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Wood Types

Frequently Asked Wood Type Questions:

What wood type do you recommend for painting?

Is soft maple a soft wood?

What is the difference between hard and soft maple?

Why is knotty pine not a good choice if we plan to paint wood?

Does knotty pine have a lot of knots?

What is Rubberwood? Can I stain it?

What type of wood is the hardest?

Why is white oak more expensive than red oak?

Are components sold solid or are they glued-up?

How much weight can each wood support?

What are the best wood types for exterior use?

Can I leave my components unfinished?


Browse Wood Type Collection

 
Alder | Beech | Black Walnut | Cherry | Cypress | Douglas Fir | Hickory | Hard Maple | Heart Pine | Knotty Pine | Mahogany | Red Birch | Red Oak | Rustic Alder | Rubberwood | Soft Maple | Spanish Cedar | Tiger Maple | White Oak | Western Red Cedar
   

Alder

 
Alder Wood

Characteristics:

Alder is characterized by its straight grain and even texture. Its reddish brown color often looks similar to Cherry. While Alder is often used to mimic Cherry, its rich tone is beautiful. And certainly warrants use for its own distinct qualities. Though it dents relatively easy, it offers a stable surface.

 

Recommendations:

Alder can be either painted or stained, depending on your application. The rich tones allow for a staining similar to Cherry, while the even texture make this wood a great painting option.

 

See Examples of Finished Products in Alder on our Blog

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Beech

 
Beech Wood

Characteristics:

European Beech is a heavy, pale -colored, medium-to-hard wood. It is a fine, tight grain and has large medullar rays. Beech is similar in appearance to maple and birch. One excellent characteristic of Beech is the fact that it does stain and polish well. Beech is a wood with high crush strength and medium stiffness.

 

Recommendations:

Beech provides an excellent staining surface. Because of its similarities to maples, another stain grade option would be Hard Maple wood- a more economic option.

 

Learn More about European Beech offered at Osborne.

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Black Walnut

 
Black Walnut Wood

Characteristics:

Black walnut is considered a rare wood type, and it is quite durable and strong. Its coloration can be light to chocolate brown, and may contain burls, butts, and curls. The sapwood is usually white in color, and may be as high as 25%, but we have it steamed to make it a light coffee color, allowing for better color uniformity.

 

Recommendations:

Walnut is a beautiful stain grade wood type that easily complements other steamed walnut products.

 

See Examples of Finished Products in Walnut on our Blog

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Cherry

 
Cherry Wood

Characteristics:

Cherry wood is moderately heavy, hard, and strong, and it also machines and sands to glass-like smoothness. Because of this, Cherry finishes beautifully. The heartwood in Cherry is red in color, and the sapwood is light pink. Components made of Cherry generally consist of approximately 25% sapwood and 75% heartwood.

 

Recommendations:

Cherry is a stain grade wood. A more economical option to mimic cherry would be the Alder wood species.

 

See Examples of Finished Products in Cherry on our Blog

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Cypress

 
Cypress Wood

Characteristics:

Cypress wood, which is found along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from Delaware to Florida, is noted for color consistency, density, hardness, and relative lack of knots. It has a predominantly yellow tone with reddish, chocolate, or olive hues. Cypress has oils in the heartwood that make it very durable.

 

Recommendations:

Cypress is virtually indestructable and offers a great finishing surface for a variety of finishes.
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Douglas Fir

 
Douglas Fir Wood

Characteristics:

Douglas Fir, also known as the Oregon Pine, is a light rosy colored wood that reddens overtime. It is a tight knotted and close-grained wood that has a high degree of stiffness as well.

 

Recommendations:

If you are looking to paint or stain this wood it holds all types of stains and finishes. Douglas Fir is dimensionally stable.
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Hickory

 
Hickory Wood

Characteristics:

If you are looking for strength, hardness, and durability; Hickory is the best commercially available wood in North America. The grain is normally straight, but can sometimes be irregular or wavy. Hickory has a coarse texture, with a great deal of color variation between reddish brown, lighter brown, and white. Color variation may have a striped appearance.

 

Recommendations:

Hickory has a very unique color variation that adds dimension and texture to rustic style homes. Hickory is a stain grade option for projects where such variety adds to the detail of the design.

 

See Examples of Finished Products in Hickory on our Blog

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Hard Maple

 
Hard Maple Wood

Characteristics:

Hard Maple is considered our stain grade Maple, because it is more consistent in color than its “cousin,” Soft Maple. The wood is characterized as dense, and light in color. Similar to our Soft Maple, Hard Maple is a fine textured and close grained wood that does not require filling.

 

Recommendations:

Hard Maple provides a smooth and clear surface for finishing of any kind. Whether you are choosing a light stain or a dark stain, we recommend hard maple as your go to wood type. Although Hard Maple offers a smooth painting surface, a more economical option is the Soft Maple.

 

See Examples of Finished Products in Hard Maple on our Blog

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Heart Pine

 
Heart Pine Wood

Characteristics:

Heart Pine is a wood where the color ranges from dark rich amber to various shades of golden yellow. When Heart Pine is exposed to light it does cause the wood to darken and yellow with time. Heart Pine is softer than red oak yet quite dense and strong. The grain of Heart Pine is open and broad with some knots as well.

 

Recommendations:

Heart Pine is a specialty wood selection at Osborne Wood Products. This wood is best used conditioned and finished with stain.
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Knotty Pine

 
Knotty Pine Wood

Characteristics:

Knotty Pine is a lightweight wood, characterized by a straight grain and a fine, even texture. While knots are prevalent in the wood, the knots tend to be small and tight, giving the wood the signature rustic look that pine is so well known for, Knotty Pine is dimensionally stable and durable.

 

Recommendations:

Although our most economic wood option, Knotty pine is recommended for staining. This wood type may be painted for rustic or distressed projects, however the knots will bleed through the paint over time and grain may be exposed.

 

See Examples of Finished Products in Pine on our Blog.

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Mahogany

 
Sapele Mahogany Wood

Characteristics:

Not only one of the most valuable timbers in Africa, this species is also one of the foremost cabinet woods in the world. Mahogany is characterized as having straight to interlocked grain and a medium coarse texture. The wood varies slightly in color from a light reddish brown to a medium red.

 

Recommendations:

Our Mahogany is a Sapele Mahogany and is recommended for staining.

 

See Examples of Finished Products in Mahogany on our Blog.

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Red Birch

 
Red Birch Wood

Characteristics:

The heartwood of Birch is red in color. While it is softer than Red Oak, it does actually have a tighter grain, which makes it very easy to finish. Red Birch is similar to Cherry in its appearance, as well as in its density and its resistance to abrasion.

 

Recommendations:

Red Birch offers a great finishing surface for a variety of finishes. For an economical option for painting try Soft Maple.
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Red Oak

 
Red Oak Wood

Characteristics:

Red Oak is a wood that is known for being very hard, heavy, and strong. However, given its density, it is actually fairly easy to work. Like Hickory, it does have a coarse texture. Red Oak turns, carves, and bends well. It is also characterized by having excellent sanding and finishing properties, and great stability.

 

Recommendations:

Because of its unique grain patterns and texture, Red Oak is recommended as a stain grade option.

 

See Examples of Finished Products in Oak on our Blog.

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Rustic Alder

 
Rustic Alder Wood

Characteristics:

Knotty Alder is a hardwood of medium density that features a color range of light browns with reddish hues. Knotty Alder, being true to its name, features large split knots and open knots that vary in size. The knots can come in a variety of shapes and colors which can cause the knots to take stain differently than the rest of the wood. Some knots may also be completely through the wood, making this wood a perfect choice for rustic style projects.
View Rustic Alder Standards

 

Recommendations:

Rustic Alder is a specialty wood option at Osborne and is recommended for staining. A more economic paint option would be Clear Alder.
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Rubberwood

 
Rubberwood Woodtype

Characteristics:

Belonging to the Maple family, Rubberwood has very little tendency to warp or crack, as well as a dense grain character. Another benefit is that it is Earth Friendly. Unlike other trees used for lumber, Rubberwood is not harvested until it can no longer be used for its latex-producing sap; and then when it is harvested, new rubber trees are planted.

 

Recommendations:

Rubberwood is a great stain or paint option. Often considered an economic paint grade, we recommend a good primer be used before painting rubberwood. This is because Rubberwood is porous in nature.

 

See Examples of Finished Products in Rubberwood on our Blog.

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Soft Maple

 
Soft Maple Wood

Characteristics:

Having medium density, hardness, and strength, its machining and finishing properties are good, as is its stability. This fine textured and close grained wood does not require filling. Soft Maple exhibits color variation including gray mineral streaking and sapwood. This does not lend well to staining, so Soft Maple is recommended as a paintgrade.

 

Recommendations:

Soft Maple is considered a paint grade because of minor mineral streaking, in addition to its close grained texture creating a more than adequate painting surface. For light stains and clear coat finishes try using our Hard Maple for a clearer, more consistent finish.

 

See Examples of Finished Products in Soft Maple on the Blog.

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Spanish Cedar

 
Spanish Cedar Wood

Characteristics:

Spanish Cedar is a freshly cut heartwood that is pinkish to reddish brown but becomes red or dark reddish brown upon exposure. The wood is coarser than that of mahogany. Spanish Cedar has many other great qualities such as being durable, light but strong and is a straight grain wood.

 

Recommendations:

Spanish Cedar is a specialty wood type that is recommended as a stain grade option.
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Tiger Maple

 
Tiger Maple Wood

Characteristics:

Tiger Maple has a unique pattern to it, the pattern travels across the grain and can look like stripes, waves or small flames. The curly grain can make tiger maple less stable than straight grained maple. Tiger Wood is a hard durable wood and is a frequent choice for custom-made furniture.

 

Recommendations:

Tiger Maple is recommended with a stain or clear finish to accentuate the unique curly grain of the wood.
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White Oak

 
White Oak Wood

Characteristics:

White Oak, an American hardwood, ranges in color from a very light color to a light to dark brown heartwood. White oak is much harder and heavier than the Red Oak. White oak is characterized by a mostly straight grained wood with a medium to coarse texture. The white oak will exhibit longer rays than that of the Red Oak, giving it more figure. The tighter, straighter grain pattern does not allow stain to penetrate the grain as easily resulting in a more consistent finish.

 

Recommendations:

White Oak is recommended as a stain grade wood.
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Western Red Cedar

 
Western Red Cedar Wood

Characteristics:

Western Red Cedar has twice the stability of most commonly available softwoods. Although Western Red Cedar is one of the world's most durable woods it however lacks in strength. Western Red Cedar has a uniform texture and is also a straight grained wood. One great characteristics of Western Red Cedar is that it is one of the easiest woods to work with.

 

Recommendations:

Western Red Cedar can be used with a variety of finishing options.
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Frequently Asked Wood Type Questions


What wood type do you recommend for painting?

We recommend Soft Maple as our paintgrade option. Soft maple is a hardwood and offers a smooth painting surface for finishing. Soft maple is just a little less dense (or hard) than hard maple. It is actually the same density as Cherry on the Janka hardness scale.

 

Another paintgrade option would be Rubberwood. Often a more economical option, Rubberwood is also part of the Maple family. We do recommend using a good primer with this wood type, as it is more porous.
Learn more about Rubberwood.

 

A third option for a paintgrade wood is Alder. Alder is much less dense than Soft Maple and does tend to dent rather easily. This is an economical option when Soft Maple and Rubberwood are not available.

 

At times we may offer "Paintgrade" as a woodtype option for a particular wood component. Paintgrade could be any wood species that does not have a distinct grain that would show through paint. This option is often most economical but can only be used for painting applications.

 

Is soft maple a soft wood?

No. Soft Maple is actually a hardwood. In fact, Soft Maple has a density of 950 on the Janka Hardness Scale. Soft Maple gets its name because it is less dense than Hard Maple (1450 on the Janka scale). Soft Maple also exhibits mineral streaking in the wood. This gray coloring makes Soft Maple a much better paint grade option than stain grade, as the streaking may show through lighter stains.

 

What is the difference between hard and soft maple?

Soft Maple (950 on the Janka Scale) gets its name because it is less dense than Hard Maple (1450 on the Janka Scale). Soft Maple also exhibits mineral streaking in the wood. This gray coloring makes Soft Maple a much better paint grade option than stain grade, as the streaking may show through lighter stains.

 

Why is knotty pine not a good choice if we plan to paint wood?

Knotty Pine, true to its name, contains tight knots throughout the wood. These knots absorb paint much differently than the rest of the wood. Even if they are covered with paint at the time of finishing, the paint may be absorbed over time causing the knots to "bleed through."

Knotty Pine can be painted, however, if a distressed or rustic finish is required. If the desired finish includes seeing grain and knots through the paint than this wood type is a great option.

 

Does knotty pine have a lot of knots?

Yes, Knotty Pine will contain knots in a variety of shapes and sizes. However, knots are closed and tight, preventing them from falling out and leaving voids in the wood. Our craftsman carefully place knots throughout the piece in order to ensure you are able to apply hardware or skirting without any interference from knots.

 

What is Rubberwood? Can I stain it?

Rubberwood is a wood from the Maple family. It actually comes from a sap producing tree that no longer produces that sap which was turned into rubber. A green or eco-friendly option, choosing Rubberwood is re-purposing this tree for a new use! Rubberwood can be either painted or stained to achieve the desired finish.
Learn More About Rubberwood

 

What type of wood is the hardest?

Wood types are often measured by density to determine hardness. According to the Janka Scale, Hickory is the hardest wood type (1820 on the scale).

 

Why is white oak more expensive than red oak?

White oak is a speciality wood type at Osborne Wood Products. Because of its rare nature, White Oak tends to cost roughly twice the price of Red Oak in some cases.

 

Are components sold solid or are they glued-up?

While we realize that solid components are desired for aesthetics, it is not always possible for us to acquire wood that is wide enough to create components out of one solid piece. Because of this, laminates may be used for particular products, sizes, wood types, etc. Learn More about Laminates and Availability of Solids

 

How much weight can each wood support?

Our products are not weight tested. However, Osborne Wood Products components are specifically designed for load bearing purposes with proper installation.

 

What are the best wood types for exterior use?

Although we do not recommend any wood for outdoor use Mahogany, Cypress, and Western Cedar are the best options for exterior use. Osborne Wood Products also offers Exterior Glue as a service which may be an option for laminates used in exterior situations. Contact Us to discover availability and add this service to your order. Because Osborne does not recommend products for exterior use, we cannot guarantee the longevity or structural stability of your exterior components.

 

Can I leave my components unfinished?

No. All products must be finished upon receipt.

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