Best Wood For Dining Tables
At Hardman Design, we take pride in building handmade quality dining tables from locally-sourced and sustainable wood.
Our furniture is most commonly crafted from oak, walnut, and ash, although we do custom-made pieces, too.
These three natural wood types are quality choices in their own right - combining strength with gorgeous aesthetics - but which one is best suited to your needs?
It is an important question. After all, a dining table is a big purchase: a long-term investment, a focal point of your dining room or kitchen, and a gathering spot for your family and friends.
To help you decide, this blog explores the unique characteristics of oak, walnut and Ash.
Classic, strong, versatile, and naturally beautiful - you can’t go wrong with oak.
This renowned wood has long been associated with use around the home, dating back many centuries, and is just as popular today.
As such, oak’s timeless nature looks as comfortable in contemporary settings as it does in traditional décor.
One of oak’s most distinguishing features is its durability; renowned for its strength and resistance to decay, liquids, heat, and surface blemishes. These characteristics make it a firm favourite, especially for people looking for a long-term investment. Oak is also a particularly good choice for families, and ensures maintenance is minimal.
Oak’s durability is a result of the trees’ slow growth, making the wood extremely dense, adding to its quality.
In fact, oak performs well in the Janka hardness test, which charts the resistance of different wood types to denting and wear. Or to be more specific, it measures the force required to partially embed a small steel ball into the sample of wood.
The results of this test show that oak is more resistant than woods such as walnut, teak, and cherry.
Natural oak can take on virtually any hue, from light beige and yellow through brown and red. This colour diversity makes it easier to match the colour palette of your dining room and kitchen.
Over time, oak pieces have a tendency to change colour, adopting more darker, amber tones. This is caused by exposure to oxygen and UV light. However, this shift is subtle, and can, in fact add to the character of the piece and even enhance its appearance over time. Depending on your preference, we can apply a UV protection finish to our oak tables, when requested.
Hardman Design also builds smoked oak tables, such as the Carolina Smoked Oak dining table. We use a special manufacturing process to fume the oak; causing it to darken and draw out the rich detail of the grain.
Thanks to its natural beauty and hard-wearing nature, oak is gorgeous in its natural state, especially with character pieces filled with knots.
However, oak’s light tones make it great for adding a variety of finishes; whether that is stained or with a clear, natural finish. This makes it ideal for both modern and traditional furniture.
Grain And Detailing
Oak has a swirling or striped grain. It also rates as open-pored, as it has wide, large cells, and many pores.
Oak can vary in detailing, with wild oak, for instance, having plenty of knots in varying sizes.
Oak trees grow in abundance, with around 450 species worldwide. Oak wood is generally considered to be an eco-friendly furniture choice because it is durable and long-lasting, helping to prolong its usability and keeping it out of landfills.
Hardman Design has also committed to a tree planting campaign, to ensure sustainability, and we use locally-sourced wood, where possible.
View the Hardman Design oak dining table range.
Walnut is one of the most highly-sought after types of wood; prized by woodworkers and revered by fine furniture lovers.
Indeed, walnut adds a touch of class and style to any décor, and as such, it generally comes with a higher price tag.
Its strength, grain, and rich tapestry of colours make it a popular choice.
Hardman Design handcrafts its furniture from two types of walnut, European walnut and American walnut.
Walnut is a strong, hard and durable wood that carves well and holds a good shape for much longer. This makes it ideal for statement furniture that requires a high level of craftsmanship.
Both North American Walnut and European walnut are more durable than cherry, but not quite as resistant to denting and wear and tear as hard ash or white oak, for instance.
One of the most distinguishing features of walnut is its vast and textured colour palette, stretching from light brown to dark chocolate. American walnut tends to have a darker, richer colour, while European walnut is lighter in tone, sometimes interspersed with wisps of delicious blonde, cream, or yellow, and the occasional note of red.
The middle of the walnut tree (known as the heartwood) produces the darker wood and the outer layer of the tree, just beneath the bark and known as the sapwood, produces the lighter wood.
The distinctive tones of walnut is perfect for making a statement and is ideal for a modern and contemporary look.
Walnut polishes to a very smooth finish.
A natural walnut piece is rarely stained, as this process tends to wash out the grain and remove bits of character. However, walnut furniture is more likely to receive a clear coat finish; such as a wax or oil.
The walnut tables handcrafted by Hardman Design tend to be finished with a matt hard wax oil. This enhances the natural colour of the wood, intensifying the walnut tones and drawing out the grain detail and the varying shades of brown.
Grain And Detailing
Walnut wood can be straight grained, but can also have waves or curls, helping to enhance the character of the piece and creating a lively, textured look. Our walnut tables tend to be handcrafted from wavey-grained wood.
This beautiful grain pattern can be further enhanced by pairing it with furniture with clean lines or unique details.
The grain pattern makes this the perfect choice for a room where the furniture can take the centre stage.
Walnut is ideal for investment pieces and furniture you want to stay in your family for generations; therefore reducing the burden on landfill.
That said, while not endangered, the number of walnut trees around the world has certainly reduced and they can take a century to mature. That’s why we select our walnut from local and sustainable sources.
View the Hardman Design walnut dining table range.
A light-coloured, straight-grained hardwood, ash is a very attractive option for fine furniture, especially Mid Century Modern pieces.
Highly versatile, it is renowned for its durability, strength, workability, light weight and ability to absorb wood finishes well.
As such, ash, with its aesthetically pleasing colour and uniformed grain pattern, is a very popular wood choice for home furnishing.
Ash is durable, tough and shock-resistant. In fact, it is one of the more durable varieties of wood, topping the likes of red oak, walnut and cherry.
Relatively dense, ash has good working and finishing properties. When combined with quality craftsmanship, ash furniture will last for generations, requiring little care or maintenance.
As well as its durability, ash is flexible, making it a popular choice for furniture which requires curves.
Simply put, ash is extremely pleasing to the eye.
Light in colour, ash often takes a beige-to-creamy-brown hue, giving it an understated and refined feel.
Ash is known to darken over time, but this is a natural and prolonged process.
Hardman Design uses an OSMO Matt Hardwax Oil to maintain the natural blonde tones of our ash pieces.
Ash absorbs wood stains well and can be finished in numerous ways, including varnish, wax, lacquer and oil.
It can also be stained without losing its original grain or texture.
Ash is known for its straight and smooth grain. As such, it is smooth to the touch, and has a uniformed look.
A big appeal of ash furniture is that it looks very similar to oak - sharing the same functionality and colour - and can therefore complement homes which are already styled with oak decor.
Ash is one of the most sustainable natural wood options: It is fast-growing, self-seeding, and is in plentiful supply.
Oak, walnut,ash and elm are all great choices for a dining table, offering the perfect mix of durability and beauty.
As all three for quality options, the type of wood you choose will likely come down to preference.
At Hardman Design, we involve you throughout the production process, including sending you samples of your preferred wood, to help ensure we build you the perfect table. For more information, contact us.