Sustainable wood | 6 best types | Types to avoid
Wood species and their differences
Wood is one of the most widely used building materials in the world and, with responsible forest management, the only renewable building material that humanity has.
At the moment, there are a large number of types of wood from which furniture is made. All of them differ in their density, rigidity, texture, and other characteristics. Each material has a different density, on which wear resistance, durability and strength depend. Wood is divided into four types of density: soft, medium, hard, and extra hard. It is wood of medium density that combines optimal characteristics for creating furniture and an adequate price.
The complexity of material processing also directly depends on the degree of wood density, which affects the final cost of furniture. Softwoods are used for decorative details and facade elements. Medium hardwood is a versatile material for making furniture. Solid wood is used for load-bearing structures. And super-hard wood is used to make furniture for rooms with extreme fluctuations in temperature and humidity levels.
- Soft: cedar, spruce, alder, pine, linden.
- Medium and hard: oak, walnut, ash, cherry, beech, maple, birch, larch.
- Super hard: acacia, hornbeam, yew, mahogany.
Several organizations around the world are dedicating their efforts to building a system to support and monitor the sustainable use of wood. The most famous of these are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), these non-profit organizations have developed a reliable certification system recognized throughout the world.
An analysis of the FSC forest management audit reports showed that around 423 million cubic meters of wood are harvested annually from FSC certified forests around the world, representing 22.6% of the world's industrial roundwood production.
What types of wood are the most environmentally friendly?
Hardwood, which comes from broad-leaved trees like Beech and Oak, or softwood, which comes from conifers like Pine and Fir, are the two most common types of timber. Fast-growing trees, such as Pine, are more sustainable than slower-growing trees, such as Oak, simply because they can be replaced.
Teak is native to South and Southeast Asia. The teak is extremely widespread, as well as the climatic conditions in which the teak tree is able to feel excellent, are very diverse. Not only in the jungle but also arid places, teak grows equally well, sometimes reaching a height of thirty to forty meters.
Teak is a dense wood with a smooth cut texture. The density of teak wood is more than 670 kg/m3 - this wood is dense and durable.
The material that is most often used to create solid wood furniture. A harmonious combination of beauty, practicality, and reliability. Considered one of the hardest woods. In addition to strength characteristics, it has an interesting cut pattern and lends itself well to artificial aging.
Despite the fact that oak is a slow growing tree, with the right approach to its harvesting, this type of tree can be considered sustainable.
Maple wood is most attractive for its color. Almost white, with thin, elegant brown veins, maple wood looks unusually stylish and is actively used in modern interiors.
As for the practical features of this material, in addition to strength and wear resistance, maple is quite elastic, which means it is suitable for creating curved shapes.
Pine is the most common type of coniferous tree. For the manufacture of furniture, trees are used that grow in sandy soil and on hills. Such wood is distinguished by an interesting cut pattern with pronounced, narrow growth rings.
The material has an original brown core. The color of the tree itself is most often cream or yellow with reddish patches. Over time, the wood acquires a darker shade, due to which the cost of a pine product increases.
Beech is very popular among furniture manufacturers due to its strong, heavy structure, which is quite easy to work with. The delicate, uniform texture, combined with a pleasant pale yellow or rose-brown hue, has made beech the most sought-after hardwood in Europe.
Although bamboo is not biologically considered a tree, the phrase "bamboo wood" has the right to exist. Bamboo is a very dense material. Its density reaches 500–700 kg/m3.
Bamboo wood has a light yellow, golden color. It is characterized by high strength and density, but at the same time very light. The material has a uniform structure.
Another positive characteristic of the bamboo wood is its durability, which is especially important when using it in construction.
Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Michigan State University have found that much of bamboo's current habitat will soon become unsustainable, with bamboo estimated to be completely extinct within 50 to 100 years. Without bamboo, which makes up 99 percent of the giant panda's diet, the animals are more likely to starve.
The least sustainable forests
Most tropical timber comes from rainforests, which are highly valued for their unique biodiversity and the benefits they bring to the planet. Rainforests have different types of trees growing side by side, and although developed countries try to use only certain types of wood in construction, which we described earlier, industrial logging in rainforests endangers the entire local ecosystem. Among these types of wood, it is worth highlighting:
- Ebony is a tonewood found in abundance only in the forests of Cameroon, this type of wood is highly sought after for making guitars and other musical instruments, due to its rarity to verify its legality.
- Burmese teak is one of the most expensive types of wood used to make solid boards and other parquet, so it is used in exclusive, truly royal interiors. Burmese teak is native to Myanmar (the new name for Burma) and has a higher silica content in its wood, giving it a red color with dark, almost black grains. Otherwise, there are no significant differences, any teak is an excellent breed of high strength, it perfectly resists moisture and parasites.
- Merbau - red-brown wood of the Merbau species, most of the merbau sold on the market comes from illegal logging in West Papua, Indonesia. There is practically no FSC-certified Merbau.
- Brazilian mahogany is endangered along with five species of African mahogany. Although there are no substitutes, FSC mahogany and jatoba are varieties with properties similar to Brazilian mahogany.
Thus, using sustainable, certified wood, suppliers, companies, and ordinary users can contribute to the preservation of the environment. Once you start purchasing and using traceable wood, you'll find it's easier than you probably thought.
Sourcing.eco helps customers find certified wood products suppliers and contribute to the preservation of the environment