Wood is a versatile natural building material, or rather a category of building materials, that plays a central role in the structure, appearance, and interior design of most homes. There are thousands of tree species and 50+ popular household woods. If you’re shopping for solid hardwood furniture or designing custom furniture, wood selection can be a dilemma. With so many types of wood, how do you know you’re choosing the right one?
Wood selection is important because wood types vary in appearance and durability. To make things a little more difficult, there is more to wood selection than choosing the right tree. The way that wood is harvested, treated, sourced, and preserved impacts its performance and longevity.
In this article we explain the various reasons why wood selection is important when it comes to solid hardwood furniture. We will present the factors you should consider so you’ll know how to select the right wood every time.
For clarification, there is a difference between the terms “solid hardwood” versus “wood”. Solid hardwood used to build furniture is harvested from each tree and is in its truest form. Thus, the strongest and most durable and environmentally friendly. Solid hardwood can be refinished, sanded, and will literally last multiple lifetimes. The term ‘wood’ may refer to wood that has been mixed with polymers, plywood, glue, OSB (oriented strand board-also known as sawdust), and other softwoods or fillers to reduce the cost. It is wise to educate oneself as to the play on words to avoid making a costly mistake for your home.
One practical comparative consideration is in flooring. Solid hardwood flooring such as oak, cherry, hickory or maple are considered far superior over vinyl laminates or engineered hardwoods. The reason is quite simple, there are either no options to refinish if the floor is worn or damaged or the floor may be refinished only one time. When purchasing your forever home or forever furniture, opt for the best quality in order to capitalize on your investment.
Hardwood vs. Softwood
There are two categories of wood and therefore there are two categories of wood furniture—softwood and hardwood. Understanding the difference will help you make the right choice when it comes to wooden furniture.
Pine, Redwood, and Cypress are all examples of softwood trees. Softwoods grow quickly, they are less dense (which makes them less durable), softer, and easier to cut down. These attributes make softwood cheaper, so it’s ideal for projects that prioritize cheapness over quality materials such as low-impact construction, packaging, and shipping pallets.
Hardwood trees are deciduous, meaning their leaves change in the Fall. Types of hardwood trees include Maple, Oak, Cherry, and Hickory. Hardwood trees grow slower, so they are denser and stronger. Hardwood is ideal for projects that require durability, such as solid hardwood furniture. Items made from hardwood are items made to last.
The Best Furniture for Children, Pets, and Life
Furniture endures a lot, or at least it should. Rowdy children jumping on the couch and bumping into things, dirty dogs and cats with sharp claws, thousands of hours of sitting, countless meals, spills, and accidents—these things are part of a realistic, fun, and lively household. You can survive and thrive through the mistakes, problems, and challenges of life, but cheap furniture simply cannot.
Investing in quality hardwood furniture is a wise decision that will save you money in the long run. Hardwood furniture is built to withstand decades of use and abuse. On top of remaining structurally intact, hardwood furniture is significantly more resistant to cosmetic damage compared to softwood or plywood/OSB furniture. Knicks, scratches, and sagging make furniture look old. Hardwood furniture will not only last a long time, but it will also still look new.
Stronger Wooden Furniture
At this point you know that some types of wood are just better for making furniture than others. But even furniture made from 100% rough sawn hardwood can be strengthened and improved. Amish furniture makers kiln dry and finish your furniture to make it even stronger. For the toughest, best-quality wooden furniture on the market, seek out furniture producers that implement these extra levels of protection.
Finishes seal and protect the wood’s surface from scratches, spills, and moisture. A quality finish is what stands between your furniture and drink rings, watermarks, and knicks. It’s important to note that many of the wood finishes on the market contain toxic chemicals and hazardous pollutants. The good news is that natural, environmentally friendly finishes also exist, such as the catalyzed conversion varnish used in Amish furniture making. Finishes also enhance the beauty of the wood, resist scratches, and make your furniture shine for many years.
Kiln Dried Furniture
Think about how much stronger a clay pot is after it’s been through the kiln, the same is true for wood. Kiln drying is the process of drawing moisture out of wood in a temperature-controlled environment. Kiln drying makes the wood highly resistant to moisture so it will not absorb liquids it touches or humidity from the air. This prevents cracking, warping, and deterioration that would otherwise develop over time. Your grandchildren aren’t going to want fragile furniture with warped drawers that don’t open. If you want heirloom quality furniture, choose kiln dried.
Select your Wood Type, Design, Stain, and Finish at Amish Elegance
At Amish Elegance, the possibilities are endless, and our American hardwood selection is top notch. Custom furniture is our specialty. You’re in charge, but our design team is here to guide you through the entire custom furniture process. We only use the best materials—sustainably sourced 100% American hardwood, performance fabrics, and premium leather. Our wood is rough sawn, kiln dried and finished with catalyzed conversion varnish, so it is extremely durable and long-lasting. We have a massive catalog of stains, wood, and furniture designs to choose from, or we can make something totally unique.
Visit our showroom or contact us today to learn more about custom furniture!