If you are looking for some really durable types of hardwood, then you have come to the right place. Whether you need to make interior or exterior furniture, today we want to compare two of the most durable types of wood around, ash and mahogany. We’re going to look at them side-by-side based on a wide variety of factors, with durability being just one of them.
Let’s figure out which is the best type of wood to use for your next woodworking project.
What Is Ash?
First, we have the ash tree, and today we are talking about the white ash tree. Yes, there are over half a dozen different species of ash out there, although white ash is generally the most popular one used for construction, and the most abundantly found in North America.
This is a hardwood deciduous tree that grows in eastern Canada and all throughout eastern North America. This tree is decently large, as it can reach 80’ in height. As for appearance, the ash tree features a regular and straight grain, and it may sometimes contain some figured boards or curls.
This tree has a medium-to-coarse texture, along with a good bit of knots. In terms of color, ash heartwood is medium brown, with the sapwood being beige to light brown. As for durability, this is a very hard type of wood that has a good bit of strength, although it’s not very resistant to pests, moisture, or rotting. Therefore, it’s a good option for indoor use, but not for outdoor use.
Ash is very easy to work with, as it bends easily with steam, it’s easy to nail, screw, and saw, and it takes on stain and paint quite well. This is also a very inexpensive type of hardwood commonly used for utility and utilitarian purposes, such as for making crates and boxes, flooring, millwork, baseball bats, and other turned objects.
What Is Mahogany?
We then have the mahogany tree, which is also a deciduous hardwood tree that is native to the Americas, and generally found in the warmer regions, although it can also be found in Asia and Oceania. Keep in mind that this is a tropical hardwood tree that is usually not found in colder areas of the world.
Mahogany has a very straight and tight grain, combined with a very deep reddish-brown color and a fairly fine texture. This is one of the denser, heavier, and harder types of wood on the market, so it looks very nice, but it’s also durable and resistant.
This wood is also a good option to use for outdoor purposes, as it resists the elements quite well. Mahogany is very expensive, although it is a great choice for high-end cabinets and dressers, windows, outdoor furniture, doors, and luxury applications of all sorts. Keep in mind that here we have chosen to talk about one of the most popular and durable types of mahogany, mountain mahogany.
Ash vs. Mahogany: What Are the Differences?
Now that we know what both ash and mahogany are, let’s figure out what makes the two different from each other. Once again, keep in mind that here we are focusing on two of the most common and popular types of both of these trees, which are white ash and mountain mahogany.
White ash has a hardness rating of 1,320 lbf on the Janka hardness scale, whereas mountain mahogany comes in at 3,200 lbf. This means that mountain mahogany is well over twice as hard as white ash, therefore making it much more resistant to physical impacts, denting, and scratching.
White ash features a density of roughly 42 lbs per cubic foot, whereas mountain mahogany comes in at roughly 69 lbs per cubic foot. Mountain mahogany is therefore significantly heavier and denser than white ash, therefore making it more durable and harder to work with.
Pest and Moisture Resistance
White ash is not known for being very pest or moisture-resistant at all and is not ideal for outdoor use. Mahogany in general, particularly mountain mahogany, is well known for being pest and moisture-resistant and is ideal for outdoor use.
Although there might be some types of mahogany that are slightly weaker than white ash, most types, particularly mountain mahogany, are generally going to be stronger. If you are looking for the more durable and stronger of these two types of wood, it is going to be mahogany.
Because it is so hard, dense, and strong overall, mahogany is extremely hard to work with, especially mountain mahogany, particularly when compared to white ash.
Appearance – Color and Grain
Mahogany tends to be more reddish-brown than ash, has a straighter and tighter grain, and a finer texture as well. Most people would say that mahogany is the better-looking of the two.
You can expect to pay up to $10 per board foot for ash, whereas mahogany can cost you $30 or more per board foot.
When To Use Ash?
If you need an inexpensive and decently durable type of wood for indoor purposes, ash is perfectly fine to use.
When to Use Mahogany?
If you need an extremely hard, durable, dense, resistant, and great-looking piece of wood that works really well for both indoor and outdoor purposes, mahogany is always a good option.
Alternatives to Ash and Mahogany
If you are not happy with ash or mahogany, maybe because you’d rather have some softwood, then options such as spruce, pine, and Douglas fir all make for great alternatives.
On the other hand, if you want to use mahogany but cannot for some reason, check our article about the best substitutes.
As you can tell, both ash and mahogany are fantastic options to consider. Ash is the better option for indoor purposes, whereas mahogany is the better choice for outdoor purposes, although both do excel in their own rights. Now that you know what all of the biggest differences between them are, you can make an informed decision between the two.