Dark wood is easily one of the strongest, most powerful aesthetic features in the world of wood. There are many different types of dark wood, but they all carry their own unique attributes and characteristics.
What are some of the darkest types of woods? Walnut, mahogany, and teak are some popular dark woods that are very durable and suitable for both interior and exterior uses.
In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the most popular types of dark wood and explore some of their uses.
Characteristics Of Dark Wood
Why are dark woods so popular? The bold appearance, durability, and ease of maintenance are some of the reasons why many people opt to use dark woods.
Most types of dark wood have a very deep brownish or purplish color. These characteristics make it a very attractive choice for people who want an elegant, classic look for their furniture.
Let’s take a look at some common characteristics of dark wood.
Of course, one of the main reasons why dark woods are popular is because they have beautiful dark brown or jet black colors with a natural luster that can feel quite high-end.
Many types of wood can also darken with age, which means the color only gets richer and more beautiful when it is exposed to air and sunlight.
In the rare instances where the color lightens with age, using a UV-protective finish over the wood can really preserve the wood’s color and luster over time.
Due to the slow growth rate of some of the trees that produce dark woods, such as Wenge and Walnut, the trees can grow to have exceptional strength and durability.
As a result, dark woods are extremely durable and hard-wearing. Many types of dark wood are scratch-resistant, fungal-resistant, and extremely long-lasting. These characteristics make them suitable for high-traffic applications like flooring or kitchen counter, as well as outdoor furniture.
When used in flooring, dark woods are particularly beneficial. The dark color makes it easier to hide stains and dirt, which also means it’s easier to keep clean. Dark hardwood also tends to feel warmer, which can make your flooring feel quite cozy.
Since most types of dark woods are also very durable, they are also suitable to make outdoor furniture. When used outdoor, they can resist water damage, warping, as well as fungi and insects.
In addition to the durability, dark woods also enjoy some benefits thanks to their natural colors. Darker colors tend to hide scratches and dents better, which is why a lot of people opt to use them for high-traffic areas like flooring.
Dark woods can also hide dust and pet hair very well, so your furniture and flooring will always look very clean and put-together when you opt for this color.
One of the reasons why dark wood is very popular is because it can easily blend with other design elements to create bold spaces or a modern aesthetic.
Dark wood can provide a bold and dramatic look to any room. A dark-tone interior design can instantly make a room feel luxurious. Dark wood can also be used as a design accent to add a note of sophistication to your design.
Dark wood is also suitable for flooring to create a contrast with the rest of your design to create a sleek, modern look.
Because dark wood naturally has such an elegant look, it is a simple way to add a sophisticated touch to your design.
If you are looking for a type of wood that’s suitable to use in your workshop, workability is very important.
Since most types of dark woods are hardwoods that can be very dense, it can be difficult to work with if you’re not experienced.
You should opt for a type of dark wood that has a nice, even grain, which makes the wood easier to cut and sand. Low oil content in the wood also helps it absorb glue and finishes better.
Darkest Wood Types
If you are convinced about the benefits that dark woods can bring to your design, you may be pleased to find that there are plenty of options out there for you. Below are popular types of dark wood that you can enjoy.
|Dark Wood Type||Defining Features|
|Walnut||Dark brown color, straight and even grains, durability|
|Wenge||Medium brown color with a reddish hue, can turn black with an oil finish, durability, rot resistance|
|Utile||Medium reddish-brown color, durability|
|Mahogany||Dark reddish-brown color that turns darker with age, durability|
|Teak||Medium reddish-brown color that turns darker with age, decay resistance|
|Ebony||Jet black color, rot-resistance, durability|
Let’s take a look at each of them below.
Walnut is a beautiful dark wood that has a rich and complex grain pattern, and its vibrant color and luxurious appearance will make any project stand out from the crowd.
There are various species of walnut, but the most popular type in the United States is Black Walnut, which has a rich, chocolate brown color. This is a very strong hardwood but it’s still quite easy to work with, which is why it’s a preferred choice for many woodworkers.
Walnut’s rich color and its various shades and variations are sure to catch the eye. Its grain is typically straight and has a medium texture, but it can also vary from fine to highly figured, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Walnut wood with a regular grain can absorb glue and finishes very well, and you don’t have to stain the wood to achieve a beautiful color.
Walnut with irregular grain patterns is more susceptible to tear out, so if you are working with this type of wood, you should opt for pieces with a regular grain pattern.
The rich color and various variations of this hardwood make it an ideal choice for any project. Aside from its beautiful appearance, it also has a durable and resilient nature, resistant to water damage, insects, as well as scratches.
Walnut doesn’t typically trigger allergic reactions, though it can sometimes cause skin and eye irritation for those who are sensitive. The wood also has a mild, pleasant scent when you work.
This hardwood is very popular for flooring in modern, luxury homes, and it works well for indoor as well as outdoor furniture.
Wenge is a tropical hardwood that has a beautiful, dark color and luxurious feel of African hardwood.
This is a rare hardwood that can vary in appearance from dark brown to almost black. The grain has a subtle caramel hue that feels quite classic. It comes in a wide variety of straight cuts, making it incredibly easy to work with.
After being treated with an oil finish, the wood can become almost black. However, unlike other dark hardwoods, it can still be slightly lighter with age, especially after repeated exposure to sunlight. A UV-protective finish is highly recommended to preserve the wood’s dark color.
Wenge is a heavy and dense wood, which makes it very durable. It will not rot or deform easily and has good resistance to insects. This makes it popular for flooring and furniture, especially in kitchens and bathrooms.
Being so hard, Wenge is difficult to cut and shape into furniture, but the results are definitely worth the effort. It can have a lot of splinters when the wood is cut, and it can be quite difficult to achieve a smooth and even finish.
It also has a strong odor when being worked on; this odor might be unpleasant for some people.
In addition, you will definitely need to use professional tools and protective equipment when working with Wenge. This is because wood dust is known to cause skin and eye irritations, as well as negative effects on your central nervous system.
However, because of the wood’s beautiful appearance, as well as its strength and durability, it’s still a great option for indoor and outdoor furniture, paneling, and musical instruments.
Utile is another beautiful hardwood that comes from African forests. Its deep reddish-brown color, along with various cherry hues and a natural luster, makes it a unique dark wood to add to your interior design.
Thanks to the tree’s slow growth rate, the wood grows to have remarkable physical strength, making it a great choice for various projects.
Utile has a medium uniform texture and moderate natural luster. Dark streaks are not uncommon in Utile wood. It is seen in two color variations: heartwood which varies from light brown to dark reddish-brown, and sapwood which can be three times as wide as the heartwood, which is pale yellow in color.
Utile is considered a moderately durable wood with excellent insect resistance. However, its interlocked grain makes it difficult to work with because this type of wood is quite susceptible to tearing out.
When being worked, the wood can have a mild, pleasant scent, although sometimes it can cause skin irritations for those who have sensitive skin.
The wood is easy to finish and responds well to glue. It is commonly used for interior applications such as flooring, cabinetry, moldings, musical instruments, furniture, and carving.
Mahogany wood is a very durable hardwood with a fine, straight grain and a smooth texture.
The color of mahogany varies based on the species used. African mahogany has a reddish-brown color, while Swietenia mahogany is darker, almost chocolate in color.
The sapwood is a pale yellow to nearly white, while the heartwood is a dark reddish-brown and can sometimes have streaks of a purple tint. The color deepens over time with exposure to light and air.
The grain of mahogany is usually straight but can also be interlocked or wavy. The texture tends to be medium to coarse, with the pores being open. The wood has a high natural luster, which can be increased by applying an oil finish.
In addition to its attractive appearance, mahogany is also preferred for its durability and resistance to rot, insects, and fungi. This makes it an ideal choice for outdoor furniture and other applications where moisture may be a problem.
African mahogany can be expected to last 20 years or more when used outdoors, provided it’s properly maintained with regular refinishing. Other species of mahogany are even more durable and can last up to 25 years or more outdoors.
Mahogany has excellent working properties: it machines well and sands very smoothly because of its low density and silky feel. It responds well to hand tools, glue and finishes well, although it may take a little more sanding than other woods.
Teak is among the most durable woods in the world, and it makes an excellent choice for indoor and outdoor furniture. The heartwood of teak is golden or medium brown in color, with color darkening with age.
Teak is very expensive. The wood’s high oil and natural silica content makes it one of the most durable species available for outdoor and high moisture applications.
As a matter of fact, teak is considered to be in the top tier of woods worldwide for resistance to rot and decay, and its heartwood is rated as very durable.
It has a high natural oil content, which makes it highly resistant to water—it can be left outdoors throughout the year without succumbing to rot or cracking from exposure. It also resists termites and rotting, which makes it suitable for outdoor furniture.
Teak wood is easy to work with, in all regards: machining, gluing, sanding, finishing, and so on, since it is a fairly oily wood, which will make tools slip while cutting it if they are not kept sharp.
When working with teak, you’ll find a pleasant scent that smells very similar to leather, thanks to the wood’s natural aroma. Although allergies to teak are rare, this type of wood can sometimes irritate your eyes, skin, and breathing.
As one of the oldest wood applications in the world, teak has been used in India for over 2,000 years (since 200 BCE) in shipbuilding on the Malabar Coast and is also used for countertops, flooring, and as a veneer for indoor furnishings.
Ebony is a wood that has been used for centuries to make musical instruments, furniture, and other decorative items.
Ebony is often referred to as the blackest wood in existence, yet there are other woods that are equally black or darker in color. But what makes ebony so special is its unique ability to polish to an almost mirror-like finish while retaining that pure deep black coloration.
This is a highly durable type of wood, resistant to rotting and insects. The heartwood has excellent weathering characteristics, so pieces made from ebony wood can really withstand the test of time.
However, because this type of wood is so dense, ebony can be difficult to work with. A slow feed rate and sharp tooling will minimize the tearing of the grain.
The wood finishes nicely, although gluing may require some extra effort because of the wood’s high oil content. After polishing, you can enjoy a jet black, luxurious luster that cannot be seen on any other type of wood.
Keep in mind that fine dust produced by working ebony can cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation, especially for those that are sensitive or allergic to the dust produced by this type of wood.
Since ebony is very dense and expensive, you’ll rarely see ebony wood being used in large pieces. Instead, it is often used to make decorative items and musical instruments. Things that are made from ebony wood usually have a high level of craftsmanship and are very expensive.