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Everything You Need To Know About Walnut Wood: Properties, Uses and Advantages
Walnut wood is popular among woodworkers and furniture aficionados alike, and it’s easy to see why. Apart from its beautiful colour and grain, walnut wood is also known for its durability. Many uses of this wood include making furniture, flooring and even musical instruments.
There are many different types of walnut wood such as the American walnut, English walnut and Russian walnut. In this article, we’ll mainly be focusing on the American walnut, as it's the most common type that’s used for woodworking.
- Properties of Walnut Wood
- Advantages of Walnut Wood
- Disadvantages of Walnut Wood
- Uses of Walnut Wood
- How to Choose Furniture Made of Premium Walnut Furniture
- How to Preserve Your Walnut Wood Furniture
- Walnut Wood vs Other Wood Types: Teak, Mahogany and Rain Tree
- FAQs About Walnut Wood
Properties of Walnut Wood
Also known as black walnut, the American walnut has distinctive characteristics such as a deep brown colour, unique grain patterns and a high level of hardness. Here’s what sets it apart from other types of wood.
Black walnut wood comes in many shades. While its heartwood (inner layer of a tree’s trunk or branch) comes in a deep chocolate or coffee colour, its sapwood (outer layer of a tree) can be pale yellow or have a greyish tinge.
Over time, you can expect its colour to lighten slightly. However, you can still preserve its tone by applying a linseed oil finish over it.
While the grain of American walnut wood is generally straight, it can also be irregular at times. Waves, curls, crotches and burls are some of the patterns that can be found on this type of wood.
Walnut wood is coarse in texture because of its open pores. These pores are the vessels in the wood that allow water to pass through and enable the trees to grow. They also make it easier for the wood to be coated and preserved.
*The Janka scale refers to the measure of hardness of a type of wood. It’s a range that determines the density of a wood and how resistant it is to scratches, indentations and water.
Advantages of Walnut Wood
With its many advantages, it comes as no surprise that black walnut wood is highly sought after. Some of its strengths include its beauty, versatility and resistance to rot.
Here are some reasons why many favour this type of wood.
With its deep brown colour and striking grain patterns, American walnut is a luxurious choice of furniture that adds a touch of elegance to any home decor. When paired with white or cream furnishings, walnut wood creates a stunning contrast that draws the eye.
Each slab of walnut wood is also distinct and features its own unique grain pattern.
Walnut wood is perfect for crafting furniture that is gorgeous and functional. As it is easy to shape and carve, walnut wood offers endless design possibilities for creative furniture makers.
This type of wood can also be painted or varnished to highlight its natural beauty or to preserve its traditional look.
Due to the absence of sap and resin, two common allergens found in other wood types, walnut wood is hypoallergenic. This makes it a great choice for people who have allergies or sensitivities to certain materials.
In addition, this material doesn’t contain harmful chemicals or toxic substances, making it safe to come into contact with.
Strong and Stable
American walnut is durable and sturdy wood that resists warping and shrinking. These properties help ensure that furniture made from walnut can last for many years.
Rot and Termite Resistant
Black walnut wood is highly resistant to water and termites. While it may be vulnerable to pests like the yellow necked caterpillar and fall webworm, these insects are not commonly found in Singapore.
Easy to Maintain
Routine cleaning such as dusting and wiping with a damp cloth is all that’s needed to maintain this type of wood. You can also oil or wax the wood occasionally to maintain its shine.
Disadvantages of Walnut Wood
While walnut wood is a luxurious option to build furniture with, there are some disadvantages to using this type of material.
Due to its premium quality, walnut wood is generally more expensive compared to other types of timber. In fact, it’s one of the most luxurious non-exotic woods on the market.
Sensitive to Light
This type of wood is best kept indoors as exposure to the sun may cause its dark rich shade to lighten over time.
Susceptible to Scratches
Although black walnut wood is hardy, it can be susceptible to scratches. Avoid using objects such as penknives, coasters and placemats on its surface, lest they leave marks on the wood.
Uses of Walnut Wood
With its versatility, walnut wood can be used to make flooring and various types of furniture. It can also be used to make musical instruments such as acoustic guitars and ukuleles.
Walnut is commonly used to make furniture as it’s a moderately dense wood. Its durability also accounts for why many people use this material to make furniture such as wooden tables, chairs and cabinets for shoes and slippers.
In addition to its natural beauty, walnut wood is a popular choice for flooring due to its rich and warm colour. It also boasts natural resistance to termites and moisture, and can last for a long time.
Walnut wood is also used to make guitars and stringed instruments such as the Arabic oud.
How to Choose Furniture Made of Premium Walnut Wood
With a plethora of walnut wood options available on the market, it can be difficult to determine the authenticity of your purchase. Here’s what you can look out for when choosing walnut furniture.
Confirm that the Wood is a Whole Piece
When buying a piece of walnut furniture, it is important to check that the wood comes from a whole piece. One of the ways to confirm this is to see if the grains of the wood are continuous.
If the grains are not continuous or if there are no end grains, there is a high chance that the piece you’re looking at is made from Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) and particleboard. This could mean that the “walnut wood” you’re looking at is just a veneer.
Check the Width of the Wood
Walnut wood slabs tend to be narrow (no wider than 70 - 80cm) and have a consistent width throughout the board. If the piece you’re looking at is too wide, it is probably not from walnut wood.
How to Preserve your Walnut Wood Furniture
Applying polishes and linseed oil to your walnut wood pieces are some ways to preserve its gorgeous colour and maintain its condition.
Protect wooden walnut finishes by applying furniture wax or silicone-based polish to the surface, twice a year. Tung oil is also a great option for coating your furniture piece.
Apply Linseed Oil
To protect your walnut furniture when placing it outdoors, consider using linseed oil. This type of oil contains UV inhibitors that can prevent sunlight from bleaching the wood. It also has waterproofing properties that can protect the wood from water damage and make it more airtight.
To apply, rub a thin layer of linseed oil into the wood until the oil from your hands disappears.
Walnut Wood vs Other Wood Types: Teak, Mahogany and Rain Tree
Here’s how walnut wood compares against other types of timber in terms of grain, colour, hardness, durability and water and rot resistance.
|Walnut Wood||Rain Tree Wood||Teak Wood||Mahogany Wood|
|Grain||Tight grains||Straight grains with occasional interlocking grains||Grains are closely packed||Straight to interlocked grains|
|Colour||Ranges from light brown to dark brown; fades to yellow gradually||Golden brown to dark brown||Consistent shade of golden brown||A unique reddish brown|
Hardness (Janka scale)
|1010 lbf||900 lbf||1000 - 1155 lbf||800 lbf|
|Durability||Very durable||Moderately durable||Extremely durable||Very durable|
|Water and Rot Resistance||Strong water resistance||Not as resistant to water and rot as teak and walnut||Resistant to insects and moisture due to the high concentration of natural oils||Moderately resistant and comparable to walnut|
FAQs About Walnut Wood
Is walnut wood softwood or hardwood?
Walnut is a type of hardwood that comes from deciduous trees. Hardwood trees often have broad leaves and are denser and harder than softwoods.
Is walnut wood long-lasting?
With proper care, a good walnut furniture piece can last for about 20 years even when exposed to direct sunlight. If kept inside, it can last a lifetime and may even be able to be passed down to the next generation.
What is the difference between walnut wood and black walnut wood?
Walnut wood is a general term for trees from the Juglans species. There are many different kinds of walnut wood such as the black walnut, English walnut and Russian walnut.
However, the black walnut is the most popular type as it’s the strongest and comes in beautiful shades of brown.
How much are walnut wood planks?
Depending on the quality and size of the wood, black walnut boards and planks can cost anywhere from S$6 to S$13 per board foot.