11 Best Wood Types for Desks: Which One Should You Choose?

Looking for a desk that lasts long and looks sophisticated at the same time? If past desks have let you down in terms of durability or design, you’re in luck.

We’ve compiled the finest wood options for desks to help you make the right choice. 

Interior of light office with modern workplace and shelving unit

From enduring hardwoods to versatile softwoods to distinctive exotic woods, we’ll go into each option and describe its unique set of attributes.

Read on to discover the perfect match for your workspace.

Best Wood Types for Desks: A Quick Look

Wood TypeAesthetic Appeal WeightScratch Resistance
OakHigh; light to dark color, prominent grainHeavyHigh
WalnutHigh; dark color, elegant grainModerate to heavyModerate
MapleModerate; light color, fine grainHeavyHigh
CherryHigh; medium color, fine grainExtremely heavyHigh
PineModerate; light color, fine grainLightLow
FirModerate; light color, straight grainLightModerate
CedarHigh; medium color, straight grainLightLow
TeakHigh; light to dark color, straight grainHeavyVery high
RosewoodVery high; medium to dark color, distinctive grainVery heavyVery high
BirchModerate; light color, clean grain patternHeavyHigh
ZebranoVery high; light color, wavy grain HeavyHigh

The 11 Best Wood Types for Desks

Having explored the importance of selecting the right wood, check out our list of the 11 best wood types for desks.

1. Oak Wood

TypeHardwood
ColorLight beige, brown, red
AppearanceProminent grain pattern; uneven texture
PropertiesDense; high level of water resistance

Oak wood desks offer a timeless look due to their distinctive grain patterns and warm tones. 

Additionally, oak is quite versatile and accepts stains and finishes well, allowing it to adapt to different styles.

Oak is also very durable and can hold up well to heavy equipment. 

super long oak plank

However, it is a heavier wood type, which might make furniture more difficult to move.

It is workable and can be modified for customization, but its hardness may require more effort to nail or sand. It has good scratch resistance due to its hardness.

As with any hardwood, oak can be more expensive than other materials, but the investment in quality will reward you with a long-lasting and attractive desk.

2. Walnut Wood

TypeHardwood
ColorDark brown color with hints of gray, black
AppearanceTightly grained; medium texture
PropertiesHard and dense

Walnut wood is known for its unique beauty and refined aesthetic. Its rich, dark color adds an air of sophistication, making it a popular choice for high-end office desks.

It’s moderately versatile with finishes and stains, though its darker color can limit lighter finish options.

Walnut is strong and holds up well under heavy use. But like oak, it is relatively heavy, which can make furniture challenging to move.

long walnut plank

It’s generally workable and can be customized, but it requires care to avoid scratching, although less so than softer woods.

On the downside, walnut’s popularity and exceptional qualities can drive up the price, making it one of the more expensive options for desk construction.

3. Maple Wood

TypeHardwood
ColorCreamy white with a reddish tinge
AppearanceStraight, close-grained; fine texture
PropertiesMedium density; stiff; with shock resistance

With an optimal balance of durability, affordability, and versatility, maple wood is ideal for desks. 

Its light color makes it go well with different finishes. 

Plus, maple is dense and durable, making it capable of supporting heavy equipment and ensuring excellent wear and scratch resistance. 

light weathered rustic oak

But despite this, it still maintains an affordable price, especially when compared to expensive wood types like oak or walnut.

If you want to customize your desk by adding built-in storage, take note that this wood’s hardness can make customization more challenging.

4. Cherry Wood

TypeHardwood
ColorLight pink when freshly cut; darkens with time and sunlight; becomes reddish brown as it ages
AppearanceFine, straight grain; smooth texture
PropertiesMedium density; good bending; great shock resistance; low stiffness

With a fine, straight grain and reddish color that deepens with age, cherry wood has tons of aesthetic appeal. It even develops a rich patina over time, which gives it a natural, detailed appearance.

Cherry can also handle heavy equipment reasonably well. It’s also workable and fairly scratch-resistant, although not as robust as the harder woods like oak.

Nature old cherry wood plank texture Background

However, cherry is moderately dense, so desks made from cherry wood may not be as easy to move as those made from softwood.

Additionally, it may be more prone to scratches and dents, so taking care of the desk surface is crucial to maintaining its beauty.

5. Pine 

TypeHardwood
ColorYellowish or whitish color
AppearanceFine grain with knots; smooth texture
PropertiesMedium strength; elastic; durable

Pine is a good wood option for desks due to its affordability and versatility. 

It has a more rustic appeal that can complement any workspace. What’s more, its lighter color provides a versatile base for a variety of stains and finishes.

light-colored pine wood

However, it’s not as durable as hardwoods like oak or walnut, so it may not hold up as well to heavy equipment. 

But it’s still sturdy enough for a basic study or work desk, and it’s easy to move around because it’s lighter. 

Due to its softness, pine is quite workable and easy to customize. But this also means it’s more prone to scratches and dents.

6. Fir

TypeSoftwood
ColorLight brown with hints of red or yellow
AppearanceStraight and plain grain; medium to coarse texture with tight knots
PropertiesMedium weight and fairly hard; resistant to fungal and insect infestation

If you’re looking for a lightweight softwood option for your desk, consider using fir. 

Fir is one of the best wood types for desks due to its attractive grain patterns and smooth surface, which can create an inviting, aesthetically pleasing piece for your work or study area.

Beautiful Douglas fir wood background texture, wood line texture

You’ll find that fir is also quite affordable compared to some other types of wood, making it a budget-friendly option.

On the downside, fir is not as strong as some other woods, so it may be less durable over time, especially if subjected to heavy use.

7. Cedar Wood

TypeSoftwood
ColorReddish brown to pinkish red 
AppearanceStraight grain; fine texture
PropertiesLightweight; extremely durable; easy to stain

Cedar wood is celebrated for its aesthetic charm, featuring warm tones and a straight grain that enhances its natural beauty. 

It adds a rustic yet elegant touch to any space, making your office feel less cold or unwelcoming.

cedar wood with knots

Lightweight and easy to handle, a cedar desk is easy to move around when you’re cleaning or rearranging your workspace.

Cedar’s softness also makes it a breeze to work with when it comes to DIY customization, whether you’re building drawers or creating a cool desktop.

8. Teak Wood

TypeHardwood
ColorLight golden to dark brown
AppearanceStraight, closed grain; rough texture
PropertiesFirm structure; water-resistant; easy to work with

The beautiful golden to medium brown color of teak wood makes it stand out. 

Its natural oils provide a lustrous finish that’s appealing even without stains, making it a premium choice for deluxe office furniture.

teak wood

Renowned for its durability, teak also excels in holding up to heavy equipment and daily use with unmatched strength. It also boasts excellent scratch resistance, maintaining its beauty against wear and tear.

Keep in mind that because of its exceptional qualities, teak is often expensive. If you’re willing to splurge for a luxurious desk that can last decades, teak is a good option. 

But if you’re on a tight budget, it’s best to explore more affordable options.

9. Rosewood

TypeHardwood
ColorDark brown to rich red
AppearanceDense grain; medium texture
PropertiesHard and very strong; resistant to wear and tear

Rosewood is renowned for its striking aesthetic, with rich, deep hues and contrasting dark veining that make each piece unique and sought after for luxurious furnishings.

Its natural sheen enhances its visual appeal, often requiring no more than a simple finish.

This dense hardwood is highly durable and resistant to scratches, which makes it a staple for heirloom-quality pieces (including desks). It retains its elegant appearance over time with minimal maintenance.

Dark rosewood background, natural wooden texture with patterns.

But it’s also very heavy, so it’s not suitable for those who move around their desks often.

Also, beginners might find it difficult to work with due to its close grain, potentially making modifications and customization more complicated. 

10. Birch

TypeHardwood
ColorLight, creamy white color
AppearanceFine, straight grain; uniform texture
PropertiesMedium weight; strong; elastic and tough; stains well

Featuring a light color palette and fine grain, birch offers a clean and contemporary aesthetic appeal.

It stains well, so it can achieve a variety of looks and work with both natural and richly colored finishes. 

However, birch can be prone to blotching, so care must be taken when staining.

Detailed birch wood

Birch also impresses with its remarkable strength-to-weight ratio. This ensures that desks made from birch are both durable for everyday use and conveniently lightweight.

It’s also easy to work with. It cuts, sands, and stains effectively, enabling a smooth finish.

Most notably, while birch mirrors the durability of luxury hardwoods, it often comes at a more wallet-friendly price.

But while birch is pretty tough, it’s not as robust as some other hardwoods. Its surface can be susceptible to scratches and dents, so it may require a protective finish.

 11. Zebrano

TypeHardwood
ColorPale golden yellow with thin streaks of dark brown to black
AppearanceInterlocked or wavy grain that makes a ribbon figure; medium to coarse texture
PropertiesStrong and stiff; high-density; high gluing properties

For a truly unique and bold desk, consider zebrano wood. 

Often called zebrawood, this exotic lumber is characterized by its distinct, eye-catching striped pattern that resembles the stripes of a zebra.

zebrano wood quarter cut

Choosing zebrano for your desk will undoubtedly make a striking statement in your office or home. Its distinctive look makes it an exciting option for those seeking something different!

Zebrano is also a dense, scratch-resistant hardwood, which makes it suitable for constructing sturdy desks for long-term use. 

That said, its density makes it difficult to move around, and its rarity may result in a higher price tag.

What To Consider When Choosing a Desk Wood

Appearance

When selecting the perfect wood for your desk, it’s essential to consider its appearance and texture. 

The aesthetic appeal of the wood is influenced by its colors and grain pattern.

Some wood types have rich, warm hues with intricate grain patterns that make them ideal for traditional styles, such as the following:

  • Cherry
  • Walnut
  • Rosewood
  • Teak

For a lighter, more subtle appearance that suits contemporary styles, some examples include the following:

  • Maple
  • Birch

Maintenance and Longevity

The wood’s maintenance requirements and life span are crucial factors to consider when choosing the best wood for a desk. 

Here’s a summary table to show you which woods are best for certain purposes.

PurposeWoodMaintenance Level
Heavy everyday useOak or mapleLow
Statement pieceCherry woodHigh
Cost-effective optionPineLow

Price and Affordability

The cost of wood plays a significant role in your decision-making process when choosing the right wood for your desk.

High-quality hardwoods like cherry, walnut, or maple often come with a higher price tag due to their durability and appearance. However, they can provide excellent value for your investment, given their life span and minimal maintenance requirements.

For those with a tighter budget, more affordable options are available, such as pine, which can still offer a functional and visually appealing desk.

Armchair of director on a background of a window

Tips for Desk Wood Care

Caring for your wooden desk is essential to maintain its appearance and ensure its longevity.

Here are some tips to help you keep your desk looking its best:

  • Prevent scratches. Use a desk pad or a protective cover to minimize the risk of scratches from daily use. Also, avoid dragging objects across the surface and consider using coasters for drinks to prevent rings and stains.
  • Apply sealant. Applying a sealant, such as varnish or a clear finish, can help protect your wood desk from damage. This will help preserve the wood’s natural beauty and make it more resistant to damage.
  • Use coasters and mats. These offer added protection against spills and scratches, especially if you enjoy drinking your coffee or dragging equipment across the surface of your wood desk.
  • Clean and polish regularly. Regular dusting and cleaning with appropriate wood cleaners will also extend the longevity and appearance of a wood desk. It’s also vital to polish your wooden desk using a suitable wood polish every so often to maintain its shine and luster. 
  • Deal with wear and tear: Over time, your desk will inevitably experience some wear and tear. When this happens, consider refinishing or repairing the affected area to restore its appearance and protect the wood from further damage.

By following these tips, you can confidently care for your wooden desk, ensuring it remains a beautiful and functional piece of furniture for years to come.

Crochet set of round knitted holder for candle in purple color thread and cup of coffee on coffee coaster.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Wood Types Are Best for a Gaming Desk?

Hardwoods like oak, cherry, and walnut are favored for gaming desks because of their robustness and attractive grains.

Cherry stands out with its rich hue and smooth feel, adding elegance to gaming setups, while black walnut is prized for its stability and deep color.

What Is the Ideal Thickness for a Wooden Desk?

Generally, a thickness of 1 inch (25.4 millimeters) is considered a good starting point for most wooden desks. 

This thickness provides adequate support and stability for everyday use, including for computer and office desks.

However, if you plan on placing heavier items or equipment on your desk, such as multiple monitors or a gaming setup, you might want to consider a thicker desktop, ranging from 1.5 to 2 inches (38.1 to 50.8 millimeters).

Thicker wooden desks not only offer increased strength and support but also tend to be more resistant to warping or sagging over time.

a wooden table with working essentials like laptop, books, organizer, speaker, glass of water and a plant on top of it paired with a white chair

Choose the Best Wood Type for Your Desk!

Choosing the best wood for your desk is a personal journey, with options like the highly recommended maple that balance beauty and functionality. 

Whether for a computer, standing, or DIY desk, the decision should align with your needs, tastes, and budget. 

Begin your DIY adventure today and fashion a workspace that’s truly your own.

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