How To: Choose the Right Wood for a Project

How To: Choose the Right Wood for a Project

There is a world of wood out there that varies enormously when it comes to quality, grade, grain, durability, and last but by no means least, cost. When you’re deciding on new projects it pays to do your homework. Knowing the distinctions between woods can make a huge difference in how your project comes out.

Just know that there really isn’t an exact answer to the perfect wood and there are a lot of factors that can determine the longevity of your project. It all depends on the project, how you’re planning on using it, and how long you’d like it to last for.

Types of Wood:
As we said, there is a lot of variety when it comes to wood. But for the most part all woods go into two categories: softwood and hardwoods.

About 80% of all timber comes from softwoods that are from conifer trees like pine, fir, spruce, and cedar. These woods get their classification for a reason; they can be easily dented or scratched. Softwood lumber also absorbs and loses moisture much easier than hardwoods, so extra care must be taken to maintain the wood’s stability over a lifetime.

Hardwoods are often more expensive and sometimes more challenging to work with, their upside is that most are denser, meaning many hardwoods will last longer than softwoods. Examples of hardwood trees include alder, balsa, beech, hickory, mahogany, maple, oak, teak, and walnut.

In Bermuda, we tend to use a lot of both. Obviously cedar is a popular choice here as well as any wood that can last outdoors or for a long time like teak and mahogany. In our opinion the best type of wood for Bermuda is acetylated wood, like Accoya. Treated wood, like Accoya, allows it to withstand rot and the elements as well as be more dimensionally stable than other woods, perfect for our temperatures here in Bermuda.

Project Type:
The largest determining factor in the wood that you will choose is the project itself. What are you building?

Are you building a deck or installing new floors? In both cases we recommend using a wood that is durable, like hardwood. Typically, high-quality furniture is also built with hardwood owing to aesthetic and durability. As a general rule, hardwoods are more expensive than softwoods, mainly because of their attractive and durable grains.

Softwoods are also widely used for furniture and in building components like windows and doors. If you’re building something with intricate carvings, using a softwood like pine is popular because it is softer and easier to manipulate.

Take time to think about what you want to build. What is your project? How do you want it to look like in the end? What’s your budget? And finally where is it going and how is it going to be used? When it comes to wood, you’ve got plenty to choose from.