The Best Wood for Your Office Desk (Ultimate Guide For Your Solid Top)

By Rob Orr / Last updated: Jun 26, 2023


Have you ever wondered, “What’s the absolute best wood for a desk top?” In the increasingly remote work-driven world, it’s a question on the lips of DIY desk-builders (myself among them), freelancers, entrepreneurs, and office-bound remote workers alike, and everyone’s looking to optimize their home office setup.

And who could blame them? A well-built desk is more than just furniture. It’s a hub for your productivity, a beacon of your professionalism, and (let’s face it) a major part of your daily view.

But choosing the right wood for that dream desk? That’s where things get tricky.

You’ve got queries like:

  • “Which wood type is the most durable?”
  • “Does my choice of wood affect maintenance?”
  • “Is there a difference between different finishes?”
  • “How much am I expected to spend on different wood types?”

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this comprehensive guide, we’re diving headfirst into the grainy world of desk-top wood for DIYers and people who just want to buy a good desk alike.

  1. Best Wood for Desk Top: The best woods for a desk top, due to their durability and aesthetics, are Hard Maple, Walnut Wood, and Red Oak. Each of these has its unique qualities, but all are robust, look stunning, and will stand the test of time.
  2. Understanding Different Finishes: The finish on your desk can drastically alter its appearance and longevity. Choose a finish that not only complements your chosen wood’s aesthetics but also provides the protection you need.
  3. Wood Sensitivities: Certain individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to specific types of wood. Always consider this before choosing your desk’s wood type.
  4. Environmental Considerations: It’s important to consider the environmental impact of your choice. Choose sustainable wood options where possible.
  5. Thickness Matters: A desk top should ideally be at least 1″ thick. However, the thicker the wood, the more durable and long-lasting your desk will be.
  6. Cost Comparison: Different types of wood come at different price points. Make sure to consider all potential costs, including those for delivery, installation, and finishing.
  7. DIY or Buy: Building your own desk can give you complete control over every detail. However, if you’re not into DIY, plenty of excellent pre-made desk options are available in the market.

Real quick, before we get too far into it here, if you want to get more great ideas for your gaming room or home office and want to connect with other home office hackers to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Home Office Hacks here.

Heartwood Decisions: Unraveling the Best Wood for Your Desktop

Selecting the right wood can transform your desk from “meh” to “magnificent.” So let’s take a quick overview of some of the more common types, then we’ll dig into details.

The Hardwood Monarchs: Deciphering Your Best Choices

When discussing the crème de la crème of wood for desktops, the spotlight falls on three prime contenders: cherry, oak, and walnut wood. “Why these three?” you might ask. Well, let’s delve in and discover why these wood types rule the roost.

Cherry Wood: A Royal Invitation to Elegance

If you have an eye for the classics, cherry wood might just be your royal match. With a grain straighter than a ruler and a classic look that’ll have your workspace looking like it’s straight out of a Brontë novel, cherry wood is the epitome of charm and elegance. From my own adventures in wood selection, I can tell you, there’s nothing quite like the warm embrace of a cherry wood desktop. It’s like having a piece of Versailles right there in your home office.

Oak Wood: The Hardy Highness

Switching gears, let’s talk about the hardy oak wood. When it comes to standing tall and tough, no other wood type holds a candle to oak. Whether it’s the scarlet hues of red oak or the subdued tones of white oak, both these variants bring unmatched resilience to the table (pun intended!). A champion against insect attacks and a high-scorer in the Janka hardness test, oak promises you a desktop that’s built to last.

Walnut Wood: The Dark Sovereign

Coming up next is our third contender, the intriguing walnut wood. Its captivating dark color is perfect for those seeking a modern look for their workspace. Plus, it’s not just a beauty—walnut packs quite a punch in the durability department. In fact, this dark knight is renowned for its ability to hide dings and scratches, ensuring your desktop ages gracefully over years of use.

Maple Wood: The People’s Prince

No discussion of wood types for desktops can be complete without the mention of maple wood—the people’s prince of the wood kingdom. Both hard and soft maples offer their unique allure. Hard maple brings durability and a beautiful grain pattern, while soft maple creates a more rustic look. If you’re vying for a unique look, maple could be your wild card entry to a spectacular desktop.

So, as you ponder over these hardwood monarchs, remember, it’s not just about what catches your eye—it’s about what’s going to work best for your situation. You’re the one who’s going to be spending hours at that desk. So, make sure your choice of wood not only meets your aesthetic expectations but also promises a comfortable and durable experience.

Deep Dive: Exploring the Attributes, Benefits, and Costs of Different Wood Types

Alright, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. You’ve had a quick overview of the leading contenders in the world of desktop wood types. Now, it’s time to take a closer look, peel back the layers, and get to know these champions on a more intimate level. The gloves are off. It’s round two for hard maple, cherry, oak, walnut, and pine.


Wood Type Aesthetics Durability Suitability for Desk Top Cost
American White Oak Light to medium brown color, straight grain pattern High High, brings a natural look and durability to the table $$
Brown Maple Dark brown color, smooth surface Medium Medium, it’s a more economical option if you’re going for a darker stain $
Cherry Wood Offers a unique look with its reddish-brown color that darkens with time Medium Medium, provides a more classic look $$$
E. Pine Wood Light hue with attractive knots Medium Medium, versatile and affordable $
Hard Maple Classic look with a light to medium brown color and beautiful grain pattern High High, provides a smooth surface ideal for work $$$
Oak Wood Light to medium brown color, distinctive grain pattern High High, a popular choice for office furniture thanks to its beautiful grain and high durability $$
Red Oak Light brown color with a straight grain pattern High High, offers a durable and aesthetic choice $$
Rustic Cherry Rich red to reddish-brown color, rustic look Medium Medium, if you’re looking for a more rustic look, this is a great choice $$
Soft Maple Light color with a straight grain pattern Medium Medium, it’s a good choice if hard maple is out of your budget $$
Walnut Wood Unique dark color, smooth surface, and straight grain High High, it’s a top choice for a desk that screams quality and elegance $$$

Hard Maple: The Tough Competitor

Hard maple is a heavy hitter in the desktop world. If you’re looking for a desk that can take a punch (or a hot cup of coffee), this one’s for you. Let’s break it down:

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Boasts a high-quality straight grain
    • Stands its ground against high temperatures
    • Sports a light hue that’s flexible for various staining options
  • Pros:
    • Superior durability ensures a long-lasting desk
    • Can withstand daily wear and tear like a champ
  • Cons:
    • Its dense nature can make it hard to work with
    • Staining might be a bit tricky due to its close grain

From personal experience, I can vouch for the endurance of hard maple. It’s like the Rocky Balboa of wood types, going the distance no matter how tough the bout.

Cherry Wood: The Elegant Performer

Step up, cherry wood. It’s your turn in the spotlight. Famed for its classic appeal, this wood type adds a dash of sophistication to any space. Here’s what you’re looking at:

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Its straight grain gives a sleek, uniform texture
    • Naturally dark color that matures even more beautifully over time
    • Its durability can hold up against the test of time
  • Pros:
    • Its look is just as impressive as its durability
    • Takes to finishing quite well
  • Cons:
    • It’s more prone to dents and scratches
    • The darkening aspect might not suit everyone’s style

Oak Wood: The Everlasting Champion

In comes oak wood, a time-tested contender. Known for its strength, it’s like the Hercules of wood types. Let’s see why:

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • It’s strong enough to withstand heavy-duty use
    • Offers a highly visible grain that exudes a rustic charm
    • Available in a spectrum of shades, from light to medium dark
  • Pros:
    • Its durability is through the roof
    • Takes well to staining and finishing
  • Cons:
    • Its high strength can make it challenging to cut and shape
    • The coarse grain may not be everyone’s cup of tea

Walnut Wood: The Dark Horse

Walnut wood is up next. If you’re after a touch of mystery and class, this might be your guy. Let’s go under the hood:

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Showcases a dark, rich color for a unique, sophisticated look
    • Fends off insect attacks and decay
    • Can be polished to a super-smooth finish
  • Pros:
    • It screams elegance and high-end appeal
    • Superbly durable and strong
  • Cons:
    • It’s one of the pricier wood options
    • Its dark hue might not gel with all styles and spaces

E. Pine Wood: The Affordable All-Rounder

Finally, we have pine wood, the versatile and affordable option. If you’re after a blend of character, charm, and budget-friendliness, pine might be your match:

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Sports a lighter hue with attractive knots
    • Less dense than its hardwood counterparts
    • Easy to stain for a customized look
  • Pros:
    • Light on the pocket without compromising on aesthetics
    • It’s softer, making it easier to shape and carve
  • Cons:
    • Not as resilient as the other contenders
    • Prone to scratches and dents due to its soft nature

Remember, each wood type has its unique strengths and weaknesses. The best choice isn’t always the most expensive or the most durable. It’s what fits your specific needs, aesthetic taste, and budget. So, take your pick wisely!

Off the Beaten Path: Unraveling the Exotic Woods

You’ve met the regulars. Now, let’s pull back the curtain on a unique ensemble cast of exotic woods. Some desk manufacturers, like Uplift Desks, offer these special guests for those in search of something a little more extraordinary. But are these exotic options practical for a work desk? Time to spill the beans.

Exotic Wood Type Aesthetics Durability Suitability for Desk Top Cost
Acacia Deep, rich color High High, long-lasting and dramatic $$$
Ash Light color with a straight grain Medium High, brightens up workspace $$
Bamboo Light with a distinctive grain pattern High High, sustainable and renewable $$
Birch Wide range of hues from cream to reddish-brown High High, versatile in style and design $$
Fir Pale color Medium Medium, affordable and lightweight $
Mahogany Rich, dark color High High, luxurious and durable $$$
Pheasantwood Stunning grain pattern High Medium, very unique and robust $$$
Poculi Unique, intricate grain High Medium, unique and durable $$$
Rubberwood Light to medium hue Medium High, cost-effective and accepts finishes well $
Saman Warm brown and reddish hues High High, warm and inviting vibe $$
Sapele Golden to dark reddish-brown color High High, elegant and durable $$$
Wenge Dark brown, nearly black color High Medium, modern and sophisticated $$$
Whiteboard Whiteboard for use with whiteboard markers Low High, highly customizable $
Zebrano/Zebra Wood Bold striped pattern High Medium, dynamic and vibrant aesthetic $$$

Birch: The Versatile Virtuoso

Birch might not sound exotic, but it’s a standout with its wide range of hues. Just remember: with birch, there’s more than meets the eye.

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Comes in an array of colors from cream to reddish-brown
    • Provides a smooth, fine grain
    • Known for its strength and durability
  • Pros:
    • Versatile in style and design
    • Holds up well under regular use
  • Cons:
    • Can be tricky to finish
    • Its light color may show stains and wear easily

Bamboo: The Green Machine

Bamboo is technically a grass, but it’s one that’s made a name for itself in the wood desk world. Who knew?

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Light in color with a distinctive grain pattern
    • Excellent hardness and strength
    • An environmentally-friendly option
  • Pros:
    • Sustainable and rapidly renewable
    • Naturally resistant to water and moisture
  • Cons:
    • Can be susceptible to scratches
    • Lack of color variation might not appeal to everyone

Rubberwood: The Underdog

Rubberwood might not be the first name on your list, but it’s an underdog worth considering. Don’t let its name fool you – it’s got more to offer than meets the eye.

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Sports a light to medium hue
    • Offers a fairly straight grain
    • It’s a byproduct of the latex industry – talk about upcycling!
  • Pros:
    • Cost-effective choice
    • Accepts finishes well
  • Cons:
    • Not as durable as some hardwoods
    • Prone to warping in fluctuating temperatures

Acacia: The Bold Statement

Acacia is for those who want to make a bold statement. Just don’t be surprised if your desk becomes the topic of conversation at your next Zoom meeting.

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Deep, rich color with an attractive grain pattern
    • Offers excellent hardness and durability
    • Natural resistance to water
  • Pros:
    • Long-lasting and sturdy
    • Can add a dramatic touch to your workspace
  • Cons:
    • Can be on the pricier side
    • Its bold look may not suit all spaces or styles

Ash: The Light and Bright

Ash is an all-star if you want a lighter, airier feel. It’s like a breath of fresh air for your workspace.

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Features a light color with a straight grain
    • Exceptional strength and elasticity
    • Takes to stains and finishes well
  • Pros:
    • Brightens up your workspace
    • Can mimic other hardwoods when stained
  • Cons:
    • Not as durable as some other options
    • Light color might not suit everyone’s taste

Mahogany: The Grandeur of Grains

Introducing Mahogany, a timeless classic renowned for its grandeur and warmth. Its royal status in the wood kingdom is hard to deny.

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Sports a rich, dark color with a straight, fine grain
    • Excellent workability and durability
    • Holds a regal status among woods
  • Pros:
    • Adds a luxurious touch to your workspace
    • Durable and resistant to warping
  • Cons:
    • Can be pricy due to its high demand and limited supply
    • Its dark color might not be everyone’s cup of tea

Pheasantwood: The Exotic Exhibitionist

If you’re looking to turn heads, Pheasantwood can steal the show. It’s an exotic hardwood that knows how to put on a display.

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Features a stunning grain pattern, much like a pheasant’s plumage
    • High durability and strength
    • A rare and distinctive choice
  • Pros:
    • Adds an element of uniqueness to your workspace
    • Robust and long-lasting
  • Cons:
    • Can be pricier due to its rare availability
    • May be too bold for some tastes

Saman: The Warm Welcome

Stepping into the limelight, we have Saman, known for its inviting warm tones. It’s like a cozy welcome home every time you sit down to work.

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Showcases a mix of warm brown and reddish hues
    • Strong and durable, yet works well under tools
    • Provides an unusual, intricate grain pattern
  • Pros:
    • Brings a warm and inviting vibe to your office
    • Durable for everyday use
  • Cons:
    • Might be challenging to source
    • Its unique color tones might not be for everyone

Fir: The Light Touch

Fir is a softwood that punches above its weight. Who said you can’t be both soft and strong?

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Offers a pale color with a straight, even grain
    • More lightweight compared to many hardwoods
    • An economically-friendly choice
  • Pros:
    • Affordable and readily available
    • Light color can brighten your workspace
  • Cons:
    • Not as hard or durable as hardwood options
    • Can be prone to scratches and dents

Whiteboard: The Blank Canvas

Did you know that you can use whiteboard as your desktop surface? It’s an incredibly popular choice with a lot of people who work from home.Whiteboard is your blank canvas ready to be customized. Unleash your creativity, the sky’s the limit!

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Typically a lighter color, ready for your custom finish
    • A versatile choice that can match any decor
    • Easy to maintain and clean
  • Pros:
    • Highly customizable to your preference
    • Easy to pair with different office decors
  • Cons:
    • Not as durable as hardwood options
    • Requires regular maintenance to keep it looking fresh

Zebrano/Zebra Wood: The Wildcard

Let’s march onto the plains of the unexpected with Zebrano, also known as Zebra wood. With striking stripes, this is a desk that could make a zebra jealous.

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Bold striped pattern, reminiscent of a zebra
    • A hard and heavy wood with a coarse texture
    • An eye-catching choice for the adventurous
  • Pros:
    • Brings a dynamic and vibrant aesthetic to your workspace
    • Durable and robust for rigorous use
  • Cons:
    • Its bold pattern might be too much for some
    • Availability can be limited, leading to a higher price

Poculi: The Rare Marvel

Next up is Poculi, an exceptional hardwood with a rich heritage. This is not your everyday wood – it’s an adventure in every grain.

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Boasts a unique, intricate grain with a warm hue
    • High in density and durability
    • A less-known, but high-quality choice
  • Pros:
    • Stands out due to its unique, intricate grain
    • Durable enough for everyday use and then some
  • Cons:
    • Its rarity could lead to a higher price tag
    • Might be too unique for some tastes

Sapele: The Understated Elegance

Introducing Sapele, a relative of Mahogany, yet holds its own with understated elegance. Because being flashy isn’t everyone’s style.

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Presents a golden to dark reddish-brown color
    • Displays a unique, interlocking grain pattern
    • A popular choice among fine furniture makers
  • Pros:
    • Provides an elegant touch to your office space
    • Durable and resistant to weather and time
  • Cons:
    • Could be more expensive due to its popularity
    • Might require regular maintenance to keep its luster

Wenge: The Dark Knight

Finally, we have Wenge, the Dark Knight of the hardwood world. With its deep, dark tones, it’s a bat-signal for sophistication.

  • Distinctive Characteristics:
    • Dark brown, nearly black color with fine, closely-spaced grain
    • Very hard, dense, and durable
    • A distinctive and modern choice
  • Pros:
    • Adds a modern and sophisticated touch to your workspace
    • Extremely durable and long-lasting
  • Cons:
    • Its dark color might not suit every preference
    • Due to its hardness, it can be difficult to work with, leading to a higher price

Choosing Your Desk: Professional Needs Analysis

Ever heard the saying, “The right tool for the right job”? Your desk is a tool, and choosing the right one depends on the job you do. In this section, let’s break down your professional needs based on your job type and find the perfect wood desk match.

Freelancer’s Finesse: Tailored to Taskmasters

Freelancers and remote job seekers, this is for you. You need a desk that’s going to serve as your battle station, whether you’re a developer cracking the next big code or a writer penning a masterpiece.

  • Your computer desk should be your sanctuary, a place of focus and efficiency. A standing desk might be an ideal choice for health-conscious freelancers. Standing desks not only give you the flexibility to work in different postures, but they also keep you active.
  • When choosing the wood type, hard maple or oak could be a great choice. They provide strength, durability, and let’s not forget, a sleek look for your home office.

Boss-Level Choices: Entrepreneurs and Employers

Calling all entrepreneurs and remote work employers, your desk choice speaks volumes. It’s about making a statement, showcasing your authority while fostering productivity.

  • Investing in high-quality office furniture is a must. Your new desk isn’t just a workspace; it’s the command center of your empire. Walnut wood is a popular choice for an office desk because of its superior quality and luxurious look.
  • With more space in a traditional office, you could opt for larger, more expansive desks. The solid wood desk top adds a touch of sophistication and screams ‘boss level’.

DIY Die-Hards: Craft Your Workspace

To all the DIY enthusiasts out there, this is your moment. Creating your own desk isn’t just a project, it’s a journey. And I get it. There’s something profoundly satisfying about crafting your workspace.

  • You might want to experiment with different types of wood. Your DIY desk could be a mix of hardwood for the base and softwood for the desktop. It’s your chance to play, experiment, and ultimately, create.
  • If you’re ambitious, go for a custom desk. Use hardwood lumber for its great strength and longevity. Cherry wood or maple wood would work perfectly here, offering not only strength but also a beautiful grain pattern.

Remember, it’s not just a desk; it’s your partner in productivity. The right desk won’t make work feel like, well, work. And in my experience, the right desk is more about ‘feels right’ than ‘looks right’.

Green Choices: The Eco-friendly Desk Guide

Picture this. You’re sitting at your desk, feeling the smooth, cool surface beneath your fingertips. But what if I told you that this desk isn’t just a desk—it’s a statement about who you are and what you stand for? That’s right. In this section, we’re talking about sustainable choices and the environmental impact of your desk.

Green Thumb: Environmentally-Friendly Wood Options

You want a desk that stands up to pressure, looks stunning, and takes care of Mother Earth? There’s a wood for that.

  • Let’s talk about environmental impact. Your desk choice can help reduce carbon footprints and fight deforestation. Some of the best woods for sustainability include bamboo, cork, and of course, reclaimed wood.
  • Reclaimed wood is not just a buzzword; it’s a way to reduce waste and give a second life to wood. Plus, let’s not forget the rustic charm and character it adds to your workspace.
  • Bamboo, although technically not a wood, is another fantastic choice. It grows rapidly, making it a renewable resource. Plus, its natural toughness and unique look could just be the statement you’re looking to make.

I once had a friend who got a reclaimed wood desk, and the best part about it was that every scratch, every mark had a story to tell. And isn’t that just it? Your desk isn’t just a piece of furniture; it’s a story about you and your choices.

So, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a freelancer, or a DIY enthusiast, remember that the power to make sustainable choices is right in your hands—or under them, as the case may be. It’s your chance to make your workspace a testament to your values. So why not make it a good one?

More Than Just Good Looks: The Importance of Quality and Durability

Let’s take a minute here and think about something: Your desk is not just a desk. It’s your workstation, your command center, your space where ideas become reality. And like any good headquarters, it needs to be built to last. This section is all about quality and durability—the two things that make a desk worth its salt.

The ABCs of Wood: Understanding Wood Grades

Ever wondered why some desks seem to last forever while others start looking tired before their time? A big part of the answer lies in the wood grade.

  • High-quality woods are the creme de la creme of the tree world. They boast a strong wood fiber, smooth grains, and an undeniable appeal.
  • The Janka hardness test is the gold standard for wood quality. It measures the force required to embed a small steel ball halfway into a piece of wood (talk about tough love!).

When I built my first desk, I figured all woods were made equal. Boy, was I wrong. I ended up with a desk that scratched if you so much as sneezed at it. That’s when I learned about the Janka test and how vital it is to choose a high-quality wood.

The Art of Desk Building: Role of Craftsmanship in Desk Construction

Now, onto the artists of our desk world: the craftsmen. They turn chunks of wood into the pieces of art we call desks.

  • A well-made desk isn’t just about sticking pieces of wood together. It’s about ensuring that the final product is strong, durable, and stunning.
  • Good craftsmanship also means that your desk will stand the test of time. We’re talking years, maybe even decades. Remember, your desk isn’t a disposable item—it’s a long-term investment.

So, when you’re hunting for that perfect desk, remember to check out the wood grade and craftsmanship. After all, what’s the point of a pretty desk if it doesn’t stick around for a long time?

Think Global, Act Local: The Role of Location and Climate in Choosing Your Desk

Imagine this: you’re sitting at a desk that feels like it was tailor-made for you. The wood type, the quality, the durability—it’s all perfect. But did you ever stop to think about how the geographical location of where that wood originated or the climate might affect your dream desk? Let’s deep dive into these hidden factors.

Hometown Heroes: Wood Types Based on Different Geographical Locations

Every region has its wood star. In the United States, for instance, it’s hard to beat the classics. Woods like red oak, hard maple, and walnut wood dominate the desk scene.

  • These North American woods are prized for their robustness, attractive grain patterns, and great workability. And when you’re sitting at a desk made from these species, you know you’ve got a piece of the homeland right there in your office.
  • Of course, this isn’t to say that these are your only choices. There’s a whole world of wood types out there. Cherry from Japan, Teak from Indonesia—the list goes on.

Looking for a computer desk made from an exotic tropical wood? It may look great, but find out the hard way that it not be so easy to source or work with that particular type of wood locally.

The Heat is On: Effects of Climate on Wood Choice

You might not think that your local climate has much to do with the desk you sit at. But you’d be surprised.

  • In areas where high humidity and temperatures are common, for example, choosing a wood that can withstand all that becomes critical. Woods with high density are typically more resistant to warping or cracking in response to temperature changes.
  • Conversely, if you’re living in a humid area, you’ll want a wood type that isn’t going to swell or shrink dramatically with changes in moisture.

In other words, it’s not just about what you like—it’s also about what works best in your particular climate.

Remember, location and climate are two factors that often get overlooked when choosing a desk. But paying attention to them can ensure you choose a desk that’s not just great, but also suited to your specific needs and conditions.

Digging Deeper: Other Factors in Choosing the Best Desktop Wood

Let’s put on our thinking caps. You’re about to become a desk whiz, uncovering the less obvious, but equally critical aspects of desk selection. It’s all about the finish and a surprising wildcard: allergies. Get ready to enhance your understanding of wood’s hidden layers.

Smooth Operators: Understanding Different Finishes

We’ve talked a lot about the different types of wood and the choice of wood you might consider for your desk. But let’s not forget about the final touch – the finish.

  • Different wood materials react differently to various finishes. From the classic look of natural wood veneers to the rugged charm of a rustic look, the finish can dramatically alter the desk’s appearance and functionality.
  • Consider this: a dark stain on walnut wood gives a sophisticated, professional vibe, while a clear finish on hard maple emphasizes its clean, light grain for a more modern look.

In my experience, a poorly chosen finish can be a desk’s downfall. I once finished a beautiful red oak desktop with a high-gloss varnish. Unfortunately, every fingerprint and speck of dust was on show for the world to see. It taught me a valuable lesson: always match the finish to your lifestyle and workspace needs.

Not to be Sniffed At: Allergies or Sensitivities to Certain Types of Wood

Here’s something that might not have crossed your mind: could your desk make you sneeze? Surprisingly, yes. Some people have allergies or sensitivities to certain types of wood. And you don’t want to be reaching for the tissues every time you sit down to work.

It may sound like a remote, weird scenario but it can happen. For example, the Cocobolo wood desk made famous in Better Call Saul can cause allergic reactions.

  • The best option for people with sensitivities may be a less allergenic wood like maple wood or a fully sealed finish that locks in potential irritants.
  • The right choice could mean the difference between a comfortable workspace and an allergic reaction. And who wouldn’t want to make the great choice for their health?

So remember, your desk isn’t just about looks or even durability. It’s also about how it fits into your life—and even your health. That’s why every detail, even the ones you might not consider at first, are worth your attention.

Related & Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions and find yourself lying awake at night, pondering the mysteries of desk composition and construction? (Hey, I won’t judge.) Here are clear, concise answers to some of the most commonly asked questions on the tip of every DIY enthusiast’s tongue.

Q: How thick should wood be for a desk top?

A: A good rule of thumb for desk tops is that they should be at least 3/4 inch thick. However, for larger desks or desks that will bear a lot of weight, you might want to opt for wood that is 1 to 1.5 inches thick.

Q: Is pine good for a desk top?

A: While pine is a more affordable option, it is also a softer wood and may not withstand heavy use over time as well as other wood types. If durability and long-term use are key considerations, other woods like oak wood or hard maple may be a better choice.

Q: What finish is best for a desk?

A: The best finish for a desk depends on the type of wood and the use of the desk. For instance if you’re using pine, topping it with laminate or something else would be a good idea to ensure durability and longevity. For harder woods, oil-based polyurethane is a common choice because it offers a hard, durable finish and brings out the beautiful grain pattern in the wood.

Q: Can I use plywood for a desk top?

A: Yes, you can use plywood for a desk top. It’s a cost-effective material that provides a smooth surface. However, it might not offer the same aesthetic appeal as solid wood, and it may not be as durable in the long run.

Q: What kind of wood are desks made of?

A: Desks can be made of a variety of different types of wood. Popular choices include hard maple, oak wood, cherry wood, and walnut wood due to their durability and aesthetic appeal.

Q: Is MDF good for a desk top?

A: Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) can be a good option for a desk top due to its smooth surface and consistent texture. However, it’s not as durable or resistant to wear and tear as solid wood, and it might not last as long.

Q: Is 18mm thick enough for a desk?

A: Yes, 18mm (which is approximately 0.7 inches) can be thick enough for a smaller desk or a desk that doesn’t need to bear much weight. However, for larger desks or desks that will hold a lot of weight, a thicker desktop might be needed.

Q: Is plywood strong enough for a desk?

A: Yes, plywood can be strong enough for a desk, especially if it’s high-quality, thick plywood. But it may not offer the same long-term durability and aesthetic appeal as solid wood.

Q: What is a comfortable desk top height?

A: The standard desk height is around 29 to 30 inches from the floor. However, the most comfortable height can vary depending on your own height and the type of chair you use.

Next Steps

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Rob Orr

Rob is a graduate of Florida State University and the founder and Senior Editor of HomeOfficeHacks.com, a website dedicated to helping people navigate the unique challenges of working from home. As a remote working veteran with over 10 years of experience, Rob has developed a deep understanding of the strategies and solutions that can help people thrive in this environment. He is a respected expert in the field, renowned for his clear, engaging, and informative content. An award-winning web designer, developer, and digital marketer, Rob is also the owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties. His dedication, resourcefulness, and creativity have earned him a reputation as a respected leader in the remote work and digital media communities, inspiring others through his work and passion for lifelong learning.

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