White oak wood is a particularly dense and durable variety of wood with a light brown coloration. Thanks to its hard yet smooth nature, white oak is a great fit for projects such as hardwood flooring and furniture. It has a bit more rarity to it than its counterpart, the red oak, but overall it has a higher level of sturdiness.
Red oak has a lighter brown color and more porous features than its cousin. Due to its versatility, red oak cut lumber is generally used for projects such as molding and flooring, but it also works well for doors and cabinets due to its natural weather resistance, which results from its porousness.
Poplar features a pale yellowish color and a middling durability rating. However, it makes up for its lesser durability with its ease of drilling and its ability to better absorb and retain paint and stain colors than other lumber cuts. As such, it’s often used for paneling, moldings, and projects that call for thin, color-retaining wood, such as wall insulation.
Ash wood is very light in color—often nearly white. Its lightweight nature and durability strike a great balance, making it the ideal wood to use for items such as wooden tools and sporting equipment. It also lacks a natural taste, so it works well for storing food and drink and crafting barrels and bowls.
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“Wood is a natural material and by its very nature may contain different characteristics and defects that need to be understood and allowed for in any given application. The grading of sawn wood into categories as it is processed helps to determine to a large extent the value and potential use possible for each board of sawn lumber”
– American Hardwood Lumber Council