Beech Wood Properties | Its Advantages and Disadvantages

What is Beech Wood?

Beech is very hard, strong, durable, and straight-grained wood. It has good strength properties so it is often used for making furniture and cabinetry. Beech wood is one of the hardest wood species available, and comes from deciduous plants. It has long been used to make railroad tracks.

Beech is native to Europe, Asia and North America and there are many types of beech such as European Beech, American Beech, Japanese Beech, and many more. These species have their own physical properties.

The height of their trees is about 100–130 ft (30–40 m). The sapwood is light yellow and the heartwood is red-white in color. Heartwood turns red-brown after steam treatment.

Beech Wood Properties

#Beech
Scientific Name:Fagus
Tree Size:100–130 ft (30–40 m) tall.
Wood Color:Pale cream to brown hue color.
Grain:Straight with uniform texture
Rot Resistance:Not rot resistance
Workability:Overall good workability
Odor:There is no odor.
Common Uses:Veneer, flooring, boatbuilding, railroad ties, musical instruments.
Availability:Easily Available and affordable. 

Beech Wood Uses

Beech wood is widely used for plywood, furniture, musical instruments, sports equipment, and model buildings. It can be used for all applications that are not exposed to moisture and water.

If you’re looking for a durable flooring that won’t scratch or dent easily, beech wood may be a great option for you. European beech has excellent Janka hardness so it is more resistant to scratches and dents.

Being a hardwood, beech is also used for manufacturing musical instruments. Such as Drums and Guitar bodies. Beech has a tone between those of Maple and Birch, both are the most popular drum woods.

Beech Wood Advantages and Disadvantages

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages you can get from using beech wood for furniture.

Advantages 

  1. Good Appearance: Beech has a straight grain with a fine, uniform texture that looks amazing after the finish.
  2. Workability: Due to its medium density and hardness, it holds the nail and screw very well. Its grain holds the polish and paint well and gives an excellent finish. It also has good steam bending so it is easily bent into shape.
  3. Hard and Tough: Beech wood is a very hard and tough wood, which is an excellent choice for furniture and flooring. It can withstand heavy loads. It is not prone to scratches and dents.
  4. Stable Hardwood: Beech wood is a stable wood for indoor use. Can cause problems if exposed to moisture.
  5. Inexpensive: Beech is the most inexpensive hardwoods available.
  6. Sustainable: European and American Beech is sustainable and it is not listed in the CITES Appendices.

Disadvantages

  1. Not for Exteriors: Beech wood is not naturally rot resistant. It begins to rot only a few years after exposure to soil and moisture. It is also susceptible to insect attack.
  2. Cracks & Warps: Cracks can occur in beech wood if the wood is not properly sealed. Because it absorbs moisture very fast. It begins to dry again after moisture, and it tends to bend, leaving many cracks and gaps in the joints of the wood. You can also use paint and polish to prevent moisture, this is the most efficient way.

Beech Wood Properties 

European Beech and American Beech are from the Beech family. The properties of these two kinds of wood are very close to each other. There are slight differences in their appearance and color. If we talk about Grain / Texture and Workability then there is no difference between them. 

Color / Appearance: The color of its sapwood is pale cream and heartwood is pink or brown or reddish-white. It changes its color over time and it becomes slightly dark-colored. After steam treatment, its color becomes a golden tone.

Janka Hardness: Beech Wood has sufficient hardness. If we talk about European Beech’s hardness is 1,450 lbf (6,460 N) and American Beech’s hardness is 1,300 lbf (5,780 N). So that is ideal for home furniture and exterior applications.

Workability: It can be glued, finished, and trimmed very well. Beech is known for steam-bending. They can be easily worked with tools and machines even after having a medium hardness.

Rot Resistance: It is better to have a rot resistance of any wood, But, beech does not have the properties of natural rot resistance. It can easily cause decay.

Availability: European Beech is widely available across Europe in bulk. American Beech also becomes available in the market at an affordable price in the domestic range.

Durability: The beech has sufficient hardness and good vorticity but that does not mean that it is good durable. Its wood can easily get insects and rot.

Steam Beech Wood Properties

Beech steaming is a process in which beech logs are cooked to enhance the wood appearance. After the steam process, Beech lumber takes on a distinctive pink color.

As we know that the sapwood of the wood is lighter in color than the heartwood. Which is made dark by staining. This work can be done in a much better way through Steam. The process of steaming can be different for different companies.

It has a straight grain with fine, therefore is also an improvement in its workability. We can say that after the steaming process beech wood can be used for flooring and plywood.

Types of Beech Wood

There are many true and false species in the family of beech, but here are the names of the top 9 species as follows. But the most popular beech are American and European Beech.

  1. American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) 
  2. European Beech (Fagus sylvatica)
  3. Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’)
  4. Japanese Beech (Fagus Crenata)
  5. Tri-Color Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea Tricolor’)
  6. Weeping Beech (Fagus sylvatica Pendula)
  7. Fern-Leaf Beech (Fagus sylvatica Asplenifolia)
  8. Oriental Beech (Fagus orientalis)
  9. Japanese Blue Beech (Fagus japonica)

FAQ’s About Beech Wood

Is Beech wood good for the outdoors?

Beech wood is not suitable for outdoor use for a long time. But it is highly durable if you use it for interior use or applications where there is no exposure to moisture. It starts to rot as soon as it comes in contact with moisture and also gets nasty black mildew in a short time.

Preparing any wood for outdoor use is not an easy job. There is an old method in which coating of turpentine oil and decks oil has to be done 2 to 3 times in a year.

But the new and easy method is that we can use a good quality epoxy. Which fills the open pores and provides UV protection.

Is Beech wood good for smoking meat?

meat-grill

Beech wood is good for smoking meat, as well as for fish, vegetables, nuts and cheese. It has a strong flavor like oak. Beech wood burns for a long time. It can be easily split and cut when it is completely dry.

Beech has a relatively high BTU, at 27.5. High BTU value means high heat. So it is an excellent choice for firewood. But for better results, it is important to have properly seasoned wood.

Is Beech wood hard or soft?

Beech wood is very hard and dense, that is why it is heavy. American Beech has a hardness rating of 1,300 lbf (5,782 N) and European Beech has a 1,450 lbf (6,460 N) which is relatively higher than most hardwoods.

So here are the Janka hardness ratings of other popular wood types compared to Beech to get an idea about how hard Beech wood is.

Wood speciesHardness value
Teak, golden2,330 lbf (10,400 N)
Hickory, Shagbark 1,820 lbf (8,100 N)
Beech, European 1,450 lbf (6,460 N)
Beech, American 1,300 lbf (5,780 N) 
Oak, Red Northern1,290 lbf (5,700 N)
Birch, Yellow 1,260 lbf (5,600 N)

Is Beech wood toxic?

Beech wood is non-toxic and naturally save. So it is not harmful to babies and pets. It can be used for lolly sticks, chopping boards and worktops in the kitchen. It is also widely used for making wooden toys.

How to identify Beech Tree?

The Beech tree can be identified by its leaves, bark, and grain. There are many trees in the beech family. Each species has its own properties and habits. So that they can be identified.

  1. Bark: When the beech tree is growing, its bark color is gray and smooth. But as the tree grows older bark becomes rougher with snaking vertical plates. cracked horizontally can be easily seen in the bark of a young beech tree.
  2. Leaf: The color of the Beech leaf is medium to dark, shiny green. They turn dark green in summer. The length of the leaf is 3 to 6 inches long.
  3. Height: The length of beech trees depends on their species. For example Chinese beech (F. Engleriana), about 20 meters, Japanese blue beech (F. japonica), up to 24 meters, and Mexican beech, or haya (F. Mexicana), the tree often 40 meters (130 feet) tall. 

Conclusion

Beech is good for indoor uses because it does not naturally have anti-rot properties. But due to its strength and hardness, it is the preferred wood for furniture and flooring.

Beech wood is a better option for your indoor applications. But each wood has some limitations so it is always better to know about the wood before choosing the wood.

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