Solid wood is a popular choice for furniture making, with wooden furniture accounting for more than 60% of the global furniture market share. Compared to other materials used to make furniture, such as plastics, metal and fabric, wood offers a host of unique benefits, including:
- It’s a renewable resource
- It’s durable, with the ability to last for generations
- It’s timeless and versatile, complementing almost any aesthetic
- It offers a variety of looks based on the type of wood used
While choosing wooden furniture over other materials is an easy decision, deciding on the best types of wood for your application can seem challenging. Here, we offer a guide to the sustainable types of wood we use for our furniture and practical tips for choosing the right wood type for your home.
How do wood types differ in furniture making?
With an estimated 73,000 tree species worldwide, there are countless types of wood to choose from when it comes to making furniture. Each wood type has unique properties and characteristics to consider, including:
- Its classification as a hardwood or softwood
- Its grain pattern, finish and color
- Its durability and structural integrity
- Its elasticity and flexibility
- Whether it’s sustainably sourced
Because of these differences, the types of wood used in furniture making heavily depend on the desired aesthetic, density, cost and durability, as well as the type of furniture that’s being produced.
The sustainable wood we use
At MasayaCo, we use only sustainable hardwood in the production of our furniture and sustainably harvested teak is our wood of choice.
While softwood can be easier to work with and cheaper than hardwood due to the fast-growing trees that supply it, hardwoods are considered the most valuable due to their:
- Ease of maintenance
- Density, which makes them stronger than softwoods for higher-quality products
- Elegant aesthetic
- Tendency to be more fire resistant
A tropical hardwood, teak is known for its strength, durability and resistance to water and insects. It is commonly used for outdoor furniture, as it can withstand exposure to the elements without rotting or warping. Because of its rich color and stable nature, it is also a great option for indoor furniture.
Teak is also popular for its:
- Beautiful golden-brown color
- Unique grain patterns
- Easy maintenance
- Resistance to expanding with humidity, leaving it less susceptible to climate-induced cracks
Teak is one of the strongest and most stable hardwoods you can find. In addition to its inherent durability, it is also a relatively fast growing tropical hardwood compared to other species that have similar desirable characteristics. For example, Ipe can take 60 years to produce a tree that has wood ready to use. This makes the use of Ipe highly unsustainable because it is not very replenishable. Whereas an ethically managed teak stand can produce clippings suitable for interior furniture production in about 8 years. By year 20, a teak stand will be producing quality wood that is mature and suitable for use in outdoor furniture. A sustainably managed teak farm is a thriving renewable resource.
When buying teak furniture it is important to make sure it has been sustainably sourced. So, it’s critical to make sure you’re purchasing from a company that’s committed to a sustainable approach. Through our Seed to Seat model, we’ve planted over a million different trees, including teak, on previously deforested land.
Since 2004, we have been locating deforested land in Central America and planting trees in an effort to reforest land and restore it to a more natural state. During this time we have planted over 1.2 million trees on over 1200 acres of denuded land. We control the source of our teak by cultivating, harvesting, and milling it ourselves. This is how, with 100% confidence, we can say that our wood is sustainable.
Renewable resources like teak wood are natural resources that can be harvested, used, naturally replenished and sustained. Teak wood is a renewable resource that can be cultivated and sustained without harming the forest. Most wood can be cultivated and harvested several times in a human lifespan. Our harvesting methods are selective and sustainable. We are continuously replanting to sustain the forest, because the forest is our passion.
Every time we convert a cow pasture into a forest we sequester carbon, improve water quality, restore the soil, reduce erosion, restore the habitat for native species, and create new jobs. Reforesting these damaged lands, not only restores the land to its natural use, it also provides economic opportunities for the surrounding communities.
Why sustainable wood is important for furniture making
Buying sustainable wood not only helps your conscience – it contributes to a healthier environment. Deforestation and unsustainable logging practices cost the world 10 million hectares (about 2.47 acres) of forests every year. That’s equivalent to losing about 27 soccer fields of forests every minute.
Deforestation is characterized by the purposeful clearing of trees. The remaining bare land is then converted to non-forest use, such as farms or urban settlements. Nicaragua, which is where MasayaCo originated, is losing its forests at an alarming rate.
By purchasing wood furniture from companies that responsibly manage their forests, you are helping to reverse the effects of the depletion of these renewable resources, which include:
- Climate change
- Global warming
- Water pollution
- Loss of wildlife and habitats
Benefits of using sustainable wood
The production of wood furniture is less energy intensive and less polluting than making furniture out of other, nonrenewable materials, such as plastic, concrete and metal. Additionally, using sustainable types of wood can help:
- Reduce the impact of deforestation
- Promote responsible forestry practices
- Support local economies that rely on forestry
- Result in higher-quality products with more desirable features
Our company replaces resources taken by others by planting and growing trees on deforested land, where we have already planted more than a million trees. We plant more trees than we harvest, establishing a never-ending replenishing cycle.
Additionally, during our milling process, biomass, scrap and other waste collected while the wood is being graded, trimmed and air-dried is sent to a biomass generator to be converted into sustainable energy.
Through these conservation and reforestation efforts, our furniture helps to:
- Reduce carbon emissions
- Restore the soil
- Improve water quality
- Reduce erosion
- Create jobs
- Positively impact local communities
How to choose the right furniture for your home
When selecting the best sustainable types of wood for your home furniture, it all boils down to choosing woods based on their properties and characteristics. Three factors to consider are:
- The purpose and functionality of the furniture piece
- The aesthetic and style you’re trying to achieve
- The maintenance requirements of the furniture
Teak is an excellent all-purpose choice for furniture
All types of wood have their pros and cons, which is why it’s important to consider the purpose of the furniture piece when selecting wood.
For example, if you’re looking to purchase a bed frame for young children, teak would be a good option, as it's less susceptible to the wear and tear that could come with a child jumping or roughhousing on their bed.
If you’re seeking out furniture for a non-insulated three-season sunroom, teak would also be an excellent choice due to its resistance to temperature changes.
Teak is unique in that it has properties that lend itself to tremendous versatility. From indoor flooring and outdoor decking to boat building, siding for houses to furniture and cabinet production, Teak has been one of the popular choices for fabrication throughout the ages. Furniture built from Teak will ensure your wood furniture lasts as long as possible.
Consider the aesthetic and style
When picking out the perfect furniture for a room, consider the aesthetic of the wood – including its color, grain pattern and tone – to find the best fit to match your current decor and style.
Because of its warm, golden tone and straight grain pattern, teak is often associated with earth tones and a mid-century modern look, which emphasizes clean lines and muted colors.
MasayaCo also offers several finish options for our teak furniture if you want a different color. Walnut and Mahogany finishes are available. We also offer a white wash finish we call “Arena” and a solid black finish we call “Burnt Teak.”
Durability and maintenance of the furniture
Some sustainable hardwoods are more durable and require less maintenance than others, which is also important to keep in mind when making your selection.
Teak is known for being easy to clean and maintain. Care instructions are typically simple and include:
- A regular wipe down with a soft cloth to remove dust
- Using coasters and pads under hot and cold dishes to protect the wood
- Always test any cleaning sprays on a non visible part of the furniture prior to using it on the whole piece. Non wax cleaners are recommended.
Outdoor teak furniture is usually fine left as is. It will naturally patina over time to a silvery gray. It is a good idea to lightly sand it and clean it with a teak cleaner from time to time to keep any mold or mildew from occurring. Also keeping it in an area where it can dry out easily will add to its longevity.
For items like our table tops, applying non-wax furniture polishes (like Pledge) can help protect the wood’s surface while still allowing its natural beauty to show through.
Choose MasayaCo's sustainable furniture today
When choosing wood furniture, Teak is one of the best hardwoods available for creating long-lasting, high-quality statement pieces. When considering your use of the furniture, the source of the wood, and the style of your home the versatility of teak makes it one of the most desirable woods available.
By purchasing from MasayaCo, you’re not only getting beautiful, handmade furniture – you’re also supporting a company that prioritizes sustainability, benefitting both local economies and the global environment.
Make a positive impact and shop sustainable teak hardwood furniture today!