Wood, perhaps the most common building material anywhere. As a natural product it is easy to find and fairly straightforward to work with. And while we may not build our homes and furniture almost entirely out of bamboo like they do in some parts of the world, we do rely on it a lot as a building material. So what options are available to us? What are the pros and cons of each? We take a closer look at wood this month and try to answer some of these questions in order to help you make a decision on the right wood type for whatever it is you may need it for.
Hardwoods come from slow-growing trees, typically ones that drop their leaves in winter – known as deciduous trees. Their slower growth means that they are denser, giving them their hardwood quality. They are also darker in colour. The most common types of hardwood come from mahogany, cherry, walnut, oak, ash, birch, and maple trees. They also tend to be the most expensive type of wood on the market as their longer growth time limits their availability to an extent.
Growing faster than hardwoods, they are also softer in comparison. Unlike deciduous hardwood trees, softwoods are more likely to have needles rather than leaves – think conifer trees, for example. Lighter in colour, they are also a cheaper option to hardwoods. Typical softwoods include pine, spruce, fir, cedar, and larch trees.
Manufactured options, including chipboard (also known as particle board), fibreboard, MDF (a popular type of fibreboard), plywood, and veneer, are the cheapest on the market. Made from fibres or wood chips that are bonded with wax or resin, they are great for use in making furniture as they are very strong and durable. Plywood is created by building layers of wood veneer, giving it a particular strength and resistance to warping.
Veneer is the exception as it is real wood, but it is usually bonded to a manufactured piece to give it greater strength and durability. As a result it can stain, in the same way as solid wood, and can be a little more expensive making it ideal for use in more high-end pieces of furniture or flooring.
Care and maintenance
Each type of wood and how it is used will determine the best care and maintenance for it, such as sealing, waxing, staining, or cleaning. This is something that you should be advised of when shopping around, but make sure to check if you want something that needs relatively little maintenance or that is more economical. Bear in mind that all wood will evolve and change over time no matter how well seasoned it is. Some types will darken while others will become lighter in colour. Some hold moisture better than others, while others will actually expel moisture.
For a full guide on wood types or for advice on which type is best for what you need, talk to our team of experts at Parsons Joinery. Whatever you need, we are happy to help or provide a quote – just get in touch by phone on 01273814870 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.