern climates and is likely cheaper in those areas.

Ash for Hardy Wood Furniture

An ash wood dining table

Ash is a more popular choice for many pieces of furniture than oak because ash is harder and more responsive to finishes and painting. With oak, you can only have its natural colours. If you choose to use a finish on ash, you’ll notice the distinctive pale look.

One advantage ash has over oak is that it’s resistant to decay. You’ll see it used in modern furniture more than oak because ash is more widely available. Natively, it grows in European forests, but can occasionally grow in North America.

Mahogany for High Quality Furniture

Mahogany sideboard in a designed room

This is one of the more expensive woods, so it’s used in fine, high-quality furniture. Mahogany has a distinctive, dark red-brown hue that makes it work well for almost any kind of furniture.

It’s a soft and easy wood to work so that it can be shaped into ornate trims and fittings. Mainly, you’ll see mahogany used in things like cabinets or drawers. The tree grows large and creates broad boards.

The other two types of mahogany that exist tend to grow in the Philippines and Honduras. This version of the tree has orange and grey hues, respectively.

Walnut for Dark, Natural Colours

A walnut side table

Walnut is by far the most expensive of the hardwoods you’ll see in furniture. Like mahogany, it can be used in a wide selection of furniture.

It isn’t the hardest of woods, but it is relatively easy to work. Walnut wood has one of the darkest natural colours, ranging from dark brown to almost black. You’ll see walnut wood used in china cabinets and the occasional table.

The 4 Most Common Finishes

There are several finishes that can give your timber a beautiful shine to make it stand out.

Lacquer for High Sheen

a lacquer finish dining table set

As a finish, lacquer creates an extremely high-gloss shine applied via a sprayer. It’s a solution that dries on the wood and creates a fine coating when the liquid solvent evaporates.

Lacquer is one of the most durable finishes, which is why you see it so often on furniture, but it can suffer discolouration over time and become scratched.

Natural Oils for Rich Polish

A natural oiled side table in a designed room

Oils are liquid that work their way down into the wood, giving it a rich, polished look without creating an impervious film the way lacquer would.

It’s easy to apply: just saturate the wood with oil and rub it in with a rag, then sand it in to create an even smoother appearance.

The most common types of oil you’ll see used are tung oil and linseed oil because of their abundance. When applied, they can create a solid film that will have to be reapplied periodically. You can also use mineral oil on surfaces where food will be placed.

Shellac for Golden Amber Look

A Shellac finished dining set

Many people confuse shellac and lacquer, but they aren’t the same thing. Shellac is a natural compound that comes from the lac bug. Combined with rubbing alcohol, these secretions produce a formula that can create a rich amber colour that stays on wood for a long time.

Because shellac is a partially organic compound, it can break down when exposed to heat. So it’s a compound you don’t want to use on surfaces that see a lot of heat, like kitchen counters or tables.

Wax for Fine Polish

A wax finished entertainment unit

Wax is another temporary finish used by a lot of beginning woodworkers. It goes great on furniture that doesn’t see a lot of wear and tear, like bookcases.

You apply warm wax with a rag onto the wood, and it can last for up to a year. However, wax finish comes off easily when dissolved in natural spirits. This is useful if you need to apply a new finish or to repair damage to the wood.
Whether you want to buy pre-made furniture or apply new treatments to your existing pieces, you should know the advantages and disadvantages of the different kinds of finishes.

When making a furniture selection, knowing the material the furniture is made of can help you decide whether it’s a good fit for your home.

Hardwood furniture can be expensive, but it’s worth the price tag. Other wood types exist, but these are things like plywood, particle board, and other things that just don’t look good in classy decor.

Invest in a quality, designer piece of wood furniture with Brosa’s exquisite furniture range. Crafted by loving artisans, our furniture is delivered direct to you to help cut down costs. Browse our full range of designer furniture today.

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Furniture Hire
3 years ago

Useful tips.Everything is in order..Thanks for sharing this post.