When creating your home office, your desk is the most crucial piece of furniture you will need. But what type of wood is best for an office desk?
In this post, I’ll explore the best wood for desks so you can craft the perfect desk for your needs. Let’s dig in!
- The best wood for computer desks include birch, oak, pine, cherry, walnut, and teak woods.
- The best woods for a desk and other wood furniture are solid woods that are tough, durable, and can be stained to get the look you want.
Best Wood for Desk
Whether making a desk yourself or purchasing a premade desk, it’s good to be aware and choose the type of wood that will work best for your needs.
1. Birch Wood
Birch wood is an excellent choice for a desktop for several reasons. It is a reasonably inexpensive wood that is easy to find at your local home improvement store. It’s used for all kinds of countertops, including desktops.
It doesn’t have a prominent wood grain, which makes it a popular choice for those who enjoy a modern home decor style.
Birch is one of the most commonly used woods for desks because it is easy to work with, is medium-weight, and is one of the cheaper woods on my list.
In addition to being great for computer desk making, birch is also a great wood for building shelves and other projects.
2. Oak Wood
Oak wood is another popular choice to use when making a wooden desk. It has a timeless wood grain and is used for all types of wooden furniture. It was even used for the Oval Office desk!
Regarding cost, oak wood is in the middle of the price range. It also has a wide range of colors depending on the tree the lumber was harvested from.
For example, red oak wood traditionally has a pale beige color to its natural, unstained wood. But it can also have other shades that lean more rosey, red. Then you have white oak, which is a more light brown colored wood that can make a great computer desk.
In terms of durability and hardness, white oak is extremely strong, with a score of 1350 on the Janka hardness scale – making it one of the best woods for wooden desks.
Oak wood also stains very well, so if you want a dark wood desk in your office or study, it is possible with oak and a good quality stain. Oak is easy to work with and a great option to make a DIY computer desk.
Overall, if you want a quality desk that’s going to last for decades, it’s hard to go wrong with a wooden oak desk. It’s also one of the best woods for staining – so you can get the exact finish you want.
3. Pine Wood
Though pine wood is not hardwood, it is still an excellent choice for any wood desk. It is also one of the more cost-effective choices and easy to work with for all kinds of woodworking projects.
As long as the desk has good construction, you shouldn’t have problems working with pine wood. Yes, the wood may dent easier than the hardwood alternatives, but pine wood is an excellent solution for most home office desks.
You can stain or paint pine easily, which makes it an obvious choice for DIYers of all skill levels.
If you need a lightweight desk to move around, I recommend a pine wood desk.
4. Cherry Wood
Cherry wood is a hardwood species that can be used for modern and traditional woodworking projects including a wooden desk top. It has a naturally warm, reddish color that is begging to be enjoyed in your next project.
The biggest downside to cherry wood is the cost. It is a pretty expensive wood and can be hard to find, depending on what area you live in. Though pricey, the finished project is gorgeous and will stand the test of time.
A unique attribute of cherry wood is as it ages and is exposed to sunlight and air; its color will deepen and become a more rich red color as time passes. This color change doesn’t affect the durability of the wood.
In fact, cherry wood is rated 950 on the Janka hardness scale, making it one of the stronger wood species you can find.
5. Walnut Wood
Walnut is another hardwood that will stand the test of time. It’s incredibly durable and robust and comes in various beautiful natural brown shades.
Probably the most well-known variety of walnut is the black walnut wood, which is a gorgeous chocolate brown tone. Like Cherry wood, walnut wood comes with a hefty price tag, so keep that in mind when selecting your wooden desk or materials to create your own.
If cost is a priority for you, but you also want a hardwood like walnut for your wood desktop, a popular choice recently has been to purchase a premade wood desktop. You then use other materials to create the legs/ foundation of the computer desk. This idea is cost-effective and gives the desk a cool, modern vibe.
Building a hardwood desk with walnut is a great choice if you’re looking for a dark brown color for your wood surface.
6. Teak Wood
Teak wood is not only beautiful, but it is also strong, durable, and will last for a long time. Something to keep in mind, though, is…the price. Yep, we’ve got another expensive wood, but hear me out.
If you use a teak wood desk, it will probably outlive you!
It can also withstand being knocked around, or things dropped on it. It is a popular choice for doctor offices and teachers’ desks. Teak is tough wood, so if you need something with a bit of extra strength, it might be worth it to splurge for the teak.
Teak also doesn’t need to be sealed like most other woods. It has natural oils that will protect it, so it has less maintenance than other types of wood.
If you clean teak wood properly, your desk can last a lifetime.
7. Cedar Wood
Cedar, like pine, is a soft wood that, unfortunately, can dent easily. However, cedar is GORGEOUS (one of my favorites), and cedar will work beautifully for a project like a computer desk. You’ll need to be careful when moving the desk and ensure you don’t slam anything on the wood desktop.
Cedar is a bit more expensive than pine but less expensive than its hardwood counterparts, such as cherry and walnut.
Cedar wood is easy to work with and has unique coloring and a delicious smell. Yes, I said smell! Cedar has a warm, spicy smell that lasts for years.
If you like the slightly pink and brown color that cedar offers, this can be a great choice for your computer desk.
Cedar is also one of the best woods for planter boxes and raised gardens!
8. Maple Wood
Maple wood is another one of the most popular wood species for wood desks. It is easy to work with, takes on almost any stain, and has the versatility to look modern, traditional, and anywhere in between.
Maple is also durable and can withstand any drops or bumps that it might experience in a busy office setting.
The best part about maple? It is both inexpensive and readily available at most home improvement stores. Maple wood is a great choice for anyone who wants to make a durable computer desk on a budget.
Maple is also one of the best woods for a workbench – making it a versatile wood for many projects.
9. Ash Wood
If you want to build your own office computer desk that will last for decades and be aesthetically pleasing, then you might want to use ash wood for this fun project.
Ash wood is one of the “hardest” hardwood species (it’s even harder than oak wood.) It won’t dent or scratch over time and has been used in American furniture building for centuries.
Ash is a breeze to stain and will absorb even dark stains well. It’s also a lightweight wood type, which makes it a great choice for anyone who wants to make a movable desk for their home.
I’m sure you’re wondering about the price. Ash is one of the least expensive hardwoods available, and you can find it at pretty much any lumber warehouse store.
If you’re on a tight budget for building your DIY wood desktop, a surprising option is plywood. You may not think it would be a good choice, but you can make a beautiful desktop if you use Grade A or even Grade B plywood.
Plywood is significantly cheaper than many of the hardwood options in this list.
Grade A and B plywood is sanded smooth and has minimal imperfections, which makes it an excellent surface for the top of a desk.
If you choose to use plywood for a wooden desktop, you should use at least 3/4″ thick plywood. Anything thinner will probably bow and warp under the weight of your computer and other office supplies.
You can also whitewash plywood for a unique look for your computer desk that I really love. This is a cheap and affordable way to build your desk top, but keep in mind that it might not last quite as long as other woods.
11. Reclaimed Wood
Reclaimed wood has gained popularity in recent years for its sustainability, and if you use it to create a DIY project, you know you are getting something truly one-of-a-kind.
Reclaimed wood has been used previously, but for one reason or another, it has been taken apart and reused for another project. Some places reclaimed wood comes from are old barns, houses, fences, and flooring.
As long as the wood has no obvious defects like rot or damage, it will make a beautiful wood desk top.
Price will range quite a bit on reclaimed wood depending on where you are located, the type of wood, and the rarity of the piece you want to use. You can find reclaimed wood at lumber yards, garage sales, estate sales, and sometimes even on the side of the road. It’s like a treasure hunt to find the perfect piece for your DIY wood desktop.
What to Consider When Choosing Desktop Wood
Now that you know the types of wood you can use to create a desktop, here are a few things to consider when narrowing down which wood type you want to use.
Before making any DIY wood project, it’s important to set a budget. That way, you won’t end up spending more than you want to on materials. Price is always one of the first things I consider before purchasing materials for any of the DIY projects.
You should think about weight in a couple of different scenarios.
First, if you are picking up the materials on your own at the lumber store, you need to make sure you’re getting something that you can move on your own.
Second, you should consider how much the finished piece of furniture will weigh. You probably don’t want to create an elaborate desk that takes 3 or 4 people to move whenever you need to clean your office.
That said, weight often goes hand in hand with durability and strength – so you might want to opt for a wood type that’s on the heavier side if you want your computer desk to last.
The larger the piece of solid wood you purchase, the more it will cost. So bear that in mind when you price out your materials. You also want to ensure you don’t make a desk too large for your space.
You should also determine if you want to use the same wood for the desktop and the desk’s legs. As I mentioned earlier, a cost-effective design choice that many make is to use a solid wood desktop and other materials, such as metal, for the legs to save money.
As you will see, the natural wood color will vary significantly between different wood types. You should have a color in mind before you choose your wood to know if you will need to add an extra step and expense of staining the wood to the color of your liking.
Or maybe the color you want is the natural color of the wood you want. That’s great! Then you’ll need to seal it (unless it is a wood like teak that has its own natural protective oils.)
It goes without saying that if you are building a desk to hold your computer and other necessities for your office, you want that desk to be beautiful, sturdy, and strong enough to support all of your things.
Here are a few tips for shopping for wood:
- Ensure you are using a thick enough piece of wood for the desktop.
- If you are making a long desk, make sure your desk design includes center support so the desktop doesn’t bow or warp in the future.
- Check the wood before you purchase it for imperfections or defects.
Durability refers to how well the surface of the desk can withstand any bumps, dents, or drops that it may suffer from regular everyday life.
For example, if you are also planning on using your computer desk for other hobbies such as jewelry making or sewing, make sure you use a hardwood that can withstand the tools being dropped on the surface.
Most hardwood furniture will be durable enough for most people, however softer woods might have some trouble.
Want to learn how to build your own DIY computer desk? Check out the video below!
Again, I encourage you to check over all the materials you purchase for your woodworking projects before buying them.
You don’t want anything with knots or imperfections that will bother you down the road or, worse, hinder the sturdiness and lifespan of your project. This also rings true if you are purchasing a premade desk. Make sure that all the pieces are without defects.
How Thick Should Wood Be For a Desk?
Ideally, the wood should be at least 1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″ thick if you use a solid piece of wood. Unless you are making a very small desk, then you could use a thinner piece of wood.
Is 1″ Thick Enough For a Desk?
If you are making a small desk (under 40″ long), you could probably get away with using a 1″ thick piece of wood. As I mentioned when discussing plywood, you can use a 3/4″ piece of Grade A plywood for a wood and computer desk.
How Heavy Should a Desk Be?
There is no magical weight that a desk “should” weigh. However, a simple computer desk will weigh at least 50 lbs. That being said, there are executive-style desks that weigh around 350 lbs.
You should keep the desk weight in mind and not purchase or build something nearly impossible to move.
What Are Most Office Desks Made Of?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. Modern desks are made from a wide variety of materials, such as:
- Tempered Glass
No matter what wood species you choose for your DIY desk, it’s essential to do your research and make sure you are picking the right wood type for your specific needs.
The best wood types for a computer desk include many different solid wood options like white oak, red oak, and walnut. That said, some softwoods can also make a great desk top. Pine and cedar can be great options.
If you’re looking for a unique color desk, consider a teak computer desk or coating your wood with a dark stain.
There are tons of different options when it comes to finding the right wood for your desk – so most of it will come down to your own taste.
Miriam Ronne wears many hats, including but not limited to freelance writer, blogger, professional quilter, serial DIYer, and obsessed dog mom. She loves to teach beginners how to do all sorts of crafts and techniques. If she’s not writing her next blog post, she’s either sewing a new project or playing with her pup. You can find Miriam on her blog, Stitch Obsessed, or connect with her on Instagram.