Hardwood species represent 40% of the trees in the United States and most hardwood trees produce either a nut or a fruit. The term "hardwood" doesn't refer to the actual hardness of wood, but rather the wood from a broad-leaved tree as opposed to one from a conifer or softwood. Hardwood trees are usually dormant in the winter and hundreds of different varieties can be found in any given forest in the U.S.
Properties of Hardwood
It takes approximately 60 years for a hardwood to mature and each hardwood tree develops its' own individual grain texture and pattern. So it's true when they say that no two pieces of hardwood are ever alike, even if they are from the same hardwood tree. Because hardwood is a natural material, it will expand as a result of changes in the humidity and it will contract when the air is cool or dry. Solid hardwood is a popular choice for cabinetry, woodwork and furniture not only for its uniqueness and beauty, but also for its outstanding strength and durability. Hardwood is easy to maintain and it can endure hundreds and hundreds of years of use.
Hardwood Species in the United States
There are many different hardwood species throughout the forests of the U.S and tropical forests throughout the rest of the world. Because of this, hardwood is available in a variety of colors and densities. A few popular U.S. hardwood species include ash, cherry, maple, poplar and oak. Cherry, also called American Black Cherry, is a popular choice for fashioning fine furniture, while oak is a common choice for flooring in the U.S.
Tropical Hardwood Species
Several tropical hardwood types include sandalwood, teak, and mahogany. Sandalwood is one of the most expensive types of hardwood in the world and it is cherished for its beauty and density. It is one of the only hardwoods that will sink in water rather than float. It is believed that sandalwood has origins either in southeastern Indonesia or southern India, but today it is naturalized and distributed in places like Sri Lanka and Northern Australia. In addition to making expensive furniture, sandalwood is also used for religious and many medicinal purposes. Teak is a common choice for making "leisure" furniture while mahogany is a popular collectible hardwood among Cantonese and Taiwanese collectors. Mahogany is also a popular hardwood for furniture, instruments, and cabinetmaking in the U.S. and overseas.