Choosing the right wood for cabinets, floors, doors, and more!
Deciding on the perfect wood for your floors, doors, cabinets, or windows can be tricky. From the broad range of materials available to the variety of stains, designs, and plank sizes, choosing the right wood for your project may become overwhelming.
Before choosing, consider some important factors: Where will the wood be placed in your home? What will it be used for? Will it need to hold up to a lot of wear and tear? What is your budget? Once you’ve narrowed down your search, think about how you want the wood to look and feel, and what style you want to achieve.
With the help of experts, we’ve created a guide to ten popular types of wood for homes. Follow this guide to learn more about each type and what they have to offer.
By Candice Graham
Ten Popular Types of Wood and How They Can Be Used:
Sourced from: Northeastern U.S.
Unique characteristics: smooth texture, buttery golden color
Price per square foot: $4-$5
Sourced from: Eastern North America
Unique characteristics: prominent grain, distinct pattern, durable, affordable, light-medium brown color
Price per square foot: $3-$4.50
Sourced from: North America
Unique characteristics: very hard, tight grain pattern, moisture resistant, light to dark brown color (can go green)
Price per square foot: $4-$5.12
Sourced from: Southeastern and Western North America, Southern Europe, and Southeast Asia
Unique characteristics: distinct grain, pale yellow color
Price per square foot: $3-$4.50
Sourced from: Central and South America, the Caribbean, and various tropical climates
Unique characteristics: polishes to high luster, durable, few knots, rich reddish brown color
Can be up to: $28 per board foot
Sourced from: Europe and Western Asia
Unique characteristics: durable, versatile, smooth, red to light pink color
Price per square foot: $5-$6
Sourced from: Asia
Unique characteristics: durable, inexpensive, varying grain patterns, environmentally friendly, light color
Price per square foot: $2-$3
Sourced from: Historic buildings and homes; salvage yards
Unique characteristics: distinct look and feel
Price per square foot: varies on type and condition
Sourced from: Brazil
Unique characteristics: sturdy, affordable, varying grain colors
Price per square foot: $6-$7
Sourced from: Australia
Unique characteristics: eco-friendly, affordable, durable, honey color
Price per square foot: $5-$10
Along with choosing the wood for your floors, you’ll need to decide the style and finish you want. Both will determine the look of your floors, with the finish playing a part in how your floors stand the test of time.
The three main types of wood floor styles are strip, plank, and parquet. Strip is between 1.5 and 3 inches wide and is considered the “traditional” wood flooring. It creates length in a room. Plank is between 3 and 7 inches wide and offers a casual alternative to strip flooring. Parquet flooring varies in size and design. It creates a geometric look and has many possibilities.
All wood floors need maintenance, but the finish you choose will help determine how much.
- Surface finishes are water-resistant, durable, and come in several types: water-based (clear), oil-based (amber), acid-cured (clear to amber, very durable), and moisture-cured (clear to amber, water-resistant).
- Wax finishes form a protective seal by soaking into the pores of the wood. They are durable but can show water spots.
- UV cured finishes are instantly cured by ultraviolet light, and you can vary the level of shine depending on the look you want to achieve.
The best types of wood for floors are maple, red oak, pine, cherry, bamboo, reclaimed wood, Brazilian cherry, and eucalyptus because of their versatility, durability, and resistance to wear and tear.
“Oak flooring is the most popular wood flooring in today’s market. The reasons are that you can stain it pretty much any color you like, and, although the last two years have seen oak flooring pricing spike to all-time highs, it still remains cost effective.” – Mike Prater, Vice President of Residential Sales, Praters Hardwood Flooring
Because of variances in durability, some woods work well as exterior doors, while others won’t stand up to the elements and temperature changes. The best types of wood for exterior doors are maple, white oak, pine, mahogany, and cherry because of their durability, and moisture, decay, and pressure resistance. Two woods best kept inside are poplar and alder. Poplar is a soft wood that isn’t strong enough to construct a door, and alder easily shows dents and dings. The best exterior doors are moisture resistant and won’t rot in humid climates.
“The most popular wood species for exterior doors are mahogany, oak, alder, fir, and pine. An imported sapele, mahogany has become the most widely used species for custom millwork for its high hardness scale rating, longevity, and refined beauty when finished.” – Shana Cooper, East Chattanooga Lumber Co.
Often considered the heart of the home, the kitchen is the perfect place to showcase a beautiful wood. With new cabinet trends emerging each year, there are endless possibilities. Play with color, door style, shelving, and size to create your perfect kitchen. As you consider your wood options, think about how you want your kitchen to feel. Whether it is rustic cottage or city chic, it will more than likely inspire how you cook and spend your time there.
The best types of wood for cabinets are maple, red oak, pine, mahogany, cherry, and eucalyptus because of their color, polish, and affordability.
“My favorite wood to use when a client wants a solid painted finish is maple. It is a closed-grain hardwood, so it provides a very smooth, durable substrate. Cherry has a ‘luminescent’ quality that is unmistakable. Quarter sawn red oak displays a very distinct, tight, vertical grain that can go rustic, chic, or anywhere in between.” – Juliet Braly, Kitchen and Bath Designer, Member NKBA & NCIDQ, Norcia Fine Cabinetry
Light and durable, wood is a good insulator making it ideal for frame use. If you use the right kind, it can last indefinitely, but choosing can be difficult. You want to make sure to choose a wood that is strong, durable, and moisture resistant.
The best types of wood for windows are cherry, mahogany, pine, and red oak because of their durability and moisture resistance.
“Western ponderosa pine is the most common wood used for wood interior/clad exterior windows. This wood has a rich beauty and is great for millwork, which makes it a top choice for wood window manufacturers.” – Brian Brock, General Manager, Hullco, Inc.