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As a building contractor, you know that it’s the little details that make a home stand out. Among those little details include millwork like moldings, casings and baseboards. Although these features generally blend into the background of a home, they create an important finishing touch to any wall or doorway.

If you want to make a home truly unique, it’s crucial to customize the home’s millwork. And the first step in customizing millwork is to choose the right wood type. But with so many different types of wood, how can you choose just one?

 Hardwoods vs. Softwoods

When you’re trying to narrow down a wood type, comparing hardwoods to softwoods is the best place to start. Hardwood comes from flowering plants like maple walnut, and oak. Softwood comes from gymnosperm trees – trees with needles and cones – such as cedar, pine and spruce.

Like the name implies, hardwood is typically harder than softwood. But there are many other differences as well. Hardwood is better at resisting damage over time, but is often more expensive than softwood. However, softwood is easier to bend, cut and shape, which makes it ideal for installation.

Choosing Hardwoods

If you know you prefer hardwoods over softwoods, you still need to decide the precise type of hardwood to use.

Oak is one of the most popular hardwoods. It contains many biomolecules called tannins, making it resistant to insects and fungus. For centuries, people have used oak to build ships and furniture. In today’s homes, it’s often used for flooring and frames. White oak contains yellow flecks, while red oak has a distinguishing swirling pattern.

On the other hand, cherry wood adds a distinctive beauty to millwork features. Because of its straight grain and its beautiful reddish brown color, cherry wood is often used for fine furniture. There are many types of cherry wood, including Brazilian, American and black.

If you prefer a lighter white color, choose maple. Maple is also a good choice if you want extremely hard and durable millwork.

However, if you want a hardwood that’s easy to mold, mahogany is ideal. Its straight grain pattern and resistance to rot make it a popular choice for building contractors.

Other hardwoods include:

  • Teak: resistant to both weather and insects, this makes it a great choice for outdoor features.
  • Walnut: a sturdy wood that comes in a variety of shades, from brown to yellow.
  • Poplar: soft and flexible unlike other hardwoods.

If you’re still unsure about these choices, consider the many softwood options.

Choosing Softwoods

If you prefer softwoods, you have several choices as well. One of the most popular is cedar, which naturally repels termites and rot. Plus, many homeowners enjoy its crisp scent.

Another popular softwood is pine, which is very light weight and inexpensive. And there’s also the unconquerable Douglas fir. It stands out among softwoods because it is naturally stable and does not shrink or swell as much as other woods. It also holds up against powerful weather forces.

Redwood is another common softwood. Along with its striking appearance, redwood is also resistant to UV rays. And don’t forget about cypress, which produces a soft, supple wood. Finally, spruce’s simultaneous light weight and superior strength make it ideal for both indoor and outdoor use.

Making Your Choice

As you consider your many choices for millwork, first consider your budget. Next, consider both the strength and flexibility of a given wood. Finally, reflect on the style and look of the homes other features and choose the wood that best matches the look and feel.

Nisbet Bower offers a wide selection of hardwoods and softwoods to accommodate virtually any custom woodworking project. To ensure you choose the best wood for your millwork project, contact the professionals at Nisbet Bower.