Your Guide to Pale Woods: Types, Uses & Interior Design Tips
They say blondes have more fun — and creamy-coloured timber is attracting a growing number of fans. It’s not hard to see why.
Pale woods are perfect for giving your space an airy, alluring, clean aesthetic. A staple component of Scandinavian-inspired design, light-coloured woods can be incorporated into a number of interior designs and projects.
As a national UK stockist of a range of timber and timber products, allow us to discuss these beautiful woods in more detail.
Benefits of pale wood
‘Pale’ can cover a whole gamut of colours — sometimes creamy-white, sometimes light golden or anywhere in between. Light-coloured types of wood usually have a native climate in the northern hemisphere, often grouped together as ‘temperate hardwoods’.
So, what’s all the rage?
Beauty and versatility
It’s impossible to deny that lighter woods slot seamlessly into a number of styles and settings. At home in urban or country environments, architects and designers are clamouring to capture the calming, minimalist Scandinavian vibes that pale timbers evoke.
These woods create a chic space easier on the eye, providing an uplifting sense of light and airy calmness. Lighter woods are also great for creating a neutral backdrop upon which statement pieces can stand out.
Strength and durability
Whilst some pale timbers can be more delicate than their darker brethren — particularly the pale softwoods — there are many light-coloured hardwood species blessed with top-notch physical attributes. We’re talking about exceptional hardness, density and scratch resistance.
By choosing the right species for your project, you can have all the beauty of light wood without compromising on any strength. Investing in quality, therefore, is highly recommended.
Functionality and workability
If you’re looking for a highly-functional species suitable for working or turning into almost any piece, you’re in luck. Many species of pale wood are able to be machined, glued, fixed and finished without any trouble, making them perfect for whatever project you have in mind — joinery, furniture, flooring, skirting or something else.
Suitability for all budgets
If you’re working to a tighter budget or perhaps looking to push the boat out to capture opulence and splendour, there’s no shortage of paler timber species which fit the bill.
Pale wood types and species
The world is home to many fantastic, diverse pale-coloured woods, with some of the most popular hailing from the northern hemisphere forests of North America and Europe. Let’s explore some of the favourites as well as their most common uses.
American Hard Maple
- Colour: Nearly white to off-white cream, sometimes with reddish tinge
- Common uses: Furniture, flooring, kitchen, table tops
- Origins: North-east USA and Canada
- Density: 710kg/m³
When asked to name a classic blonde wood, maple is often one of the first species on the tip of people’s tongues.
There’s a good reason why this cold-weather tree is a timeless timber. As well as a beautiful pale-white colour, it affords impeccable scratch resistance and hardness, suiting it to very high-impact areas of the home. Did you know that it’s even been used for the flooring in bowling alleys?
What’s more, maple has a very straight grain and close, fine texture, making it a woodworker’s dream. Popular uses include flooring, high-end furniture, joinery and kitchen accessories.
American White Oak
- Colour: Pale cream sapwood with light brown heartwood
- Common uses: Furniture, flooring, doors
- Origins: Eastern USA
- Density: 755kg/m³
Almost everyone’s heard of oak, which should probably tell you how much of a versatile, high-quality timber it is. Straight grained with a medium texture and fantastic physical attributes across the board, American White Oak (Quercus alba) is another paler timber species that you shouldn’t overlook.
Common uses for the wood include furniture, flooring, doors and more. Unlike some pale-coloured hardwoods, American White Oak is very handy for its natural water rot resistance — did you know that it’s often used in boatbuilding?
European White Beech
- Colour: Pale cream
- Common uses: Furniture, flooring, joinery
- Origins: Europe
- Density: 710kg/m³
European White Beech trees are native right the way across the European continent, from southern England to Sicily, Sweden, Portugal and northwest Turkey — and many places in between!
Known scientifically as Fagus sylvatica, white beech trees produce timber with a stunning creamy colour and fine, even texture. But not only does it look the part, but it also performs in every way you’d want for a top-notch interior timber — extremely dense, hard-wearing and long-lasting with very good workability.
American White Ash
- Colour: Beige to nearly white, sometimes light brown
- Common uses: Flooring, furniture, table tops and skirting
- Origins: Eastern and central North America
- Density: 675kg/m³
A classic species, American White Ash trees (Fraxinus americana) traditionally grow to a great height, meaning they are often available in longer lengths.
The harvested wood is a premium-quality timber with excellent colour consistency and a clean, straight grain. This lends the species top-notch workability — machining, fixing, gluing and finishing are all a doddle.
With a lack of rot, decay and insect resistance, American White Ash is not a durable species for exterior application. That said, it has excellent strength and density, making it a perfect contender for a range of interior projects, including flooring, table tops, furniture and skirting.
Styling a home with pale wood
Once upon a time, designers opted almost exclusively for the darker-coloured, sometimes exotic woods to showcase opulence and splendour — wenge, walnut and mahogany, to name a few.
Increasingly, however, Scandi-inspired paler woods are catching the eye for their understated glamour. Light-coloured timber brings a contemporary freshness to any room or space which they’re incorporated into.
Consider pale timber furniture for your bedroom décor and flooring for the sense of calm which these lighter woods instil. Pale wood furniture works excellently in living rooms and leisure spaces for a neutral, cohesive look.
The beautiful natural markings, colours and textures of pale woods — particularly of the high-quality species listed above — make them very easy to incorporate into a space. Light-coloured woods are simple to match with neutral-coloured décor (as well as with each other), so can be used throughout a room.
The use of contrast is also simple and effective with pale wood. Choosing one darker piece which juxtaposes and ‘pops’ with the rest of the room can be very easy on the eye; such as a dark sofa, lightshade or painting. Consider contrasting pale-coloured wooden table tops with darker frames, for example, or using brushed brass handles for pale-coloured cabinetry.
Want to make your pale wood dreams come true?
At Duffield Timber, we’ve been helping our many customers to meet their various timber requirements ever since 1957. Across the UK, we’ve built an enviable industry reputation by providing the highest quality of product and service.
If you’re looking for some gorgeous pale wood for your next project, our team would be delighted to help and advise. Simply get in touch through our website or by calling 01765 640564.
If you happen to be nearby, why not also pay us a visit and explore our timber wares? We’re just off the A1 near Ripon, in Melmerby!