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Elm Wood Furniture (Uses, Grain & Quality)

Find out if elm wood furniture is a good choice, including what this material is, if it’s a hardwood, the wood grain pattern, quality, and different types of elm furniture to consider.
Room with elm wood table, chairs and pendant lightingDue to its gorgeous grain arrangement and strong physical attributes, elm wood has become one of the most desirable types of wood on the market. However, despite the fact that Elm wood originates from a hardwood tree, it is quite soft.

Elm wood furniture features a distinctive and eye-catching wood pattern. Elm wood’s appearance and durability make it an appealing choice for furniture and other interior elements that must bear a great deal of stress.

Because of its hybrid properties of hardwoods and softwoods, woodworkers claim that elm is ideal for any construction project. Is elm wood really suitable for woodworking tasks such as furniture-making? Read on to find out.

What Is Elm Wood?

Table made of rough cut wood slab with metal baseElm wood is highly prevalent in the northern hemisphere’s cooler climates. It is primarily prevalent in Europe, Asia, and North America, although it is also widespread in China and Mexico.

Elm wood is straightforwardly derived from the elm tree and is greatly valued for its visual attractiveness and longevity. Elm wood is used to make a variety of pieces of furniture and other wooden objects including chairs, coffins, and cabinets.

Moreover, elm has always been a favorite hardwood choice among homeowners and furniture builders. Elm trees were established in numerous communities during the 19th and 20th centuries because they provide a lot of shade.

Elm wood has heartwood tones ranging from light to moderate reddish-brown as well as sapwood that is slightly off-white. Elm wood has a distinctive development of spiral arrangement and interlocking wood grain as well as a rough and irregular texture. The interlocking grain has distinct swirls and waves that set it apart.

Is Elm A Hardwood? (Janka Rating)

Wooden nightstand with sockets Yes, elm is a hardwood. The Janka rating of elm wood is 830. Thus, it is considered a soft hardwood. This implies it is robust and durable, although it is softer than other hardwoods.

Elm’s interlocking grain increases its toughness and resistance to splitting. It is extremely durable and stress-resistant. Elm wood can be utilized for furniture and household materials that require shock absorption for these purposes.

Wood Graining of Elm

Coffee table with grain patternThe overlapping wood grain of elm wood defies classification. This form of grain develops when the wood grain fibers change orientation as the tree matures. As a result, the grain twists and swirls, giving it a strong and gorgeous appearance rather than being modest and reserved. 

Plus, its interlocking grain pattern makes it split-resistant, which also renders it a durable hardwood. However, due to the interlocking grain, power tools are recommended for handling it to prevent tearing out.

Elm Furniture Quality 

Wood side table with cushioned chairElm can be applied to most types of furniture styles, and the quality it provides is quite acceptable. It has strong compression and bending strength and is resistant to cracks and splits. Despite being softer than other hardwoods, elm wood is, without a doubt, tougher and heavier than numerous softwoods that we are using in our daily lives.

Furthermore, elm wood contains both hardwood and softwood qualities since it is a type of soft hardwood. It is durable and resistant to environmental influences. It steams and bends decently and can be shaped and turned as desired, making it ideal for producing furniture elements such as different types of tables or chair legs, seats, framing, and shelving.

Because of the interlocking grain composition, elm wood fibers expand in the other orientation as the tree matures. Generally, elm produces high-quality furniture pieces. The swirling interlocking grain design is quite lovely. It gives your furniture a bold, one-of-a-kind appearance.

Its interlocking grain pattern, on the contrary, makes it sometimes unyielding and stiff. As a result, cutting with hand tools is more laborious at times, and there is a risk of wood pulling out. When dealing with elm, power tools are advised for optimal outcomes and to eliminate wood tear outs.

Is Elm Good For Furniture? 

Wood table, floor lamp, rug, fireplace, television, and windowDefinitely! To prove it, here are some examples of the pieces of furniture that you can make with elm wood:




 Bathroom shelves

 Bed frames



 Cutting boards

 Decorative boards

 Furniture parts such as table legs or chair seats

 Musical instruments

 Baseball bats and hockey sticks

 Butcher blocks

Evidently, elm can be used for practically any furniture-making construction process. Elm indoor furniture is both elegant and long-lasting. They provide your house, business, or work environment with a distinct appeal. Elm is also a luxurious, odor-free, robust, and solid wood kind, which makes it ideal for indoor furniture.

Elm wood features an interlocking grain pattern that lends a distinct aesthetic to your indoor furniture while also making it stain-resistant and incredibly durable. Furthermore, the color of this wood ranges from reddish brown to a pale shade. 

Furthermore, elm wood’s color combines with among the most distinct types of wood grain patterns to create a gorgeous aesthetic that is ideal for indoor furnishings. Indeed, numerous furniture makers are attempting to replicate the aesthetic of elm wood because the genuine ones are so pricey.

The scarcity of the wood is the main factor for the high cost of indoor elm furniture. Elm wood can be difficult to find because it is prone to pest infestation, and it is difficult to find pieces of wood that are in perfect condition. Even if the elm furniture is positioned indoors, we strongly advise you to finish it properly with stain, paint, or clear coating.

If you employ elm wood for bathroom or kitchen furniture, for instance, the untreated wood tends to collect moisture quickly and decays or rots. To prolong the lifespan of elm wood furniture, it needs to be sealed and finished.

Ultimately, elm furniture’s durability is increased by thorough finishing. Also, elm wood accepts paints and stains beautifully. The process of finishing elm wood is quite easy, requiring minimal effort.

Is Elm a Great Choice for Outdoor Furniture? 

Outdoor patio with outdoor furniture, potted plants and windows

Elm wood is an excellent choice for indoor furniture, so we are expecting it at least to be a satisfactory option for outdoor furniture as well. But unfortunately, elm is not a decent candidate for outdoor furniture as it is susceptible to fungal and insect assaults, offers a small amount of rot resistance and requires a top-quality sealer before being placed outdoors.

Hence, if you really want to use elm wood for your outdoor furniture, you have to ensure that you will seal them carefully and thoroughly so that they can withstand the harsh elements of the environment. With extensive finishing, elm furniture can effectively endure external factors such as rainfall, UV radiation, and bug, insect, and mold assaults.

Elm is a delicate hardwood. Its porosity structure is made up of either straight or wavy braided bands. Environmental moisture can infiltrate elm wood fibers and harm the wood, causing it to rot. 

On a positive note, there are numerous strategies for safeguarding outdoor elm furniture from the weather. Since elm absorbs stain quite well, staining would be the greatest way to preserve elm outdoor furniture as it forms a wonderful protective layer that functions as a shield to the external elements.

Water and other elements will not be able to permeate the sealing barrier and cause harm to the wood. Elm does not readily split. It has a high level of shock absorption. When it comes into touch with water, it does not degrade quickly. In comparison to other woods, elm has excellent rot resistance. As a result, sealed elm is mostly employed in boat construction.

Furniture Made of Red Elm

Dining set with grey chairs, chandeliers and three-leg tableThe heartwood of red elm wood is light to moderate reddish-brown. Typically, the paler sapwood is highly visible. Red elm wood furniture’s grain is interlocked, which makes it particularly impervious to splitting. It also features a slightly gritty and irregular texture.

However, due to its susceptibility to insect infestation, red elm wood is sometimes regarded as non-durable. Its living trees are vulnerable to Dutch elm disease as well. It can be difficult to work with when building furniture, especially on quartersawn surfaces.

On the plus side, glues, dyes, and finishes adhere effectively to the red elm wood furniture surface. Red elm wood generally keeps nails and screws strong and reacts well to steam bending.

Quality of American Elm Type Furniture 

Open space layout with gray cabinets, island counter and chandelierThe American elm wood thrives in low, rich, mountainous soil, frequently near stream banks. The wood of this type of elm furniture is pale grayish-brown and sometimes pinkish-brown. It has a delicately wavy structure and is fine and straight-grained. It has visible development rings, similar to ash wood. It is hard, hefty, rigid, and shock-resistant.

Although difficult to weather, American elm furniture has outstanding steam bending capabilities and water resistance once dry. Meanwhile, splitting and working with American elm furniture using hand tools is tough. Thus, machine tools are more effective. Elm, however, provides a good surface for holding screws and nails.

Furniture from Chinese Elm  

Room with hardwood table, lounge chair, door and wall lightingBecause of its exceptional hardness, durability, and resilience to breaking, the Chinese elm is believed to be the greatest of all elm woods for cutting tool handles and related applications. The heartwood of Chinese elm is reddish-brown to pale tan or flesh-colored, whereas the sapwood is frequently off-white.

The most common applications for Chinese elm wood include furniture, cabinets, paneling, hardwood flooring, and specialized applications including longbow manufacturing and equipment handles. Yes, Chinese elm wood, although not that popular, produces high-quality furniture.

Elm Vs Oak 

Kitchen with oak table, countertop, exposed ceiling beams, and windowsAlthough oak trees are broader than elm trees, elm trees grow a lot taller. Elms possess non-invasive root structures and can withstand poor soils far better than oaks. But because oak trees are tougher and more long-lasting than elm trees, they are more frequently used in building materials like oak flooring, cabinets, and other furniture.

See more related content in our article about the different types of teak wood on this page.