maple wooden wall feature bedroom

The Most Eco-Friendly Wood Types For Furniture

In an era where environmental consciousness is paramount, households are increasingly prioritising eco-friendly and sustainable choices when it comes to furniture and indoor decor. Gone are the days of the 1960s when plastic reigned supreme in the furniture industry. The evolution of home furnishing trends in the UK over the past half-century has witnessed a remarkable shift, with plastic yielding to more environmentally responsible alternatives. Sleek plywoods, durable pinewoods, and sustainable rustic-looking wood varieties have become the new icons of conscious interior design.

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Among the myriad options available, some of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly wood types for furniture include black cherry, beech, maple, ash, eastern red cedar, mango, and bamboo. Not only are these woods abundantly accessible, thanks to their extensive natural distribution, but they are also highly esteemed for their robustness and density, rendering them ideal choices for crafting various furniture pieces. In this article, we’ll delve into these exceptional wood choices, guiding you toward stylish yet eco-conscious selections for your living spaces.

Here’s an example of a reclaimed scaffold board table and bench set that I crafted. This sustainable dining ensemble boasts both stunning aesthetics and exceptional durability, showcasing the perfect blend of beauty and resilience. In the UK, scaffold boards are typically constructed from European Whitewood, also recognised as Norway spruce or silver fir.

Ash coffee table hand crafted eco-friendly

The Importance of Sustainability and Eco-Friendliness in Furniture Production

The furniture industry plays a significant role in the global environmental landscape, both in terms of resource consumption and waste generation. As society becomes increasingly aware of the environmental challenges facing our planet, there’s a growing emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendliness in all aspects of life, including furniture production. This shift in perspective is not merely a trend but a necessity driven by the following key factors:

  • Resource Conservation: Sustainable furniture production prioritises the responsible use of natural resources. By selecting eco-friendly materials and practices, manufacturers can reduce their impact on forests and other ecosystems, helping to preserve biodiversity and combat deforestation.
  • Reduced Carbon Footprint: Eco-friendly furniture production aims to minimise carbon emissions throughout the supply chain. Choosing sustainable wood sources, employing energy-efficient manufacturing processes, and reducing transportation distances all contribute to a lower carbon footprint.
  • Health and Well-being: Environmentally conscious furniture often uses non-toxic materials and finishes. This not only ensures the well-being of those who live with the furniture but also benefits the workers involved in its production.
  • Longevity and Durability: Sustainable furniture is built to last. This approach encourages consumers to invest in quality pieces that won’t end up in landfills after a short lifespan, reducing waste and promoting responsible consumption. Too often I’ve seen the likes of cheap Ikea furniture notwithstanding a couple of years in a busy household.
  • Consumer Demand: There is a growing demand from consumers for eco-friendly and sustainable products. People are increasingly willing to support brands that prioritise environmental responsibility, creating a market incentive for furniture manufacturers to adopt sustainable practices.

Far too often, I’ve witnessed the disappointing fate of cheap laminated chipboard furniture, which tends to deteriorate within just a couple of years. It’s evident that selecting the right wooden materials can make a substantial difference in furniture longevity. High-quality wood, as exemplified by the types listed in this article, not only offers durability but also proves to be cost-effective in the long run.

In essence, embracing sustainability and eco-friendliness in furniture production goes beyond being a mere ethical choice; it’s a practical one. These practices play a pivotal role in preserving our planet, enhancing the overall quality of furniture, and ensuring greater satisfaction for customers. As consumers, designers, and manufacturers continue to prioritise these principles, we are taking significant steps toward a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future in the realm of furniture. Choosing sustainable wood types isn’t solely an act of environmental consciousness; it’s also a wise investment in furniture that will endure the test of time.

Ash vanity hand crafted eco-friendly

What Makes Wood Eco-Friendly?

Eco-friendly wood refers to timber sourced and processed in ways that minimise environmental harm and promote sustainability. It encompasses wood types that are both responsibly harvested and processed, with a focus on long-term ecological balance.

What factors determine the environmental impact of wood?

Growth Rate and Renewability

One fundamental aspect of eco-friendly wood is its growth rate and renewability. Sustainable wood sources are typically fast-growing, ensuring that the demand for timber does not deplete forests faster than they can regenerate.

Logging and Harvesting Practices

Another crucial factor is the logging and harvesting practices employed. Eco-friendly wood is often sourced using methods that reduce habitat disruption, protect biodiversity, and minimise soil erosion. Selective logging, which targets specific trees rather than clear-cutting entire areas, is an example of a sustainable approach.

Certification Systems (FSC & PEFC)

Certification systems like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) play a significant role in identifying eco-friendly wood. These systems set standards for sustainable forestry and chain-of-custody certification, helping consumers make informed choices. Read more further on in this article about the importance of certification.

Benefits of choosing eco-friendly wood for furniture

Opting for eco-friendly wood for furniture production yields numerous benefits:

  • Reduced Environmental Impact: Eco-friendly wood choices contribute to the preservation of natural habitats, reduce deforestation, and mitigate climate change by maintaining healthy forests.
  • Enhanced Air and Water Quality: Sustainable wood harvesting practices help protect air and water quality by preventing soil erosion and runoff into water bodies.
  • Supporting Responsible Forestry: By choosing eco-friendly wood, consumers support responsible forestry practices and encourage the adoption of sustainable methods across the industry.
  • Durable and High-Quality Furniture: Furniture crafted from eco-friendly wood tends to be of superior quality and durability, offering long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing pieces.
  • Positive Consumer Choice: It empowers consumers to make environmentally conscious choices, aligning their values with their purchasing decisions.

In summary, eco-friendly wood is characterised by sustainable growth, responsible harvesting, and adherence to certification standards. Choosing such wood not only benefits the environment but also results in high-quality, long-lasting furniture while encouraging ethical practices within the industry.

Popular Eco-Friendly Wood Types in Joinery

When it comes to eco-friendly wood types for furniture, several stand out for their sustainability and versatility in crafting beautiful, durable pieces. Here are some noteworthy options:


Rapid Growth and Sustainability: Bamboo is celebrated for its rapid growth, making it one of the most sustainable wood sources. It can be harvested in as little as three to five years, significantly faster than traditional hardwoods.

Versatility in Furniture Production: Bamboo’s versatility knows no bounds. It’s used to create everything from sleek modern chairs to rustic-style dining tables. Its light colour and natural grain lend themselves well to various design aesthetics. it can be manufactured to product flat smooth surfaces than can be sued in furniture production and hard wearing flooring.

bamboo side table

Example: This simple side table is just a simple example of the versatility of bamboo.

Fir or Spruce

Eco-Friendly Sourcing: Fir is recognised for its sustainable sourcing practices, ensuring the health and longevity of fir forests. Sustainable forestry management minimises its environmental footprint.

Versatility in Furniture Design: Fir’s light color and even grain make it a versatile choice for a wide range of furniture designs. Its workability allows for crafting intricate and durable pieces.

spruce bed frame

Example: Fir wood is commonly used to fashion rustic dining tables, bookshelves, and bedroom furniture. Its natural appeal and adaptability complement various interior styles, from farmhouse to contemporary.


Eco-Friendly Sourcing: Pine is celebrated for its sustainable sourcing practices, contributing to the vitality of pine forests. Sustainable forestry management ensures responsible harvesting and minimal ecological impact.

Versatility in Furniture Design: Pine’s pale hue and subtle grain patterns offer flexibility in furniture design. Its affordability and ease of workability make it an excellent choice for crafting both functional and decorative pieces.

scandinavian pine furniture

Example: Pine wood finds its way into crafting coffee tables, wardrobes and children’s furniture. Its light, welcoming appearance suits diverse home decor styles, from classic to Scandinavian.

Teak (Sustainably Sourced)

Sustainable Teak Harvesting Practices: Sustainably sourced teak is harvested under strict guidelines to ensure responsible forestry practices. Proper management preserves teak forests and prevents overexploitation.

Durability and Aesthetic Appeal: Teak is renowned for its durability, resistance to decay and stunning golden-brown colour that deepens with age, making it a sought-after choice for outdoor and indoor furniture alike.

outdoor teak sofa chair set

Example: An exquisite teak patio dining set not only withstands the elements but also adds timeless elegance to outdoor gatherings.

Maple (Sustainably Sourced)

Eco-Friendly Sourcing: Sustainably sourced maple is celebrated for its responsible cultivation and harvesting. It ensures the longevity of maple forests and minimises ecological impact.

Versatility in Furniture Design: Maple’s fine grain and light, uniform colour make it a versatile choice for various furniture designs, from sleek modern pieces to classic, traditional styles.

maple wooden wall feature bedroom

Example: You can use sustainably sourced maple boards to craft an impressive bedroom feature wall. These boards don’t have to be thick or expensive, and their various sizes allow for captivating, random patterns.


Sustainable Characteristics: Ash is considered an eco-friendly wood due to its relatively fast growth rate and ease of cultivation. This makes it a responsible choice for furniture production.

Distinct Grain Patterns: Ash wood is celebrated for its beautiful, pronounced grain patterns. It can be finished in various ways, highlighting its unique texture.

ash slab coffee table

Example: We’ve recently used ash slabs to construct our bathroom vanity cabinets and craft a beautiful coffee table from a potentially wasted off-cut.

Eastern Red Cedar

Sustainability: Eastern red cedar is a sustainable wood choice known for its ability to thrive in various environments, contributing to its eco-friendliness.

Aromatic Qualities: This wood type is cherished not only for its durability but also for its distinctive aromatic scent, which repels insects and adds a pleasant aroma to closets and chests.

Eastern red cedar furniture

Example: Eastern red cedar is often used for crafting aromatic cedar chests, closet lining, and outdoor furniture due to its natural resistance to decay and insects.


Sustainability: Mango wood is considered sustainable due to its origins as a byproduct of the fruit industry. Utilising this wood helps reduce waste and makes it an eco-friendly option.

Unique Grain Patterns: Mango wood showcases a unique grain pattern with swirls of dark and light hues, adding character and charm to furniture pieces.

Mango wood kitchen Island

Example: Mango wood is frequently used to create exotic-looking coffee tables, sideboards and decorative accents. Its rich colour and distinct grain make each piece one-of-a-kind.

Black Cherry

Sustainability: Black cherry wood is celebrated for its sustainable attributes, with responsible harvesting practices in place to ensure the continued health of cherry tree populations.

Warm Aesthetics: Black cherry’s reddish-brown hues deepen over time, enhancing its warm and inviting appearance. The wood’s grain patterns add character and visual appeal.

Black cherry kitchen worktop

Example: Esteemed by craftsmen for generations, is an incredibly versatile wood with a wide range of applications. Its durability allows it to endure the rigours of daily use, making it a popular choice for crafting furniture like tables, desks, chairs and kitchen worktops. Additionally, black cherry finds its place in the creation of musical instruments, architectural panelling, and millwork.

Reclaimed Wood

Concept of Reclaimed Wood: Reclaimed wood is salvaged from old structures, such as barns, warehouses or demolished buildings. One of my favourite sources is reclaimed scaffold boards from scaffold companies that have excess damaged and unusable boards. It embodies sustainability by giving new life to previously used materials.

Environmental Benefits and Unique Character: Beyond its eco-friendly credentials, reclaimed wood offers a distinct character with weathered textures and rich history, adding warmth and charm to any piece.

reclaimed wood splayed leg coffee table 3

Example: A reclaimed wood coffee table with its aged, worn appearance can be the centrepiece of a cosy living room, telling stories of its past life.

These wood types not only contribute to a more sustainable world but also offer remarkable beauty and functionality in furniture design. By choosing eco-friendly woods like black cherry, maple, ash, eastern red cedar, mango, and bamboo, you can enjoy furniture that’s not only visually appealing but also environmentally responsible.

The Importance of Certification

Significance of certification systems in the furniture industry

Certification systems play a pivotal role in ensuring sustainable and environmentally responsible practices within the furniture industry. These systems provide a means to verify that wood products come from responsibly managed forests, reducing the ecological impact of furniture production.

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Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)

Organisations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) are instrumental in setting standards for sustainable forestry practices. They establish criteria for responsible harvesting, biodiversity preservation and community engagement in forest management.

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Consumers and certified wood products

It’s vital for consumers to prioritise certified wood products when shopping for furniture. By doing so, they support ethical and eco-friendly practices, safeguarding forests and the environment. Certified wood products not only assure the sustainability of wood sources but also reflect the commitment of manufacturers to environmental responsibility.

When you choose certified wood furniture, you not only invest in quality and durability but also contribute to a more sustainable future. Look for labels from reputable certification organisations like FSC or PEFC when making your furniture purchases to ensure that you’re making an environmentally conscious choice.

Eco-Friendly Finishes and Adhesives

Considering finishes and adhesives

When striving for truly eco-friendly furniture, it’s crucial not to overlook the significance of the finishes and adhesives used in the manufacturing process. These elements can significantly impact the overall environmental footprint of your furniture.

Non-toxic, low-VOC finishes and adhesives

To promote a healthier indoor environment, look for furniture that features non-toxic and low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) finishes and adhesives. These alternatives reduce harmful emissions and ensure that your furniture doesn’t release potentially harmful chemicals into your home. If you’re crafting your own furniture, consider products from OSMO with low or zero VOC.

Examples of Eco-Friendly Finishing Options

Eco-friendly finishing options include water-based or plant-based finishes, which emit fewer harmful substances. Another choice is natural oils, like linseed or tung oil, which enhance the wood’s natural beauty while being environmentally responsible. Additionally, UV-cured finishes require less energy and emit fewer pollutants during the curing process, making them a sustainable option.

By prioritising furniture with eco-friendly finishes and adhesives, you not only contribute to a healthier living environment but also support manufacturers that prioritise sustainability and responsible production practices. It’s a conscious choice that aligns with your commitment to both environmental and personal well-being.

DIY and Upcycling: Sustainable Furniture Alternatives

DIY and Upcycling Projects

Embracing DIY projects and upcycling can be both fulfilling and eco-friendly alternatives to purchasing new furniture. Instead of buying brand-new pieces, consider harnessing your creativity to revitalise existing furniture or embark on exciting crafting endeavours. For more ideas and inspiration, you can explore our article on Upcycled Treasures: 7 Creative Ideas to Repurpose Old Furniture

Additionally, if you’re looking to create your own unique dining table, don’t miss my article on – How to Make a Rustic Scaffold Boards Dining Table. This resource provides step-by-step instructions for crafting a distinctive rustic dining table from scaffold boards.

Tips and resources for eco-friendly upcycling

To embark on an upcycling journey, search for vintage or second-hand furniture in thrift stores, garage sales or even within your own home. These pieces can be transformed into unique and sustainable treasures. When repurposing, consider utilising eco-friendly materials such as reclaimed wood, salvaged hardware, or non-toxic finishes to reduce your environmental footprint.

Numerous online platforms, including DIY blogs, YouTube tutorials and social media groups, are dedicated to sharing ideas and techniques for sustainable upcycling. These resources provide valuable inspiration and guidance as you engage in your eco-conscious furniture projects.

Conclusion: Choosing a Greener Path in Furniture Selection

As the world becomes increasingly conscious of environmental sustainability, the furniture industry has responded with a diverse array of eco-friendly options. In this article, we’ve explored some of the most sustainable wood types for furniture, each possessing unique qualities that make them environmentally responsible choices.

From the fast-growing bamboo to the timeless beauty of black cherry, these woods offer durability, aesthetics, and a reduced ecological footprint. Sustainably sourced maple, ash, eastern red cedar, and mango wood showcase the perfect blend of versatility and eco-consciousness. Pine and fir, celebrated for their affordability and accessibility, prove that sustainability can be both budget-friendly and stylish.

Furthermore, we’ve highlighted the importance of certification systems, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), in ensuring responsible sourcing and ethical practices within the industry. These certifications empower consumers to make informed choices that benefit both the environment and their living spaces.

Consideration for eco-friendly finishes and adhesives, along with the exploration of DIY and upcycling projects, expands the horizons of sustainable furniture selection. By making informed decisions and exploring creative alternatives, we can furnish our homes with pieces that not only enhance our living spaces but also contribute to a more sustainable future.

solid oak coffee table

Summary: The Path to Eco-Friendly Furniture

In summary, the world of eco-friendly furniture offers a wide array of choices, each with its unique blend of sustainability, durability, and aesthetics. From the rapid growth of bamboo to the warmth of black cherry, various wood types cater to diverse tastes and preferences.

Sustainably sourced maple, ash, eastern red cedar, and mango wood stand out for their versatility and eco-friendliness. Pine and fir offer affordability and accessibility, making them appealing options for budget-conscious consumers.

Certification systems like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) play a crucial role in ensuring responsible sourcing and sustainable practices within the industry.

Eco-friendly finishes and adhesives, coupled with DIY and upcycling initiatives, provide additional avenues for sustainable furniture selection. These considerations empower consumers to make informed and environmentally conscious choices, ultimately contributing to a greener and more eco-friendly future in the world of furniture.

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