Choose Your Species, Not Your Stain

Ashley River Lumber - Choose the Stain, Not the Species

When you choose the wood for your next project, you might have a particular color in mind. While you can stain or paint wood any color you like, it makes sense to start with the species and work from there. Fortunately, you have a ton of choices. But you should always start with the species first.

What It Means to Choose Your Species, Not Your Stain

If you have a particular look in mind for your project, spend some time learning about the different species of wood available to make your vision a reality. Instead of trying to force what you want with a particular stain or paint, choose a species that you think is beautiful and suited to your application instead of grabbing a random piece of wood and staining it to look like something else. With many species, the inherent beauty will shine through and make your floor, furniture, building, or other project even more stunning than staining it into submission. 

Different Wood Species Available for Your Projects 

Lumber has been used for thousands of years to construct homes, make fires, and create other useful tools and conveniences. But, not all wood is the same. Some are harder than others, and some species have different patterns and textures, impacting their workability. 

If you’re choosing a type of wood for a project, here is what you need to know about the different wood species available. 

Ash (Fraxinus Caroliniana)

Also referred to as “White Ash,” this species has a medium to coarse texture and light to medium brown color. It is an affordable hardwood that produces good results. 

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Cypress is light to medium in color with a yellowish tint. It is a durable, mid-priced wood that is suitable for outdoor projects like docks and exterior construction as well as interior trim. 

Beech (Fagus grandifolia) 

Beech is pale in color and might have a brown or pink hue. It is an affordable species that is often used for furniture and flooring. 

Cherry (Prunus serotina) 

Cherry is a durable wood that is moderately-priced. It is considered a versatile species that is used for flooring, furniture, cabinetry, and fine millwork. 

Gum (Liquidambar)

Gum is a wood that ranges from light pink to tan to whitish in color. It is affordable and easy to work with after initial drying. But it can be prone to warping. 

Heart Pine (Pinus echinata)

Heart Pine can have a slightly reddish hue or appear pale yellow. This moderately-priced softwood is commonly used for construction lumber and interior millwork. 

Hickory (Carya aquatica)

Hickory is a low to mid-priced hardwood with a medium texture. It has a somewhat rustic appearance and might be difficult to work with, depending on the pieces. 

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

Live Oak has a medium to light brown color and an uneven texture. It is an incredibly dense wood that takes stain and finishes well, so it is popular for cabinets and interior trim. 

Long Leaf Pine (Pinus palustris)

Longleaf pine can be either yellowish or reddish-brown. It is widely available and commonly used in home construction projects. 

Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Magnolia is a hardwood that is easy to work with. It has a straight grain, and its appearance can vary. 

Mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni)

When available, mahogany tends to be costly. It is a dense hardwood that varies in color. It is also typically easy to work with. 

Osage (Maclura)

Osage is an incredibly durable and dense hardwood. It can be tough to find and even more difficult to work with due to its hardness. 

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Pecan is a low to mid-priced hardwood that can be difficult to work with due to its density. The sapwood has a yellowish-brown hue, and the heartwood is more light to medium brown. 

Pecky Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Cypress is a durable old-growth wood with a medium to coarse texture. It appears light, yellowish-brown, and is a mid-priced wood for construction.

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Persimmon is a wood that can appear almost white, but it will darken with age. It susceptible to insect attack, and workability is “so-so.”

Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra)

Hickory is somewhat tough to work with, but it responds well to steam bending. The wood has a medium texture and light to medium brown appearance. 

Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) 

Poplar is the most affordable of all domestic hardwoods. It is easy to work with due to its softness and has a pale to light brown color. 

Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) 

Cedar is a moderately-priced wood that works well for outdoor projects due to its resistance to insect attacks and decay. 

Red Elm (Ulmus rubra)

Elm can appear from light to medium reddish-brown. It can be challenging to work with but does hold screws and nails well. 

River Birch (Betula nigra)

Birch is an affordable wood species that ranges from nearly white to light reddish-brown in color. It is also generally easy to work with. 

Soft Maple (Acer saccharinum)

Despite the name, soft maple is a dense hardwood that is a bit easier to work with than hard maple. 

Sycamore (Platanus accidentalis) 

Sycamore is a wood that has a fine and even texture and is easy to work with using hand or machine tools. 

Tupelo (Nyssa)

If not dry, Tupelo has a tendency to warp. Otherwise, it is easy to work with and generally has a pale yellow color. 

Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Walnut is a darker wood that might have an irregular grain. Although durable, it is susceptible to insect attack and can be a costly wood species. 

Water Oak (Quercus nigra)

Water Oaks is a type of Red Oak with a medium reddish-brown color. It is a hardwood that is durable, moderately-priced, and takes finishes and stains well. 

White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

White Ash is often used for flooring, wheel spokes, and tool handles. It responds well to steam bending, but it difficult to work with machines. 

White Oak (Quercus alba)

White Oak is a durable hardwood that produces good results with machine and hand tools. It has a light to medium brown color. 

Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)

Willow Oak is another type of Red Oak. It takes stain and finishes well, and is easy to glue. The wood has a light to medium reddish-brown color. 

Yellow Pine (Pinus taeda)

Yellow Pine is a dense hardwood that is commonly used for construction projects. It has a medium texture and works well with most tools. 

Quality Lumber Available in South Carolina

Ashley River Lumber has been providing the Low Country with locally sourced lumber and wood products since 1952. Our lumber mill sources all of its wood within 75 miles of the sawmill unless otherwise specified. 

On average, we offer more than 30 species of wood to choose from at our Ridgeville mill, but some species are limited in stock. Contact us today for a quote or give us a call to learn more. 


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