Best Wood For a Desk

Chances are you or someone you know works in an office daily. More than ever before, people are searching for ways to make their home offices more comfortable, especially since the pandemic has resulted in more work-from-home opportunities.

Or, maybe you’re commuting to an office, but have the opportunity to upgrade some of your furniture. Whatever the circumstance, there is no arguing that office furniture can impact not only the comfort level of the user but also his or her productivity.

Best wood for desk

The office desk is arguably one of the most important pieces of furniture in a home or corporate office. As is the case when purchasing furniture such as a couch or coffee table, there are endless options and models of desks to consider. Desks are most commonly purchased with a wood top versus glass, aluminum, or hard plastic.

If you’re in the market for a new, wood desk and aren’t sure where to start, let’s weigh all of the options.


Best wood material for desks

In short, the most common types of wood desks include those made out of oak wood, cherry wood, maple wood, walnut, birchwood, cedar, pinewood, elmwood, and powder-coated MDF. Which is the best for a desk space? We think oak wood takes the cake as the best, long-lasting material for desks across the board.

Although oak wood is a more expensive wood desk option, it also rates high in durability, accessibility, and DIY-friendliness. What more can you ask? Let’s break down all viable wood desk options so you can make the best decision for yourself.

Types of wood desks

What makes a wood material the “best”? We’re rating the following types of wood, based on a few standards of measurements including durability, accessibility, price, and DIY-friendliness.

Durability will help us learn how sturdy and long-lasting our desk can be.

Accessibility will help us decide if the wood is accessible enough to recommend.

The price range will help us determine if the wood desk fits the bill.

With DIYers on the rise, DIY-friendliness will tell us if our furniture is customizable in terms of paint, stain, or other design-oriented changes.

Oak Wood (Our #1 Choice!)

Oak is an excellent option for your next wood desk because it is one of the most durable woods you can purchase. Although it’s not the most inexpensive option, your return on investment (ROI) is sure to compete with other materials because with proper care, it has the potential to outlive its owners.

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It’s one of the most design-friendly wood options because it is easily sanded, stained, and finished. Additionally, its accessibility can’t be beaten as it is one of the most grown hardwood materials on the market. Its height increases by more than 24” per year. Pretty impressive!

Standards Oak Wood
Durability High
Accessibility High
Price Moderately High
DIY-friendly High

Cherry Wood

Cherry wood furniture is most known for being a more traditional and timeless option. Even some of the furniture in the White House is made up of cherry wood. Although it’s not quite as durable as oak wood, it can hold its own in long-term use.

It’s not a commonly DIY’d furniture material because owners usually love the stain and finish that cherry wood has to offer already. Newly purchased cherry wood furniture is known for its color deepening within the first 6 months of use. Some buyers consider this a con because it can change the look of a space over time. In terms of price, it is slightly more expensive than oak wood.

Here is another site to offer some more information regarding the color deepening and durability of cherry wood.

Standards Cherry Wood
Durability Moderately High
Accessibility Moderate
Price High
DIY-friendly Moderately Low

Maple Wood

Maple is one of the more affordable, but authentic, wood furniture types on the market. Although it’s not cheap, it is typically less expensive than oak. We’ll talk about the most affordable desk option a little further down the list, but maple wood is a good alternative.

There are two kinds of maple wood used for furnishings: soft and hard maple. Hard maple is proven to be a little more durable against daily wear, dings, and scratches. Soft maple is often a little less expensive but does show more of even the smallest imperfections. In terms of long-term durability, however, maple is here to stay as long it’s not used frequently in heavy-duty situations.

If you’re furnishing a student’s office space, a maple wood desk may be the way to go.

One of the biggest complaints with maple wood furniture is it can be tricky to work with when updating, flipping, or using general wood-working tools. It may not be the right furniture for all of you DIYers out there.

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Standards Maple Wood
Durability Moderate
Accessibility High
Price Moderate
DIY-friendly Low

Walnut Wood

As opposed to cherry wood, walnut wood gets lighter and lighter over time. Because of its more natural, lighter wood tones, walnut wood desks are often used to complement modern spaces. With that being said, its modern flair does make it a more expensive desk option.

Walnut wood desks are durable in terms of stability and lifespan, but they can dent and scratch without much effort. Walnut is a material that works well with hand and machine tools, making it a reasonable DIY project if needed.

Standards Walnut Wood
Durability Moderate
Accessibility Moderate
Price High
DIY-friendly Moderately High


Similar to walnut wood, birchwood is also considered a more modern furniture option. Because of versatility in color, birchwood can be a little trickier to locate, but it is accessible.

Birchwood is durable in terms of sturdiness and strength but isn’t weather or moisture resistant. It can warp and distress easily, making it unsuitable for certain humidity and moisture levels. If your choice comes down between birchwood and maple wood, check this more detailed comparison out.

Standards Birchwood
Durability Moderate
Accessibility Moderately Low
Price Moderately Low
DIY-friendly Moderately High


Cedarwood is most known for being highly durable, despite being a softer wood. It’s easier to work with than others because it is lighter weight and not as prone to dings and scratches. It also rates high in durability due to its weather and moisture resistance.

Cedar is a wood that is used easily and often with many outdoor projects including decks and furniture. The most common complaint in terms of appearance is that cedar will often fade and “grey” over years of use. If you’re looking for a rich wood color, this may not be the perfect option for you.

You might be thinking, “There has to be a catch somewhere, right?” Right. Cedar is one of the more expensive wood options to work with. This is true when building or shopping for a desk made of cedar.

Standards Cedarwood
Durability High
Accessibility Moderately High
Price High
DIY-friendly Moderately High


A few years ago, our Pinterest feeds became full of blog posts and images showing home-makers how to achieve the perfect farmhouse look in their homes. When the “every house can look like a farmhouse” movement began, pinewood became a staple in a lot of DIY projects.

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Pinewood ship lap

Arguably, the best part about pinewood is its low cost. It’s accessible, common, and a low-budget option for DIY furniture or flips. With lower cost comes lower quality, however. It is prone to dents and scratches, but is luckily very easy to work with when sanding, painting and repurposing.

Standards Pinewood
Durability Low
Accessibility High
Price Moderately Low
DIY-friendly Moderately High


Elmwood isn’t an extremely popular choice for wood desks these days. Elmwood offers a unique look with very high durability. It’s definitely on the expensive end of the spectrum, but it lacks the deep red and brown tones that wood lovers typically look for in more expensive furniture.

Elmwood is often a lighter brown color with more yellow tones than anything else. Occasionally, the wood can tend to have more grey tones as well.

Standards Elmwood
Durability High
Accessibility Moderate
Price High
DIY-friendly Moderate

Powder-coated MDF

MDF, or medium-density fiberboard, is a popular desk material due to its affordable options. MDF tends to be a lighter-weight option for furniture. It’s a good choice for students or other buyers who may not need an incredibly long-lasting, heavy-duty desk.

MDF is a simple enough material to use if you’re building your own products but isn’t always user-friendly when trying to flip or repurpose an existing piece of furniture.

Standards Powder-coated MDF
Durability Moderate
Accessibility High
Price Low
Design-friendly Moderately Low

Where to purchase wood desks

Now that we’ve covered some of the most popular wooden desk materials, let’s talk about where you can purchase these products. If you’re looking for your next DIY project, consider checking out your local thrift store to find a desk or table you can update for a fraction of the price of buying one new.

If you’re on the lookout for a fresh and new desk for your office space, here are a few incredible stores to check out. These stores offer various products depending on your budget and preferred material.

Whether you’re sourcing materials to build a desk, or on the market to purchase a brand new piece of furniture, happy shopping!