When it comes to antique furniture, wood is the most commonly used material. Almost any type of wood can be used for this purpose. However, all materials are not created equally; there are a few types of wood that are revered for their durability, beauty, and versatility. Can you tell different kinds of wood apart? Learn the traits of commonly used wood in antique furniture. Click To Tweet

Hardwood and Softwood

  • Hardwood comes from trees that lose their leaves annually. As they grow slowly, hardwood has denser wood fibers. They are generally more expensive and rare than softwoods.
  • Softwood comes from evergreen trees. Softwood includes pine, spruce, fir, cedar, juniper, redwood, and yew. Evergreen trees tend to be less dense than deciduous trees, making them easier to cut down.


Cherry is one of the most valued kinds of hardwoods and is used in fine furniture and cabinets. Its color varies from light brown to dark reddish brown, and it has an attractive and distinctive grain. A light stain is sometimes used to accentuate the color. Cherry is difficult to work with hand tools, and it is more expensive than other kinds of wood.


This hardwood is a favorite for fine furniture, and it’s long been one of the most treasured furniture wood in the world. Mahogany varies in color from medium brown to deep red-brown or dark red with a very distinctive and attractive grain. It is usually very expensive.


Maple is a strong, dense, attractive hardwood, used in furniture and often for butcher blocks. Its color is light brown, with a reddish tone; the grain is usually straight but also occurs in curly or wavy patterns. Maple is notoriously difficult to work with hand tools and is usually expensive.


This abundant hardwood has been valued for its strength and its attractive grain for hundreds of years. It is widely used for solid furniture and, in modern furniture, for veneers. White oak is a rich grayish brown color, while red oak is similar, but with a pronounced reddish cast. Both types of oak are distinctively grained, with prominent rays or streaks. It is moderately expensive, but red oak is usually cheaper than white.


This softwood was used extensively for Colonial furniture, and is one of the basic woods of modern furniture; it’s used in almost all types of furniture, particularly in unfinished furniture. The wood has clearly marked growth rings and is cream colored or yellow-toned. It is inexpensive.


Walnut is traditionally used for high-end furniture and is commonly used in veneers. Walnut is chocolate brown, sometimes with dark or purplish streaks; its grain is very striking and attractive. It is very expensive.

Pro Tip: Rosewood is very rare, making it one of the most highly sought after types of antique furniture material.

What Are The Most Common Types of Wood Used in Furniture?

Antique furniture was varied, with items like chests usually made from cedar and considered an heirloom to be passed on to daughters in the family. Rosewood, once used to make luxury furniture, resulted in such a high demand that today there are strict trade regulations in place, making it extremely rare. There is so much beauty in the many tones, grain patterns and richness of old furniture.

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