What is Beech Wood? 5 Interesting Facts You Should Know

Beech is one of the most widely used woods throughout history. Although there has always been a certain rivalry with oak, due to its similarity in properties, beech wood has survived to this day as one of the most sustainable woods for the manufacture of all types of furniture.

But what is it that distinguishes beech from other types of wood? What are the best characteristics of beech wood and how can it be used? In this article we will find out what is beech wood, the properties, uses and advantages of this wood?

What is Beech Wood?

Known for its light tones and its excellent performance against all types of finishes, beech is a hard, heavy and leafy wood. Its hardness is such that it was formerly used in mining to make rails before cast iron was introduced. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was also highly appreciated in the field of cabinetmaking for the manufacture of furniture, floors, doors or even bowls.

The beech is a European species and grows in the form of stable forest stands. This tree can reach 40 meters in height and is a long-lived species, since it can live up to 300 years. In addition, it is a highly appreciated species for forestry, as it can grow in very diverse environments. 

Beech, known by the scientific name Fagus Sylvatica, the wood of this deciduous tree is semi-hard, and its color is pale cream, although it can vary from whitish to brown. Over time, natural beech wood acquires a certain reddish hue, although it still retains its whitish essence.

Types of beech

Two types of beech are mainly marketed:

  • European ( Fagus sylvatica )
  • American ( Fagus grandifolia ). 

In this article we will focus on the first type of beech.

In general terms, European beech has better properties: it is somewhat less dense, however, more resistant and with better elastic and mechanical properties. It is also slightly darker.

What is the color of Beech Wood?

Beech Wood is a light wood, even whitish, and very homogeneous. Natural beech wood takes on a certain reddish-yellow hue over time, but is still quite light. It is very common to subject it to a vaporizing process that darkens it reaching reddish-orange tones. It is what is known as vaporized beech wood, and it is curious that many people think that this is the natural color of beech.

Normally, its color is light, many times even reaching a whitish color. However, in its natural state it can have a reddish or yellow color, although without forgetting the white tone. The use of protective products or the steaming technique also contributes to darkening its color, even turning red.

The Beechwood when cut is white, then acquires a light reddish color, passing dark red with time, not differentiating the sapwood heartwood. its medullary rays, unevenly distributed, are very fine.

What is Beech Wood used for?

The furniture industry is still the largest area of ​​application for beech wood and is also used as a material for veneers and stairs in interior design. Beech wood has good heating qualities as firewood.

Beech is used for the frame and the base of an armchair. More dense than oak, this wood is appreciated for its many advantages, especially in cabinetmaking. We can use this wood in interior furniture, on platforms, doors, coatings, in the manufacture of tool handles, manufacture of musical instruments, toys, shoe lasts and sheet metal for decorative coatings, among others.

In industry, beech wood is also used more and more often as pallet wood and for boxes and in container construction, and truck loading areas are also lined with plywood panels made of beech wood.

Uses of Beech Wood:

  • Interior carpentry and joinery. Doors, platforms, friezes, moldings, stairs, coatings. 
  • Rustin furniture and modular furniture, from kitchens to bookcases
  • Indoor furniture (straw chairs, armchairs, sofas, shelves)
  • Panels, veneers and industrial plywood.
  • Various tools, such as handles, plows, carts.
  • Beech wood is very often used as veneer wood, and it is also often used to make plywood.
  • It is widely used in cabinet making and carpentry because of its many advantages.
  • Sporting goods, such as tennis rackets, baseball bats, or gym trellis construction in this wood.
  • Musical instruments
  • Toys and wooden construction for children

Characteristics Of Beech Wood

Characteristics Of Beech Wood
1.Color :The color of the solid beech wood is light and slightly pinkish. It naturally becomes more honey if exposed to sunlight .
2.Wood Fiber : Straight.
3.Grain : fine and uniform. The Beech wood has a radial grain, visible to the naked eye.
4.Density : Beech wood has an average density of 710 kg / m3 and is semi-hard. 
These three characteristics are what make it perfect for use in structures.
5.Hardness :  It is a semi-hard wood with 4 in the Monnin test
6.Durability : It rots easily in contact with moisture and is sensitive to attack by insects and fungi. 
It is essential to apply protective treatments.
7.Smell: Beech has no characteristic odor.
8.Dimensional Stability :
Volumetric shrinkage coefficient: 0.51%. 
Medium nervous wood.
Relationship between contractions: 2.05%. 
Tendency to attack.
9. Mechanical Properties :
Flexural strength: 1000 kg / cm²
Compressive strength: 580 kg / cm²
Parallel tensile strength: 1200 kg / cm²
Modulus of elasticity: 150,000 kg / m²
10.Workability : It is considered an easy wood to work with. 
It is also an excellent option for turning and bending, as it responds very well to bending under the action of steam.
Sawn: Easy.
Drying: Difficult and slow. 
Brushed: Easy.
Glued: Easy.
Nailed and Screwed : Without difficulties.
Finish: Easy, excellent with dyes.
11.Excellent impregnation :
It is one of the great properties of beech wood. 
This quality makes the appropriate product once treated or applied suitable even for uses that would be especially adverse, for example in humid environments and even in direct contact with water.

Advantages of Beech Wood

  • One of the biggest advantages of this wood is the excellent impregnation property. 
  • It is dense, hard and also very strong. Indeed, this tree has a density of 650 to 750 kg / m3, it is more solid than oak.
  • It is very easy to work with. 
  • Its high level of impregnation. 
  • Very solid wood : beech is well suited for furniture and interior fittings (for example for chairs, tables, doors, stairs).
  • The wood is durable and very strong
  • Resilient:  it is hard-wearing and stable .
  • Elastic : Steamed beech wood in particular is very flexible.
  • Good firewood : beech wood has a high calorific value and holds the heat well. As a result, it burns less quickly than, for example, spruce wood. Wood briquettes or pellets for grilling are also often made from beech wood.
  • Does not contain resin : therefore it does not produce sparks.

Disadvantages of Beech Wood

  • The wood is heavy
  • Tends to crack : To prevent cracks, you can oil wood  and maintain it regularly.
  • Slowly loses moisture : It is best to store beech wood for one to two years so that it can dry out slowly. So it is best suited as firewood.
  • Weather-resistant only with wood preservatives : If you treat beech wood with preservatives, pay attention to biodegradable ingredients.
  • The wood hardly darkens

Is beech wood good for furniture?

Beech has always been very popular in furnishings because it is clear, fine-grained, straight-grained and easy to sand. Its strength and bending capacity are particularly appreciated for the manufacture of chairs and sofas. 

On the other hand, it is sensitive to humidity and therefore cannot be used in bathrooms or outdoors without a specific treatment . It is also a “peeling” wood: the woods are steamed and “unrolled” in order to be transformed into sheets  intended for plating on less noble materials .

The high decorative properties of beech are used both in the production of furniture, for example, Viennese chairs are made of beech.

Furniture made of solid beech is characterized by its high wear resistance, reliability, strength and durability. That is why solid beech is used mainly for furniture that is intensively used by consumers.

Basically, solid beech is used for the production of chairs , benches, office and children’s furniture. Office and dining tables , beds, wardrobes are made of solid beech.

Furniture made of solid beech can be used at home, in a café or restaurant, as well as as country furniture. In any of the above premises, beech furniture will look stylish, respectable and graceful, having served for many years.

In short, beech wood has unmatched properties that make it the perfect wood, not only for use in structures, but also for use in all types of interior and exterior carpentry : furniture, carvings and turning, veneer and plywood, and even, pallets and coatings.

Reason to Choose Beech Wood as Furniture:
1. High decorative qualities: beautiful texture both in radial and tangential sections
2. High strength and density provide reliability and long service life of furniture made of this material
3. Quick to dry, does not crack
4. Easy to handle: pricks, saws, cuts, bends
5. Perfectly bleached and colored with the help of special solutions
6. Does not change the beautiful natural shade during varnishing

How to care for beech furniture?

Beech wood is the easiest to look after. It can be cleaned with a damp cloth such as a microfiber cloth or chamois leather. It should be wiped off immediately with a dry cloth. Oiled or waxed beech heartwood, on the other hand, is always cared for dry.

You can simply wipe down your beech furniture with a clean, dry soft cloth. Never clean your wooden furniture with the abrasive side of a sponge, or with fluffy rags; prefer microfiber cloths which clean, polish and leave no mark.

If the surface is dirty, wipe the entire surface with a well-wrung cloth, previously soaked in lukewarm, slightly soapy water (e.g. a few drops of dishwashing liquid in 1 liter of water) or use a wood cleaner (do not never use detergent).

Immediately wipe off any water marks or liquids spilled on the beech wood. You can also add flour or salt to absorb the liquid. Do not leave containers, vases or cups on your unfinished beech furniture, which could mark it.

Wood cleaning should always be done in the direction of the grain of the wood , with a soft cloth or sponge, without rubbing too vigorously.

Thorough cleaning of oiled or waxed wood: remove stains with a wood cleaner. Pour the cleaning product on the cloth and never directly on the wood. 

After wiping with a dry cloth, apply a thin layer of wood oil (or wax) with a damp cloth, preferably always using the same finishing oil (wax).Beech heartwood furniture can be lacquered, waxed or oiled.

Do you want to apply wax to protect your wood? You don’t know the step how to do it? I have an easy step by step tutorial to show you!

Beech cutting boards should be washed in soapy water, those who wish can apply bleach to it. They should not be left in water for a long time, nor put in the dishwasher. The best way to store them is to keep them vertical. It is recommended to have different cutting boards for bread and vegetables and for meat.

Do you want to bleach wood? If the answer is yes, here is an easy guide to help you bleach wood like a pro!

Is beech wood durable?

This wood is hard and heavy (0.6-0.9 density), it warps a lot and does not withstand the alternatives of dryness and humidity, cracking; it rots and is exposed to woodworm, being kept submerged for a long time or being exposed to heat.

The Beech is a hard wood, very resistant and durable if used exclusively for the interior design. In fact, the flexible beech wood panels , in addition to being used for the construction of chair and table structures, are used for the construction of stairs and parquet floors, but also for musical instruments and tools.

The hardness of beech wood , combined with resistance to bending, impact, compression and torsion, make it one of the most interesting woods from a mechanical point of view.

Want to bend wood in a easy way? This step by step tutorial shows you the perfect ways to do it!

Another important criterion: resistance to small animals! Your goal is most certainly to keep the beautiful staircase that you have taken care to choose for a long time. If it is absolutely necessary to treat your staircase against parasites and fungi, some species are more or less fragile and prone to parasites.

If this gives you any reassurance, know that beech is classified as “fairly resistant” to insects. We are of course talking about classic beech. However, don’t forget that our beech is steamed! And this little high temperature treatment makes it even more resistant to pests and fungi! A very big advantage for this species of wood!

Having problems with fungi or mold ? Here is an easy step by step tutorial to help you remove mold from wood!

Is beech wood considered a hardwood?

The essential characteristics of beech wood are its strength, hardness and ease of impregnation. It lends itself well to gluing, turning and bending. Not very durable wood, it is mainly used indoors, where it has multiple uses.

Here is the list with the top hardest woods in the world. Can you guess what the type of woods are in there?

Is beech wood Expensive ?

Beech wood is not as expensive as mahogany, because it has characteristics of lesser importance than the second: the cost varies according to the type and therefore the quality of the wood itself: the cost of one square meter starts from a minimum of three hundred euros, to reach a maximum of one thousand, for the finest beech trees.

The beech is significantly less expensive than oak, beech is a wood accessible to all budgets. It displays a price equivalent to that of light exotic wood. When choosing the essence for your staircase , also take aesthetics into account. It is a fairly inexpensive wood, especially in Europe, where it is very common.

Prices / availability: European beech is widely available throughout Europe and is very affordable in its natural range.

Is beech wood waterproof?

Since beech wood is not waterproof, it can only withstand the weather outdoors with a special surface treatment and is therefore rarely used. However, it is often used for bentwood technology in the furniture industry , e.g. for bistro chairs or bentwood chairs. 

So far, the focus has been on the light, outer parts of the trunk. Now the more expressive, darker heartwood for parquet comes into fashion, the so-called red heart of the beech comes in many attractive shades of red, dark brown, greenish, gray or purple.

Is beech wood toxic?

The leaves of the beech do not contain any toxins. The fruits, the beechnuts, are, however, slightly poisonous. Before eating, they must be roasted. Then the poison is broken down and the nuts can be used in the kitchen.

Allergies: When it comes to European beech, the most common reactions are irritation of the eyes, skin and respiration.

Is beech a good firewood?

Helpful TIP!
Because they burn very slowly, beech logs are well suited for the tiled stove. If possible, wood that burns quickly should not be placed in the tiled stove (such as spruce wood) because the heating output of the tiled stove is not optimal.

Those who heat with wood appreciate beech wood. It burns very slowly and hot: 1 cubic meter of dry beech firewood provides 2,100 kWh of thermal energy, one of the highest quantities of all domestic woods. The hot embers are ideal for tiled stoves or for grilling. It is relatively inexpensive, depending on the region.

Do you know the burning temperature of the beech wood or any other type of wood? You will see here why it is an important characteristic for grilling or for tiled stoves.

Beech wood is one of the most popular firewood’s, it burns very long and very quietly and has a very high calorific value. This also creates a very hot embers, which makes beech wood particularly suitable not only for grilling but also for tiled stoves. Hornbeam heats even better, but is usually harder to come by.

Beech wood is also the most important raw material for charcoal; if it is smoked over beech wood (sausages, ham, fish), a particularly spicy taste should be created.

What is beech wood similar to?

Beech wood resembles yellow birch, but with a red tint to the heartwood of a darker brown hue. It is a smooth-grained, uniformly textured material that is often speckled, hard, strong and heavy, with a fine pore structure.

Is beech wood valuable?

The beech is also a very valuable species for forestry, since it can grow in very diverse environments. Beech is also an ideal fuel and an important source of fiber for the paper industry. Less used in the raw state because of its very discreet grain its undeniable qualities of resistance and uses it in particular to guarantee the strength of its frames or solid beech furniture legs.

Difference between beech and oak?

It is possible to tell beech from oak from a distance. Indeed, they are distinguished by the appearance of their crown. The main branches of the beech stand quite straight while those of the oak are sinuous and spreading. The difference between beech and oak is the degree of their resistance to moisture. Beechwood is much less weatherproof compared to oak.