Part I of II: A Guide to Identifying Exotic Lumber in Houston

Wood is a thing of beauty that comes in all different styles, types, colors and densities. And, while it may be easy to distinguish a good or desirable piece of wood from one that’s in poor condition or undesirable, what’s not always so easy is discerning what type of wood you’re actually looking at. This is especially true with exotic lumber in Houston, which makes it important to understand what to look for when determining what type of wood you’re actually holding.

In this guide, you’ll learn a few simple tips and a few more complicated traits to look for when it comes to telling one type of wood from another. In Part I, we’ll go over the basics, while Part II will delve into some of the more complicated features of wood.

Confirm that it’s wood

This might seem like a ridiculous first step, but there are actually many different materials that can have wood-like traits, which aren’t actually wood in and of themselves. Composites,
manmade materials and even plastics can look like wood! Here are a few ways to distinguish wood from non-woods:

  • Look at the edge of the piece of wood you’re examining and see if you can see the grain wrapping around it. If you can, it’s likely wood; if there’s no continuation of the grain, it’s likely particleboard, composite or something else manmade.
  • If there’s a repeating grain pattern that’s formulaic in nature, it’s likely veneer and not an authentic piece of natural wood.
  • Is it painted to look like real wood? Today’s paints and stains can mimic the look of real wood, but if it has a painted texture, chances are it’s not the Real McCoy

Take a look at the grain color

You can immediately learn a lot about the type of wood you’re looking at from the grain color and especially when it comes to exotic lumber in Houston, grain color can be your biggest clue to discovering the identity of a piece of wood. Is it dark, light or does it have a patina? Are the accents red, brown, golden, grey or some other color?

Make sure the grain you’re looking at hasn’t been stained at all and be very observational of the characteristics of the grain color. Does it look faded as if time has taken its toll? Has the color been washed out due to UV exposure or weathering? These can give you insight into the environment where the tree is from and what condition it’s in.

Patterns, weights, hardness and more

In Part II of this guide we’ll delve into some of the more refined traits of exotic lumber in Houston and get into what makes a piece of wood unique from others and imitators. Take a look at our next blog to learn more about what you need to know to be able to discern a raw piece of beautiful wood from something that might not quite be the real thing!