Open to upgrading your doors or windows? Schedule an appointment in person at one of our showrooms, or virtually with our professional sales staff. Open to upgrading your doors or windows? Schedule an appointment in person at one of our showrooms, or virtually with our professional sales staff.

A Guide to Wood Species

December 10th, 2019, 12:00 AM

originally published at Jeld-Wen.com

A Guide to Wood Species

Wood is proving to be a classic, enduring and eye-catching feature that has struck a chord with people who want to stand out from the crowd and live in a house that feels one-of-a-kind. Homeowners are looking beyond the traditional woods, such as pine, oak and fir, to incorporate a wide variety of wood options into homes. In addition, luxury homebuilders are using less-familiar wood species to attract buyers and differentiate their products in a crowded field. 

Wood species used in homes vary greatly in terms of characteristics and features. Performance aspects such as durability, stainability, grain pattern and color stability will vary depending on the type and the specific characteristics of the tree, including whether it is a softwood or hardwood. Some wood, such as cherry, tends to change color and darken over time.

Different species also react differently to stain. Softwoods have more resins than hardwoods and need more preparation before staining. Natural, clear or light stain finishes work well for species such as pine, while mahogany is better suited for darker stains. Walnut and cherry, when stained with lighter tones, show a wide degree of interesting color variations.

Mix and match to add drama

A design trend is using an assortment of complementary wood species to create a unique sense of style, warmth and sometimes a contrasting appearance. Using a variety of wood species in a home is very similar to selecting colors for a personal wardrobe. Mixing it up, when done with just a little know-how, is generally much more interesting. For example, mahogany and maple go great together because their grain patterns match well. Alder and cherry make another attractive combination. With homeowners requesting open floor plans, kitchens and dens are popular areas in which to mix and match wood species.

Here are a few examples of different wood species you may want to consider. 

HARDWOODS – Produced from deciduous (leaf-bearing) trees

Alder (clear and knotty) – A popular species today because of its pronounced grain and uniform texture. This versatile wood species features a fairly straight grain with areas of burl clusters and small knots. These marks add character and will provide a darker texture and color when finished. Alder varies from pale yellow to reddish brown and it accepts stains exceptionally well. It is also the lightest and least dense wood. Knotty Alder presents a more rustic look. When stained, alder blends well with walnut, mahogany and cherry. Available for: windows, exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.

Cherry – While usually recognized by its darker tone, cherry can be stained in a variety of shades. The cherry we use varies from rich red to reddish brown in color. It features a smooth texture with fine, straight and close grain. Occasionally, thin gum pockets and small clusters of pin knots are visible. These character marks, along with random blond streaks of sapwood, add a distinctive quality to the wood. Cherry will darken over time with exposure to light and contains miniscule pith marks as identifiers. Cherry stains easily and smoothly. Available for: windows, exterior doors, interior doors.

Hickory – This wood is a relatively smooth hardwood with prominent grain and it frequently features character marks such as bird pecks, pin knots and mineral streaks. It has a dramatic color variation which can be minimized with darker stains and paint finishes. The heartwood is tan or reddish while the sapwood is white to cream with fine brown lines. This wood features a closed grain with moderate definition and is rough textured. Available for: exterior doors, interior doors, patio door.

Maple – A dense hardwood that has a prolonged life. Maple is a hard, strong wood with a smooth texture and uniform grain. The grain is fine and is similar to birch and cherry. It may exhibit random darker streaks and occasional bird's-eye or worm track patterns. Over time, maple will mellow in color due to natural exposure to light and air. Traditionally used for interior applications. No grain filler required when finishing. Available for: exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.

Oak – This hardwood is one of the most popular species used today. Oak is renowned for its dramatically pronounced grain pattern. This pattern varies from tight, vertical grain to a beautifully arched pattern. This wood may also feature pin knots and mineral streaks. The color range includes light straw and honey with a light pink hue. Very durable and strong, oak accepts stains evenly and is easy to work with. Available for: windows, exterior doors, interior doors, patio doors.

Using unique wood species is one way for you to set yourselves and your homes apart from the competition. Take the opportunity to learn about wood species and become a valuable resource for homebuyers or homeowners who want to personalize their homes with wood, but may not be familiar with which species might look best. Here is a brief overview of the wood species available.  To  learn about more hardwood species as well as several softwood species click on the link at the top.

Return to all News & Releases

Interested in installing new windows or doors?
Interested in installing new windows or doors?

The installer, who I think was Tom Langworthy, did excellent work. He was respectful of our space and cleaned up after himself. He always conducted himself in a professional manner. He seems highly competent and he engenders confidence in his workmanship.

James B.
 
Washington, DC
 
Window Installation

The deck door is fabulous and the installation is super!!! I love how wide it is, and how easily it opens and it actually locks! thank you for the expert product and installation.

Kevin J.
 
Springfield, Virginia
 
Door Installation

Before, we could never keep up with the cold. Now we just turn the heat on, and it stays in the building. Complaints are way down, and we're very happy.

Rev. Davies K.
 
Falls Church, Virginia
 
Window Installation

I couldn't be more pleased with both my windows and the installation and now "on a clear day I can see forever". If you would like to use me as a reference I would be more than happy to cooperate.

Elizabeth H.
 
Arlington, Virginia
 
Window Installation

I want you to know that your two colleagues who installed the windows did an outstanding job...Jean and I could not be more pleased.

Ted B.
 
Washington, D.C.
 
Window Installation

We enjoyed meeting with Brian Whitehouse and were impressed with his ability to explain our options, always respecting our wishes and never annoying us with hard-sell tactics...It was such a pleasure to deal with people who know their job and do it well.

Sara R.
 
Falls Church, Virginia
 
Window and Door Installation

The whole process from initial meeting to installation was painless and quite surprisingly, a lot less expensive than we thought it would be... Thanks again for taking such good care of us. If anyone I know is looking for new windows, I will certainly recommend your company.

Carol B.
 
McLean, Virginia
 
New Window Installation

Tom is definitely a master craftsman and did an excellent job. Just want you and the company to know that both Tom and Larry did an outstanding job and we are very pleased with the results.

Dave H.
 
Arlington, VA
 
Window Installation

Your craftsmanship made all the difference, and it was nice getting to know you. We hope to hire you again.

Nany & Harry B.
 
Chevy Chase, MD
 
Windows and Door Installation

We love our new door. The installation work was timely, quick and well-done.

Mary Ann M.
 
Arlington, VA
 
Door Installation

Hodges had very knowledge salespeople, highly skilled installation crews, and the product lives up to expectations. You can't ask for better than that.

Richard N.
 
Ashburn Village, Virginia
 
Door Installation

I think they did a very good job. I will go back to them in a heartbeat.

Karen L.
 
Arlington, VA
 
Window and Door Replacement

Your guys did a great job. The temperature in the house is up by 3 degrees and the heat pump is running half as much.

Larry C.
 
Gainesville, Virginia
 
Window Installation

We are so very, very happy (once again!) with the Hodges Company....this is the third time we have had a project completed, and each time we've been so pleased.

Valerie Soroka
 
Arlington, VA
 
Door Installation

Everything was excellent. The salesman offered good advice and provided examples of how the end result would look. Hodges' workers arrived on time and worked quickly. The lead installer was quite knowledgeable as well, so the job was done neatly and without incident.

James G.
 
Vienna, Virginia
 
Window and Door Installation

I just wanted to express my appreciation to the team your company sent to install a few doors and repair windows in our house. They were professional, caring, cooperative and extremely courteous. They are a major asset to your company. On the whole, our experience with the Hodges Company has been very positive and we happily recommend your services to others.

Mary V.
 
Bethesda, Maryland
 
Door Installation and Window Repair

I wouldn't deal with anyone else. Working with Hodges, I know I can get anything I want, and my imagination can run wild.

GJ G.
 
Arlington, Virginia
 
Window and Door Installation

I am so pleased with my windows, your installers and staff. I would indeed recommend your company to anyone and everyone. They were quick, efficient and very polite.

Betty L.
 
Fairfax, VA
 
Window Installation

We will definitely be using Hodges again when we look to replace some windows in our house

Daniel Q.
 
Woodbridge, VA
 
Door Installation

Throughout the entire process - from our first meeting to the on-going daily supervision - by you of the job, the professionalism, the quality of the products, and the workmanship was outstanding.

David & Rosemary P
 
Vienna, Virginia
 
Window and Door Installation

All in all a really fantastic company - they've been in business a long time and it shows based on how they treat the costumer. Am planning to do windows next year, and they will be my first phone call.

Ian W.
 
North Potomac, MD
 
Door Installation

Thank you so much for fixing my window today! Thank you for coming even though these windows aren't yours......No wonder the management office here thinks you guys can do anything and are the most helpful window company around.

Kim T.
 
McLean, Virginia
 
Window Repair

I must tell you that Mark Russow and everyone at The Hodges Window Company are nothing less than a great representative/distributor for your company and we will not hesitate to recommend both companies to our friends and family.

Debbie P.
 
Manassas, VA
 
Window and Door Installation