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Birch vs Walnut Wood (for Furniture, Flooring and Cabinets)

Wood worker, crafting and polishing a slab of wood.

Deciding between two different kinds of wood for building furniture, flooring, and cabinets can be difficult. Especially between two that are so similar, in many ways, things can get complicated. That’s why I looked into it to see which is better between the two of Birch vs. Walnut wood.

Birch is perfect for people looking for a fair amount of flexibility to hardness. Birchwood is the cost-effective option, whereas; Walnut is higher class. Walnut is a dark-colored wood with attractive grain patterns. Walnut is said to be a dense and strong wood that is used for expensive furniture and carpentry.

Though these two types of woods are very similar, they have slight differences that will make either of them more pleasing. So it will come down to what aesthetic you’re after more than the physical properties of these woods.

Birch vs. Walnut

Pile of hardwood board with fine grain.
Both Birch and Walnut wood is hardwood, meaning they are durable and strong wood that will last you a long time. It makes them great for cabinets, flooring, and especially furniture. Between the two in terms of hardness and strength, Birch is stronger than Walnut wood, having a Janka scale of 1260, whereas Walnut has a rating of 1010.

The appearance of the wood in its natural state is just as important as the color that will come out of it when it is stained or varnished. Builders or carpenters need to choose a wood color that suits the setting, so it is important to know how the wood would be impacted by staining.

It makes Walnut a better choice as it has a variety of colors to pick from, such as light brown to dark chocolate brown. On top of choosing from different tones of Walnut wood, this wood is great when it comes with staining as it absorbs the stain well, and the result will be a smooth, uniform finish.

On the other hand, Birchwood is naturally a light shade of brown; however, there is a slight variation between the different types of Birchwood. For example, the white Birchwood is a light shade with a little bit of brown towards the center, yellow Birch is light golden brown, and red Birch is light brown with a reddish shade.

Advantages Of Both

Woodworkers know that any wood exposed to sunlight will lose its color and fade away over time. Between the two, Walnut loses less of its color for some time compared to Birch. This is interesting as Walnut wood, depending on the type, is darker than Birchwood. However, any wood can be protected from this occurrence through some oil and natural cleaners.Walnut wood table with eggs, walnut and plate.

Birch is a lot more available than Walnut in the Northern side of America and Canada, making it more widely used in the United States for furniture and cabinets due to its lower cost compared to Walnut. Woodworkers mainly use Birch due to its versatility, ease of use, and flexibility when making furniture or cabinets.

The Birchwood has a good strength that reduces the visibility of any nicks, scratches, or bumps. As a result, it is the common choice for making furniture; its strength holds screws together well during an assembly. As a result, Birchwood is most commonly used for cabinets, as well as benches and tables.

Birchwood, being cheaper, makes it used more for veneers and is stained to mimic higher quality wood such as oak or Walnut. It is normally done on Baltic Birch that is thicker and can handle being cut in thin portions.Fully furnished drawer made from Walnut wood with brass handle.

Walnut wood compared to Birch that is sensitive to outside elements; Walnut typically does not warp in humidity and is rot-resistant. However, though it is more resistant to outdoor elements than other woods, it will also deteriorate over time. This is why it is important to treat your wooden furniture or appliances outside of your house to get the required protective layer.

Walnut wood is better for furniture as it is of higher quality than Birchwood. Though it will cost more than other wood, it will last you for centuries.

Disadvantages Between The Two

Birchwood is used mainly as a supportive role or base as it isn’t the better-looking wood. So many view it as unappealing due to its yellowing, and the color changes over time.

That’s where Walnut wood has a better footing, as the aging is minimal, and the wood’s lighting is hard to see over time visibly. With proper maintenance and using an oil finish, the color loss can be minimized and help maintain the piece’s quality over a long time.

Another downside to Birchwood is that it’s vulnerable to outside elements such as fungi, insects, and rotting that can deteriorate the wood’s overall value. Which makes Birchwood not ideal to be used in outdoor circumstances; they seem to attract bugs that make perfect use of the wood for their nests.Old decayed wood infested by wood-boring beetles.

Walnut is more expensive than Birchwood due to its availability and quality. However, Walnut, just like Birch, is a very heavy wood, so working with these dense hardwoods will take professional equipment and knowledge, making the price even higher.

Honestly, they both have similar disadvantages; yes, there are differences, but because they are both hardwoods and have a relative hardness scale, they end up around the same category of disadvantages. The only major difference in the setback is pricing, availability, and how Walnut has more color variation than Birch has between the two.

Conclusion

Both Birchwood and Walnut wood is great hardwoods for furniture, cabinets, and flooring. Ultimately, Birch wins, but only because it’s cheaper, more widely available, and still gives you greater strength quality. However, they still have the same downsides, with Birch having a lesser lifespan if not properly cared for.

The only main reason that Walnut wood is better is that it is ultimately a more looked after, higher quality wood with a better looking natural aesthetic that people look for in their furniture. However, the same appeal can be achieved with Birchwood through a proper staining process which would cost you less. So eventually, it will come down to what you’re willing to pay for.

References:

https://adinatafurniture.com/walnut-wood/

https://www.bhg.com/kitchen/cabinets/styles/kitchen-cabinet-material-types/

https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/decorating/different-types-wood