16 Types of Hardwood (with Pictures) | House Grail (2023)

Hardwood is a wood type commonly used in building, construction, or DIY projects. It’s prized due to its charming, natural look and high durability. Hardwood is harder than softwood, as you can tell by the name, and various trees fall into the hardwood category.

Every type of hardwood has characteristics that set it apart from the others. Some look better, and some are more affordable or durable. To help you discover all of their benefits (along with the disadvantages), here’s a list of 16 types of hardwood. Read on below to find out more about their unique traits and differences.

16 Types of Hardwood (with Pictures) | House Grail (1)

The 16 Types of Hardwood

1. Oak Wood

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Color:Light brown/beige – can have golden/reddish hues
Grain:Straight-grained, uneven texture

Oak is one of the most popular hardwoods, with over 600 different species used for projects all over the world. All Oak specimens are strong, durable, heavy, and dense. They are insect, water, and fungi-resistant, making them perfect for outdoor use. Oak is a hardwood often used for flooring due to its benefits and looks.

Other than flooring, you can make furniture, paneling, decking, joinery, and veneers from Oak. It is less prone to cracking and warping than other hardwoods. Oak has a natural, charming appearance, so many people use it to enhance their home’s curb appeal. Oak will make your home beautiful for years to come if taken care of properly.


  • Long-lasting
  • Durable
  • Water, insect, and fungi-resistant
  • Charming appearance
  • Not prone to warping and bending


  • Heavy

2. Cherry Wood

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Color:Light-pink toned/brown-red with golden hues
Grain:Straight-grained, fine smooth texture

Cherry is another unique hardwood species that looks elegant and has various purposes. Due to its excellent workability, strength, and durability, it’s used for making furniture, cabinets, flooring, doors, paneling, carvings, and molding. Different Cherry types vary in colors, from light-pink tones to brown-red shares with golden hues. It has a great shock, rot, and decay resistance.

Cherry wood can be harmed by sunlight, and it will change its color when exposed to excessive sunlight. It’s also not as water-resistant as some other hardwoods, so it’s best to use it for the interior. This beautiful hardwood species requires more maintenance than others because it quickly collects dust and dirt.


  • Stunning colors
  • Amazing flexibility
  • Strong
  • Shock, rot, and decay-resistant


  • Changes color when exposed to excessive sunlight
  • Requires a lot of maintenance
  • Not water-resistant
  • Expensive

3. Rosewood

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Grain:Straight-grained (can be spiral or wavy)

Rosewood is a durable hardwood that comes in different varieties and has a lot of good qualities. Rosewood is hard, dense, and offers good stability. It’s often used to make furniture, musical instruments, cabinetry, flooring, and paneling. Rosewood is easy to work with and has medium shock resistance. It’s ideal for enhancing your home with its stunning rich color. This wood type can be expensive, though, especially Brazilian Rosewood because it’s a rare hardwood species.


  • Durable
  • Offers good stability
  • Easy to work with
  • Medium shock-resistant


  • Expensive
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4. Walnut Wood

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Color:Dark chocolate/ light brown
Grain:Straight to irregular grained

Walnut is an affordable hardwood that comes in several unique colors. It gets lighter with age, gaining a stunning golden/honey color. People mostly use Walnut for flooring, furniture, cabinets, and carvings. It’s decay-resistant, but it’s prone to insect attacks. Walnut wood is straight to irregular grained and can sometimes have a curly or wavy structure that enhances its look. While working with Walnut, you might sense a mild odor from the wood. Due to its charm and reasonable price, many people choose Walnut wood for their projects and renovations.


  • Affordable
  • Beautiful color
  • Easy to work with


  • Has an odor while being worked with

5. Maple Wood

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Color:Creamy white with reddish and brown hues
Grain:Straight-grained, uniform texture

Maple is a well-known hardwood with impressive durability. Like other hardwoods, it has different species, but the one that stands out most is Hard Maple (Sugar Maple). That is the most durable Maple species, so people go for it because of its beautiful looks and undeniable strength.

Maple is easy to work with, although softer types are more workable than hard Maple. People use it for construction, furniture, musical instruments, toys, and carving. Maple wood can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation, though, so consider that if you have health issues.


  • Impressive durability
  • Strength
  • Easy to work with


  • Can cause allergic reactions

6. Mahogany Wood

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Color:Deep red/reddish-brown with burgundy hues

Mahogany is a desirable hardwood with a unique appearance due to its deep red or reddish/brown color. This wood species is not prone to warping and bending, and it is very dense, making it ideal for cabinetry, decking, flooring, furniture, musical instruments, and veneers. Mahogany is rot and decay-resistant as well as water-resistant. It’s durable but still easy to work with, making it great for various projects and construction. Mahogany does change color when exposed to sunlight and can be difficult to find due to the high demand.


  • Unique color
  • Not prone to warping and bending
  • Dense
  • Rot, decay, and water-resistant


  • Changes color when exposed to sunlight
  • Can be difficult to find
  • Pricey

7. Ash Wood

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Color:Light brown/beige

Ash is an excellent hardwood species that is durable and has a high-quality feeling. It’s very strong and not prone to scratches and dents. It’s a hardwood species with a score of 1320 on the Janka scale, but it’s lightweight, regardless of its hardness. Ash is also shock-resistant, and due to its good workability and natural appeal, people use it for furniture, cabinetry, doors, and flooring. Other things like sports equipment and tool handles are also made from Ash wood.


  • Durable
  • Strong
  • Not prone to scratches and dents
  • Lightweight
  • Hard
  • Shock-resistant
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  • Not insect and fungi-resistant
  • Flammable

8. Hickory Wood

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Color:Light beige/dark brown
Grain:Straight or wavy-grained/coarse-medium texture

Hickory is a hardwood native to the USA. It’s the strongest, stiffest, and hardest domestic species in the US. This stunning hardwood species is a popular option for flooring, cabinetry, and furniture. Due to its fantastic durability, Hickory is also used to create wooden ladders, tool handles, and sports goods. It is also shock-resistant. The downside of this hardwood is that it’s pretty challenging to work with, so it requires extra patience and caution.


  • Strong, stiff, and hard
  • Durable
  • Shock-resistant


  • Difficult to work with

9. Beech Wood

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Color:Light brown/reddish-brown
Grain:Straight-grained/fine-even texture

Beech is an interesting species of hardwood that can be found in many parts of the world. Many people go for this wood type due to its good workability and various uses. It’s best to use Beech indoors because it cannot bear extreme weather and moisture. You can use Beech Wood for flooring, furniture, and door construction, but it’s great for something meat, vegetable, or ham smoking. It’s a sustainable species that will help make your home more eco-friendly.


  • Good workability
  • Interesting usage
  • Eco-friendly


  • Cannot bear weather changes and moisture
  • Not for outdoor use

10. Elm Wood

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Grain:Interlocked grain/uneven texture

Elm is not a durable hardwood species. However, furniture made of Elm tends to be very strong and high-quality. Elm is another species that you shouldn’t use outdoors, and you should only include it in interior design. That is because it’s not water-resistant and reacts to moisture. You can make furniture, carvings, paneling, parquet flooring, and stairs out of this wood type. Since it’s lightweight, there are also other Elm uses like making boxes, tool handles, and paper production.


  • Strong and high-quality
  • Lightweight
  • Good workability


  • Not durable
  • Not for outdoor usage
  • Not-water resistant
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11. Teak Wood

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Color:Honey brown-golden/silver-gray patina
Grain:Straight-grained/ grain can be interlocked or wavy occasionally

Teak is famous for its color and durability. It’s water, termite, and decay-resistant, so both indoor and outdoor usage is acceptable. It is not too hard to work with Teak wood, so many woodworkers choose it for their projects. You can make Teak furniture, decking, build boats, or use it to make Plywood. It’s expensive compared to some other hardwoods, but it is more convenient because it comes in large sizes.


  • Durable
  • Water, termite, and decay-resistant
  • Good workability


  • Expensive

12. Balau Wood

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Grain:Interlocked grain/coarse texture

Balau is a hardwood native to Malaysia, known for its density. Its primary usage is in heavy construction, but it’s hard to work with because it’s very dense. People also use it for decking, flooring, boat making, and furniture. Balau is used worldwide and many people go for it due to the affordable price. It is very durable lumber that’s water-resistant but not insect and decay-resistant. If taken care of properly, anything made from Balau will last you for a lifetime.


  • Dense
  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Water-resistant


  • Difficult to work with
  • Not resistant to insects and decay

13. Poplar Wood

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Color:Light beige/white/creamy white with yellow hues

If you’re looking for a hardwood that’s easy to work with, you should try using Poplar. It’s a species used mainly for furniture and woodworking projects, but you can also use it for cabinetry, doors, and light construction. It is a strong wood, but it’s softer compared to some other hardwood options. That’s why you should choose suitable finishes that will make the wood more durable. It needs a moisture-free environment because it can be easily damaged by water.


  • Great workability
  • Strong


  • Softer compared to other hardwoods
  • Needs a moisture-free environment
  • Can be damaged by water

14. Alder Wood

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Color:Light brown/pinkish-brown with red hues
Grain:Closed-smooth grained

Alder is a versatile hardwood with a unique appearance. Its common use is in cabinetry, moldings, doors, paneling, and furniture. It’s lightweight and easy to work with, so it’s a great option for DIY projects. This is another hardwood that is quite soft but not prone to cracking and warping. Alder is another affordable wood type, and it’s among the most eco-friendly hardwoods. It’s not water-resistant, and it’s not one of the most durable options on the market, though.

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  • Versatile
  • Easy to work with
  • Affordable
  • Eco-friendly
  • Not prone to cracking and warping


  • Not water-resistant
  • Not durable

15. Pecan Wood

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Color:Light brown/ darker brown with reddish hues
Grain:Straight-grained/ can be wavy occasionally

Pecan is a hardwood that belongs to the hickory family. It’s a stiff and hard species, which makes it difficult to work with. Pecan’s use is to make cabinetry, flooring, and furniture. It can also be used as firewood or for smoking meat and other foods. It’s not a durable wood, but the floors and furniture made out of it tend to be of good quality. Pecan is difficult to stain, so you’ll need to stick to its natural shades.


  • Various usages
  • Looks pretty


  • Difficult to work with
  • Not durable
  • Difficult to stain

16. Birch Wood

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Color:Pale-light brown/brown-reddish
Grain:Straight-grained/fine texture

Birch is another hardwood species that is widespread and has various uses and purposes. It’s durable, so people use it widely for furniture and flooring. Birch has an attractive appearance due to its straight grain and fine texture. It’s decay-resistant, lightweight, and affordable, which makes it very popular. Still, it can crack and warp easily, and it’s expensive compared to other hardwood types. It’s also not insect-resistant, so it’s best to use it indoors only.


  • Durable
  • Attractive appearance
  • Lightweight


  • It’s affordable but still expensive compared to other hardwood species
  • Not insect-resistant
  • Prone to cracking and warping
  • Related Read: 25 Different Types of Hardwood Trees (With Pictures)

Which hardwood is the most popular for flooring?

Oak is the most popular hardwood for flooring. People turn to it due to its beautiful appearance and aesthetic appeal plus its durability and long-lasting nature. Oak serves a valuable purpose in flooring because it’s dense and not prone to scratching and damage, making it convenient, especially for families with pets or children.

After Oak, the two runners-up are Maple and Cherry, which are also very popular for flooring. If you decide to install new flooring, always compare all the floor features you did or didn’t like. Make a careful decision because they can bring benefits or a bunch of problems if not appropriately chosen.

16 Types of Hardwood (with Pictures) | House Grail (18)


As you can see, there are various hardwoods on the market. They all have different characteristics, and each one is unique in its own way. It’s always best to consider all pros and cons before deciding which wood type you will use. There’s something for everyone’s budget, so just compare your needs and wishes, and choose the hardwood for your unique project.

Featured Image Credit: Gorlov-KV, Shutterstock


  • 1 The 16 Types of Hardwood
    • 1.1 1. Oak Wood
    • 1.2 2. Cherry Wood
    • 1.3 3. Rosewood
    • 1.4 4. Walnut Wood
    • 1.5 5. Maple Wood
    • 1.6 6. Mahogany Wood
    • 1.7 7. Ash Wood
    • 1.8 8. Hickory Wood
    • 1.9 9. Beech Wood
    • 1.10 10. Elm Wood
    • 1.11 11. Teak Wood
    • 1.12 12. Balau Wood
    • 1.13 13. Poplar Wood
    • 1.14 14. Alder Wood
    • 1.15 15. Pecan Wood
    • 1.16 16. Birch Wood
  • 2 Which hardwood is the most popular for flooring?
  • 3 Conclusion


How many types of hardwood are there? ›

11 Types of Hardwood: Different Wood Species and Uses - 2023 - MasterClass.

Is there an app that identifies wood type? ›

Xylorix Inspector is an automated macroscopic wood identification mobile app. Given the 24x magnified anatomical visual information of the cross section (end-grain) of a timber, Xylorix Inspector uses its trained artificial intelligence models to identify the timber genus/species in a few seconds.

What are common hardwoods in America? ›

Primary species include ash, cherry, hard maple, red oak, soft maple, white oak, basswood, beech, birch, walnut, poplar, and hickory, which are great for high-end furniture, millwork, cabinetry, doors, flooring and paneling, and more.

What is the most popular hardwood? ›

Of the domestic wood species, oak (red and white) is the most popular, although not the hardest. Hickory and maple are harder than oak and are ideal for active homes.

What are the top 20 hardest woods? ›

What is the hardest wood in the world?
  • Baraúna: 4,800 lbf(21,000 N)
  • Quebracho: 4,570 lbf(20,340 N)
  • Guayacan: 4,500 lbf(20,000 N)
  • Gidgee: 4,270 lbf(18,990 N)
  • Snakewood: 3,800 lbf(17,000 N)
  • Verawood: 3,710 lbf (16,520 N)
  • Camelthorn: 3,680 lbf(16,370 N)
  • African Blackwood: 3,670 lbf (16,320 N)

What is the lightest hardwood? ›

Balsa wood is the lightest commercial material in the world.

What are the main wood types? ›

There are two different types of lumber - softwood and hardwood. Softwood lumber comes from evergreen or coniferous trees like fir, pine, spruce, redwood, and cedar.
Few of the most popular hardwood types of lumber grown across the world are :
  • Balsa wood.
  • Oakwood.
  • Maple wood - hard and soft.
  • Walnut wood.
  • Ashwood.
  • Poplar wood.

What is the prettiest hardwood? ›

Beautiful Wood
  • Alder.
  • Sugar Maple.
  • Zebrano.
  • Brazilian Mahogany.
  • Teak.
  • Indian Laurel.
  • European Lime.
  • Obeche.

What is the nicest looking wood? ›

Western Red Cedar — for beautiful variance in colour

Western Red Cedar should be one of your go-to timbers. Not only has it got the looks, but it's also incredibly naturally durable.

What is the best grade of hardwood? ›

The highest grade boards are FAS and Select, followed by #1 Common and #2 Common. What grade you choose depends on your project. Some projects, such as tabletops and high quality furniture, may dictate the highest grade available.

How can I tell what hardwood I have? ›

The grain pattern is a sure way of identifying the wood type. In practice, hardwoods such as European oak lumber or mahogany have an open poor structure while softwoods are almost smooth with zero grain indentations. Another pattern worth observing is if the wood was plain sawn or quarter sawn at the time of cutting.

How can I tell what type of wood I have? ›

Non-porous woods are softwoods. Ring, semi-ring, and diffuse-porous woods are all hardwoods. If you can't sand your piece, look inside of drawers cabinets, trim boards, or even the bottom of legs for an untreated end grain view. It will really help you out with identification.

How do you know what type of hardwood you have? ›

Scrape Some of the Finish Off

So, push a fingernail into the finish a bit harder. If it's a softwood, like pine, you will see a dent forming. Nevertheless, if it's hardwood, the finish will remain unmarked. Maple and birch look quite similar when finished with dark paint or stain.

What is the rarest hardwood? ›

Some woods are incredibly expensive, others unbelievably rare, but African Blackwood is a timber that satisfies both categories, renowned for its exotically dark finish, extraordinary properties and scarcity in the world.

What is the softest wood in America? ›

As the softest wood species on our chart, white cedar is also one of the least dense woods. This makes it easy to transport in both its raw and finished forms.

What are the most valuable hardwoods? ›

Topping the list of most expensive woods in the world is Bocote, a flowering plant from the borage family that is mostly found in Mexico, Central and South America. Initially a yellow/brown shade, this wood darkens over time. It has a fragrant smell and is usually used for furniture and flooring.

What color flooring is timeless? ›

Drawing on the traditional neutral colors of carpet, choose a light or neutral tone for a timeless carpet. Choose from gray, white, or beige to match your interior design. When popular flooring trends change, you won't have to update yours!

What color flooring makes a room look bigger? ›

1) Light and dark flooring

Think cream carpets, natural and neutral toned tiles and whitewashed wood flooring. These attractive, light and neutral colours give a room an open and airy feel, making it appear larger, whilst also drawing in the natural sunlight from outside.

What is the most popular wood floor color for 2022? ›

Top 5 wood floor color categories:

White-washes and tones. Honey & light brown tones. Walnut & dark brown tones. Warm red tones.

What is the weakest wood? ›

It's common knowledge, but Balsa is indeed the softest and lightest of all commercial woods. Nothing else even comes close.

What is the lightest strongest wood? ›

Redwood – It's one of the lightest and most durable woods used for building. It's one of the many reasons why Redwood is such a popular building material. Heartwood redwood grades are the most durable. Cedar – At just 19.7 to 23 pounds per square foot (dry) Cedar is one of the lightest woods.

What wood is the hardest to break? ›

Meier's own list ranks quebracho, with a Janka score of 4,570 lbf, as the hardest wood in the world. Quebracho is found in Paraguay and Argentina.

What hardwood does not scratch? ›

Selecting a floor such as Hickory, Hard Maple or White Oak can protect your floor from damage, as these hardwoods are less susceptible to scratches than softer woods like Pine, Cherry or Black Walnut. Hardwoods with more dramatic grain patterns can help to hide scratches more easily.

What is the most water resistant hardwood? ›

Because of all its natural oils, teak is generally considered the most naturally water resistant wood — but it's not really particularly affordable, sustainable or easy to get your hands on.

What is the most rot resistant hardwood? ›

Extremely Rot-Resistant Wood. Mahogany – This is the king of hardwood. It is extremely dense and hard which keeps the insects and water at bay, preventing rot.

What are 4 types of hard wood? ›

Origins of Hardwood Timber

The common examples of hardwood are balsa, mahogany, maple, elm, sycamore and oak.

What is the strongest hardwood? ›

Generally acknowledged as the hardest wood, lignum vitae (Guaiacum sanctum and Guaiacum officinale) measures in at 4,500 pounds-force (lbf) on the Janka scale. That's more than twice as hard as Osage orange (one of the hardest domestic woods) at 2,040 lbf and more than three times harder than red oak at 1,290 lbf.

What are the 3 grades of hardwood? ›

Select grade is the most expensive of the three, with #1 being a bit cheaper, and #2 Rustic grade costing considerably less than Select. SELECT grade has very few imperfections or character markings. Select grade will be almost uniform in color, with very few knots or holes, and longer, similar length boards.

What is the most durable hardwood? ›

Oak: Oak is the industry standard when it comes to hardwood flooring. With a Janka rating of approximately 1300, it is incredibly durable, available, and comes in various colors (including white and red). Ash: Ash flooring offers a light, stylish grain that is perfect for modern designs and a Janka rating of 1320.

What is the softest hardwood? ›

It's common knowledge, but Balsa is indeed the softest and lightest of all commercial woods. Nothing else even comes close. Useful for insulation, buoyancy, and other special applications.

What are the 3 main types of wood? ›

The types of wood can be sorted in to three main categories – Softwood, Hardwood and Engineered Wood. Contrary to popular belief, Softwoods are not necessarily soft and neither are Hardwoods hard.

What is the most durable soft wood? ›

Douglas Fir

It is universally recognised for its excellent strength to weight ratio, boasting the highest strength rating of any softwood.


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