A guide to help you select the wood that is best for your project. Choose from fifteen stock wood species.
Alder is typically pinkish-brown in color and stains very well. Alder will also contain small knots which is ideal for when a rustic look is desire. When stained, Alder can be used to blend with more expensive species such Walnut, Cherry or Mahogany.
Cherry is one of the more recognized hardwoods due to its beautiful reddish-brown color. Cherry can occasionally have small gum pockets and blonde streaks that add to its character. Cherry tends to darken over time and with exposure to light. Cherry has superior staining qualities which allows for a variety of stain options. However, light to clear stains are often used to show its natural beauty.
Beech has a tight, thin grain pattern and has a light cream color very similar to maple or birch. Light or natural stains are often used with beech. Applying a wood conditioner is recommended when attempting to use a darker stain.
Walnut is known for its beautiful color. Walnut is typical dark brown to even black with purple undertones. Walnut can also have blonde sapwood streaks that add character to this beautiful hardwood. Walnut is currently one of the hottest trends in the flooring industry due to its dark color. Walnut is often clear-coated to show its natural colors.
Brazilian Cherry, or Jatoba, is most recognized for its deep red color and hardness. Brazilian Cherry will initially be lighter in appearance but will develop the darker red color as it ages.
Hemlock is a straight-grained softwood and is often golden-tan in appearance. Since Hemlock is denser than other softwoods, some pre-treatment may be required before staining.
Hickory is known for its wavy grain patterns and wide color variations. Dark stains will help minimize the color variations. However, lighter stains are often used to bring out the unique variations that make Hickory standout among other wood species.
Mahogany is synonymous with high quality and elegance. Its color ranges from reddish brown to a deep, rich red and it stains well for a superior finish.
Maple has natural beauty with a smooth surface due to its closed grain. Maple is cream color in appearance and is typically clear coated to display its natural beauty. Darker stains are not recommended without first applying a wood conditioner. Maple tends to absorb stain unevenly and can appear blotchy. A wood conditioner would lessen this effect and is highly recommended.
Poplar is yellowish in color with shades of greens varying from light to dark and can occasionally have dark purple streaks. Poplar is typically considered paint grade due to the color variations. However, Poplar can be stained with the proper pre-treatment. Poplar is often stained to mimic more expensive species. Darker stains are recommended to help neutralize the dark streaks.
Red Oak is the "old faithful" of the millwork industry. Red Oak is durable and can easily be stained in a wide variety of colors. Red Oak is known for its beautiful grain patterns. It is typically pale brown with a reddish tint in color.
White Oak is typically grayish brown in appearance. White Oak has a more straight-grained appearance than its Red Oak cousin. White Oak will stain darker than Red Oak when natural color stains are applied.
Birch has a white sapwood and light reddish brown heartwood. The wood is generally straight-grained with a fine uniform texture. Yellow Birch can be stained a variety of colors with proper pre-treatment.
Yellow Pine is naturally beautiful. Its golden color and distinct grain patterns are like none other. A clear finish will make the natural colors and grains pop. Yellow Pine also takes paint well.
New Heart Pine
New Heart Pine is the center-cut of the Yellow Pine. The grain pattern is similar to standard Yellow Pine but with a distinct reddish tint.
Some woods take stains better than others. It is best to consult a professional to determine the best wood/stain combination.
You should always prep your wood before staining. This includes additional sanding and applying a conditioner. A conditioner will help prevent blotches in porous woods like Maple and Beech.
Not all trees are perfect. Wood could have some minor imperfections that must be repaired using wood putty.
Not all trees grow the same height or width. Parts made from certain species may require joints to achieve longer lengths.
Not all trees are the same. Regardless of the species, different parts will likely come from different batches of lumber. This could result in varying colors/shades of the wood.