Wood Has Feelings Too: The Personality and Characteristics of Popular Wood Species

There are so many types of wood, from vastly different regions with vastly different characteristics. These distinguishing features are what lend treated wood their personalities. It’s what makes them who they are, begging to be used in ways that bring out their natural beauty. With so many types, it’s difficult to choose a selection to focus on. The following is just a sample of what’s available to choose from.


Maple is a firm, sturdy wood with impressive resistance to wear and tear. With whitish or cream colored sapwood and heartstock that is typically brownish-red, maple has a closed, restrained grain with an even texture. Maple possesses an elevated crushing strength and is very hard to machine treat due to its durability.

Because of its attractively light, vibrant, and charming qualities as well as its wear resistance, maple is a popular choice for cabinetry. Maple finishes can mimic more costly soft and hardwood cabinets and provide an excellent enhancement to bright, roomy kitchen styles.


Cherry wood is a hardy, relatively hard selection with admirable resistance to shock. Lauded for vivid coloring and fine grain, cherry wood has a smooth, silky texture with very distinguishing, curvy gum veins. The heartwood is lush, stretching from light reds to dark browns. In comparison, the sapwood ranges from light brown to light pink.Cherry wood comes in a close second to black walnut in terms of fine hardwood value. Kitchens with a dark, elegant appeal work well with cherry wood cabinets. Simple reliefs work best with this high-priced selection. 


A soft birch, Alder originates from the Pacific Northwest. With a reliable color palette and its quality finish and stain features, the Alder has been long admired as a furniture wood. Even grains and textures, along with a reddish brown hue and beautiful knotholes characterize this wood. A fine, hardwood appearance, for a fraction of the price, truly makes this a worthwhile selection.

Soft and relatively lightweight, Alder can be hand or machine manipulated quite easily and cheaply. This makes it especially attractive for cabinet manufacturers. Because alder is highly trainable, it can be fashioned to mimic near any type of wood cabinetry. The style of alder you buy will depend solely on the style of kitchen. Typically, alder is good for low to middle range cabinets within a simple, bright room layout.


Solid and resilient to shock, Walnut varies in color depending on the particular species as well as location. Even individual trees may have multiple colors within its wood. Warm and luxurious, chocolates are often the color of choice for commercial usage. The luxuriant colors of Walnut finish incredibly well.

Because of the fine grains and rich hues, Walnut is almost never used for construction purposes. Instead it is treated as a specialty type, used for intricate, high-end cabinets. The already dark coloring, which has a rather subdued reaction to staining, makes walnut cabinetry an ideal partner to rich, darker marbles and kitchen décor.


Pine is a well-known wood type with light yellow coloring. An orange or yellow heartwood is typical of the species, with straight grain and uneven texture. While pine does not boast the greatest resiliency to decay, it absorbs preservatives better than most types of wood. Generally odorless, pine dries extremely quickly.

Very easy to work with, pine can be sawed, nailed, and glued with minimal hassle. Pine wood cabinets are most often found in mid-range kitchens. Its color and tendency to mar make pine cabinets perfect for more rustic environments.


Mahogany is a choice hardwood with fine, even texturing and an attractively striped figuring. Its reddish-brown hue is both rich and dark, contrasted sharply with white sapwood. Interlocking grain gives mahogany a bright luster. Cutting into the wood produces a soothing, spice aroma.

Strong and attractive, mahogany is remarkably durable. Because of this resilience to damage, working with mahogany is difficult. Dark and elegant, mahogany cabinets are wonderfully striking when paired with neutral marble countertops and dark hardwood flooring. Stainless steel appliances provide excellent contrast to these luxurious cabinets.


Much thicker and durable than a lot of hardwoods, bamboo is still technically considered a grass. Most often, bamboo is pale yellow or brownish yellow when carbonization takes place. Smooth surfacing and even grain make this wood very attractive.

Extremely dense, bamboo does not stain naturally. For this reason, the carbonized bamboo process was created. A darker color is produced one the wood has been pressure steamed, giving the appearance of color variation. Without question, bamboo cabinets are made for cheerful, airy rooms. Neutral tiling or light laminates add a touch of sophistication to these naturally charming cabinets.


Sapelle is a finely textured hardwood with a dark red, purple, or brown color. The distinctive white sapwood sharply contrasts the darkness of the heartwood while an interlocking grain and consistently striped pattern afford it an attractive appearance.

Fairly resistant to damage, sapelle does have a tendency to warp after drying. Machining the wood is a straightforward, painless process. Sapelle cabinets work well with medium-colored flooring and bright light. The contrast gives these cabinets, with their distinctively striped features, a high-priced, contemporary personality. Modern décor is essential to draw at its more dramatic characteristics.


Brownish-yellow when cut, Wenge becomes nearly black once a few months have passed. The sapwood of Wenge does not change, however, remaining a whitish-yellow. Coarsely surfaced, the wood grain is fairly straight.

Wenge is a durable, heavy wood type, with great dimensional solidity. This stability and thickness, however, make the wood very hard to work with. Open floor plans with solid grays give wenge cabinets a modern, cutting-edge vibe. Combined with steel appliances and design elements, wenge cabinetry is clean and elegant.


With a lightly reddish body and dark stripes, ebony macassar is a dramatic, engaging wood type. Small pores and a subtle texture give this wood a lush appearance. Grains are generally straight, but may be interlocked depending upon the individual specimen. Ebony macassar is also very resistant to decay, though insect infestation reportedly takes a heavy toll on the wood.

Very dense, this wood can be difficult to work, often blunting cutters. Splitting and checking is also highly present once machining takes place. Nevertheless, ebony macassar is a natural fit with lush, vibrant environments. Its handsome striping works exceptionally well with large, flat areas of neutral color.

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