May 04, 2022 8 min read

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability
Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability

When it comes to furniture, the materials used to make your couch, sectional, dining set, or bedroom vary wildly. There are so many materials available for furniture manufacturers that keeping track of them can be confusing and downright annoying to customers.

Most people know that wood is a common component in furniture manufacturing, but many people may not know that several types of wood are used, both natural and manufactured. How is a customer supposed to know which kind of wood is best for their furniture preferences?

Here at Furniture Fair, we’ve sold furniture made from just about every wood you can name to satisfied customers throughout Cincinnati, Dayton, Northern Kentucky, Louisville, and Indiana, and we want to share our decades of experience selling wood furniture to help you be more educated on which wood types are best for your home.

After reading this article, you will better know the common types of wood and composite wood used to make furniture. Read on to learn which wood is best for you and how the different wood types rank by quality.

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability
Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability

Why Do Furniture Companies Use Different Wood Types?

Furniture manufacturers use a wide variety of wood species and wood types when designing furniture, and there are a few reasons why. The main reason usually comes down to price point. Simply put, the best quality wood is costly to manufacture.

Manufacturers use other wood types and other wood species to provide furniture at multiple price points, which allows retailers to sell furniture at affordable prices for people from all walks of life. The variety of wood options available makes owning nice furniture a reality for more than a select few people who can afford solid hardwood furniture.

The second reason furniture manufacturers use multiple wood types is aesthetics. Some people like furniture styles with wild, crazy shapes and patterns that are difficult to replicate using common wood species.

Some furniture uses thin flexible wood trimming called veneer to achieve rounded, elegant curves and intricate shapes that would be nearly impossible to do with hardwood alone. Veneers and other wood manufacturing techniques allow for a wider variety of furniture styles.

The third reason the multiple wood types are used in the furniture manufacturing process is practicality. If you live on the fourth floor of an apartment with no elevators, you probably aren’t looking to lug a solid oak wardrobe up three flights of stairs.

Sometimes lighter furniture is the better option for your living situation, and manufacturing techniques help furniture makers develop furniture for homes that need practicality over longevity. Not everyone needs hardwood construction or high-quality furniture, and sometimes they need the cheaper furniture that is best for their living situation.

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability

Ranking Wood Types By Quality

Now that we’ve established why manufacturers use different wood types let’s look at how they rank by quality. We will be ranking solid and engineered wood furniture manufacturing materials on this list due to their majority use in the furniture industry.

When looking at this list, one thing to keep in mind is that the quality ranking isn’t necessarily an indicator of whether the wood type is right for your furniture needs. If you want the nicest solid wood dining set in your neighborhood, and don’t mind the upfront investment, then the top of the list is for you.

However, if you are more concerned with a table that can withstand the relentless onslaught of hungry children at dinnertime, perhaps a table built from a less costly wood option is a better investment.

Now, without further ado, let’s rank the wood types based on quality. We will be organizing on quality, durability, and price point, with the highest in all categories, ranked first. Here are the rankings for the best wood types in furniture.

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability
Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability

#1 Hardwood

Hardwood is pretty self-explanatory. Solid wood furniture made from hardwood is the closest thing to having a full-on tree in your living room. Because hardwoods are naturally durable and robust, furniture manufacturers use them primarily in high-end furniture where the quality of the wood can be on full display.

Dining sets, bedrooms, and wooden furniture accessories made from solid hardwoods have a noticeable quality difference from other furniture wood types. However, because of the quality of the wood being used, manufacturers charge premium prices for hardwood furniture.

With the price increase also comes an increase in quality in this case. Solid wood furniture that uses hardwoods has a lifespan that can last several generations if properly maintained. Hardwood furniture is an excellent investment for current and future generations and is often at heirloom quality levels.

Hardwood species include but are not limited to the following: Maple, Oak, Cherry, Mahogany, Walnut, Ash, Birch, Beech, and Teak wood. These woods are primarily used in higher-end furniture from brands like Smith Brothers, and for other decorative items and furniture accessories.

Long story short, hardwoods are the most expensive woods on this list but are also the highest quality furniture in the industry and will remain highly sought after by wood enthusiasts and quality furniture collectors due to their longevity and heirloom quality.

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability

#2 Evergreen Wood

Often called softwood, this type of wood is still an amazing material for furniture building while not as dense or strong as hardwoods. Evergreen trees grow tall and straight, making cutting long boards easier than with other wood species.

While hardwood and softwood are both great for building furniture, hardwood tends to be more sought after by people who want heirloom furniture, while evergreen woods are more common and functional. You can find the ranking of solid wood species using the Janka scale, a test that determines wood durability.

Most evergreen wood furniture is made from pine and abundant wood throughout the world. Evergreen woods are used for building materials, including walls, rafters, flooring, fittings, and trim. Evergreen lumber is also used in the cardboard and paper industry.

Evergreen wood species include but are not limited to the following: Pine, Spruce, Redwood, Yew, Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Juniper. Evergreen wood is a great solid wood that will create sturdy furniture for less cost than hardwood.

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability
Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability

#3 Wood Veneer

While also used in plywood, veneers have their usage within the furniture industry. Veneers provide an elegant surface to furniture that requires complex shapes or furniture that uses lower-cost materials in the frame.

The veneer process allows the raw timber to be used on more surfaces, making it more practical for some furniture and providing more sustainability to the furniture manufacturing industry.

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability

#4 Plywood

Plywood is often used for recliner and sofa frames where the wood still needs to be strong but doesn’t show on the surface. Solid mahogany might look nice on a dining room table. Still, if you build an upholstered sectional out of it, your piece will be ridiculously costly, and the aesthetic value of the hardwood used will go to waste.

Plywood gets its name from the ‘plies’ or sheets peeled from the log. Once peeled, the thin sheets of wood veneer are laid on top of each other at 90-degree angles and glued into place, forming a wood sheet.

The cross-grained structure of plywood makes it more resistant to bending, while the glue keeps the plywood in place and adds strength and durability to the plywood board. There are many varieties of plywood for applications in everything from marine or tropical use to flooring.

Because it is engineered, plywood can be as thin or as thick as needed. Thicker plywoods are more durable than some solid woods, and depending on the application, can be the better option for furniture building, especially for dresser drawers, or heavy-duty furniture frames.

Plywood in furniture is primarily used to construct furniture frames. A plywood frame will have strength and durability while also saving materials and cost. Of all the engineered woods, Plywood remains the strongest and most reliable.

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability
Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability

#5 Fiberboard

Fiberboard is one of the ‘wood types’ made primarily from recycled materials like wood chips, paper, sawdust, cardboard, and other organic materials. While considered an eco-friendly alternative to using solid wood, fiberboard materials are not as strong as natural wood.

A cheap alternative to natural wood, fiberboard is used to create low-cost furniture lighter weight and easier to move. If cost is your number one concern and you want to be more thoughtful about your impact on the environment, fiberboard furniture is a cheaper alternative to solid wood or plywood furniture.

Medium Density Fiberboard, or MDF for short, is a type of fiberboard that a lot of lower-cost furniture uses in its construction. MDF is denser than standard fiberboard and is actually heavier than solid wood, but it is still not as strong or durable as solid wood or plywood.

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability

#6 Particleboard

A cousin to fiberboard, particleboard construction features many of the same traits that fiberboard has, but it uses larger pieces of wood chips and flakes, creating more surface space with less material. However, less material means a weaker structure, and value furniture made with particle board is considered the least likely to last when used regularly.

One thing to watch for when buying particleboard furniture is moisture. Because of its glued-together bonded texture, particleboard is highly susceptible to moisture damage. When exposed to moisture, particleboard will expand, resulting in the board's eventual structural failure and, ultimately, the furniture.

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability
Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability

Which Wood Type Is Best For Me?

The short answer to the question, “Which wood type is best for me?” is yes. The more complicated answer is, “It depends on what you need.” Someone looking to buy an heirloom quality dining table would be best looking at solid hardwoods like mahogany or maple.

Someone looking to buy the least expensive setup for a college dorm room should consider fiberboard or particleboard. A person looking to get a sturdy couch that won’t cost them an arm and a leg should try something using evergreen woods or plywood.

Craftsmanship plays almost an equally important role in determining whether or not your furniture will last. Solid wood furniture is only as strong as the pieces holding it together, and if you want pieces that will last, ensure that your furniture is held together well.

Different people will have different priorities. The variety of wood types available is designed to cater to all of those needs and provide quality furniture that meets the customers' preferences. Learn more about how to determine furniture quality here.

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability

Find Out Which Wood Type Is Best For Your Furniture

Now that you know more about wood furniture, you can be ready to start looking for the type of wood furniture that meets your requirements. Remember that hardwoods are sturdy, extremely durable, and make for heirloom quality furniture.

Don't forget that evergreen woods are less costly alternatives to hardwoods and still offer solid wood quality. Remember that plywood is the strongest of the engineered woods, followed by fiberboard and particleboard, with the lowest cost.

if you live in Ohio, Kentucky, or Indiana and are looking for some brands that feature the best quality wood available? Check our review for MAVIN furniture, a custom dining program that features multiple hardwoods and evergreen wood options.

If you like hardwoods and old-school woodworking techniques, consider looking at Stickley. This brand has been in the furniture manufacturing industry since the arts and crafts movement of the early 1900s.

Perhaps you’d like a higher quality level without the highest price tag. Customizable brands like England Furniture and Best Home Furnishings offer solid wood and plywood-based furniture built to last and be less pricey.

Finally, if you need furniture that will help you through that time in college or your start at a new apartment, Ashley furniture has some great options at multiple price points that will help maximize your dollars and keep your wallet happy.

Ranking Furniture Wood Types By Durability