Is Poplar Good for Furniture? 8 Pros and Cons

The Poplar tree is native to North America, and its wood is known for its many uses. Poplar wood is a soft hardwood, which makes it easy to work with. But is it the right choice for furniture?

Poplar wood can be used for furniture. It is stable, soft, and, more importantly, cheap. However, it is not the most attractive wood and does not absorb stains and other woods. It can still make for great cabinets and other forms of furniture that are not meant to be seen, like drawers.

This article covers all of the advantages and disadvantages of using poplar wood for furniture. This will help you decide if this is the right choice for you. 

Craft Gecko is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no additional cost to you. 

The Pros of Using Poplar Wood for Furniture

Poplar can be an excellent option for furniture pieces. However, it all depends on what you are aiming to do. There are many pros to take into consideration, especially when it comes to budget and stability. 

Many woodworkers find it easy to work with because of its density. Other factors to consider, like its availability, sustainability, and what can achieve with the wood. 

Let us take a look at all the pros of the poplar wood.

Poplar Wood Is More Affordable

Hardwood is expensive. It is resistant, and it makes for great pieces of furniture, but using them means a big investment. 

Poplar wood, on the other hand, is considered one of the cheapest hardwoods. That is why most woodworkers use it for toys, drawers, cabinets, and other items that will require a large amount of wood.

Is Poplar Good for Furniture? 8 Pros and Cons

Poplar wood is one of the most common utility hardwoods in the United States. This lumber is affordable and can be used for rough framing. 

It is the most affordable in the Eastern United States because of a high level of availability. Therefore, it is an excellent option for furniture, and that will not hurt your wallet. 

Poplar Wood Is Easy to Work With

Hardwoods can be challenging to work with. This often makes them a poor candidate for furniture. However, poplar wood is a softer hardwood. Many experts and woodworkers find it to be the easiest hardwood to work with. It is also used for industrial purposes like plywood and some upholstered furniture.

Poplar wood does not easily absorb stains. However, it is easy to paint. It is the standard choice for wood projects that need to be painted.

Experienced woodworkers might even use it for fine furniture with paint, sanding, and other chemicals. The reason for this is that both maple and Poplar have a similar graining. Maple is often used for intricate furniture, but it is more expensive than Poplar. 

If you plan to use a stain on Poplar, apply a pre-stain wood conditioner before the stain. It will help you a lot in avoiding a blotchy finishing. We recommend using the Minwax 61500444 Pre Stain Wood Conditioner

1 qt Minwax 61500 Clear Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
  • PRE-STAIN TREATMENT FOR ALL WOOD – Ensure wood projects look great with Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Use prior to applying oil-based wood stains to help prevent streaks and blotches. It works by evening out the absorption of oil-based wood stain.
  • PREVENT BLOTCHES – By Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner prior to staining with oil-based wood stains, you can prepare the wood to avoid blotching and streaking, ensuring beautiful results.
  • ASSURES EVEN STAIN PENETRATION – Wood is porous, and tends to absorb stain unevenly. But this wood conditioner for staining evens out the absorption of oil-based stains for natural, even results. Wood may be stained immediately after application.

Last update on 2023-06-08 at 14:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Poplar is also easy to work with a saw, lathe, and router manipulation. This allows woodworkers to transform the wood into a variety of shapes for furniture. Tools should be very sharp before working with Poplar. 

Poplar Wood Is a Sustainable Option

Sustainability is an important consideration for your furniture. Deforestation is a significant environmental problem that harms the earth. Poplar is a sustainable option because it grows naturally in the United States. Farmers replace the poplar trees after cutting them down. 

Is Poplar Good for Furniture? 8 Pros and Cons

Poplar does not appear in the Red List of the IUCN of threatened species, nor is it included in the CITES Appendices. Both entities work to stop the use of endangered species in international trade and for industrial purposes.

Poplar Wood Is Easy to Find

Poplar is available in many different places, including home centers and lumberjacks. It is usually better to go to a lumberjack because they offer a great selection of different kinds of poplar wood. This availability is also what keeps the price of poplar wood so low. 

The Cons of Using Poplar Wood for Furniture

We now know that Poplar wood is cheap, sustainable, easy to work with, and easily found. However, there are many disadvantages of this hardwood. It is important to consider these cons before purchasing or making Poplar furniture. 

Poplar Wood Is Not Very Attractive

Poplar wood is less aesthetically-pleasing than other woods. It is mostly white or yellow with green or brown streaks. For this reason, it is a type of hardwood that you will rarely find in fine furniture.

Is Poplar Good for Furniture? 8 Pros and Cons

Its beauty level is why many woodworkers choose to paint the wood and use it for unexposed furniture. This includes drawers and cabinets. 

Some skilled woodworkers use Poplar to simulate a better and more attractive wood like maple. It is a challenging technique to learn and implement. Therefore, you can usually tell the difference between the quality of the woods. Attractiveness is always subjective. However, Poplar does not perform well in this category. 

Poplar Furniture Durability

Poplar wood is not the least resistant type of wood. However, it is not well-suited to exterior applications. 

For example, untreated poplar wood has an exterior duration of two to three years. However, treated poplar wood does not increase the duration by a lot. Therefore, it is not suitable for outdoor furniture like benches or table settings. 

It also does not have the best resistance to water. Many carpenters recommend avoiding its use in structures that receive a lot of exposure to rain. This applies to treated and untreated poplar wood.

One of the other problems that Poplar presents is its susceptibility to shrinkage. It is not the most affected of the hardwoods, but it requires conditioning time before being exposed to moisture.

Poplar Wood Can Cause Allergic Reactions

Severe reactions are not common, but poplar wood is still known as an irritant. The reason is that poplar trees are pollen-producing and, therefore, can create symptoms in some people.

Some of the symptoms are asthma, red eyes, high fever, and skin irritation. Therefore, poplar wood is not a good choice for furniture if you are sensitive to allergies. 

Poplar Wood Is a Soft Hardwood

Poplar wood is a hardwood but has a high level of softness that may cause some confusion. It has a hardness rating that is lower than some cedar species, which is a softwood.

Its density makes it an easy hardwood to work with, but it also has some drawbacks. For example, poplar wood can leave fuzzy surfaces and edges if you do not want sand and shape it properly. 

Therefore, it is not a suitable wood for inexperienced woodworkers. Rough edges on furniture are unattractive and can also damage the skin. Poplar wood can be ideal for furniture if treated correctly. 

Final Thoughts

Poplar wood is a good choice for furniture, especially if it is only for inside projects like drawers and cabinets. However, it is not suitable for outdoor furniture or statement pieces that need to be very attractive. 

To recap, here’s a list of the pros of using poplar wood:

  • Poplar wood is easy to work with
  • It is one of the cheapest hardwoods on the market
  • Poplar wood is a sustainable option
  • Poplar wood is easy to find 

Here is the list of its cons:

  • Poplar wood is not for the fine furniture
  • Poplar wood has a low level of duration compared to other hardwoods
  • It may cause allergies in some people
  • It has a high level of softness


Recent Posts