5 Common Wood Types Used in Eco-Friendly Furniture

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Our ancestors had a working idea of how to use furniture since the Neolithic era, relying as they did on stone beds and benches. But it was only after the discovery of farming technologies and the permanent settlement of nomadic communities that people began populating their homes with fixtures to sit, lie down, and rest on. Wood is one furniture material that has endured for a very long time, and based on our consumption habits, the clamour for wood won’t die down anytime soon. In recent years, however, a significant trend has marked a difference in the way we source, produce, and consume wood: the demand for sustainable timber and more environmentally-friendly practices in wood manufacturing.

“Sustainable timber” earns its certification from being sourced in sustainably managed forests. That makes the procurement model much different from the decidedly unsustainable methods used in conventional logging—i.e., in which loggers harvest timber without replenishing the trees they’ve cut down. Making eco-friendly furniture out of sustainable timber yields several benefits: responsible management of our natural resources, the best usage of wood’s natural properties, and the fulfilment of the customer’s need for good-quality furniture.

That said, no wood is created equal. Though wood as a whole is easy for craftsmen to work with, is extremely pliable, and easy to move around, some wood types perform better than others for furniture—and, in addition, are less costly and less demanding to harvest. If you’re interested in buying eco-friendly chairs, tables, benches, or cabinets, find the info to identify the best wood types for timber furniture. To get you started on that task, here’s a short list of the wood types currently used in the manufacturing of eco-friendly furniture, what unique properties they possess, and why they’re ideal for more mindful wood consumption.

  1. Oak, which is a hardwood, is arguably one of the most popular varieties used in everyday furnishing. The wood is known for its durability and resilience, which means that any high-quality oak furniture you own will not need to be replaced for some time. Oak wood also sports distinctive ring and open-grain patterns, and these are often on display in wooden floorings. When buying oak products, seek out forest certification from the manufacturer, as some oak timber sourced outside of Australia is harvested from illegal logging. 
  2. Pine wood is usually associated with Christmas trees, but it also makes for elegant and tasteful furniture all year round. Pine is a softwood variety that is notably fast-growing, which means that replacing pine trees is not so difficult on the forest’s management. The wood also has a closed-grain appearance, making it ideal for those who seek an “unfinished” or “natural wood” aesthetic on their furniture.
  3. Beech. Like oak, beech is a hardwood that is collected from a broad-leafed tree, and there is ample forest infrastructure that preserves the species. Beech is often incorporated into boutique furniture, as it requires a high level of craftsmanship to work with. Signature furnishings that are made out of creamy-white beech wood are straight-grain cabinets and chairs built around a natural curve.
  4. Blackwood—in particular, the Tasmanian Blackwood variety—is not necessarily all black in colour, as it also possesses traces of golden-brown or reddish grain. It is one of Australia’s most sustainable wood sources for furniture, as well as for products like guitars. This wood is also a joy for local craftsmen to work with, as it is easily manipulated with both hand tools and electric tools. You’re likely to find the beautiful grain profile and colour of blackwood in wooden flooring, coffee tables, and beds. 
  5. If you want to patronise sustainable timber from Australia’s neighbours in Asia-Pacific, you might want to explore the hardy, yet lightweight bamboo. This softwood grows incredibly fast and is extremely versatile in its applications; you are as likely to find well-crafted bamboo chairs, benches, and scaffolds as you are to find bamboo chopsticks, bowls, and even spectacles. Be sure to verify the sustainability of your bamboo wood products on platforms such as the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan.

There is so much to discover in the wide and wonderful world of wood. But let’s not forget that we only have one planet from which to grow it, and that our discovery should instigate more responsible action on our part. That said, you likely won’t regret buying eco-friendly furniture for your home or your workplace—and combining an eye for style and comfort with a mind for the environment.

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