3 Kinds Of Wood Used In Real Wood Furniture

By: Sydney Johnston

Real wood furniture is the most popular furniture inexistence.  It's been around for hundreds of years andprobably existed when the cave people got tired of squattingon the dirt floor of their caves and looked around for abetter way.

The woods that are fashioned into furniture fall into threecategories:

  1. Hardwoods
  2. Softwoods
  3. Composites

Even the term 'hardwood' or 'softwood' is deceptive.Hardwoods aren't necessarily harder, denser material.  Forexample, balsa wood is one of the lightest, least densewoods there is, and it's considered a hardwood. Technically,lumber is classified based on how the tree reproduces. As ageneral rule, though, softwood trees are evergreen yearround while the hardwoods create the gorgeous autumn foliagethat we all love so much.

Hardwoods are considered the highest quality and are themost expensive.  Their natural colors vary from the darkestwoods to the lightest ones and and they can be stained orpainted for even more variety. Hardwood furniture is leastlikely to warp or bend and is prized in all high qualityhomes. The five woods most commonly used in furnitureproduction are cherry, walnut, oak, maple and mahogany.

Softwoods are less expensive than hardwoods, but theyrequire extra care. Because they are less durable, it's mucheasier to scratch or dent softwood furniture.

In addition,they often don't have the beautiful grains of a hardwood,and therefore don't stain as beautifully.

Pine is an example of a softwood that is commonly used forfurniture. These woods are often used in construction aswell so the choicest pieces are reserved for furniture. Inconstruction, knots and splits are common. Lots ofconstruction lumber will not accept paint and this kind ofwood is used for shelves or packing crates.

The softwood used in furniture is designated as "Appearance"lumber and includes most softwood lumber that has beencustom milled to a pattern or otherwise surfaced on all foursides.

Composites are the cheapest form of wood and are literallymanufactured, rather than grown.

1. Plywood: multiple layers of thin wooden sheets are gluedtogether and pressed. Plywood is strong and resistsswelling, shrinking and warping. There is some furnituremade directly from plywood, but generally it is only used asa support when incorporated into furniture.

2. Particle board: sawdust and small wood chips are mixedwith glue or resin which is then shaped and pressuretreated. When used for inexpensive furniture, particle boardis usually covered with laminate or veneer. This isnecessary because particle board splits easily and thelaminate prevents splitting. However, the downside is thatthe laminate may separate from the wood because the particleboard responds to temperature and pressure changes byswelling and shrinking.

3. Hardboard: is made like particle board but it's placedunder higher pressure so it's stronger.

4. MDF or Medium Density Fiberboard: wood particles arebonded with resin and compressed. It is harder than particleboard or hardboard, and can be cut like plywood although itisn't as strong as plywood. Some MDF is covered withmelamine which is a durable plastic in a variety of colors.The exposed edges of MDF are rough and need covering withmolding or some other decorative material.

Technically, furniture made from all of these wood productsis "real" wood furniture, even the composites. Prices andquality range from the hardwoods down to the composites.The higher you go up the spectrum, the more you can expectto pay for your wood furniture.  The good part, of course,is that with proper care hardwood furniture will last fordecades or even generations. If you can afford itArticle Submission, alwayschoose hardwood furniture.

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