Types of Wood and What to Use Them For in Your Home
Home Improvement

Types of Wood and What to Use Them For in Your Home

Wood is an invaluable material in the world of home décor and construction. With a wide range of types available, each offering unique characteristics, it can be challenging to discern which is the best fit for your needs. Herein, we explore various types of wood and shed light on the best uses for them in your home. As an added bonus, we will highlight an often overlooked, but versatile type of wood, the marine ply.

Hardwood: Oak, Mahogany, and Walnut


Oak is renowned for its strength and durability. Available in two primary variants, red and white, this hardwood possesses an attractive grain, making it a preferred choice for elegant furniture and flooring. Oak’s resistant nature to wear and tear make it suitable for high-traffic areas of your home like hallways and living rooms.


Mahogany is synonymous with luxury, courtesy of its rich, dark colour and straight grain. Its hardness makes it resilient, while its exceptional workability renders it an excellent choice for intricate designs. Ideal for high-end furniture, cabinets, and interior doors, mahogany adds a touch of elegance to your home.


Walnut is dark, hard yet easy to work with. Its grain varies from straight to wavy, resulting in unique and attractive patterns. Walnut’s inherent robustness makes it a choice pick for items like flooring, furniture, and even countertops. This hardwood adds a warm, natural aesthetic to any room.

Types of wood Softwood: Pine, Cedar, and Spruce


A prevalent choice due to its affordability and availability, pine wood is relatively soft, making it easy to carve and shape. Ideal for furniture like wardrobes, bed frames, and coffee tables, it can also be used for window frames and doors due to its resistance to swelling and shrinking.


Known for its fragrant aroma, cedar wood is highly resistant to decay, insect damage, and weather conditions. It’s an ideal choice for exterior applications such as decking, fencing, and outdoor furniture. However, its striking grain also makes it a charming choice for chests, wardrobes, and accent pieces indoors.


Primarily used in construction, spruce wood is light yet robust. It’s typically employed for framing houses but can also be used in furniture and panelling due to its light colour and uniform texture.

Specialty Wood: Teak and Marine Ply


Teak wood, famous for its resistance to rot, is excellent for outdoor applications such as garden furniture or decking. Its rich, golden hue can be maintained with proper care or allowed to weather into a distinguished silver-grey colour. Inside the home, teak’s high oil content makes it suitable for rooms with high humidity, such as bathrooms or kitchens.

Marine Ply

Marine ply is an under-appreciated, incredibly adaptable type of wood. Comprised of layers of wood veneer pressed together, it is designed to be very durable and resistant to moisture. This wood’s specialty lies in its use for areas where water exposure is frequent, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Marine ply can also be utilised for creating outdoor furniture, as it can withstand the elements better than most other types of wood. Its structural strength and dimensional stability make it a highly versatile and practical option for various home applications.

Engineered Wood: MDF and Plywood


Medium-Density fiberboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product made by breaking down hardwood or softwood residuals into wood fibers. These are then combined with wax and a resin binder, undergoing high-temperature and pressure processes. MDF’s smooth surface makes it ideal for painting and it’s commonly used for interior applications such as shelving, cabinetry and molding. MDF’s affordability and resistance to warping make it a practical choice and it can be easily cut to size, which adds to its popularity among homeowners. 


Plywood, another type of engineered wood, consists of thin layers of wood veneer glued together. It’s admired for its strength, flexibility, and affordability. Plywood is typically used for structural applications including flooring, roofing, and walls. It can also be used to create furniture and decor pieces, especially when paired with hardwood veneers. Plywood’s versatility makes it a favourite among builders and designers alike.

Reclaimed Wood

Finally, let’s not forget about reclaimed wood. This type of wood is salvaged from old buildings, barns, or other structures, giving it a second life in your home. It often boasts unique characteristics such as knots, nail holes, and weathering, that add an incomparable touch of rustic charm to your interiors. Reclaimed wood can be used in various ways, from feature walls and flooring to furniture and accessories. It’s also an excellent eco-friendly option, as it reduces the demand for new timber and keeps old wood out of landfills.

Tips on Choosing the Right Types of Wood for Your Home

When choosing the right wood for your home, consider the wood’s hardness or softness, colour, grain, and resistance to rot and insects. Your choice should align with the purpose – furniture, flooring, exterior applications, and even the aesthetic appeal you aim to achieve.

Moreover, consider the environmental impact of your choices. Many kinds of wood come from sustainably managed forests, ensuring their continued availability for future generations. Always look for certifications from organisations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure that the wood you purchase has been responsibly sourced.

In conclusion, the type of wood you select can significantly influence the functionality, aesthetic appeal, and even the atmosphere of your home. Whether it’s the rich elegance of mahogany, the practicality of pine, or the adaptability of marine ply, understanding the nature of these various woods will empower you to make the best choices for your unique home needs.

Photo by Alex Jones on Unsplash

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