With so many different types of wood choices on the market, it’s hard to know which type is best for your solid wood dining table or other carpentry projects. This guide will help you evaluate the important factors in your decision-making process and ultimately find the perfect species of wood for your new wood table top!
- Looks: The primary factor to consider when constructing your dining room table is your preference. Concerning the appearance of your dining room table, there are various factors you need to mull over when picking out wood. The grain pattern and hue, as well as the wooden texture, are all crucial considerations. You also need to take into account the natural beauty of the wood and desired finish. The wood you select influences the appearance of your project. Hardwoods such as white oak, red oak, cherry, and walnut have more defined grain lines while others like poplar, birch, and maple show little to no grain. The woods’ colors also differ based on species. For example, Walnut is a dark brown with a rich grain pattern whereas birch is light in color with less visible grains. The appearance of the wood will also be determined by the finish you choose. You can apply wood stain to your tabletop, but you need to select the best type of wood for your desired look.
- Durability: While choosing the best wood for your tabletop, durability is key. You’ll want a sturdy tabletop that can stand up to scratches and dents over time. If you take care of solid wood tables properly they can last many years without showing wear. As a rule of thumb when selecting the best wood, hardwoods will be more durable than softwoods—white oak, red oak, hard maple, cherry, and walnut are among the most commonly used in United States furniture construction. To get a more in-depth understanding, you can compare the hardness of each type of wood by looking at the Janka hardness scale. The scale goes from 0 (softest) to over 5000 (hardest). To measure, they take into account the amount of force required to embed a .444-inch steel ball into the wood until it reaches half its diameter. Most hardwoods lie between 1000 and 3000 on this scale. Therefore, when picking out your desired material for your wood tabletop, these would be good options because they are long-lasting.
- Cost: The price of wood can differ largely depending on the type of wood–for example, construction-grade pine is much cheaper than hardwoods like walnut, cherry, maple, or oak. If you are working with a budget in mind, be sure to consider the cost of materials before making your final decision on which type of wood to choose for your project. For example, walnut is more expensive than pine, but it has a beautiful grain pattern and is much more durable. Even though hardwood lumber costs more upfront, it will last for years with minimal wear and tear and can be easily refinished. Additionally, hardwoods are easy to clean and resist scratches and dents making them ideal for high-traffic areas like restaurants or homes with small children.
- Maintenance: Not all wood is created equal – some types of wood are better than others for maintaining a clean appearance and preventing liquids and crumbs from becoming lodged in the surface. For example, red oak has very open pores which can make it difficult to keep clean if crumbs or liquids become trapped in the grain. Applying a finish that fills in the pores of the wood, like polyurethane or varnish, makes the surface more susceptible to scratches and damage. If you select a wood type with a smooth grain and closed pores, such as maple or walnut, you can avoid many maintenance issues; though this option comes at an increased cost. For any wood type selected, it is important to avoid harsh chemicals or cleaning products as they may damage both the finish and underlying wood material. Should a spill occur wipe it up immediately? By regularly maintaining your wood table top and using placemats and coasters, you will prolong its life and keep it looking great.
When it comes to picking the right wood for a tabletop, simply prioritize your goals. If you’re more interested in form over function or affordability over durability, there’s a good option out there for you. And remember: Have fun while building your dining room table and be proud of the final product! I recommend using hardwood if possible, it’ll last much longer than softwoods, but if that’s not an option for you, go with a finish that can easily be repaired and maintained.
Best types of wood for a wood tabletop