Selecting the Best Material for Your Stairs or Rails

Posted on December 01/2017

Choosing the variety of hardwood which is best suited to your home or commercial renovation project adds an additional level of ownership which can be enjoyed well into the future, knowing that the choice you’ve made reflects not only practicality and beauty, but also personality. After all, the hardwood you choose will define the living area or working area for a long time to come.
In order to help you in this process, here is a list of species and their descriptions.

White Oak: This sturdy hardwood was a mainstay for shipwrights in the age of the tall ship, being very resistant to moisture as well as being very easy to work with in terms of cutting and fastening. The use of white oak was common to the eastern United States, as well as in the Midwestern Great Lakes region, where many ocean going ships were constructed with this species of hardwood. White oak makes excellent hardwood stairs/rails because of its strength and general durability. The white oak wood is descriptively light in color, with subtle touches of brown highlighting it.

Red Oak: Red oak was the workhorse hardwood of the Industrial Age, used not only as hardwood flooring board and for furniture, but also for use in making railroad ties and wagon wheels. This diverse usage is due in part to the wide availability of red oak hardwood, but also because of its hardness and adaptability to all kinds of household and commercial uses. Red oak is very easy to stain and yields a very good finish. Much like the white oak, it is very resistant to wear, making it a very practical choice for hardwood stairs and railings. Red oak wood is very attractive, demonstrating a pinkish hue in addition to its tonal range of off-whites and light browns.

American Cherry: American Cherry is known for its affluence as a hardwood species in North America, and its reputation as a hardwood flooring board. Known for its rich natural deep burgundy exterior, cherry is a popular choice for use as hardwood flooring board, but also in cabinet making, paneling, and many other practical uses. American Cherry hardwood is one of the softer hardwoods and while not recommended for high traffic areas, its reputation as easy to work with is renowned. Cherry hardwood is an ornate yet dependable choice for your hardwood project, with a range of color that spans off-white to reddish tones, making it truly distinctive. Because of its photosensitive nature, cherry will darken over time.

Maple: Sometimes known as Canadian maple, or sugar maple, hard maple is a hardwood upon which Native Americans and early North American settlers depended heavily. Not only important for shelter, hard maple was used for making anything from footwear to weaponry, and from soap to syrup. The hardest of all maples, hard maple is known for its strength as well as its very abrasion- and wear-resistant surface. It also has a fine, uniform texture. These traits make maple a great choice for stairs and railings. This variety of hardwood is the lightest of all species of maple and is characterized by a range of light to darker shades of rich brown, often with reddish highlights.

White Ash: Another popular variety of hardwood flooring board is white ash. It is characterized by the density and strength of the wood itself, making it a logical choice for its use as hardwood flooring board. Among other things, white ash is a popular wood out of which baseball bats and other types of athletic equipment designed for maximum stress are made. You can be assured that white ash hardwood stairs and railing can stand up to heavy foot traffic! The color of the wood ranges from a blonde cream to light brown with amber highlights, a lighter range than white oak. The grain pattern in white ash is similar to that of red oak, but without the pinkish tones.

Yellow Birch: Yellow birch has long been considered a reliable hardwood lumber because of its ease of use from the standpoint of builders and manufacturers. Historically, birch’s bark was famous for making canoes, and subsequently used for centuries in making all types of household items as well as enhancing interiors in many ways, including its use as hardwood flooring board. The yellow birch tends to be slightly more golden in color when compared to other species of birch, although it retains creamy white highlights. Yellow birch hardwood often features curling patterns in the grain that make it stand out among hardwoods.

Walnut: Walnut stands as a decorative hardwood, and is widely used through-out the world. A hardwood known for its close-grain appearance and dark luster when used as hardwood stair/rail. Black walnut is another product that is widely available in North America. Although not as hard as some species, walnut hardwood is very accommodating in terms of its ease of use from an installer’s point of view, and as a building material in general. Walnut cuts, nails, and takes to glue very well, and it accepts stains very easily. The wood of the walnut varies in color from light to deeper golden brown tones, and on to even darker, chocolaty hues, with grains equally varied from straight to wavy patterns.

Brazilian Cherry AKA Jatoba: This richly colored hardwood is known both as Brazilian Cherry and as Jatoba. Although it is not technically a cherry wood, it is like cherry in certain respects, and quite unlike in others. Brazilian Cherry is extremely versatile and is used in cabinet making, tool handles, and athletic equipment. It also makes excellent stairs and railings. The coloring of this exotic hardwood is very distinctive, characterized by a lustrous range of deep reds, burgundies, and darker reddish browns, making it an extremely decorative hardwood flooring board option with an exotic, high-end appeal. This hardwood flooring board is photosensitive and will darken over time, just like American cherry hardwood. The wood is extremely dense and hard, more so than many domestic hardwoods, which makes it a very reliable choice.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us and let us know by calling 905-853-5727.