There are several types of wood available for creating your own furniture. Two of the most popular types of wood for furniture creation are rubberwood and solid wood. Both types of wood are great, but which is the best for creating furniture?
Rubberwood is made from rubber trees and is known for being eco-friendly and flexible. Solid wood is wood cut from trees and not processed, which makes it highly durable. When it comes to which wood is best, there is no clear winner as both have their benefits for different types of furniture.
In the rest of this article, I will discuss the main differences between the two types of wood. I’ll also go over the pros and cons of each wood type so you can make an informed decision before purchasing wood for your next furniture project. So if you want to learn more about rubberwood and solid wood, read on.
What Is Rubberwood?
Rubberwood is wood taken from the rubber tree (Hevea Brasiliensis). This tree is primarily found in South America, Africa, and Asia on rubber plantations. This medium hardwood is created by harvesting the wood from the rubber trees once they cease to be of use. The wood is tropical and generally light in color. Plus, it’s known for being environmentally friendly.
What Rubberwood Is Used For
The beautiful wood from the rubber tree is primarily used for things like:
- Furniture making
- Toy whittling
- Making spoons and other kitchen accessories
- Other carvings
Rubberwood is great for carving intricate details, especially for detailed carvings or decorative additions to furniture pieces. This is primarily due to the fact the wood is fairly malleable and experiences very little shrinkage.
Benefits of Using Rubberwood for Furniture
Rubberwood is often overlooked in woodworking projects as it’s been dubbed less durable than other wood types. However, there are many benefits to working with rubberwood instead of solid wood.
The most notable benefits of using rubberwood for furniture making include the following:
- Absorption of stains
- Fire and burn resistant
There are quite a few benefits to using this more eco-friendly furniture-building alternative. So let’s take a more in-depth look at these benefits and why they matter when crafting furniture.
Rubberwood is considered a more sustainable source of wood because once the tree has ceased to be of use in producing rubber, it’s cut down. The wood from the tree is then harvested and used for building things like furniture. Rubber trees are typically allowed to reach the age of 24-30 before being cut down and harvested for their wood.
If the rubber tree wood isn’t taken for building projects, the trees would still have to be cut down and would be burned instead. Using the rubber tree wood allows you to participate in a more sustainable wood harvesting practice.
Another benefit of rubberwood is how cost-effective it is – it is one of the cheapest woods you can purchase for making furniture.
Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that rubber wood will produce inferior-quality woodworking projects because it is cheap. However, this isn’t the case, as you can create some truly stunning furniture pieces from rubberwood without spending as much money.
Rubberwood is excellent for building intricate furniture pieces that require the wood to be flexible. Though rubber tree wood isn’t made of rubber, it’s surprisingly supple and will hold well during crafting.
So rubberwood is ideal if you’re looking for a flexible wood that will still withstand regular use. It’s also fantastic for making carvings which often require wood that can withstand maneuvering.
Absorption of Stains
Because rubberwood is already light-colored, it takes exceptionally well to stains and paints.
However, as with most types of wood, rubberwood must be prepped correctly for the stain to penetrate fully and look good. That said, rubberwood does a fantastic job of holding deep or vibrant colors once stained.
Fire and Burn Resistance
Another unique benefit of rubberwood is its slight resistance to fire. The wood isn’t entirely fireproof and will burn under relentless flame exposure. However, it’s less prone to igniting due to minor accidents like a candle getting knocked over or a cigarette falling onto its surface.
Rubberwood is more resistant to fire than other types of wood because of its sap. Rubberwood sap is not flammable, and the wood itself burns pretty slowly. It’s important to note this doesn’t mean that hot surfaces won’t damage the wood, only that it won’t burn as easily as other woods.
Potential Cons of Using Rubberwood
Now that you better understand what makes rubberwood such a great option, it’s time to go over a few of its drawbacks. As with any wood type, rubber wood has its benefits and disadvantages.
The drawbacks of using rubberwood to craft furniture:
- The wood warps easier.
- It can trigger latex allergies.
- It’s not ideal for outdoor use.
- The wood decomposes faster than other types.
- It’s susceptible to harsh cleaners.
Unfortunately, rubberwood does degrade more quickly than quality solid wood varieties. However, how fast the wood breaks down relies heavily on the conditions that it is exposed to, including sunlight, water, and temperature.
Rubberwood furniture stored indoors without exposure to water tends to have a longer lifespan, and with proper sealing, the wood won’t have many issues with breaking down. However, it might require regular resealing to ensure it stays nice.
What Is Solid Wood?
This term is often used to define wood that has been cut for building use and hasn’t undergone treatment or engineering of any kind. The wood is solid all the way through, meaning it hasn’t been glued or pressed together to form the lumber.
When it comes to solid wood, there are two categories, hardwood and softwood. Each type has its purpose in the woodworking world. However, when it comes to furniture making, hardwood is generally better as it’s more durable.
The most common types of solid wood used for furniture making are:
Each wood type is fantastic for creating furniture that looks good and lasts. These types of wood are also easily acquired at your local home improvement store or ordered online. Quality solid hardwoods are extremely prevalent at any store that sells wood.
What Solid Wood Is Used For
Solid wood is one of the more popular wood types commonly used for constructing things like:
- Furniture making
- Wood flooring
- Construction projects
This wood is primarily used for these projects because of its extreme durability. This is also why it’s a popular choice for projects that see a lot of foot traffic, like flooring, and wear and tear, like bed frames. Additionally, since solid wood lasts longer, furniture and other items made from it can be passed down through generations.
Benefits of Using Solid Wood for Furniture
Solid wood is the most common choice of wood when it comes to building your furniture. It’s created quite the name for itself through its reliability and durability, but what are some of the other benefits of using solid wood?
Some of the many benefits of using solid wood for furniture making include the following:
- Cut from a single tree
- Durability and strength
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Highly regarded
There are several benefits to working with solid wood, especially when it comes to making furniture. This wood is used so much for a reason.
Cut From a Single Tree
As the name suggests, solid wood is cut from a single tree and is completely solid through. The wood is not glued together, pressed, or engineered. As a result, solid wood is much sturdier than other types of wood since it doesn’t rely on other fragmented pieces to hold it together.
Durability and Strength
As I previously stated, solid wood is exceptionally durable and stronger than most other types of wood. The wood’s strength primarily comes from it being made of a single piece of wood.
However, the type of solid wood you select will also have an effect. For example, hardwoods will be stronger than softwoods. When it comes to furniture making, most crafters prefer birchwood.
Another significant draw to solid wood is the aesthetic of the wood itself. These pieces of wood generally have stunning patterns in the grain, which are brought out by a good stain. Additionally, the wood has a higher quality feel and often gives furniture a timeless look.
Most vintage furniture pieces are made of solid wood, which is why they look so good despite extended periods of time passing since their production.
Solid wood requires very little maintenance once turned into furniture, sanded, stained, and sealed. As a result, the wood is generally resistant to scratches, dents, and general wear and tear.
That said, it should be noted that even solid wood will age over time. However, furniture made from this wood that has undergone aging can be refinished easily. Additionally, if your wood furniture has been lightly damaged, it is often easy to repair – all you need is a sander, some wood grain filler, and wood stain, and the damage can be easily hidden.
Potential Cons of Using Solid Wood
There are many great uses for this wood in your home and furniture projects. However, even though solid wood is a fantastic tool, it’s not without its drawbacks. So what exactly are the cons of using this excellent wood to build with?
The drawbacks of using solid wood to make furniture with:
- More expensive
- Not sustainable
- The wood weighs more
- It stains more easily
The biggest drawback when it comes to solid wood is its lack of sustainability. Unfortunately, much of the solid wood in stores isn’t sourced responsibly and aids deforestation. However, it’s important to note that some companies do cut trees down responsibly, and you can always check with the company if staying eco-friendly is something you care about.
Additionally, you will always pay more for solid wood since it’s a highly demanded resource. The cost might not matter for small projects, but the money will add up for larger ones.
Rubberwood vs. Solid Wood: Which Is Better for Furniture?
Both wood types offer a variety of benefits for your woodworking projects. However, deciding which one to use can be tricky since they are both fantastic for making furniture. Which wood type you use for your furniture will generally come down to your budget.
If you are on a budget and want to purchase wood that has been sustainably sourced, then rubberwood is the best option. The wood is still relatively durable, easy to work with, and inexpensive. However, it’s important to remember that this wood doesn’t hold up well to the elements. Heat and moisture quickly cause the wood to rot and ruin your furniture.
Solid wood is the best option if money’s no object and you want to create a piece of furniture to pass down for generations. Solid wood is beautiful once sanded and stained, making for some genuinely breathtaking creations. However, the main drawback to this wood is its lack of sustainability in harvesting it.
That said, the best wood type is entirely up to you, your budget, and your furniture-making needs. Both have several benefits and some drawbacks.
For example, solid wood is far easier to maintain and keeps looking new. It’s also the better option if you’re making outdoor furniture, thanks to its durability when exposed to the elements. On the other hand, rubberwood is more resistant to fire and is more flexible, which can make working with it easier.
Rubberwood and solid wood are both great options for building new furniture. Rubberwood is flexible, cheap, and easy to work with. Additionally, it is more ecologically friendly since it comes from rubber trees that would be thrown out once no longer useful for producing rubber sap.
Solid wood is durable and strong, making it ideal for projects with a lot of weight. Additionally, furniture crafted from this wood lasts much longer. However, it is also more expensive and only sometimes sustainably sourced.
Ultimately, both are suited for different needs, depending on one’s budget and how the furniture will be used.
- Vintage and Speciality Wood: The Pros and Cons of Using Rubberwood for Furniture
- Craft Gecko: Is Rubberwood Good for Furniture? 8 Pros and Cons
- OK Credit: What Is Rubberwood Furniture?
- Wood Workly: Is Rubberwood Good For Furniture? 12 Benefits Of Rubberwood
- Woodworking Clarity: Rubber Wood Furniture Disadvantages
- Furnishing Tips: Is Rubber Wood Furniture Durable?
- Kitchen Cabinet Kings: What is Solid Wood?
- Suburban: What Does “Solid Wood” Really Mean?
- Diffen: Hardwood vs. Softwood
- Wildlife: Consumption of tropical timber by the U.S
- Rainforest Alliance: Rubber Tree
- Cambridge Dictionary: Softwood Definition