Best Wood for a Desk Top: Easy Guide for Choosing a Perfect Wooden Desk

When you start searching for a unique wood desk top, it might become a nightmare. What is the best wood to choose? Is it worth shopping at lumber yards? Why walnut wood is so expensive? What is the difference between red oak and white oak?

Well, things can be easy when you get the right expert help and structure the information accordingly. This article will put the dots, clear out the doubts, and guide you step-by-step through the world of wood species.

After all, natural surfaces can create the best working atmosphere that satisfies all your aesthetic needs and helps to be productive and at the same time complies with your initial budget. Is it better to focus on some expensive hardwoods or find balance and save money and develop a personal DIY project wooden desktop? This short guide is just what you need.

Wooden Furniture

Today wood-making industry has made impressive steps to satisfy even the most picky needs, proposing a large assortment of wooden products.

Apart from the obvious priveledges of wood like being environmentally friendly, ecological, and long-lasting, there are some other important benefits.

First of all, thanks to its thermal qualities, wood naturally resists heat and electricity, providing a right atmosphere while you stay at the table.

Second, wood (especially oak and walnut species) is known for its particularity in absorbing sounds, unlike other materials.

That’s why many people choose wooden desktop for their offices where wood surface with the correct polish finish plays an additional role in balancing the noise level.

Third, the possibility to choose from a large scale of existing desk options allows you to fulfill your personal aesthetic vision.

Just select the preferred wood type (like cherry wood, white oak, pine wood, hard maple, or walnut if you consider hardwood species or reclaimed wood if you want to create a unique color tone), the correct polish for the wooden desk top (to preserve the initial state and escape minor scratches or darker stains).

Modern wood market offers different woodworking tools (for those, who already dream about their DIY personal wood desktop), so it is possible to bring to life any project, remaining in the terms of adequate budget. Interested? Then continue reading to get more useful ideas.

Some Tips To Consider Before Choosing a Type of Wood

Before going deeper into the existing market of modern types of wood and googling woodworking projects and wood species, it is better to focus on initial guiding tips that will help to navigate towards the right decision faster.

Tip # 1. Durability and Robustness

Valutate precisely the initially chosen wood. Thus, the solid wood desktop can be a smart investment thanks to its durability, remaining functional for ages. Most hardwoods give a strong impression yet they are heavy, like red oak or walnut.

Reclaimed wood is easy to work with, however, one should choose the right cover to escape damaging the surface. Try to evaluate critically your working routine and the way you use the table.

Tip # 2. Price and Initial Maintenance

A cost-effective approach should be a priority: consider not only the unit cost but also the additional costs of transportation, installation, and future use of additional materials to preserve the right conditions of your furniture piece. After all, the final result should satisfy your budget and combine with the space ensemble.

Tip # 3. Appearance and Aesthetics

In the case of wood products, these characteristics are closely connected with wood grain and natural color tone, depending on the particular geographic zone and the impact of environmental factors.

Keep in mind that the initial texture of the wood desk reflects the lifetime of a single tree.To preserve the genuine grain texture and the right wood conditions, use protective wood stains.

Tip # 4. Inner Feeling and Personal Perception

Though it might sound strange, however, it might be an insightful experience to choose the wood type according to personal aesthetic feeling.

As wood is a natural material it has many amazing characteristics, among which are to improve the emotional state by reducing blood pressure and balancing stress levels. Try to experiment with various wood types, focusing on a particular color, smell, or tactile feeling.

These initial tips are fundamental for creating the initial idea of your perfect wood desk top. In the next section, we will evaluate the pros and cons of wood desktops and see the types of woods with their qualities and useful characteristics. Keep reading and be sure, the decision of finding the best desktop wood can be really easy.

Important Factors to Keep in Mind

Even if the task of choosing from a large variety of wood species makes you still confused, pay attention to the following factors which might be crucial for your final desicion.

  1. Price Point

The actual cost depends on the region where you live. However, traditionally solid wood has a slightly higher cost.

  1. Initial Wood Desk Dimensions

Measure the space dimensions where you want to put your future wood desk.

  1. Basic Natural Wood Qualities

Some initial wood properties are important to consider. For example, sturdiness identifies the wood’s resistance to scratching. Thus the Janka hardness scale indicates oak as the most resistant type of wood, while the maple is less resistant.

  1. Functional Qualities for Specific Space

Consider the space atmosphere where you want to put your future wood desktop. For example, a long desk made of white oak or cherry wood suits perfectly in a classic office meeting room, a tiny dark brown red oak wood table fits in a bedroom, while a red oak or soft maple table adds a touch of aristocracy to your working studio.

  1. Compliment or a Focal Point

It is important to decide the actual role of your future desk as it will become a piece of wood furniture ensemble. However, be sure to keep straight to the overall concept. As a rule, massive wooden objects tend to grab attention, and wood table tops make a good organic combination with natural materials.

Best Wood Types for Your Desktop

So if you wonder what can be the best solution of wood for your desk, then continue reading.

Check out below a list of the most popular wood materials with their main characteristics, a short description of the crucial wood qualities with the indication of particularities of the grain textures, and the average cost (square foot of board), which might differ according to regional policies and market specifics.

Oak Wood

Characteristics: durable, straight grain, moisture-resistant

Average cost: between $9,90 and $11,50

The desktop made of this type of wood promises to be durable. It exists in different variations, like red oak, white oak, and even rare black oak. Some people consider oak wood to be a traditional even banal choice for a desk, but it remains among the top-selling categories.

If you want a cost-effective yet highly durable office desktop, choose oak to fit your aesthetic and financial expectations.

Cherry Wood

Characteristics: sturdy, perfect for different finishes, easy to work with, red-pinkish color

Average cost: between $5,50 and $7,00

A red cherry wood desk can be a good alternative to a red oak desk in case you want to preserve the initial tone vibe while being cost-efficient and having the possibility to experiment with the wood shapes and forms.

From all types of wood available today, cherry wood furniture is distinguished by amazing color subtones.

Maple Wood

Characteristics: sturdy, straight grain, moisture-resistant, light-brown color

Average cost: between $7,50 and $9,00

Maple is known for its quality of high toughness and robustness, still, it is very easy to be cleaned with basic polish materials so you can maintain the initial state for a long time. As a rule, it is widely used for large interior pieces because of its impressive look.

However, if you want a desktop made of maple wood, you can even opt for a hard maple variety, as it has a specific wood grain of pale color perfect for minimalist design.

Birch Wood

Characteristics: durable, rot-resistant, perfect for DIY wood desktop, reddish brown

Average cost: between $5,50 and $6,50

In the range of wooden desktops, birchwood takes the place between maple and walnut categories. Havier than the first and lighter than the second, this wood can be ideal for the elaboration of a specific final touch. Birchwood tables exist in different shapes and forms and have variations in wood grain.

Still, thanks to the unique qualities of this wood, the color combined with the right finish can be brought to almost any subtone you want.

Pine Wood

Characteristics: lightweight, perfect for woodworking projects, inexpensive, stiff

Average cost: between $2,00 and $7,00

The initial characteristics make this type of wood the absolute favorite among those who want to create their personalized wooden desks. As pine belongs to dense wood category, it preserves all the qualities of hardwood species and it is easy to work with. For example, one can make an oval office desk top from pine wood which will look stylish and modern.

Unlike oak, pine can be easily elaborated and the maintenance process takes less time and efforts.


Characteristics: easy to use, inexpensive, sturdy, readily available

Average cost: between $5,50 and $7,00

Plywood is the best option for DIY desktops as it belongs to a category of relatively cheaper wood species, yet it is solid and can be easily elaborated for almost any interior: from classic to start-up designs.

Walnut Wood

Characteristics: heavy, dense, durable, intricate grain

Average cost: between $9,5 and $11,50

Walnut wood is believed to be a great choice for a personal desk or even for a whole set of studio furniture thanks to the grain combination, that creates an instant rich outlook style.

However, one should be careful in dealing with walnut wood. Unline oak walnut is particularly complicated in terms of maintenance and requires specific polish tops.

Cedar Wood

Characteristics: resistant to moisture and heat, durable, versatile, easy maintenance

Average cost: between $6,50 and $7,50

Being a great wood for design elaboration, the cedar wood desk stands on the same line with oak and walnut species. As it is resistant to heavy conditions, it can be used well in laboratory settings.

MDF Wood

Characteristics: easy to maintain, inexpensive, durable, ideal for being painted to different colors

Average cost: between $3,50 and $4,50

MDF wood can be a perfect solution for a classic working desk top projected to carry lightweight items. Depending on the specification, such a table can carry up to 40-50 pounds as MDF wood is made up of a mixture of natural residues combined with resin or similar components to create a solid long-lasting structure easy to clean and transport.


Characteristics: sophisticated grain, expensive, sturdy, brown color with purple subtones

Average cost: up to $20

If you want to stand out and acquire a unique desk, rosewood is a great option to consider. Because of its grain qualities, the wood has a dark brownish color with purple subtones giving a unique combination of wood texture. This particularity with its additional quality of being solid and cold-resistant makes it rather difficult to find on the market.

In case the sophisticated natural look attracts you, the deal of having a rare rosewood piece is worth it.

Curiosities and QNAs

Now that you know the main wood types and the most important focal points in creating your personal idea about your perfect wooden desk, either ready done or DIY, here are some additional curiosities and interesting dilemmas that one might deal with during their journey.

What To Focus on When Choosing a Solid Wood for Your Desktop?

If you consider only solid materials, then the best answer would be to focus on the right combination of personal taste, affordable budget, and the right combination of aesthetic and technical characteristics.

After all, collect information, evaluate critically the existing market proposals on the available solid woods, and make your own balanced choice.

DIY Desk or Ready-Made Wood Desk?

What we create with our own hands always has an added value however, it might be a time-consuming process. Make the right calculations, and inform yourself carefully about the types of wood and the necessary woodworking inventory so the woodworking project will satisfy you 100%.

How thick should wood be for a desk top?

The medium thickness of a solid wood desk should vary between around 1.25 inches and 1.5 inches.

What Wood Stain to Use and Why?

Stains stay in line with specific products like paints, opaques, enamels, and other materials typically used to maintain the perfect initial state of wooden items. Considering the specifics of your desk, be aware to always have the appropriate stain as it colors the surface with a protective layer leaving the grains visible.

What is the best material to make a desk top out of?

Depending on personal preferences, one can opt for either solid wood or MDF solutions, as a primary point in choosing a balance between price, final structure weight, and the possibility to play with design. Walnut and maple wood are particularly popular these years.

Is MDF Good for a Desk?

Consider that MDF wood is light and can be easy to move around and can be designed under different finishes. It can be a smart decision for those who want a balance between cost and external look.

The Right Wood Desk Top … is Your Desk Top

When you have collected the necessary technical information, sketched the space interior, and chosen the ideal wood type, you are well done to finish your journey.

Share your opinion and story with us by leaving a comment or a suggestion! Remember, the best wood as well as the best wood desk top simply doesn’t exist. It is you who can make it very special.

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