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Choosing the Right Wood

Posted by Amber Burkhart at

There are so many things to consider when designing your dream staircase, and one of those is choosing your wood type. Each wood processes different qualities that may be appealing to you, but some may be better suited for your particular project. The type of wood you choose affects the durability, grain, and coloring of your staircase, so you will want to keep these things in mind when making your selection. High traffic stairways may need a more durable wood, while you’ll also want to consider the color of the wood, and the finish you plan to use. Some woods will have variations in color, but wood types will range from very light to dark. The wood finish you choose can change the look of a wood dramatically, so keep that in mind as well.

American Cherry: This beautiful wood features graining that varies from straight to a flame pattern. It sands to a very smooth finish and is easy to mill and glue up. It commonly contains small pits in the wood. American Cherry finishes extremely well.

Ash: Ash varies from light to dark grayish-brown in color. It has a medium to coarse texture similar to Oak with consistently straight grain.

Beech: Stronger than Oak or Maple, Beech is typically a pale cream color, sometimes with a pink or brown hue, that is fairly straight grained. Although considered to have a somewhat bland appearance, Beech, with its strength, hardness, and good workability, is an excellent value for woodworkers.

Birch: Birch is hard and strong and makes an excellent choice for stairs with its high resistance to wear. Generally straight grained with a fine uniform texture, Birch can display an attractive curly or wavy pattern. The sapwood is white, while the heartwood has a light reddish brown hue.

Brazilian Cherry: Brazilian Cherry is a popular choice for stair parts and flooring because it is very shock resistant. Its color has even more reddish hues than American Cherry, with a grain pattern that is similar to the Mahogany family. It often has dark streaks in the graining.

Hard Maple: Hard Maple is a favorite choice of our Amish wood turners. It is easy to work with and turns and sands out very well. Its graining tends to be straight, but sometimes flame like patterns can be seen in the wood. Hard Maple is a durable wood that lends toward a creamy color with graining that ranges from light to dark brown.

Hickory: This beautiful wood is a great choice for stair parts, especially if you like a rustic look. Hickory's color varies greatly throughout. It is somewhat calico in nature with a mixture of light and dark woods generally preferred. Its grain is usually straight with a medium texture.

Mahogany: This wood stains or finishes well and is resistant to crushing. It does not steam bend well and should not be considered for any purpose where steam bending is required. Mahogany will darken with age into a reddish brown color.

Poplar: Being one of the most economical and affordable domestic hardwoods, Poplar is a popular choice. It is a softer wood and is easy to work with. It is usually a light cream to yellow with grayish streaks.

Red oak: The most popular choice at StairPartsUSA.com, Red Oak's graining tends to be straight and pronounced. It is considered hard and dent resistant. It has a light to medium reddish-brown color.

Soft Maple: Soft Maple is softer than Hard Maple. This makes it a better choice for those wanting to stain it as Soft Maples takes stain evenly unlike Hard Maple which is much more difficult to stain.

Walnut: Walnut is normally straight grained and a chocolate brown in color. It is easy to work with and holds up well over time.

White Oak: White Oak has a light to medium yellowish brown color. White Oak has a fairly course grain. It is a great value due to its durability and price.

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