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  • Writer's pictureTri City Furniture, Auburn

Wood Grain vs Wood Stain

Looking to buy a new table set or TV stand? If it is made from wood there may be a few questions on wood type and coloring. Many people do not know anything more than Oak, cause Grandma had an Oak table. But each wood type has many characteristics and benifits such as hardness that you may want to know about. Today we want to look at different woods, their grain and the different color stains they come in!


When you say oak, I think of the wood itself. The product is made from oak wood, which is different from the color. Oak wood can be stained in many different colors! Here is an image of Oak wood being stained in many different tones. The woods are all the same, but the stain is what gives it a different appearance.

When people say, I want oak, I think they mean the wood, and also the color! So much wood in Michigan is that golden brown! Oak can be many different tones… but oak is always oak wood….and the grain of oak is very evident due to the thickness of the grain and the natural wood knots that come through when processed.


Again, we see this happening with Cherry wood. I hear often, "I have a Cherry Dining Room Table." The wood is probably not cherry wood, but for sure the color is, for it has the reddish glow.

Here are some more photos to help. The next photo is of a table group that looks like "cherry" wood, but it is actually veneers and poured resin.



Where the following photo is of an actual cherry wood table. You can tell cherry by its grain.

Cherry wood is a more mild grain. Soft lines and soft curves.


The stain when applied to the cherry wood can be light all the way to dark. Cherry wood will always have an underlying reddish tone, due to the wood itself.


Be careful putting grey tones on Cherry wood, because they will turn pink. You are better off using another type of wood, if you want a true grey tone, due to the undertone of red in Cherry Wood.

The common woods used today are the oak, maple and cherry. If you want a heavy grain, the wood, you would want is oak. Or you may use the "Hardness Scale" to help you pick wood species. This way if you are creating a dining room table, the homework page from 3rd grade will not be forever PRESSED into the table top.



Once you select the wood, then you look at the stain colors! They are many different tones, from very light, to dark, in warm tones as well as all of the gray tones. Maple and Cherry are also hard woods, but with very mild grain. If you don't want the red tone, picking the maple wood will give you colors without the red underlying color. This image below shows how the same stain color is applied to two types of wood. You can see how one stain color appears different in color determined by wood species.


Generally people select the woods either to match something they have or because they like one color better than another. Many people are moving away from the oak. Oak has a very distinctive wood grain that will have light and dark areas in it when stained. Maple will have more of a solid color when stained as the stain enters the wood grain more evenly. This look seems a bit more popular today!



There are lots of choices. More than most people know. There is oak, maple and cherry, but then there are some variations…..such as rustic cherry, which will have more knots in the wood. Also, oak can be straight cut, or what they call quarter sawn they cut across the grain so it has a different look. There is also hickory, wormy maple,brown maple and white maple. Each wood has different variables…Such as grain, how the color stains penetrate, and how hard the wood is for durability.



In American made, you can select the top of one wood, and the base in another. Also the stain colors can be different as well! Realize this would be for American made furniture. Imports might be wood, or other things such as particle wood type products, composites, plastic and combinations of different things. They are finished over to look like wood but generally are not real wood!

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