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Guide to hardwood

If you’re new to the world of DIY then you might be feeling out of your depth when it comes to wood and timber, infact if you’ve never worked in construction then you’ll probably be feeling very clueless. Maybe you’ve just bought your first home and are trying to save money on refurbishments, or you want to start a new hobby of making your own furniture and have no idea where to start when it comes to wood.

What is hardwood?

When deciding on a type of wood to use for your project, the first decision you need to make is whether you’ll need softwood or hardwood timber as these two types of wood have very different uses. Hardwood generally comes from deciduous trees which are species that lose their leaves during the winter months. The hardwood timber that comes from these trees is a lot denser than softwood and is mostly used for purposes where durability is required.

The most commonly used types of hardwood include oak, teak, sapele and iroko.


Probably one of the most well known hardwoods, there are actually around 600 different species that provide a wide variety of appearances. Due to the high tannin content, oak can range from a golden yellow to white and even red. Oak is regularly used for furniture, construction and architecture due to its natural resistance to fungal attacks. 


Teak is from a wood that naturally grows in the tropical regions north of the Indian Ocean. Although less well known than oak, teak possesses a similar string resistance to rot and decay, so much so it is the wood of choice for projects where prolonged contact with water is possible. Due to its decay and water resistant properties, teak is perfect for the decking on boats and outdoor furniture.


A pale yellow colour when initially cut, the hardwood timber darkens to a deep reddish brown. Its properties are similar to oak in the sense that it is a very resilient wood. Due to the strength, it is regularly used for solid wood doors, worktops and furniture as it can also not be easily damaged by indentation etc.


Very similar to teak, Iroko is typically cheaper and therefore a popular choice for those on a budget. After cutting, the wood changes from a yellow to a golden brown which is a very desirable colour that matches a range of aesthetics. Iroko wood is regularly used for a number of projects such as flooring, furniture and boats.

There are a number of other hardwood timbers available, these tend to be the most commonly used.