Whitewood is a term for lumber that this light in color, soft and malleable, and great to work with.
Often used in the interior of a project, where it isn’t seen, such as framing and brackets, whitewood is surprisingly versatile and is likely to be found all over your home.
Part of the appeal of whitewood in decorative objects, is its ability to absorb stain and paint quickly.
Here’s the Answer to Whether Whitewood is Durable
Whitewood is a term for lumber from a variety of trees that is light or whitish in color. It is extremely durable, easy to find, and great for many different projects. It is often chosen for hidden and conceded framing. If properly maintained items made from whitewood should last a very long time.
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What Kind of Wood is Whitewood?
Whitewood comes from tulip trees which have the botanical name, liriodendron tulipifera. However, in most areas tulip trees are only one type of whitewood.
Most areas have whitewood that comes from various tree species as it is a broad term for wood that is light in color. Pine, balsam, and aspen are all examples of whitewood.
Is Whitewood a Soft or Hardwood?
Softwood refers to the wood from coniferous trees that grow quickly, such as evergreen. Conversely, hardwood comes from wide-leaved deciduous trees. Both hard and softwoods can be used for decorative and structural projects.
Whitewood is usually classified as softwood. Many of the softest woods available are considered whitewood. These include aspen, balsa, fir, and pine.
Softwood trees grow quickly, making their wood, especially the whitewood, quite affordable and readily available. With lower weight and density, softwoods are often used for interior moldings, the manufacturing of windows, and construction framing.
Are There Different Shades of Whitewood?
Some may ask if there are different shades of whitewood. There aren’t different shades per-say. Instead, consider whitewood in terms of material or tree. The wood from each type of tree will have a slightly different color and tone.
For example, the wood from an ash tree is nearly white, but woodgrains and other natural variances could range from grey to light brown.
Conversely, basswood is considered a creamy white, but the closer to the heartwood or center of the tree the wood comes from, the color can be pale or reddish-brown.
Pine actually has yellow tones and it’s heartwood can range from a straw-like yellow, to a deep yellow or tan.
Maple, like the others mentioned, is considered a lighter wood. Hard maple is white tinged with pink or reddish-brown, while soft maple is creamy to greyish white. Both can be reddish-brown near the heartwood.
Where can Whitewood be Used?
With its grained texture and pleasing appearance, whitewood can be used just about anywhere. It is a great choice for all kinds of furniture, is often used in cabinets, and is a top pick for picture frames and other decorative elements. Chairs, tables, and shelves are also often made from whitewood.
Whitewood is a great choice for outdoor projects, as long as the wood is treated and maintained properly, as it can easily rot without these precautions.
Cabinetmakers also consider whitewood a great choice for hidden and unseen elements like toe-kick framing, cleats, brackets, and webbing.
The versatility of whitewood comes from its durability, and of course its pale color.
A simple coat of varnish or stain can really bring out the beauty of whitewood — of all wood, really. The soft texture of whitewood means that stain and paint are absorbed quickly, making finishing projects a breeze. The light color of the wood is ideal for nearly all colors of paint and stain.
Does Whitewood Fade?
Whitewoods, like most wood, will fade over time. Sunlight, infrared light, and harmful UV rays can do substantial damage.
This usually happens somewhat slowly, and you may not notice until you move an area rug or a piece of furniture. However, on certain types of untreated wood, this change could be noticed in an afternoon.
Different types of wood will also discolor differently. Whitewoods, like maple, will lighten. However, darker and tropical woods often darken with UV exposure, as opposed to lighter.
The type of wood will also affect how much time it takes for the wood to fade or darken with exposure.
Varnish, lacquer, polyurethane, shellac, and wax will seal and protect wood. Be sure to look at the product and make sure it matches your intended use. You will likely want something different for an indoor project vs. outdoor.
Is It Easy to Maintain Whitewood?
The durable nature of whitewood means that this wood will last if properly cared for, and yes, this also includes regular cleaning.
Proper cleaning will not only keep the woodwork looking crisp and new, but it will also be easier to identify and rectify damage while it requires a small and manageable repair.
Whitewood is susceptible to rot, and one of the hardest parts of maintenance will be to stop this before it spreads. Removing the rotting wood is often (but not always) necessary.
Sometimes the rot can be sanded away. However, removing an area of wood or even an entire board/piece may be required.
Once a piece of wood has been sanded away or removed, the open space can be filled in with epoxy. Once the epoxy has hardened, it can be sanded and painted over.
If a larger area of wood, such as an entire board or piece must be removed, it should be replaced with a piece from the same or similar type of wood.
This is often preferred and can actually be easier than the epoxy method but depends on the original construction. It may be impossible or too cumbersome to do this with complex pieces of woodwork.
Wood that is merely scratched can instead be repaired with a quality wood furniture polish. That and some elbow grease should bring woodwork back to its original quality.
How to Clean Whitewood
Dusting is recommended weekly. This not only protects your wood but is also a great tip for a clean house and an asthma prevention necessity.
Besides dusting, it is important to polish your wood, if not every other week, then at least monthly. Everyone has a trick or hack to polish woodwork the best way. Often these are handed down through generations and use natural household products.
Other times, someone has found a commercial product that they love. These are individual preferences.
Here are some great recipes that we think work great, especially on white wood. Remember, don’t use too much water when applying your mixtures to wood.
- Mix 1 cup of white wine vinegar with 2 cups of warm water and wipe with a soft towel.
- Follow the above method but add essential oils, such as lavender or lemon.
- Use dishwashing soap on a damp rag.
- For clear finishes, mix equal parts of paint thinner and mild soap and apply with a sponge.
- Use a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, and hot water.
- Rub on a mixture of one part white vinegar to two parts olive oil.
While doing regular maintenance and cleaning, you may discover deposits of mildew. Cleaning this when you first notice it will prevent the mildew from turning into rot and requiring a more in-depth repair.
Some Interesting Facts About Whitewood
- Whitewood doesn’t come from a specific tree species. Instead, it is a broad term for wood that is light in color. Pine, balsam, and aspen are all examples of whitewood.
- Whitewood is inexpensive and readily available, making it a great choice for beginners and experts alike.
- Whitewood is easy to work with. It is soft yet durable.
- If the color of whitewood isn’t right for a project, it is easily paintable. And, unlike darker woods, light paint colors can be used with fewer paint or primer coats.
- When properly cared for, whitewood is a great choice for furniture and both indoor and outdoor projects.
- Whitewood will lighten with exposure to the sun.
- Whitewood isn’t always white. Some whitewoods have grey, yellow, or even red hints. It depends on the tree they come from.
- There are many homemade recipes to properly clean woods, including whitewoods.
- Proper maintenance ensures that furniture made from whitewood bills be strong and long-lasting.