There are lots of types of wood and wood-derived manufactured materials used for furniture nowadays. Acacia stands tall above many other woods, however, in terms of both hardness and various other characteristics.
Acacia wood is one of the hardest, as well as most gorgeous, durable, and long-lasting types of hardwood for both indoor and outdoor furniture.
Below we’ll explore exactly what makes this wood so suitable for your furniture needs, what are its exact characteristics, as well as any potential drawbacks you should also be aware of.
What Is Acacia Wood?
Acacia – also known as wattles, thorntree, or mimosa – is a tree genus of the Fabaceae family. This genus includes over 1,350 different tree species, many of which can be found all across the globe.
Most acacia trees are native to Australia but many can also be found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and both North and South America.
Additionally, the different acacia species have some variations in terms of hardness or other characteristics but those aren’t all that major overall.
How Hard Is Acacia Wood?
Depending on the exact species, Acacia trees have a hardness of 1,170 to 2,345 pounds on the Janka scale or somewhere between 5,200 and 10,400 Newtons on the same scale.
For those wondering, the Janka scale measures wood hardness by the amount of pounds-force or Newtons that are needed to press a 0.444 inch (or 11.28 mm) wide steel ball halfway into a piece of wood if the wood has been dried to 12% moisture content.
There are other hardness scales out there too, of course, but on all of them as well as on the Janka scale, acacia measures quite highly.
So, is acacia a hardwood? Yes, it absolutely is. This isn’t why it has a high hardness, however.
All 1,350+ acacia species are identified as dicot or dicotyledon species, i.e. as “hardwoods”. Dicots are trees and plants in which each seed is covered by two embryonic leaves or cotyledons.
In contrast, “softwoods” are angiosperm tree species – plants with unenclosed seeds such as conifers.
So, the distinction between hardwoods and softwoods isn’t technically in their hardness – it’s in the hardness of their seeds. In fact, there are many softwood species that are harder than many hardwoods.
Overall, however, most hardwoods are harder than most softwoods. And many acacia trees certainly follow that trend as they have quite impressive hardness.
It is worth noting that not all acacia wood is all that hard – some of the “softer” species that fall near the 1,200-to-1,500-pound-force range can be considered “moderately hard”. These also tend to be the types of acacia that are sold commercially the most.
This means that there are plenty of harder natural woods you can find out there if that’s what you’re looking for. It also means that if you’re looking for a particularly hard type of acacia, you need to be conscious of exactly what type you’re buying.
How Hard Are the Different Types of Acacia Wood?
Our answer here may not be to everyone’s liking but the exact hardness of a particular type or species of wood varies and isn’t a fixed value. That’s because wood’s hardness depends on many factors such as soil conditions, moisture, etc.
That’s why, if you’re looking for a particularly hard type of acacia for flooring or something similar, it’s important to just look at the hardness listed by the seller.
Fortunately, even more “moderately hard” acacia wood is perfect for furniture, so, the harder types are usually only used for flooring and other construction elements.
Still, to give you some pointers, large-leaf acacia species are usually softer and have hardness ratings of around 1,700-pound-force. Small-leaf acacia species, on the other hand, tend to be harder and go up to 2,200 or 2,300.
What Does Acacia Wood Look Like?
Acacia wood of all types has a very pronounced and uneven grain which can be seen both as a positive and a negative, depending on how you look at it.
On one hand, the uneven grain means that acacia color and appearance are relatively irregular which isn’t to everyone’s liking.
On the other hand, this makes each acacia wood furniture very unique, distinctive, and beautiful. The wood itself is also very smooth which is a plus.
The colors themselves are typically quite deep and range between warm browns and rich auburn with a bit of bronze spread through it.
Another big benefit of acacia is that it holds stains very well.
So, while no two pieces of acacia look exactly alike, they are almost always gorgeous regardless and they can be stained into darker pieces with ease.
Acacia Wood Durability
While wood hardness is often talked about, the durability of acacia is arguably an even greater asset. This type of wood is so infamous as incredibly dense and durable that it was the preferred type of wood of the British Roayl Navy for centuries.
At standard 12% moisture content, white acacia has a density of 770 kg/m3 which is significantly greater than that of maple (650 kg/m3), cedar (570), chestnut (560), spruce (450), walnut (640), and many other types of wood.
So, is acacia wood good for flooring or cutting boards with such density and durability? Yes – all types of acacia are more than durable enough for both flooring and furniture, especially if they are of the harder varieties.
All this means that, with the right treatment and maintenance, acacia wood furniture or flooring can be durable enough to last not just decades of generations.
What’s more, unlike many other types of wood that start showing wear and tear relatively quickly after the first decade or so, acacia wood is durable enough to not only last but to maintain its gorgeous look for a very long time.
Acacia Wood Water Resistance
The next key question to answer is “Is acacia wood waterproof?”
Given that we just mentioned that the British Royal Navy used acacia for the hulls of their ships for centuries, the answer here is quite clear.
Still, water resistance isn’t quite that simple, and being waterproof and being water-resistant isn’t the same thing. Yes, acacia wood is resistant to water – in fact, it’s antimicrobial too.
This means that acacia doesn’t need nearly as much treatment as other types of wood in order to handle standard moisture and fungi exposure.
However, acacia wood isn’t waterproof. So, if you were wondering “Is acacia wood good for outdoor furniture?” the answer here would be – yes, but you’d have to waterproof the wood yourself.
This is quite normal, of course – waterproofing is important for any type of wood that would be exposed to outdoor weather conditions.
Waterproofing is usually done with natural oils, stain/sealers, or synthetic sealers such as varnish, lacquer, polyurethane, or others.
So, while acacia wood is more water-resistant than most other types of wood and while you’ll almost never have to worry about fungus with it, standard waterproofing is still needed.
What Is The Price Of Acacia Furniture?
We can’t give an exact number as every furniture piece, every seller, and every situation is different. However, it’s safe to say that acacia furniture is more expensive than most others.
This is usually justified by this wood’s longevity and hardiness, however, it is frustrating for those with more modest means.
Additionally, it’s also frustrating to many people that the average price of acacia is so high as this wood is quite abundant across the world and is relatively easy and sustainable to grow.
Still, as most acacia trees grow in Australia, the transportation costs also count into the price and bump it higher.
Overall, however, if you want a long-lasting furniture piece, acacia is usually a worthwhile pick.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Acacia Wood
As with any other type of wood, acacia isn’t perfect. So, while it has many of the qualities we seek in good furniture wood, there are some things you should keep in mind.
- Acacia has an excellent hardness of anywhere between 1,200 to 2,400 pound-force by the Janka scale. This variation also means that you can always find acacia wood that’s exactly as hard as you want it to be.
- This wood also has fantastic durability because of its impressive density. This means that an acacia wood furniture piece can reliably last much longer than furniture made from most other types of wood.
- Acacia is also antimicrobial and water resistant. So, while waterproofing is still important if you want outdoor furniture made from acacia, this type of wood is significantly better for that than most others.
- The increased density and durability of acacia wood also make it more scratch-resistant than most other types of wood.
- Acacia has gorgeous and varying color patterns that are very difficult not to like.
- This type of wood holds stains very well too which is great if you want your multiple acacia furniture pieces to have a more uniform look.
- While the patterns of acacia are beautiful, their variation means that every acacia piece looks different which not everyone appreciates.
- Like other types of wood, acacia is quite sensitive to temperature changes which isn’t always great for outdoor use.
- Because of all its great pros, acacia wood has a pretty hefty average price tag compared to most other types of furniture wood. This is generally worth it in the long run but isn’t suitable for everyone’s budget.
Is Acacia Wood Good For Furniture?
Yes, very much so. Acacia wood is somewhat pricier than other types of wood used for furniture and flooring but that bump in the price range is almost always worth it for this wood’s durability, longevity, and looks.
With an above-average hardness and amazing durability, acacia wood is an excellent choice for all types of indoor furniture such as dining tables or coffee tables, dressers or desks, a set of chairs or a bed frame, and all other types of indoor furniture.
An acacia wood table isn’t just a great-looking furniture piece, but it can also last for many more generations than a similar feature made of most other types of wood. The same applies to outdoor furniture pieces made of acacia too.
So, while the price tag isn’t always up to everyone’s liking, it’s usually worth it if you can afford it and you want something truly substantial.