17 Types of Best Wood for Dining Tables & How to Select the Best

Wood is one of the most commonly used furniture materials all over the world. There are more than 20 varieties of softwood and over 90 varieties of hardwood that are used in building furniture all over the world. This can be highly confusing and overwhelming. Therefore, while selecting a particular type of wood for your dining table, it is very important to adhere to certain basics of the process. Deciding on what color you want is the easiest part. However, selecting from a wide variety of wood that is used in making furniture, is a complex activity.

Selection Criteria

There are 2 basic factors that must be taken into consideration to arrive at the right choice of wood. These include,

1.  Durability

The hardness of wood or durability can be measured using the Janka hardness test. The test is designed specifically to assess the wear and denting of the sample of wood. Wood types that are harder and more durable achieve a higher number on this test.

2.  Grain

Woodgrain is an important factor that determines the texture of wood. It is, essentially, the arrangement of wood fibers. These tell you whether the wood is closed-grain or open-grain. Closed-grain wood has smaller pores that are usually not visible whereas, open-grain wood has larger pores that can be seen with the naked eye. 

Wood is segregated in two major categories – deciduous and coniferous. In most cases, wood that comes from deciduous trees is harder. Therefore, most durable furniture items like dining tables, are made from the wood of these trees.

17 Different Types of Woods for Dining Tables

Wood is widely used in creating different pieces of domestic and commercial furniture. When it comes to dining room furniture, oak, maple, walnut, and teak are the more traditional and popular options. when it comes to building the best dining room tabletops. And out of these, oak is the best wood for farmhouse tables. These tables are relatively easy to craft and render an interesting character to your dining area.

1. Acacia

Originally native to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Indonesia, wood from Acacia is naturally smooth, especially when polished. But that is not the only reason why it is one of the best woods for dining room table. It is water-resistant and resistant to fungus. The wood is said to be highly durable and can last for as long as 40 years even without any special treatment. It does not stretch easily and is naturally antibacterial.

  • Durable and naturally antibacterial.
  • Water-resistant and perfect for surfaces that get wet often.

2. Ash

Ash trees are very strong and play an important role in the lumber industry. They are shock-resistant and light in weight making them ideal for furniture, flooring, cabinets, etc. commonly known as ‘golden oak’ ash is a hardwood tree with a hardness rating of 1200.

Because of its shock absorbent qualities, the ash wood is also used in making handles for tools. It is also flexible and bendable making it a wood of choice for creating furniture like dining tables. The wood is easy to glue, screw, nail, and polish resulting in aesthetically beautiful pieces of furniture.

  • Entirely shock-resistant
  • Lightweight and powerful

3. Beech

Wood from beech trees has multiple applications including creating furniture, flooring, making containers, etc. It is shock-resistant, has medium stiffness and high crush strength with a hardness rating of 1300. Interestingly, beechwood does not impart any odor or taste making it suitable for creating food packaging containers.

Unfortunately, beechwood is considered susceptible to attack from furniture beetle. Therefore, it is not a wood of choice for creating long-lasting furniture pieces like dining tables or beds. However, it is still widely used in the Scandinavian type of furniture or furniture that required curved parts.

  • Shock-resistant and strong wood
  • Bendable and odorless

4. Birch

Birchwood is usually straight-grained and comes with a uniform texture. It is a heavy wood that is hard and strong making it perfect for creating durable furniture items like dining tables and cabinets. Additionally, the wood is shock resistant and comes with good crushing strength. Light and easy to use, birchwood can be easily profiled or carved.

Birchwood glues well and is easy to nail and screw. Other than this, the wood comes with an elegant natural finish rendering it a preferred wood for creating exquisite pieces of furniture.

  • Small wood pores
  • Heavy wood, strong, and hard.

5. Cherry

The richness of color is the most prominent characteristic of cherry wood. The finish becomes even more smooth after the wood is sanded and stained. It also dries faster than most types of furniture woods and is dimensionally stable.

However, the cherry wood has is low in stiffness and has medium strength and shock resistance abilities. Due to this, the wood is more suitable for creating finer items of furniture like kitchen cabinets or molding and millwork rather than heavier pieces like the dining tables.

  • Medium-density and good bending properties
  • Easy to nail and glue.

6. Elm

There are over a 100 species of elm trees all over the world. They are famous for their unique interlocked grain surfaces. However, this design also makes the elm wood slightly difficult to work with, especially without proper tools. Further, the wood is rated as non-durable since it is susceptible to attack from insects. The wood is hard, heavy, and firm making it an ideal choice for long-lasting furniture like a dining table. Elm is also relatively elastic and very stable when it is dry.

  • Low shrinkage and high stability
  • Difficult to work with.

7. Hickory

Hickory wood’s characteristic feature is its contrasting colors. This wood can certainly make an interesting dining table for your home. However, hickory is very hard, strong, and challenging to work with. It is also a dry category of wood and tends to split easily. 

  • Elegant looking wood
  • Strong and long-lasting

8. Mahogany

Mahogany is a hard, resilient wood that is extremely beautiful, making it a much sought-after material for creating long-lasting furniture. Its brown-red color renders a rich look to the furniture making it stand out.

On the durability front, mahogany is robust and strong making it highly suitable for creating heavy pieces of furniture including dining tables and large cabinets. However, it is also a preferred wood since it is resistant to swelling, wrapping or shrinking over time. This makes it a material of choice for regions that have moist and humid climates.

  • A durable wood that maintains its integrity.
  • Heavyweight wood with even texture and long-lasting smooth finish.

9. Maple

There are over a hundred species of maple trees in the world. However, only 5 are used commercially and out of these only 2 are hard rock maple. This wood is extremely hard and shock-resistant making it suitable for creating something as durable as bowling alley floors.

The wood comes in even pores and even grains making it a product of choice for creating American colonial furniture. However, maple does not offer as elegant a finish as say, oak or mahogany. Therefore, its usage is mostly restricted to creating benchtops.

  • Very hard and resistant to shock.
  • Used mostly in indoor furniture pieces.

10. Oak

As the most widely used hardwood, oak is certainly one of the best materials for creating durable and strong furniture pieces like dining tables and chairs. Its elegant grain pattern and pliable nature is an added benefit when creating paneling or veneers.

Apart from looks, the wood is resistant against fungal attack and has long-lasting properties. White oak measures 1360 in strength on the Janka scale whereas red oak measures 1290. Although the Vikings built their ships using oak, the furniture made from this wood is not suitable for regular outdoor use. Other than furniture, oak wood is also used in flooring and cabinetry.

  • Attractive natural finish
  • Strong and mold resistant

11. Pecan

Other than their delicious pecan nuts, pecan trees are also famous for their wood. They provide valuable lumber and beautiful veneer. As a member of the walnut family, pecan is considered a ‘cool wood’ that comes in multiple looks. It is a favorite for making sports goods as well as pieces of furniture and ladder rungs.

Interestingly, the pecan wood is very hard and resilient but only moderately heavy. However, on the downside, the pecan wood is usually dense, and veneer made from it can buckle after drying.

  • A traditional favorite for making furniture and cabinetry
  • Strong wood with closed pores.

12. Poplar

Like pecan, poplar also has closed wood pores. It is a popular choice for making wooden furniture mainly because it is easy to work in most regards. Poplar has a low density that can result in fuzzy edges and surfaces. However, using finer grits of sandpaper can be helpful to overcome this. Poplar is normally not used for its looks or appearance.

It is, however, the most economical utility wood. From pallets to crates and upholstered furniture, poplar is a common veneer with numerous applications. 

  • Poplar is a low-density softwood.
  • It is most used for making furniture, decorative wood pieces, and pallets.

13. Teak

Teak is certainly one of the more expensive woods available in the market today. Naturally durable and moderately hard, this wood has been popularly used in oriental furniture. Teak is highly stable and its high oil content acts as a natural water repellent. Because of this, teak is one of the rare woods that is immune to fungal infections and rotting. It is also not susceptible to termite attacks.

Apart from durability, teak is coarsely grained and even textured. It is also dimensionally stable and can be used for indoor as well as outdoor furniture. All these properties make teak wood an excellent choice and best wood for dining tabletops.

  • Durable and decay-resistant
  • Stable wood with even texture

14. Walnut

Walnut is a popular choice when it comes to building solid wood furniture pieces. Considered as the best wood for dining room tables, walnut wood is hard, resilient, and heavy. It is also not prone to extensive shrinkage and resists warping.

If you are building a strong dining room table, then walnut wood is an excellent option, as the material is not prone to decay or insect attack. It is easy to work with as the wood carves and profiles conveniently. Additionally, its smooth finish and even surface ensure that you end up with an elegant dining table in your home.

  • Heavy, durable, and easy to carve.
  • Shock-resistant and resilient

15. Cedar

Cedar is highly durable and can last for years and decades. Compounds found in cedarwood fiber act as natural preservatives and make it endure for longer than most woods. Apart from this, the wood is light in weight and evenly textured. It is less dense than other softwoods and furniture made from this wood is easy to move from one place to another. Cedar wood’s consistent nature makes it an ideal wood to saw, cut, glue, and nail.

Although you may use it to build dining room tables, the wood is mostly used in exterior siding or interior paneling. This is because it can increase insulation and blocking noise at the same time.

  • Dimensionally stable and resistant to decay
  • Excellent finish and workability.

16. Pine

As a softwood with nearly a hundred species all over the world, pinewood has numerous applications. Its softness makes it an ideal choice for building decorative furniture items. However, the wood is straight-grained, light in weight, and lacks figure which is essential in creating robust and enduring furniture. Having said that, it is one of the most widely used woods and can be easily crafted using hand or machine.

Being a coniferous wood, pinewood is naturally durable provided it is not exposed to moisture. However, it has good strength and comes with natural elasticity.

  • Relatively soft and medium-weighted product
  • High natural moisture content so prone to fungal infection, particularly in moist climates.

17. Redwood

Depending on the region that it is sourced from, redwood can range from being strong to moderately hard. It has medium working qualities and, in general, gives a smooth and clean finish to the final product. The wood is weather-resistant and does not rot or decay easily. It is commonly used in furniture, particularly outdoor furniture.

Overall, the wood has a decent weight to strength ratio and is fairly stable with very little shrinkage and seasonal movement.

  • Soft and lightweight wood.
  • Durable and resistant to rot and decay.

In Conclusion

A dining table is usually the place where families get together and share meals regularly. This makes it an important and significant piece of furniture in our homes. So, it is understandable to spend a considerable amount of time and effort while deciding on the type of wood that should go into building a dining table. With so many contenders for the best wood for dining room table, the task can be a complicated one. Our guide and the points listed above, are designed to help you assess which wood type suits your requirements.

We have extensively covered the popular types of wood that are used to build dining tables and other robust and enduring pieces of furniture. While all woods are beautiful and can be made to look elegant, they are different and each one has unique properties. Each one also comes at a different price point. Therefore, before you finalize on the best wood for dining table make sure that you have compared each finalist on durability, grain, finish, as well as cost.

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