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Wood Buyers Guide

Wood has been used in furniture making for hundreds of years, and wooden furniture remains popular to this day. It offers a number of benefits, some of which simply cannot be replicated by other materials, and comes in many different varieties.

So, what are the benefits of wood furniture? And what is the difference between some of the more popular woods in the furniture market?

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Benefits of wood furniture

There are several benefits to wood that may make it preferable to other materials.

Natural material

Wood is a natural material that brings a sense of warmth to any home. This differentiates it from materials like metal, glass and stone. Because it is natural, it can also include character features such as knots and tiger marks for a unique look.

Low maintenance

Wood furniture may need to be waxed, oiled or polished on occasion, but it's easy to keep it looking good over a long period. By contrast, materials such as stone and glass show marks more easily and require more elbow grease to clean.

Many different finishes available

In addition to the number of varieties available, wood can be finished in different ways to achieve different looks. Wood can be lacquered, oiled or waxed. It can also be stained or painted in a wide range of colours. High gloss and matt options are also available.

Woodworking

Depending on their characteristics, woods can be carved, turned or bent to create different effects. They can also be given different edge profiles. Seemingly minor woodworking features can have a significant effect on the style of a piece of furniture.

Variety

There are many different varieties of wood to choose from. Woods come in different colours and have varying grains and characteristics. Each variant has its own individual strengths.

Different grades and cuts of wood (such as plain sawn and quarter sawn) are also available, which will can significantly alter the look of the grain and the amount of character features present.

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Hardwoods vs softwoods

While there is lots of variation between different hardwoods and different softwoods, there are some broad distinctions between the two categories.

Hardwoods are slow-growing, whereas softwoods are fast-growing. This makes hardwoods more expensive than softwoods. Hardwoods are also denser, heavier and more fire resistant with a close grain. Softwoods are lighter and less dense with a loose grain.

Woods used in furniture making

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Pine

Pine is a softwood that is cheap, lightweight and strong. It is often knotty, stains well and takes well to paint, so it is commonly used for painted and rustic furniture. It has a yellow coloration that can range from cream to brown.

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Oak

Strong and sturdy, oak is a dense, grainy hardwood that is extremely popular for furniture making, not least because of its attractive and distinctive woodgrain. A clear lacquer will bring out a soft, warm golden coloration. Highly durable, it is resistant to scratches and stains.

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Ash

Ash is a hardwood that is ideal for steam bending, making it an excellent choice for items such as dining chairs with curved backs. It has a similar appearance to oak but at a more moderate price point, and is also less prone to splitting. Ash has a straight grain and may be grey or brown in colour.

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Beech

Beech is an odourless hardwood with a tight and even grain. It has a warm and light coloration, but also stains well. It is easy to bend, making it another great candidate for curved furniture. However, it is difficult to work and unsuitable for humid conditions.

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Mango

Affordable, highly water resistant and easy to work, mango is a durable, golden brown hardwood with a dense grain. It generally has plenty of character because it is often attacked by insects and fungi as it grows. Mango wood grows 2 metres every year, making it not only cheap but sustainable.

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Walnut

Walnut is a dark hardwood that is used for both traditional and modern design. It is a mid-brown colour with purple undertones. It is rarer than the average hardwood, slow growing and smaller than ash or cherry trees, which pushes up its price point. Its durability and strength make it suitable for more intricate woodwork, which is why it is favoured for more ornate traditional designs.

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Mahogany

A wood with a rich, reddish-brown coloration, mahogany was first popularised in the 18th century. These days, it is more commonly found in antique shops than furniture showrooms. Where it can be found, it is generally styled traditionally with features like crossbanded edges and cabriole, fluted or reeded legs.

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MDF

MDF is a type of fibreboard or engineered wood. It is often used in high gloss furniture or furniture that uses wood veneers in its construction. High gloss finishes and wood veneer finishes are commonly used for an ultra modern look.

Many premium furniture brands use MDF in their designs, including brands such as Gwinner, Nolte and Natuzzi Editions.

Shop wood furniture

Lee Longlands offer a wide selection of wood furniture ranges, including the Ercol Teramo oak dining collection, the Atelier pine bedroom collection and the Charlbury painted bedroom range.

To find out more about our wooden furniture, visit your nearest showroom, email us at info@leelonglands.com or call us on 0333 200 1552.

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