Best Wood For Desktops

Best Wood for Desktops—16 DIY Options to Consider

Are you on the quest to craft a DIY wooden desk that’s not only a feast for the eyes but also stands the test of time?

24/01/2024 – Update

In a Nutshell:

Selecting the right wood for your desktop depends on factors like durability, color, grain, and cost. For a rich, luxurious look, mahogany and walnut are excellent choices, offering durability and a sophisticated appearance. Pine and birch are great for lighter, budget-friendly options, easy to work with and offering a clean, minimalist aesthetic. Maple and teak provide a balance of strength and beauty, suitable for regular use. For eco-friendly enthusiasts, bamboo and reclaimed wood are sustainable choices with unique textures. Consider your usage needs and aesthetic preferences to pick the right wood, ensuring it complements your space and meets practical requirements.

Best Types of Wood for Desktops

1 | Mahogany

Mahogany is a dense hardwood with a fine, straight grain. It is known for its beautiful appearance and durability and is often used in high-quality furniture and desktops.

Being a dark variety of wood, mahogany is famous for the luxurious and plush appearance it can help provide. Although mainly red-brown in color, there are many variations and distinctions in the different pieces of mahogany, making this a versatile option for your desktop.

Mahogany tends to offer longevity, hardness, and stability to the surface you use it for. It comes with a hardness of 1,070 lbf and includes locked and overlapping grains that lend some coarseness to the surface.

Mahogany Desktop
Image: Sam Breckner


  • Durability! Great ability to resist water and temperature changes
  • Hassle-free workability with ease of gluing, cutting, and carving
  • Ability to withstand rot and insect-based diseases and degradation
  • Available in a variety of sizes to craft a desktop of any dimension
  • Uniform and even color with distinct grain unique looking marks


  • Very high cost, especially due to the increasing demand
  • Dense and heavy, making it unsuitable for mobile desktops

2 | Pine

Pine is light in terms of both weight and color. It carries a light brown to tan color, with many kinds of this wood also displaying white, yellow, and cream-like colors.

This kind of variety can provide you with plenty of options to choose from, and it has a smooth, even grain that makes it easy to clean and maintain.

This can also allow you to stain or paint over the wood to achieve a darker color. The knots and grains can also provide plenty of strength and texture to the wood.

Pine Desktop
Image: Sarreid Limited


  • Lightweight and convenient to work with and move around
  • Stiff and strong lumber, resulting in unmatched durability
  • Can resist both water and weather conditions for lower wearing off
  • Resistant to shocks and thuds, being ideal for a gaming room desktop
  • Extremely affordable type of wood that is perfect for starter projects


  • Quick scratches and tears due to its softwood nature
  • Frequent need for reapplication of the paint and stain

3 | Cherry

Cherry is an extremely popular kind of wood when it comes to desktops, mainly due to its rich and dark red color. The grain and texture can considerably enhance the appearance too.

Cherry is a kind of solid wood, although it has quite a low level of density. This can help provide sturdiness and stability while still making it convenient to cut and drill while making your desktop.

Black cherry, in particular, can offer a fine and smooth appearance to your desktop that you can manage without frequent sanding or painting.

Cherry Desktop
Image: Harmony


  • Very unique-looking wood with a beautiful grain and color
  • Long-lasting and durable color that darkens instead of fading
  • Responds well to finishes and looks great with shellac or lacquer
  • Tough, still, and durable with excellent shock-absorbing properties
  • Ideal for standalone or centerpiece desktops in home office space


  • It tends to scratch easily while also expanding and contracting
  • An expensive lumber option, don’t make it your first DIY project

4 | Walnut

Walnut wood is rich, deep, and dark in color, often ranging from a cream-like tan color to something that resembles the darker brown of chocolate or cocoa. This can work well for desktops, especially in workplaces that see plenty of different usages.

Walnut is incredibly sturdy and can be a bit heavy to manage, although it can be ideal if you intend to keep your desktop in a single location.

A noteworthy element of walnut is that it can respond well to attempts to shape or alter it. The edges can hold and maintain their shape for a long time.

Walnut Desk
Image: Sunday Stroll


  • Durable and resistant to moisture and humidity levels
  • Great shock-resisting abilities, perfect for gamers and DJs
  • Ver rich and contemporary appearance offering a plush look
  • Strong and sturdy owing to its fine and smooth grain
  • Resistant to impact, insects, rot, abrasions, and weathering


5 | Birch

Offering versatility, longevity, and strength, birch can make a reliable wood option for your desktop. With a high strength in terms of both compression and bending, birch can handle quite a bit of weight on top of it without undergoing much damage.

Birch is free from knots and tends to have fine grains that usually result in a smooth and level appearance. Moreover, birch is available in multiple color options like yellow, white, tan, and black.

Given the numerous options in terms of thickness and size, you can opt for pieces that suit your needs.

Birch Desktop
Image: Alejandra Gamez


  • Stable, sturdy, and strong, it is great as an in-built option
  • Lightweight making it ideal for cutting, nailing, and moving
  • Appealing and versatile grain to brighten up any room
  • Affordable price with wide availability and accessibility
  • Easy staining and painting procedures for fantastic results


  • Relatively perishable through frequent scratches and rots
  • Can Swell and shrink due to dramatically changing weather

6 | Cedar

Cedar is a durable and simple wood option. It is quite easy to cut and work with, making it convenient if you intend to carry out the desktop project on your own.

A softwood with a relatively high strength and density level, cedar can be useful for supporting both weight and movement on your desktop.

Cedar has a light color that can range from tan to a more pinkish brown. In some cases, the grain and texture can also provide a deeper brown to the wood.

Cedar Desktop
Image: Wood Force


  • Highly durable due to its natural water and weather resistance
  • Resistant to rot and decay in terms of insects, fungi, and bacteria
  • Easy to stain with heaps of painting possibilities for a unique look
  • Easily available locally and is one of the more cost-effective options
  • Easy to work with and move around, both while building and working


  • Frequent sealing requirements to maintain the look
  • Highly flammable and unsuitable for places near the fire

7 | Bamboo

Bamboo might look flimsy and light, but it is solid and durable. It makes for one of the most sustainable wood options due to its wide availability, multiple uses, and quick and widespread growth.

Bamboo has a rating of 1,380 lbf on the Janka hardness scale, thus implying that this can make for a sturdy and balanced option for your desktop.

Apart from its efficacy as a stable wood for your desktop, bamboo can also impart plenty of attraction due to its smooth texture and color.

Bamboo Desktop
Image Cherry St Blossoms


  • Very clean and tidy with minimal cleaning requirements
  • Simple and long-lasting cost-effective lumber option
  • Resistant to high humidity and large amounts of water
  • Structurally tough and sturdy wood for indoors or outdoors
  • Eco-friendly due to its ability to absorb carbon dioxide


  • Prone to dents and scratches, not the best aesthetic wood
  • Vulnerable to attacks from insects and fungi, it can rot

8 | Maple

Maple is affordable and cost-effective and can provide fantastic results for your desktop. Coming in a light and creamy color with a fine grain, maple is a preferred choice for many carpenters and woodworkers.

The fact that it is light and practical to work with also makes it quite popular for furniture like chairs and tabletops.

There are various kinds of maple trees, each of which can offer a variety of densities and colors. This can result in a good amount of sturdiness and strength despite the softwood nature of maple.

Maple is sustainable too, due to the wide range of uses that it can provide along with the fact that it can improve air quality.

Maple Desktop
Image: Mossrock Retreat


  • Resistant to dust and small debris, being easy to maintain
  • Sturdy and durable build with a 1450 Janka wood rating
  • It can withstand higher levels of moisture and humidity
  • Uniform, consistent and fine grains with nice natural lines
  • Can withstand frequent and intense usage without denting


  • Vulnerable to wood rot and even pest infestations
  • Quick fading of color while also being tough to stain

9 | Teak

Teak is a hardwood tree with dense and extremely tough wood. Thus, if you wish to build a desktop for frequent and vigorous usage, teak can be a great choice. In fact, teak has a high degree of impenetrability, making it popular for both indoor and outdoor uses.

Teak comes in gorgeous golden-yellow or golden-brown colors that can spruce up the appearance of your desktop while also making it work well with other colors.

Teak also contains many natural oils that can enrich its color.

Teak Desktop
Image: Flux Modern


  • Resistant to water and heat, thus ensuring longevity
  • Resistant to pests, insects, rots, mites, and termites
  • Easy and simple maintenance and cleaning using a clean cloth
  • It holds up well even after staining and finishing
  • It is versatile and is aesthetic in terms of appearance


  • Frequent and regular staining requirements to maintain color
  • Expensive and not readily available throughout the USA

10 | Red Oak

Red oak is famous for its strength and beauty, making it an ideal option for desktops. It holds worldwide popularity when it comes to building tabletops, desks, chairs, and other such furniture.

Its rich and dark color and distinctive grain patterns can bring out its quality even more.

Red oak is also strong and dense, holding a rating of 1,260 lbf on the Janka scale. Additionally, it is possible to stain, seal and paint this wood without much resistance; as a result, you can keep extending the lifespan of your red oak desktop.

Red Oak Desktop
Image: Homary


  • Accepts stains and finishes easily without bumps, stains, and blotches
  • Responds well to sanding, resulting in a smooth finish
  • It can last for a long time due to its strength and hardness
  • Ability to resist fire, rots, wear and tear
  • Trouble-free cleaning and maintenance


  • Prone to easy scratches and dents, leading to degradation
  • Heavy and expensive lumber, not the best for beginner DIYers

11 | MDF

MDF refers to medium-density fiberboard. It is different from the other kinds of wood in that it is made from wood residues like fibers that are combined with binding materials like resin and wax.

The pressure and temperature applied to this combination can then result in a strong and extremely sturdy product.

Although dense, this kind of wood can actually provide plenty of mobility to your desktop, making it well-suited to moving and adjustable desks and tables. This kind of fiberboard also comes with a long lifespan if used in an appropriate manner.

Mdf Desk
Imagez: Porch & Den


  • This dense and well-balanced lumber is ideal for desktops
  • Cheap and easy-to-access wood, great for DIY projects
  • Responds well to stains, seals, paints, and other finishes
  • No risk of knots and uneven surfaces due to the manufacturing process
  • Flat, uniform, and easy to work with using nails, drills, and screws


  • Vulnerable to cracks, splits, and scratches due to high pressure
  • More prone to shrinking and swelling than natural wood types

12 | Elm

The wood obtained from elm, or elmwood, is extremely rigid, strong, and sturdy. The grains present in this kind of wood are quite coarse and rough, resulting in a textured surface that can lend a unique appearance to your desktop.

Often available in large pieces and quantities, you can make good use of elm for building desktops in bulk, such as for a workplace. Elm has a high degree of tensile strength and is usually great at managing large weights.

Elm tends to come in white, off-white, cream, light brown, as well as darker red-brown colors.

Elm Desktop
Image: El Globo


  • A-grade powerful, durable, and resilient lumber for serious projects
  • Eco-friendly and sustainable due to its abundance and quick growth
  • Ability to resist splits, especially due to high pressure
  • Uniform and even surface makes this wood great for desktops
  • Variety of textures and colors with soft natural tones


  • It tends to be expensive, and it is quite hard to work with
  • Can be vulnerable to damage due to insects and pests

13 | Rosewood

Rosewood is a highly sought-after option, especially for desks and chairs. However, it is relatively rare, making it a premium choice if you do find it.

Rosewood is a diverse kind of wood due to its numerous color options that range from light brown to dark red, with many timber pieces also having black stripes and patterns.

Each of these aspects can result in a natural and lovely desktop appearance. High-quality rosewood can perform excellently under pressure while also resisting the push and pull of changing heat levels and humidity.

Rosewood Desk
Image: Vintage Co.


  • Antimicrobial elements that can resist quick rusting and corrosion
  • Multiple colors & textures and looks superbly painted
  • Smooth, uniform, and level surface; brilliant for desktops
  • Resistant to fire, water, and heat with a rich grain
  • Able to withstand high levels of pressure without cracking


  • Rare and expensive lumber to locate within North America
  • Dense and heavy and difficult to move and work with (43 to 52 lbs)

14 | Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood is recycled after its original usage in applications such as barns, barrels, buildings, floors, and other construction-type projects.

This kind of reclaimed wood is usually reshaped, cut up, and polished to result in an interesting and beautiful surface, making it suitable for desktops.

It might sound like reclaimed wood has lower strength levels, but it continues to provide solid results while lasting for a long time.

Reclaimed Wood Desk
Image: Michael Difazio


  • Extremely strong and sturdy due to its potential origin from old trees
  • Quaint and rustic appearance with a range of different colors
  • Environmentally friendly due to its recycling and harvesting practices
  • Increase in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) points
  • Very much resistant to wood rot, fungus, and decay


  • Potential toxins in wood if sourced from an unknown place
  • It can be an expensive option due to the manufacturing process

15 | white oak

White oak is an incredibly stable and durable kind of wood, making it an excellent option for desktops. It is a kind of hardwood with a density of 1,350 Lbf on the Janka hardness scale and can be used to build anything from kitchen cabinets, floorboards, wood shelves, and of course, desktops.

This timber comes from the white oak or Quercus Alba tree, commonly found in the Eastern United States in central Michigan and southeastern Minnesota.

Interestingly, white oak has varying unique and diverse colors, but typically, it showcases a beautiful light to medium brown color with an olive tone. White oak usually tends to be quite dense with a modulus of elasticity (MOE) of 1,762,000 lbf/in2, which is nearly on par with red oak.

White Oak Desktop
Image: Urban Timber


  • An attractive and unique appearance and suitable for lighter rooms
  • Strong and sturdy with minimal risk of scratches, dents, and tears
  • Simple to clean and maintain, and looks fantastic when stained
  • Durable and strong against pressure and weather conditions
  • It can be used for a range of projects apart from desktops


  • White oak can cause eye and skin irritation in some people
  • It can be somewhat prone to shrinkage in damper conditions

16 | Padauk

Padauk wood is a rare kind of wood but can result in an attractive appearance on a desktop and is a fantastic wood for a modular gaming desk and a workstation.

It comes in dark and rich red-brown colors with several grain patterns. It is also an extremely strong and sturdy lumber, thus allowing you to place your work materials on the desk without risk of damage.

Padauk wood is more common for musical instruments, although smaller furniture and display pieces also tend to use this kind of wood.

Padauk Gaming Desk
Image: WyrmWood


  • Sturdy wood that is resistant to fungus, wood rot, and pests
  • Attractive appearance with multiple color options when stained
  • Super fancy-looking textured surface for a unique look
  • Resistant to decay due to dents, scratches, and weather conditions
  • Usually easy to work with in terms of cutting, nailing, and drilling


  • Relatively expensive and difficult to source throughout the US
  • Can sometimes result in allergic reactions like rashes and itchiness

DIY Wood Desktop Building Tips

If you want to build your wood desktop on your own, you should take a look at the following tips to help you get started.

  1. Make sure you gather all the necessary tools, equipment, and materials for your DIY woodworking project.
  2. You can either cut the wood on your own using a table saw or you can ask a professional to do it for you. Take measurements of the desk so that you can cut the wood into proper sizes.
  3. Once the wood is ready, place all the pieces on the desk or frame you want to build this desktop.
  4. Secure all the wood pieces together using clamps and fasteners so that you can work on them easily.
  5. Attach each piece of wood together using nails and screws until your basic desktop structure is ready. Detach the fasteners only once this is done.
  6. If you want to make gaps, holes or hollow spaces on the desk to make room for charging points, plugs, and wires, you should carve or drill them out at this point.
  7. Inspect the wood for any gaps or crevices. Cover them up using glue, epoxy, putty or other suitable material.
  8. After everything dries, you can take sandpaper of varying grits and use it to smoothen the surface of the wood.
  9. Add stain and paint. After drying, you can set up the desktop on your desk or work table.

Choose the Right Wood for Your Desktop

There are multiple factors you should keep in mind when choosing the right wood for your desktop. Here are some that can support and aid your decision.

Lumber Cost

The cost of the lumber can vary widely depending on the kind of wood you opt for. Some woods, like cherry and mahogany, are likely to cost you a bit more than others, like elm, cedar, pine, and bamboo.

If you have certain restrictions in place, you should decide on a budget beforehand, after which you can figure out which kind of wood can meet these needs. However, as important as it is to opt for wood that falls within your budgetary expectations, you should also ensure that it is of high quality and looks the way you want it to.

Make sure you account for other costs in the long run too, such as replacement, repairs, durability, and maintenance.


The weight or density of the wood can make quite a difference when it comes to the overall quality of the wood. The most crucial consideration here should be how you intend to use the desk in the first place. Are you going to use the desktop as a standing desk? Do you intend to place multiple objects and materials on it?

For basic uses, you should consider lighter wood with a lower density. This also applies to standing desktops since you need to mount them higher. Lighter ones can also be easier to move around.

On the other hand, for desktops of standard height and more frequent usage, you can consider heavier options like walnut. These can help if you do not intend to move your desk around too much.


The color of the wood is vital to keep in mind, especially since it will form an essential part of your workspace or room. You should ensure that the color works well with the rest of the room’s colors while also responding well to natural or artificial light.

Some types of wood are naturally dark, giving a rich, deep and stable presence in the room. However, you might not be able to alter the colors too much here, whereas this can be easier to do with natural wood with a lighter tone.

Note that staining and painting can affect the general appearance and look of the desktop too.


Wood grain refers to the wood cells and fibers and how they are arranged in a particular type of wood. On this basis, they can result in various patterns and shapes on the wood you intend to use for your desktop. This can lend some color, shade, and texture to the wood.

The grain of the wood also tends to impact the strength and quality of the wood and how you align and cut the wood.

The grain you opt for should depend on the kind of look that you intend to achieve.


Your wood should be of good quality to ensure that it can provide durability and longevity to your desktop. Some aspects you should look for here include the wood’s hardness and weather resistance levels to ensure that it can survive both manmade and natural alterations.

The wood should withstand and resist decay and degradation, even though a bit of expansion and contraction is natural here.

You will also need to take some steps of your own to maintain the wood’s durability, such as controlling the temperature and humidity, avoiding breakage, minimizing spills, and more.

Types Of Wood For Desks


  • Wood pieces with the right measurements
  • Wood putty or filler
  • Epoxy resin for wood
  • Screws
  • Nails
  • Wood glue
  • Stain/finish
  • Paint or varnish


  • Drill
  • Clamps/fasteners
  • Table saw
  • Jointer
  • Sandpaper/sander
  • Router
  • Circular saw
  • Brackets
  • Planer

The Bottom Line

Light and sturdy options can suit your desktop quite well since they can deliver comfort, color, and strength. Selecting wood for desktops as opposed to wood for bed frames differs greatly in terms of softwoods vs hardwoods.

Key Takeaways:

  • Choose from a Variety of Woods for Your Desktop: Consider different types of woods like mahogany, pine, cherry, and walnut for your desktop projects. Each wood type has unique properties in color, grain, and durability, allowing you to find the perfect match for your design vision and functional needs.
  • Consider Key Factors in Wood Selection: When choosing the right wood for your desktop, balance factors such as cost, weight, durability, and appearance. This careful consideration will help ensure that your choice not only looks good but also meets the practical demands of your project.
  • Follow Helpful DIY Tips for Desktop Building: Utilize the provided DIY tips to successfully build your wood desktop. From selecting and preparing the right materials to cutting, assembling, and finishing, these guidelines will assist you in creating a desktop that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Ultimately, the wood you choose should reflect your own needs while also being suitable to match the weight and frequency of usage.