Hardwood Furniture Materials Explained

St Ives Bedroom Range We’re passionate about hardwood furniture here at Oak Furniture Land, obviously. We even put in in our name!

But what’s so special about hardwood furniture? Why have we created a whole business around it? Other than its striking naturally good looks, its strength and durability, simplicity to care for, versatility, and the fact that it’s an interior design staple, we also think that hardwood furniture is truly the best investment for your home.

Here’s why:

What is hardwood?

When someone says “hardwood” or “softwood”, they’re not actually talking about how the wood feels, it’s actually about how the tree itself grows, which gives hardwood it’s special properties. Hardwood comes from trees whose seeds have some sort of covering – like a nut, or berry – where softwood trees have seeds which are open to the elements, like pinecones.

The ultimate result is that the wood fibres from hardwood trees are more durable, less susceptible to dents, scratches and warping. This doesn’t always translate to literal hardness – balsa wood is a soft hardwood, and spruce is a hard softwood, for example – but the dense fibres of hardwood make it a far superior material for furniture construction.

forest at sunrise

What materials do you use?

We use oak and mango hardwood in our products, all prized for their unique looks and properties. These particular varieties all stand out because they are both resilient enough to take knocks and stand up to life’s everyday bumps, and also resistant enough to moisture so that expansion and contraction that occurs in different weather conditions is minimised. This is something inferior woods are prone to, we’ve all experienced a door that sticks in the summer or that drawer you need to wiggle to open. We have specially chosen these materials so you don’t have to deal with that – as long as it’s not kept outdoors, in conservatories, or other adverse environments that will damage all wood types.

The hardwood is close-grained, creating a smooth surface perfect for staining and painting like in our Manor House and St. Ives ranges. Mango is another popular choice. It has a prominent grain pattern and characteristic dark areas that create an exotic feeling. It’s an exciting material to use for furniture-making. Mango trees only produce fruit for 15-20 years. Plantation owners clear older trees to make room for more fruit trees, and this mature wood is recycled to make new furniture, an incredibly sustainable practice!

But clearly we have a soft spot for oak, the ‘King of Woods’.

Manor House Bedroom Range

Why is oak so special?

Oak has been prized throughout history as a superior wood, and we can’t disagree. It perfectly balances hardness, density, and workability, putting it in a place that carpenters like to call the ‘Goldilocks Zone”; it’s just right for furniture making. Oak’s close grain is easy to finish and care for, it experiences minimal shrinkage and expansion – no sticking drawers in our furniture! It can also vary widely in appearance with many oak types available, meaning there is always the perfect oak style for any home.

We use oak everywhere in our products because we really believe it makes them a better investment for your home. Back, bases, drawer runners, bed slats, they’re all made from 100% hardwood; we never compromise on the quality of the materials used in our products, bringing you the best quality at the best value.

close up of centre of wooden log

Why is hardwood furniture such a smart investment?

Too often, people invest in flat-pack, veneer, or laminate furniture as it’s seen as a ‘quick fix’, a budget friendly option. But in truth, the cost of inferior furniture can be much greater, especially when you consider the cost replacement pieces, the lack of quality, and the sacrificed style.

Laminate is made with layers of synthetic materials or thinly sliced wood glued together. This makes it incredibly low cost, but it is prone to damage in a very short amount of time. Chipping is a big problem, and cannot be repaired. The layers also tend to bow or split, damaging the piece. Veneers are also very common in furniture making, and this refers to thin panels of wood glued to cheaper interior wood panels like chipboard and MDF. Like laminate furniture, once the veneer is damaged or chipped, it looks terrible and cannot be repaired. There are also lots of manufacturing issues; veneers can come off, too much or too little glue used can create splitting or bowing, and more.

A lot of times we hear that people don’t want to put “the nice furniture” in their children’s rooms. They’ll only ruin it, they’re so hard on things. The truth is, a hardwood chest of drawers, for example, will stand up to much more wear than a cheaper piece. With the same basic maintenance that you would apply to your living room furniture, it will look great. It’s far more resilient towards knocks from toy trains, teenage drawer slams, and more than laminate or veneers.

If you’re worried about your own style or tastes changing, think of hardwood as a timeless investment piece. It’s the classic 3-piece suit, trench coat, or little black dress of your home. Oak will never go out of style. You only have to look at its impressive history to know you’re making a smart choice!

Manor House Bedroom Range

For us, hardwood is the only choice when it comes to furnishing our homes.