Whether you’re working on some furniture, flooring, fencing, cladding or other type of timber project, wood is truly a go-to material for creating a stylish and design-led look. As a natural material, each piece is completely unique — no two are the same.
But with over 60,000 different species throughout the world, to say you’re spoiled for choice would be an understatement. So, to help you decide for your next project, let’s break things down a little!
The world’s best looking, most beautiful and luxury woods
From the rich, opulent chocolatey-brown tones of American Black Walnut to the clear, Scandi-inspired pale hues of American Hard Maple and the distinctive exotic stripes of Zebrano, there’s so much diversity and variety between different timber species.
Of course, beauty is completely subjective, so we’ve tried to include a few that match a number of different visions, as well as a few different uses. All of the woods we list are also commercially available — after all, it’s no good if you can’t get your hands on it. This isn’t an exhaustive list either, of course, just a few of our favourites.
Zebrano— for a truly unique, striped timber
When it comes to making a visual statement, this West African hardwood is without parallel. Also known as Zebrawood, Zebrano’s decorative grain pattern offers a unique mix of golden yellow heartwood with narrow chocolatey-brown (and sometimes black) streaks.
Although difficult to work with as a result of its interlocking grain, the effort is worth it if you’re creating a statement piece of furniture — tables, chairs, shelving, as well as smaller items like frames and boxes. It’s also commonly used for guitars, boatbuilding and skis.
For a wood that truly catches the eye and gets people talking, you can’t overlook Zebrano.
American Black Walnut— for decorative, creamy-brown sophistication
With a chocolatey brown colour contrasting with its creamy sapwood — sometimes with an alluring purplish tinge — walnut effortlessly offers a touch of elegance and opulence. Finishing beautifully and with distinctive knots, walnut’s stunning grain pattern truly makes it a wood to admire.
Despite its bold, rich appearance, walnut is surprisingly architecturally versatile. Like other dark woods, timbers like this can be used to provide contrast and balance within a lighter space, perhaps for furniture, flooring or a decorative statement piece. Given its sophistication, walnut is particularly popular for flooring in luxury London townhouses and apartments.
Iroko— for a touch of the exotic
Starting life as a golden-yellow colour, part of Iroko’s unique charm is its tendency to deepen to a rich bronze over time.
With an alluring, interesting grain pattern, this species conveys an exotic look and feel — befitting of its African west coast origins. It’s also incredibly dense and naturally durable.
This has even earned it the nickname ‘African teak’ — sharing many of its appearance and performance qualities, it’s often seen as a more cost-effective and sustainable alternative.
Iroko’s one of the most beautiful species on the market if you’re thinking of a fencing, decking or similar exterior project — naturally durable, it performs superbly outdoors, but can also find its home internally for flooring and furniture.
Wenge — for joining the dark side
If you’re a fan of the chocolatey-brown tones of walnut, you can take things a step further with Wenge — famed for its deep brown, almost black tones. Adding to this timber’s uniqueness are occasional caramel streaks.
Native to central Africa, this is another tropical hardwood that’s extremely dense, very hard and durable; a superb choice for scratch-resistant flooring and furniture, or perhaps even external cladding if budgets allow.
Western Red Cedar — for beautiful variance in colour
After a stunning species for an exterior project? Western Red Cedar should be one of your go-to timbers. Not only has it got the looks, but it’s also incredibly naturally durable.
With colours ranging from chocolate browns to salmon pinks with occasional darker red and brown bands, Western Red Cedar’s characterful, sought-after hues slot beautifully into any environment.
This species contains naturally-occuring substances that protect it from external forces of decay — moisture, fungal and insect attack — making it particularly apt for fencing, cladding and outdoor use.
American Hard Maple— for a clean, light, airy space
At the lighter end of the colour spectrum is maple, whose creamy white colour (with occasional pinkish-brown tinges) is a timeless, cherished favourite. For those wanting to create an open, Scandi-inspired interior, maple’s your go-to beautiful wood.
For flooring, cabinets, framing, furniture, kitchen accessories and more, this versatile species is never going out of fashion.
Whilst they generally have a straight grain, many species of maple (such as American Hard Maple) can also contain figuring, adding to the uniqueness and beauty of such pieces. Common figuring in maple can include tiger stripe, bird’s eye, flame and curly.
Figuring is caused by distortions in the direction of the grain when the tree grows. Keep your eye out for these features when choosing maple — you’re bound to have an exceptional, stunning statement piece of wood on your hands!
That’s not all, of course. With so many species out there, this should not be seen as an exhaustive list!
After some more inspiration?
You might also be after some tips for incorporating these beautiful woods into your space. Take a look at our guide to dark woods — great for a daring, luxurious touch. Feel free to also explore our lowdown on pale woods, extremely popular for creating an airy, Scandi-inspired space.
So, have you decided on a stunning species for your next project?
Whether you’re doing some home improvement or planning a large-scale commercial project, you can’t beat wood’s stunning hues.
Whatever you’re working on, we can help. We’re delighted to offer a range of beautiful, durable, quality sawn timber for any project, all delivered speedily across the UK on one of our Duffield Timber wagons!
Those timbers listed on our website aren’t necessarily an exhaustive list of everything we’re able to offer, by the way — at our Joinery & Woodworking Centre, we might have some other unique, quirky species available!
Our team is always on hand to offer advice and help to match you up with your dream wood — pick our brains by clicking the ‘get in touch’ button below, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 01765 640 564.