Best Wood Revealed: Top Choices for Crafting Your Table Top

Best Wood for a Table Top

In my experience with woodworking, finding the right wood for a dining room table top can be confusing. There are many types to choose from. It’s difficult to know which type is the best. This guide will help you navigate through these important factors. It’s about making a decision that fits your needs.

The type of wood you pick is important for how your dining table will look and last. Each type has a different look and feel. Some wood is solid and lasts long. Other types might look good but don’t last as long. So, it’s important to find the right choice for your project.

The Look of Your Table

When choosing wood for a dining room table, think about what look you want. The wood you pick changes the table’s appearance a lot. I have made many tables and know this well.

The grain pattern, color, and texture of the wood are big things to think about. They make your table look a certain way. Hardwoods like white oak, red oak, cherry, and walnut have strong grain patterns and are dark brown. They look rich and fancy. But softwoods like pine, or others like poplar, birch, and maple, are lighter and smoother.

You can choose any type of wood you like. Each one makes your table look different. If you want, you can add wood stain to your tabletop. This changes the color to what you want. It’s all about what you like best for your table.

Durability Matters

When you are selecting the best wood for a table top, think about how durable it is. Durable wood stands up to scratches, dents, and wear and tear. I have seen many solid wood tables. They last a really long time if you take good care of them.

Hardwoods are usually more durable than softwoods. This is what I have learned making tables. In the United States, hardwoods like white oak, red oak, hard maple, cherry, and walnut are common for wooden tables. They are good for kitchen tables and coffee tables too. They last longer and look good as they get old.

But pine is a softwood. It is less durable but not expensive. It is good for a rustic look. But it gets damaged more easily. The Janka hardness scale helps me know how hard and durable a wood is. Hardwoods score between 1000 and 3000 on this scale. They are a good choice for strong tables. Softwoods score under 1000. They are easier to work with but not as strong. They can dent easily if you drop something like a glass or plate.


When you want to make a dining room table, think about how much you can spend. Pine wood is good if you have a small budget. It is cheap and looks rustic. You can make it look more modern with dark stains.

But, hardwoods like walnut, cherry, maple, and oak are stronger. They don’t get scratches and dents easily. This is good for families with children or restaurant tables that get used a lot. Oak is less expensive than other hardwoods. It is strong for small spaces and big dining areas. Red oak has a red tint and white oak does not rot quickly.

If you need to save money, pine is a good choice. But if you want a table that lasts long and looks modern, go for hardwoods like oak or walnut. They cost more but are worth it.


Choosing the right wood species for a wood table top is important. It affects appearance and longevity. Some woods have a smooth texture. This helps prevent food and liquids from getting lodged in the wood grain. I used red oak once. It has open pores. This made crumbs and spills trapped on the surface. It was difficult to clean and maintain. So, I had to apply a finish like polyurethane or varnish. But, these can get scratches and damage.

Woods like maple or walnut are different. They have smooth grain and closed pores. They have fewer maintenance issues. They cost more but they are better. They help avoid harsh chemicals and lots of cleaning products. If a spill occurs, just wipe it immediately.

Using placemats and coasters helps a lot. They make your table last many years. It keeps looking great for a long time. I saw this myself. My tables stayed good because I took care of them.

Learn More: Why Are Dining Chairs So Expensive

Choice of Finish

For a wood table top, finish is key. It protects the wood and makes the table last longer. Oil-wax finishes are my go-to. They are easy to apply and good for woodworker beginners. Osmo Poly-X and Rubio Monocoat are great choices. These finishes extend the life of the wood and keep it looking nice.

They are durable and repairable. This means they last long but are also easy to fix. They absorb into the wood, making a protective coating. This hardens the wood fibers. They protect against scratches and staining better than varnishes. Varnishes are common but hard to repair.

Oil finishes need periodic maintenance. You have to reapply them sometimes. But, this is easy. Always follow the maintenance instructions carefully. This keeps the finish protecting the wood and making it look good.

This way, your wood table top stays strong and looks great for a long time.

Hard Maple

Hard maple is a great hardwood for tables. It is strong, dense, and not too expensive. People like it for furniture and flooring too. It has a smooth texture and the grain pattern looks the same all over. This is good for big woodworking projects.

The color of hard maple can be light or dark reddish brown. It is easy to work with. You can stain it to get a modern look.

This wood is good for making a table top that lasts long and looks nice.

Soft Maple

Soft maple is great for table tops. It is 25% softer than hard maple, but a lot like it in many ways. This wood has straight-grained patterns. The color can be light or dark reddish brown. Soft maple has pith flecks. These are little lines that make the wood look unique.

Many people pick soft maple for woodworking projects. It is easy to work with. You can stain or paint it to match any color scheme. This makes it good for different kinds of tables.

Soft maple is both pretty and practical. It is a good choice for a table top.

Red Oak

Red oak is great for table tops. It is strong and hard. This wood is common in the United States. It has a reddish-brown color. The color varies from board to board. Red oak is straight grained. It has open pores in the wood grain. This makes a unique texture. When you stain it, it shows contrasting colors.

Red oak is the cheapest hardwood lumber in the US. The cheap price does not mean it is bad. It is budget hardwood but still high quality. You can make a kitchen table in modern styles with it. You will love the results.

White Oak

White oak is similar to red oak but better for outside use. It is a strong, heavy hardwood. People use it for furniture, flooring, and outdoor projects. It is resistant to rot and decay. This makes it great for an outdoor table top.

White oak has a light to medium brown color. It does not have the red tint like red oak. This is good for a lighter color stain or finish. White oak has a straight grain and shows more figure than red oak.

White oak is a bit more expensive. It has weather-resistant properties. But it is still relatively affordable.


Cherry wood is good for a table top. It is reddish-brown. Many people pick it for furniture and cabinetry. It looks nice and lasts long. Cherry wood has a closed grain texture. This makes it easy to maintain and gives it a silky look.

Its smooth grain means taking care of it is simple. It does not get stains or scratches easily. Cherry wood is great for any table. It is both pretty and strong.


Walnut is a top choice for solid wood tables. It is one of the most expensive hardwoods. Walnut is hard and dense, good for furniture and cabinetry. It has a rich, dark color and smooth finish. The unique grain pattern makes walnut popular for high-end dining room tables and coffee tables.

Walnut looks sophisticated. It fits well with mid-century modern furniture that has clean lines and a modern look. Choosing walnut lumber for a dining room table costs more at first. But it is worth it because it will last a long time. A walnut table with a reparable finish and timeless design is a smart buy.


Pine wood is a softwood. It has a light color and straight grain. People often use it for construction and rustic furniture. It is affordable and easy to find. Pine is easy to work with. But, it can get dents, scratches, and splintering. This might not be good for a wood table top.

Pine tables might not last long. They can get big scratches and dents. These are hard to fix. If you use pine, it’s good to finish it with oil or wax. This can help protect it. But, if you can, buying hardwood lumber is better for a longer-lasting table.

Learn More: How to Pair Kitchen and Dining Lights

What Wood Should You Choose?

Picking the best wood for a table top can seem hard. Think about what matters most to you. Is it form or function? Affordability or durability? There’s a good choice available for each need. The important part is to enjoy the process of making your dining room table and be happy with the results.

If you can, I’d say go for hardwood instead of softwoods. Hardwood lasts longer and is tougher. But if you need to save money, softwoods are okay. Just make sure to use a repairable finish. This helps your table stay nice for a long period of time.

People Also Searching

What is the Most Durable Table Top?

For a strong table top, natural, solid wood is best. Woods like acacia, birch, and oak are naturally durable and sturdy. They have high density in their wood fibers. This makes them last long. These woods feel warm and welcoming. As they get older, their color deepens and looks even richer. This means the wood looks better over time.

Which Wood is Better for Dining Table?

For a dining table, hardwoods like walnut, oak, maple, cherry, and mahogany are good choices. Walnut is really popular for dining room tables. It is dark and has a beautiful, rich grain pattern. Walnut is known for being hard and dense. This makes it durable and great for everyday use.

What Material Should I Use for Table Top?

Choosing the right material for a table top? Solid Wood is good for a classic look and makes your dining room look nice. But, there are other choices too. Wood Veneer and Quartz Composite are different and useful. Natural Plywood and Formica Laminated Plywood Tabletop Material are strong and look modern. For a fancy touch, Marble is great. If you like a new style, try Metal. Every material, from Solid Wood to Metal, adds something special to your table. It depends on what you like and need. Whether it’s from The Go-To Table Company or made just for you, the right material makes your table both pretty and useful.

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