Best Types Of Wood And Finishes For Carpentry Projects

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The types of wood you want to use for different types of household projects will vary depending on a wide range of factors. Some woods will be more inexpensive but also not as durable. Some types of wood are harder to work with for more detailed or intricate projects, while other woods will offer exactly the right look to match your decor. Here are the best types of wood and finishes for some common household carpentry projects.


Western red cedar and redwood are two of the most popular woods for decks and other outdoor projects. Remember that your deck will remain outdoors and exposed to the elements year round, so you want a wood that is going to be highly resistant to decay, but that will also be durable and attractive. Over time, paint will chip and peel, so you want to use a stain rather than a paint. You can also use a toner or semi-transparent stain to change the hue of the wood just slightly or a solid stain for a more dramatic change. Whatever look you go with, you will also want to finish it with a clear sealer.

Fences or picnic tables

Like decks, wood for fences needs to be able to stand up the elements. Unlike decks, however, most people don’t need fences to have the same smooth, unblemished finish. For that reason, pine, fir and spruce tend to be the top wood choices. For a more high-end look, or for picnic tables, the top choices are cedar or cypress. Redwood is also a great choice for picnic tables but would make for a very expensive fence. Pine, fir and spruce are the most economical options and are lighter and easier to work with than heavier hardwoods. Since fences are fairly easy to paint and are not subjected to the same kind of use as a deck, you can either paint or stain a fence. Just like a deck, however, you will want to finish any outdoor project with a good sealer.


Whether you want to build your own kitchen cabinets, a freestanding pantry or even a mudroom bench or window seat, the sky is the limit when it comes to wood and finishing options. For people that want to retain the natural look of the wood slightly harder woods like cherry, pecan or walnut will give you a rich, dark, traditional look but still be soft enough to work with. For a lighter, brighter or more modern kitchen, you can use lighter woods like alder, hickory or birch. If you want to paint your cabinetry, pine is a slightly softer wood that is less expensive and easier to work with, but will also dent easily.

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