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Wood in the home

The ten most important species - where they grow and their uses in the home today.

Maple Properties
Light-coloured, fine-textured and uniform wood of medium hardness. Eminently suitable for producing smooth surfaces. Also with special growth features, such as bird's-eye grain.
Use
Trend wood for furniture, also in combination with dark wood. Also used for parquetry, turned articles and kitchen fronts.
Distribution
Three species in Western, Central and Southeast Europe, Asia Minor and North America.
 
Properties
Colour ranges from yellowish or reddish white to pale brown, smooth, often with a silky sheen. Very good for staining and polishing. Young image.
Use
New trend wood for furniture. Flamy or patterned veneer of the Finish birch is particularly popular, e.g. for bedroom furniture. Also used for parquetry, wall and ceiling panels, toys, sports articles and kitchen accessories.
Distribution
Around 60 species in the northern regions of Asia, Europe and America.
Birch
 
Beech Properties
Firm, strong, without distinctive patterning. Can be bent in steam (Thonet process) and also stained and dyed.
Use
As solid wood for strutted furniture and robust tables, chairs and frames. For stairs, parquetry, toys and turned articles.
Distribution
Found throughout northern Europe between 40 and 60 degrees latitude and in adjacent regions to the southeast.
 
Properties
Hard, tough, elastic, can be machined easily and neatly. Colour varies from light to pinkish brown.
Use
For bedroom and living room furniture, as well as for kitchen furniture, usually rustic style; for wall and ceiling panels, parquetry, stairs, doors and windows.
Distribution
Grows throughout Europe, North America, Japan and Iran.
Oak
 
Alder Properties
Soft, fine-textured, with straight-grained structure. Easily polished, stained and carved. Colour varies from reddish yellow to reddish brown.
Use
Trend wood for living room, bedroom and kitchen furniture, as well as for imitating other types of wood. Used for rails, handles, toys, garden implements and crates.
Distribution
30 species in Europe, particularly Scandinavia. Common alder found in Northern Asia and North America.
 
Properties
Light, large-grained with striking texture, firm and elastic. The surface can be treated with transparent colouring or lime-washed to fill the pores.
Use
For furniture, panelling, parquetry, stairs. The brown-cored olive ash is used particularly for kitchen furniture, while the white ash is used above all for bedroom furniture. Also used for handles of every type and for sports equipment.
Distribution
Predominantly found in the northern hemisphere, Europe and Middle East as far as the Kashmir region. White ash found in North America.
Ash
 
Spruce Properties
Yellowish white, soft with distinctive texturing. Surface can be dyed using all common techniques.
Use
The most widely used native softwood and the most important building wood. Used for furniture, walls, ceilings, floors, stairs, windows, masts, ladders and slabs.
Distribution
Roughly 45 species. Found in temperate to cool climates in the northern hemisphere, Europe, North America, Siberia, China and Japan.
 
Properties
Pale yellow to light reddish, strikingly speckled, i.e. with conical grain pattern, resinous. Darkens when exposed to light.
Use
One of the most widely used softwoods. Used for furniture, wall panelling, floors, stairs, windows and facade elements. Also used for posts, plywood and chipboard.
Distribution
With roughly 94 species, one of the most commonly found types of softwood. Found predominantly from Northern Europe to Northwest Siberia.
Scots pine
 
Cherry tree Properties
Reddish brown, matte, glossy, fine-textured, with delicate, sometimes flamy patterning. Easily stained and polished.
Use
Used for high-quality furniture, including period furniture, for representative panelling and as a decorative element in combination with other types of wood, as well as for intarsia.
Distribution
In temperate regions throughout the world, as cultivars and as wild cherry. Black cherry from the USA is also popular.
 
Properties
Light to dark brown, irregularly veined, with attractive speckled or striped patterning. Easily profiled, turned, stained and polished.
Use
Like cherrytree wood, one of the most popular types of wood for high-class bedroom, living room and dining room furniture. Used as a decorative veneer with different surface finishes, such as striped or flamy, and as solid wood. Also used for parquetry, panelling, doors and musical instruments, as well as for turned or carved articles.
Distribution
Found in Southern Europe, Asia Minor, Northern India and China, as well as in North and South America.
European walnut
 
By kind permission of the journal "Zuhause Wohnen" (12/97)
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