Mahogany vs. Cherry: Which One to Use?

Mahogany vs. Cherry: Which One to Use?

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If you want to make some high-quality doors, windows, furniture, cabinets, or anything in between, there is rarely a better choice than real lumber or solid wood. There are plenty of types of wood out there to choose from, with both mahogany and cherry being quite common.

Although both are popular, they are quite different, and those differences are what we are here to talk about today. Let’s figure out if mahogany or cherry wood is what you need for your next project.

What Is Mahogany?

Mahogany is a type of hardwood deciduous tree, which means that it does lose its leaves in the colder seasons. Technically speaking, this is a type of tropical hardwood tree, as it is found in the warmer regions across the Americas, mainly in Central and South America, although also in some of the warmer areas of the United States. Due to exportation, it can also be found in Oceania and Asia.

Mahogany wood is very beautiful and often cherished for its aesthetics. It features a very tight and straight grain pattern, although it may sometimes be interlocked. It also features virtually no defects, knots, gaps, or voids, along with a very smooth and fine texture. Mahogany features a dark and deep reddish-brown color that tends to darken as it matures.

In terms of its qualities, mahogany is quite hard and dense. It also contains a good bit of natural oils and resins, meaning this wood is quite durable and resistant to physical damage, while also being resistant to moisture, pests, fungus, and rotting.

Mahogany wood is therefore a prime choice for both indoor and outdoor purposes, and although it can be quite costly, is a popular choice for high-end or luxury furniture, doors, windows, shelves, cabinets, dressers, and other pieces where both durability and looks are called for.

What Is Cherry?

We then have the cherry tree, which produces what we know as cherry wood, and yes, these are actual fruit-bearing cherry trees that we are talking about here. The cherry tree can be found throughout the USA and Canada, particularly in the Northeastern parts, mainly in New York, West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. This is a deciduous tree, just like mahogany, and it is also a hardwood, one of the tougher hardwoods out there.

In terms of its appearance, cherry wood features a fairly straight and somewhat tight grain, usually with a uniform texture that is fairly fine and smooth, although some specimens may have a slightly wavy grain. Cherry wood tends to be a very rich reddish-brown color, usually browner than red, and most people would agree that it looks very nice.

Cherry wood is very hard, yet not overly dense or heavy, and not very stiff either, so it is fairly flexible and has good bending properties. Its overall strength is moderate to high, with a good level of overall durability. Cherry wood does contain a lot of natural oils, more than most other kinds of wood, which leads to it having excellent mold, fungus, pest, moisture, and rot resistance. It is therefore a great option for outdoor applications.

Cherry wood is moderately priced, yet makes for a durable, easy to work with, and good-looking wood that may suit many projects. Cherry wood is often used for high-end cabinets, fine furniture, boat interiors, musical instruments, millwork and molding, flooring, and decorative pieces.

Mahogany vs. Cherry: What Are the Differences?

Now that we know what both mahogany and cherry wood are, let’s figure out what makes them different from each other.

Hardness Rating

Mahogany comes in at between 850 lbf and 900 lbf on the Janka hardness scale, whereas cherry comes in at between 900 and 1,000 lbf, depending on the exact specimen. This means that cherry wood is slightly harder than mahogany, and therefore a little more resistant to impact, scratching, and denting.


What is surprising is that although cherry wood is a bit harder than mahogany, it is also significantly lighter, coming in at roughly 34 lbs per cubic foot, with mahogany coming in at up to 56 lbs per cubic foot. Mahogany is almost twice as heavy and dense, which does allow for a lot of strength and beneficial properties, although it is heavy and can be hard to work with due to this factor.

Overall Strength

When it comes down to it, mahogany is the slightly stronger of the two. It is harder, yet also not quite as dense, and also more flexible than mahogany. This means that it has greater overall impact resistance and is just a bit more durable overall.

Pest and Moisture Resistant

In terms of moisture resistance, cherry wood is the better option. Due to it being harder and having more natural oils and resins than mahogany, it resists moisture and rotting much better, and is therefore the better wood for outdoor use. On that note, both types of wood are also fairly pest resistant, with cherry more so than mahogany.

Appearance – Grain and Color

Most people would agree that mahogany is the better-looking of the two. Mahogany features a vibrant and fairly dark reddish-brown color, with it being more red than brown. Its tight, straight, and somewhat interlocked grain, combined with a complete lack of knots and imperfections, make it exceptionally appealing to the eye. Cherry wood isn’t quite as smooth or straight-grained, and while it is also reddish-brown, it leans more towards brown. Cherry wood is in no way ugly, but most people prefer mahogany.


Mahogany is not overly difficult to work with, but it is very heavy, which can be a problem. It’s also hard, so it dulls blades easily. Additionally, it is stiff, so you can’t really bend it. Although cherry is hard and will dull blades too, it’s often considered much easier to work with, particularly when it comes to cutting, nailing, screwing, and painting, plus it’s flexible, so it does bend to a certain degree.


Mahogany is generally the more expensive of the two, coming in at around $15 per board foot, at least, with cherry coming in at between $4 and $8 per board foot.

When to Use Mahogany Wood?

If you need something that looks beautiful, especially for indoor use, then mahogany is the way to go. It just looks much better and higher-end than cherry wood. It also does fine for outdoor purposes, particularly furniture. That said, it is expensive.

When to Use Cherry Wood?

If you are going for durability, moisture resistance, and workability over aesthetics, then cherry wood is the way to go. If you need affordable floors, furniture, cabinets, and more, and you need wood that works well indoors and out, then cherry is a good option.

Alternatives to Mahogany and Cherry Wood

If you are looking for beautiful hardwood that is durable, but you don’t want to pay a fortune for it, then maple, poplar, alder, beech, ash, and white oak all make great options. However, if you want maximum durability, then ebony, walnut, pearwood, and ironwood are the best options.

For more ideas, read our article about mahogany substitutes.


Now that you know what makes cherry and mahogany different, you can make a highly informed choice between the two. Both are ideal types of wood to use, as long as they are used for the right purposes.