7 Best Woods for Coffee Tables

Woods for Coffee Tables

Are you looking to build or buy a coffee table? There are nearly endless options and variations when selecting which wood should be used for constructing your table. It’s important to know which types should be preferred for which uses. 

Continue reading to make sure you get the wood that’s best for your project. We have the options summed up for you below! 


Oak Coffee Table
Oak Coffee Table

Oak is a hardwood, which is preferred when making most furniture because of its durability and weight. Also, many people like the look of stained, unpainted oak. So if a more raw look is your style, oak is a great choice. There are many subsets of oak lumber to consider, such as: 

Though it’s good to know your options when selecting lumber, the specifications are not overly important for a job as simple as a coffee table build. Your choice can simply be guided by your aesthetic preference. 

Each type has its differences:

  • Red Oak – (as you may have guessed) has a reddish hue, and it is one of the most popular types of oak in the United States, which makes it generally less expensive. 
  • White Oak  – has a pale hue, and it is also a popular furniture choice.
  • California Black Oak 
  • Cherry Bark Oak 

The other types of oak are less popular and could be more expensive.


Pine Coffee Table
Pine Coffee Table Top

Pine is considered a softwood, and pine trees grow quickly. Similar to the red oak, this generally makes the wood more affordable. The softness of the wood causes most people to coat pine lumber with paint or thick varnish. So, if you’d like to have your coffee table compliment the colors of your house, pine is a good choice. 

Pinewood generally can be found in various thicknesses easily. So if you want your table to be extra thick, finding inexpensive pine shouldn’t be a problem. 

Pine does have its faults. As a softwood, pine warps, dents, and splits easier. The grain of the wood is spread thick, and this makes the lumber more fragile. The sap content of pine is high as well, which can cause the sap to leak from the wood over time, disrupt the paint or varnish, and create sticky patches on your table.


Cedar Coffee Table Top
Cedar Coffee Table Top

Cedar is a beautiful and aromatic wood. Most commonly known for its vibrant reddish color, cedar has been used commonly for furniture throughout time. The aroma of cedar is strong and notable enough to be used for coat hangers in order to keep moths away from garments. 

Because of its pretty colors and scent, it is generally left unpainted. Most would recommend coating in a transparent varnish. The shades of the wood need no help in sprucing up a common area.

Cedar is a softwood, so for all its beauty, there are some downsides. It is easier to bend, break, or dent. The wood is more brittle than pine as well, and finding solid cedar board to build a tabletop with can be more challenging. 

Despite it being a softwood, cedar lumber can also be pricier.


Walnut Coffee Table
Walnut Coffee Table Top

As a traditional furniture lumber that has remained popular over the years, walnut is a beautiful hardwood that boasts rich colors and tight, fluid wood grain. This lumber is commonly used for furniture because of its appealing aesthetic. 

This lumber comes highly recommended for tabletops as they are available as “live edge” boards. This means that the edges of the planks are not trimmed to a uniform size. For those seeking a more rustic and rugged table with extra personality, walnut is a great choice. 

As a hardwood, walnut is more durable, but it is also generally more expensive.


Mahogany Coffee Table Top
Mahogany Coffee Table Top

Mahogany is a luxurious wood that is renowned and respected by woodworkers worldwide. This rich wood sands down to reveal a fluid and curved grain, and it is commonly used to make furniture. 

According to Home Questions Answered, mahogany is popular because it cuts well and is easily shaped by carpenters. So, to someone looking for a relatively forgiving wood to use to fashion their coffee table, mahogany would be a great choice. 

However, because mahogany is easy to work with and is known for its beauty, planks can be expensive and challenging to come by. 


Cherry Coffee Table Top
Cherry Coffee Table Top

Cherry is known for its rich reddish hue upon drying. The wood is popular for numerous uses, from furniture to making instruments like violins and guitars. 

This hardwood serves as a beautiful tabletop because of its nice grain and pleasant hue. It is also durable and resistant to splitting. 


Maple Coffee Table Top
Maple Coffee Table Top

Maple is a hardwood that grows around the globe. This wood is known for its durability and pleasant pale color.

According to Home Makers, maple’s resilience and resistance to damage make it ideal for frequent-use furniture. So if you expect to host gatherings and friends around your coffee table, maple is a great choice. It is also among the more affordable hardwoods! 


Bamboo Coffee Table Top
Bamboo Coffee Table Top

Neither a hardwood nor a softwood, bamboo is grass. It grows extremely fast and has become a popular choice for woodworkers who enjoy its distinct look. 

Bamboo comes in numerous forms, and it doesn’t grow like a traditional tree. This means that individual pieces of bamboo have to be glued or fastened together to create a wider plank. As a result, this process can make bamboo furniture less durable. 

Bamboo itself is very strong, but when you buy planks, be sure that they are glued together securely. 


This popular hardwood is strong, has a tight grain, and bright pale color. The close grain of the lumber gives it a strong and durable quality that is perfect for crafting coffee tables and other central pieces of furniture. 

Birch is also straight grain, which makes cutting and working with it easier! So if you’re less experienced in carpentry, birch would be a good choice. 

Your Lumber Should Be an Inch Thick 

Be sure to get planks at least a full inch thick. This gives it added strength and helps you avoid these problems: 

  • Splitting 
  • Warping 

Having thicker lumber makes the table heavier and more secure. If your tabletop is too thin, then your table will easily be knocked over. 

Lumber to Avoid

Most planks are versatile and can function well as a coffee tabletop. However, some should be avoided. 

Plywood or Pressboard 

Plywood is made with sheets of thin, low-quality lumber glued together. This style of lumber is not good for furniture carpentry for several reasons: 

  • It easily warps if water or fluid is spilled on it 
  • The edges split easily, even if they are painted well 
  • It isn’t pleasing to the eye 

Pressboard is fashioned similarly. It is made of hundreds of wood shavings (usually pine) pressed and glued together. Pressboard should never be used for furniture because: 

  • It easily falls apart
  • It inevitably warps as the glue loosens 
  • It’s not aesthetically pleasing 

Though it may be tempting to use one of these options because they are generally inexpensive, planks and solid pieces of wood should almost always be used for furniture crafting. 

Sweet Gum 

The sweet gum tree grows in a twisted and warped manner. Though it doesn’t appear to be warped from the outside, the grain always twists and curves. This characteristic makes working with the lumber notoriously difficult and subjects it to warping. 

When choosing lumber to work with, it’s important to steer clear of sweet gum unless you are a seasoned carpenter that knows how to handle the wood. 

In Summary:

Finding the right lumber to craft your coffee table can be challenging. However, if you let this guide inform your decision, you will have a clear understanding of how to choose between the many types of wood so that you can suit your preferences and build a great coffee table you will treasure.


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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