It’s hard to beat how beautiful natural wood looks in your home. There was a time when every house had hardwood flooring installed with varying wood grain patterns. The floors were durable and sturdy, but people eventually started covering them with carpeting. However, one of the newer home improvement trends is to uncover the wood floors and restore them to their former glory.
There are several different stunning wood grain patterns to choose from when you install your own hardwood floors. If you want to find out what the most popular wood grain patterns are, read on.
Defining Wood Grain
Wood grain is the pattern or arrangement of the fiber of your piece of wood. The grain pattern gets created when the wood gets cut. A tree has rings that it grows every year, especially in the spring and summer months, called growth rings. When you cut a tree down, you cut through the annual rings. The wood grain pattern or type you get depends on how you slice the tree. You can get a straight, flat, or curly grain.
25 Types of Wood Grain Patterns
We’re going to dive in and take a look at the best wood grain patterns you can come up with and use in your home. If you get it correct, you’ll get a beautiful space that shows off your flooring, cabinets, or walls.
1. African Padauk
African padauk is one option that has a huge range of colors from deep red that looks brown to pale pinkish-orange. When you first saw it, this wood grain pattern looks reddish-orange, but it’ll darken as it ages to a more reddish-brown. The grain pattern itself is usually straight, but it can also be interlocked. The texture of this wood is coarse and open with a natural luster. The wood resists decay, and it is considered to be very durable because it has a natural resistance to termites and insects. You’ll find this wood used very often for musical instruments, flooring, tool handles, wood veneer, and for small wooden objects.
2. American Beech
American beech offers a very pretty cream color that is very pale, and it can come with a brown or pink hue. The veneer on the wood grain pattern is a slightly darker coloring, and it slices through the veneer to give the wood a much more golden tone. The grain is very straight, and it has a fine to medium texture that is uniform and fine. You’ll get a moderate natural luster to it.
American beech is nondurable or perishable when it comes to decay or rot, and it can also have issues with insect damage. This is a very workable wood choice, and it machines very well. This wood also responds to both gluing and finishing, and it does well being bent by steam. You’ll find this wood used for pallets, crates, lumbar, small wooden objects, furniture, and musical instruments.
3. American Cherry
American Cherry has a light brownish-pink coloring when you first cut it. With time, you’ll notice that it slowly darkens to a brownish-red color. It will also get darker as you expose it to light. This wood grain pattern is usually straight, and this makes it relatively easy to work with. Some pieces will have a very light curly grain, and it’s not as easy to work with those that are straight.
This wood comes with a fine and even texture with a moderate luster. The wood is decently durable, and it can resist decay to make it more known as one of the best woods to work with. It’s very stable and machines well, and it tends to be more difficult to stain because you can end up with a blotchy application. It has a mild but distinct scent to it when you work with it. You’ll find this wood used for furniture, cabinets, floors, millwork, veneer, and small wooden items.
Anigre wood is a very light brownish-yellow color that can have a hint of pink. The color will change as the wood ages, and it’ll get a much darker, golden hue. The wood grain pattern is interlocked or straight, and it has a natural luster with a uniform texture. It’s not durable and has a perishable rating, and it won’t withstand insect attacks. Also, it can get stained with blue fungus during the initial drying period. It will emit a very faint cedar scent, and it’s popular for use as plywood, furniture, boats, light construction, or veneers.
Bamboo is usually pale yellow to white. When it’s alive and left standing for too long, it can develop discoloration or fungus. The color can then streak with black and show patches of brown. There will be no growth rings with bamboo, and the texture can be uniform with a medium or fine look, depending on the wood’s density. Once the wood gets processed and split, you’ll see variation in the fibers, so there is no pronounced wood grain pattern.
There are many bamboo species available, but it can be challenging to tell the difference between each one. Bamboo is perishable, and it starts to break down in just a few short years. The wood is also prone to attacks by insects, including beetles, termites, and marine-borers. It’s not difficult to work, but it does require very specific care. The fibers in this wood tend to split and come out when you cross-cut the wood. Bamboo responds very well to finishing, staining, and gluing. It emits an earth-like scent when you work it, and you can use it on veneer, paper, scaffolding, ladders, blinds, fishing rods, carvings, and floors.
6. Bigleaf Maple
Those who want to use this maple tree will typically use it for the sapwood over the heartwood. The sapwood is an off-white to cream color, but it can come with a red or golden hue. The heartwood is more of a dark brownish-red color. The wood grain pattern of this maple is usually very straight, but it can also be wavy. It could even appear to have a quilted pattern.
The texture on this wood is fine to medium, and it’s not durable. This means that it won’t resist decay, and it tends to burn when you machine it. It’s commonly used for paper, boxes, veneers, and musical instruments.
Bubinga has a color that ranges from dark reddish-brown to pinkish-red, and it can have black or dark purple streaks. The sapwood has a pale straw coloring. The wood grain pattern on this choice can be straight or interlocked with a fine to medium-grain texture. It has a moderate luster, and there are medium-sized pores that don’t get arranged by any specific way. It’s either moderately durable or very durable, depending on which hardwood tree you use.
It’s resistant to attacks by insects or termites, and it’s generally considered easy to work. However, some of the tree species have silica, and this can dull your tools. When the good grain pattern is interlocked, the machine can cause tears. There is a specific amount of natural oils in this wood, and it has a higher density. The wood responds very well to turning and finishing. It has an unpleasant odor when it gets wet, but the scent will vanish once it dries. The wood is popular for use in veneer, cabinets, furniture, and specialty wood items.
8. Brazilian Rosewood
You’ll get a variety of colors from dark chocolate brown and light purple to a reddish-brown hue. The wood comes with darker streaks of colors that contrasts nicely and runs through the wood grain pattern. The streaks are usually black, and they help to create a unique pattern that is called a spider web. You’ll get a coarse but uniform texture, and the grain is very straight. It can look interlocked, wavy, or spiral.
This wood is durable and it resists decay very well, and it offers a rose-like smell when you work it. It’s very easy to work, but it can dull the edges of any tools you use on it. This wood does have a large amount of oil, so it doesn’t respond well to gluing. You will see this wood used for furniture, cabinetry, small specialty items, and musical instruments.
Cedar is a violet-brown or red in color, and the sapwood is a very pale yellow. The yellow will come into the heartwood in streaks, and the wood grain pattern is straight with knots. The texture is even and very fine, and it doesn’t have resin canals. The woodgrain can be moderately uneven or moderately even. It resists decay, insects, and rot. In many cases, you won’t treat the wood before you use it. It responds very well to gluing and finishing, and it has a very distinct smell. You’ll find this wood used in clothes chests and closets because it repels insects and moths. It’s also commonly used in fencing, carvings, pencils, furniture, small wooden items, and birdhouses.
10. Douglas Fir
The color you get with this fir tree will vary based on the tree’s age and the location. The wood is typically a very light brown with traces of red or yellow with dark brown growth rings. When you quarter-saw it, the wood grain pattern is straight and plain. When you flatsaw it, the woodgrain showcases wild patterns. The texture is mostly straight, but it can also be wavy. It is also medium to coarse with a moderate luster. The resin canals that you’ll find in this wood are medium to small in size, and the canals will vary in the ways they get distributed through the grain. The transition from late wood to early wood is very abrupt.
This is a moderately durable wood when it comes to decay and rot, but it can be prone to insect damage. It machines well, but it may dull the tool’s edges. It responds well to stains, finishes, and glues. It has an odor that smells a lot like resin when you work it, and you commonly see it used for veneer, plywood, or construction lumber.
11. Downy Birch
Downy birch has a light reddish-brown coloring to it, and the sapwood is virtually white. There isn’t a lot of distinction between the growth rings, and this gives the wood a very dull but uniform look. The wood grain pattern on this pick is usually straight, but it can have a slight wave to it too. You’ll get a fine and even texture with a lower natural luster.
This is a perishable wood that can easily rot or decay when you expose it to the elements, and it’s also prone to insect attack. This type of wood is decently easy to work with by hand or using a machine. When the pattern has a more wild look, this wood can tear out when you machine ie. You can find it used for crates, boxes, interior trim, and plywood.
As the name suggests, this wood is the darkest black without any visible wood grain pattern. You may find pieces with dark brown or gray-brown streaks. The grain is almost straight, but it can have interlocking grains too. The texture is fine and even with a natural luster, and it gets rated to be durable while resisting all insects, including termites.
It has a very high density that makes it very difficult to work with, and the wood will usually dull any cutter used on it. It has a higher oil content that makes it hard to glue. However, it finishes very well and you can polish it to a high luster. This wood reacts well to bending it using steam, and it has a very mild but unpleasant odor when you work it. You’ll see it used for musical instruments, piano keys, carvings, and pool cues.
13. English Walnut
English walnut has a color profile that ranges from darker chocolate brown to a very light pale brown, and the wood grain pattern is very even with dark brown streaks. Also, it can have purple, red, or a gray colored cast. The grain is straight, but it can also be irregular at times. Sometimes, you’ll get a figured wood grain pattern that can be curly, crotch, or burl.
It has a medium texture to it with a natural luster and coloring, and it has a moderate durability rating that can moderately resist decay. It’s also prone to insect attacks and damage. When the grain is straight, it’s easy to work with. When the grain is irregular, it can cause a tear out. You’ll have a faint but moderate odor when you work it, and this wood is popular for furniture, cabinets, gunstock, paneling, and small wooden objects.
14. Field Maple
Field maple, just like any maple, uses the sapwood instead of the heartwood. This type is similar to other maples in many ways. It has a white to off-white coloring like hard maple, and it can also have a red or golden hue. The heartwood will be a more reddish-brown coloring if this is the case. The wood grain pattern is quilted or curly, and it has a fine and even texture. The wood isn’t durable, and it won’t be able to resist decay. It also tends to burn when machined. It can get blotchy when stained, and it’s popular for use in furniture, violins, floors, or veneer.
15. Hard Maple
Hard maple is another tree type that uses the sapwood over the heartwood. It’s very similar to the bigleaf maple that we outlined above, and the sapwood also offers that creamy white coloring with a red or golden hue. The hard maple heartwood also has a darker reddish-brown coloring to it. The wood grain pattern is quilted or curly, and it has a fine and even texture to it. It won’t resist decay well, and it’s not a durable pick.
All maple woods tend to burn when you machine them, and the wood can get blotchy when you stain it. It’s popular for use in floors, and it’s common to see it used in bowling alleys, dance floors, and basketball courts. You can also find it used for butcher blocks, cutting boards, workbenches, and baseball bats.
Hemlock comes with a heartwood that is a very light reddish-brown color, and the sapwood usually has a lighter coloring. However, it’s difficult to tell the two apart. There could be darker streaks in the wood caused by bark maggots, and you can see obvious growth runs that create a unique wood grain pattern after you flat saw the hemlock.
The grain is straight with a coarse or uneven texture and no resin canals. The transition from early to late wood is very gradual, and it’s rated as a non-durable wood because it’s not able to resist decay well and can take a lot of insect damage. When you sand it, you can create dips or uneven surfaces. Hemlock responds very well to staining, finishing, and gluing. This is why you’ll see it used for pallets, crates, building framing, plywood, or in other construction projects.
The wood from this tree is reddish-brown or pink in color, and it has streaks in a very mild variation. The wood grain pattern is usually straight, but it can also have a mottled or curly appearance. The texture is even and fine with a natural luster. It resists insect attacks and is very durable. This wood is usually easy to work, but it comes with an interlocking grain that can cause problems during machining. It reacts when it comes into contact with iron, and it can blunt any tools you use on it. It’s very popular for use in furniture, boats, cabinetry, musical instruments, flooring, and plywood.
There are different types of mahogany, but Cuban mahogany is one of the most popular types in use today. This is also the one that comes into people’s minds when they picture the mahogany wood grain pattern. It tends to be dark reddish brown to pinkish-brown in color. The darker the wood is, the more dense it is as it tends to darken with age.
The grain pattern on this wood can vary between wavy, straight, curly, or interlocked. The texture tends to be very uniform, and it has a natural moderate luster. It’s very easy to work with when it comes to sanding or machining it, and it’s more durable as it resists insects. The older the tree is, the more durable your wood will be. It’s popular for use in instruments, cabinetry, boats, carvings, veneers, and furniture.
19. Norway Spruce
Norway spruce comes in a creamy white coloring with a hint of yellow or red. It has a fine and even texture with a consistent and straight wood grain pattern. The wood will either not resist decay at all or will slightly resist decay. This wood is very easy to work with, providing that you don’t see any knots in the woodgrain. It responds well to glue and finishing, but it doesn’t stain well as it can come out looking inconsistent or blotchy. It can be helpful to use a toner, sealer, or a gel stain when you stain this type of wood. It’s popular to use for millwork, paper, construction lumber, Christmas trees, crates, and soundboards for musical instruments.
20. Red Oak
You’ll find the red oak on the Eastern portion of the United States, and it’s one of the most abundantly growing trees in this portion of the US. Since these trees are so abundant, the wood is one of the most popular options for the wood grain patterns. You’ll often find this wood used in cabinetry, wood furniture, floors, and doors.
Red oak offers a middle to light brown coloring with a reddish cast. The grain is very straight with a coarse or uneven texture. The wood tends to be very hard and heavy, and it has a high crush strength with a medium bending strength. Red oak can’t resist insects very well, and it stains very easily.
21. Shagbark Hickory
Shagbark hickory has a heartwood that is medium to light brown in color with a reddish hue, and the sapwood is a lot more pale with a yellowish-brown color. When you make boards that feature contrasting heartwood and sapwood, it gives you a very rustic feel. The wood grain pattern you’ll get is very straight, but it can also be wavy with a medium texture. The pores on each wood piece will differ from early and late wood, and the early wood pores are in one row with intermittent spacing. The late wood pores are medium to small sized and appear alone.
This wood is considered to be perishable because it doesn’t respond well to decay, and the wood can also be a victim of insect attacks. It’s difficult to work with and tearout is very common when you machine the wood if the edges aren’t sharp. The wood will also dull your cutting edge. It responds very well to gluing and staining, finishing, and bending using steam. You’ll find it used for ladder rungs, handles for tools, wheel spokes, and flooring.
Sycamore comes with a white to light tan coloring, but it can also be a darker color once in a while that is closer to a brownish-red. It may have a slightly freckled look once in a while, and the wood grain pattern is interlocking with an even and fine texture. It can look a lot like maple. It’s not very durable, and it won’t resist decay. Also, it’s prone to insect damage. It’s easy to work with using your hands, but it can cause issues on machines. It also doesn’t respond well to bending using steam. You’ll find it used for doors, paper, furniture, wood veneer, and plywood.
Teak wood usually has a golden to medium brown coloring that gets darker as it ages. The wood grain pattern is straight, but it can also look wavy or interlocked. The texture is coarse and uneven, and it has a natural luster to it. When this wood is raw and unfinished, it will have a slightly oily feel due to the higher oil content in the wood. Surprisingly, it’ll still glue well. It’s also very resistant to decay and rot, and it’s very durable. When you mill it, this wood smells like leather. It can dull your tool blades when you use them on it, and it’s popular for use in carvings, construction, furniture, ships, and boats.
24. White Ash
White ash has a medium to light brown coloring to it, and the sapwood is very wide with a bright or light brown color. The sapwood isn’t always clearly separated from the heartwood. The texture is very similar to oak, and the wood grain pattern is usually regular and straight. You can find boards that have a curly or figured wood grain pattern too.
White ash has a perishable rating while being slightly durable, and it’s not able to withstand an insect attack. It can partially resist decay. It produces fantastic results, no matter if you’re using hand tools or a machine on it. The wood is very responsive to steam bending, finishing, staining, and gluing. When you work white ash wood, it has a very distinct smell that isn’t very pleasant. It’s popular for use in millwork, boxes, baseball bats, and flooring.
25. White Oak
The white oak has a color that is medium to light brown with an olive cast. The wood grain pattern is very straight with a coarse or uneven texture, and it’s extremely durable with a very distinct smell. It has a tendency to react to iron, and it responds well if you bend it with steam. It’s very abundant, but it is more expensive than other wood grain pattern options on the list. It’s strong and beautiful, easy to work with, and it’s fantastic at resisting rot. It’s popular for use in furniture and cabinetry, as well as boat building, floors, barrels, and trim.
We’ve outlined a host of wood grain patterns that you can consider when you take on your next project around your home or business. Stains usually enhance the look of the wood grain patterns, so try to think about the look you want to create before you make your final choice.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.