Friday, March 23, 2007

Tips on Choosing Wood for Ready-to-Finish Furniture

by Pop's Furniture

Wood has long been the material of choice for quality furniture for many good reasons:

Wood is available in various colors, grains and hardnesses. It can be cut and shaped into a large variety of attractive designs.

Wood is shock-resistant and very durable, generally outlasting synthetic materials. Scratches and nicks are easy to touch up.

Wood has lasting value. Genuine wood furniture may cost more in the beginning, but it often grows in value as it is handed down from one generation to another.

With ready-to-finish wood furniture you can add and match other pieces at any time. This is often not possible with prefinished furniture.

Types of Wood:

Ready-to-finish furniture is available in many types of wood, each with special characteristics. And because each tree yields lumber with its own grain patterns and character markings, each piece of genuine wood furniture has a unique personality.

You may not be familiar with every type of wood, but all make quality furnishings of various types. Pop's Furniture will be happy to advise you about the stains and finishes to use for best results on each type. Here are the kinds of wood commonly used to make ready-to-finish furniture:

Alder is a hardwood from the Pacific Northwest. It is very consistent in color and takes stain well. It ranks second behind pine as the wood most commonly used for ready-to-finish furniture. Alder gives the look of many fine hardwoods such as Birch or Western Maple at a reasonable price.

Pine is a softwood that comes in many varieties from various parts of the world. In the U.S., Eastern White Pine, Ponderosa Pine and Sugar Pine are some of the varieties used to make furniture. All have yellow coloring with brown knots and are excellent for staining. With some stains a sealer helps prepare the wood to achieve a more even look.

Radiata Pine is a plantation-grown wood from South America that is harder than other pines and has fewer knots. This variety of pine has a beautiful grain pattern.

Parawood from the Far East is used for much of the furniture made in that part of the world. The wood is as hard as maple or ash and takes a very even stain. It is yellow in color, with a grain similar to oak (often referred to as Malaysian Oak).

Oak is a very hard, open-grain wood that comes in red or white varieties. Red Oak, which has a pinkish cast, is the more popular of the two. White Oak has a slight greenish cast. Both woods stain well in any color.

Maple is especially abundant in the eastern U.S. It is a very light-colored hardwood with a very even grain texture. Eastern maples are generally harder than Western Maples because of the colder winters and shorter growing seasons. Both are very durable and take any color of stain well.

Ash is a long-fibered, light-colored hardwood with a tight grain much like Birch or Maple. It is good for bending, takes stain well and is used mainly for chairs and stools.

Aspen is a softer, light-colored, even-grained hardwood. It accepts most stains well, but may need a sealer or a coat of mineral spirits to achieve an even stain. Non-penetrating stains work best on this wood.

Beech grows primarily in the Northeast and Canada. It is a cream-colored hardwood often used for sporting equipment, such as baseball bats. It has an open grain pattern similar to that of Oak and takes stains well.

Birch is a fine-grained hardwood that grows primarily in the Northeast and Canada. White in color, it takes any color of stain well.

Eucalyptus is a hardwood that earns high marks for strength, durability and offers excellent weathering characteristics.

Red Shorea is a tropical hardwood native to Southeast Asia that has much of the same characteristics as Teak. It is denser and heavier than Teak and its color, like Teak, will turn a soft grey over time.

Pop's Furniture offers over 10,000 solid wood furniture items at discounted prices, visit Pop's Furniture for more information on buying solid wood furniture.

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