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Top Wood Species for Stairs

Top Wood Species for Stairs

Arguably the most important part of a staircase is the material it is made from.  With a wooden staircase you have a considerable degree of choice, and every one is beautiful.  Most interior stair systems are built from hardwood, and each hardwood species has differing colors, strengths, durability and hardness.

Maple is a tree common in North America. It is roughly divided into the two groups of hard maple and soft maple. They are both hardwoods, however, and soft maple is only referred to as such to distinguish its characteristics from hard maple. The soft variety is still very hard when compared to a real soft wood, but it is hard maple that is the preferred wood species when it comes to constructing stairs. It is commonly used for both treads and handrails.

Sapele is a tree found in tropical Africa. It is a hardwood that looks similar to mahogany and is in fact a type of mahogany.  It is often used in flooring and considered ideal for that purpose, but it also makes excellent stair treads too, looking very beautiful when given a proper finish. Sapele is a very versatile wood and is also used for the back and sides of acoustic guitars, as well as for wood trim in the interior of American Cadillacs.

American cherry wood is immortalized in the story of young George Washington who couldn't tell a lie when he chopped down his father's cherry tree. It is also a moderately dense hardwood that is used in the production of flooring and stairs. It has a close grain with an even, very fine texture with reddish colors. A stair banister made from American cherry has a soft pleasant look. Brazilian cherry, on the other hand, is not actually a cherry tree at all. However, it has become very popular in the last 10 years.  This current high demand has been fueled by the sales of brazilian cherry harwood flooring.  This exotic, very hard wood, does make excellent treads and risers, as well as the side stringers.

Alder grows in America on the west coast. It is a light colored wood with a few tight knots dotted around. Its light red color is almost cherry like, but a bit more rustic.  Alder stair railing has been driven recently by the increased sales of interior Alder doors and lineal trim.

Birch is a yellow wood that grows well in Canada, and in the northeastern part of America. It is ideal for stair treads because of it resistance to shock, as well as its flexibility and hard wearing properties.

Beech is a hard wood that has a reddish kind of brow look. It is very well suited for stairs. Its even texture and straight grain make it a strong wood. It is quite heavy as well, but extremely durable and will last several lifetimes.

Hickory is an amazing wood that has strength and toughness, hardness and stiffness, as well as being dense and solid.  A hickory staircase really completes a home with hickory floors and cabinets.

Poplar is a fast growing tree found in Canada and in the US. The wood is pliable, but tough and hard wearing.  Poplar is most commonly used for paint grade primed white or primed and finish coat white stair materials.  However, clear poplar is being used as a stain grade material more and more.

Walnut is a hardwood that is dark brown, and has a chocolate tone.  It is hard, tough and very durable, yet easy to work with, making it a favorite for homeowners and contractors looking for a dark, rich look.

One of the favorite woods for stairs and furniture in the US is oak. The two varieties are red oak and white oak. Red oak is the most common and  grows in many regions of North America and is very well suited to stairs.  Red oak has a very slight pinkish tone, while white oak is actually a light brown. It is fine grained and very durable. Either type of oak is ideal for use in stairs.

Southern yellow pine has a good deal of grain and character and is most often used for wood stairs in homes that have a rustic, historic, or country decor.