Mahogany vs. Ebony: Which One to Use?

Mahogany vs. Ebony: Which One to Use?

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If you are planning to build something out of real wood, then you are definitely on the right track, but with that being said, there are of course many different types of lumber to use. Two extremely popular types of lumber to use around the house include mahogany and ebony.

That being said, mahogany and ebony are quite different from one another, which is what we are here to discuss today. Let’s determine whether you need one or the other for your next project.

What Is Mahogany?

First, we have mahogany, which is a deciduous type of tree that is native to the Americas, particularly to the warmer regions. Being deciduous simply means that it does lose its leaves during the winter. Do keep in mind that this is a tropical hardwood tree, and although it is native to the Americas, it can also be found in Oceania and Asia.

Mahogany usually features a very straight and tight grain, which may sometimes be interlocked, and it contains very few if not absolutely zero knots, voids, or gaps. It also has a very deep reddish-brown color that usually darkens as time goes on.

Mahogany is also extremely hard and dense, combined with a little bit of sap and resin. This means that mahogany wood is fairly resistant to damage, it’s durable, and it is also resistant to pests, fungus, moisture, and rotting.

Due to its hardness, density, and resistance, this wood is quite expensive, and it makes for a very popular choice for high-quality indoor and outdoor furniture, high-end windows and doors, decorative dressers and cabinets, and for any other such purposes where both appearance and durability are important.

What Is Ebony?

We then have ebony wood, which is another type of hardwood tree, one that is native to Mauritius, other parts of Africa close to Mauritius, Indonesia, Western Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.

Ebony is considered one of the most beautiful types of wood out there, as it has a jet-black color. It’s the only wood in the world that is so dark and black. In terms of the grain, it generally has a very straight and tight grain, combined with a uniform and fine texture.

It’s fairly smooth, it has good luster, and the grain is very straight, and due to the dark black color, you often can’t see the grain. This type of wood is also ideal for holding stain, polish, and paint. Ebony does, however, have some knots and gaps in it.

One thing that stands out about Ebony wood is that it is extremely hard and dense, more so than most other types of wood, which also means that it is very durable.

On that same note, ebony wood is also known for having great fungal, pest, and moisture resistance. Therefore, it is a high-quality type of hardwood that is fairly expensive and used for high-end applications, mainly for smaller pieces. Ebony is generally used for smaller decorative pieces where appearance is of paramount importance.

Mahogany vs. Ebony: What Are the Differences?

Now that we know what both mahogany and ebony are, let’s take a look at the major differences between them.


In terms of hardness, mahogany comes in at somewhere around 900 on the Janka hardness scale. On the other hand, ebony wood comes in at well over 3000, therefore making it over three times harder than mahogany. It is therefore also much more resistant to scratching, denting, and impact.

Weight and Density

In terms of weight and density, mahogany comes in at roughly 800 kilograms per cubic meter, whereas ebony comes in at somewhere around 955 kilograms per cubic meter. Ebony is the much heavier and denser of the two types of wood, which means that it is more durable and resistant to the elements, although also harder to work with.

Overall Strength and Durability

When it comes down to it, ebony is simply the far more durable, harder, and denser of the two kinds of wood. It’s going to require less maintenance over time and suffer less damage.

In a separate article, we dove deeper into ebony’s strength.

Pest and Moisture Resistance

Something else worth noting about ebony wood is that it is extremely resistant to pests, moisture, fungus, and rotting. It’s actually one of the more moisture and element-resistant types of wood out there, which makes it ideal for both outdoor and indoor use. Mahogany is also resistant to all of these things, although not quite as much as ebony. With that said, both of these woods are still suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

Appearance – Color and Grain

One of the biggest differences between these two types of wood is of course that ebony is black, whereas mahogany is reddish-brown. Ebony also tends to be just a little bit smoother than mahogany.


Ebony is very hard, dense, and heavy, and may also contain some knots, therefore making it a bit harder to work with than mahogany.


Mahogany will cost you somewhere around 15 dollars per board foot. Ebony, on the other hand, is one of the most expensive types of wood out there and may cost anywhere between 75 to 200 dollars per board foot.

When to Use Mahogany Wood?

Mahogany is a good option to go with if you need wood that will work well for both indoor and outdoor furniture, doors and windows, and other decorative pieces where aesthetics are of paramount importance. It’s considered to be a very high-quality and high-end type of wood, one that is far more affordable than ebony.

When to Use Ebony Wood?

Although ebony is much more moisture-resistant and durable than mahogany, it is quite rare and super expensive, so it’s generally not something you would use for large pieces of furniture, whether indoor or outdoor. That said, some people will use ebony for very high-end indoor furniture, although it is best used for smaller decorative pieces.

Alternatives to Mahogany and Ebony Wood

If both of these types of wood are too expensive for you, much cheaper types include white oak, alder, beech, poplar, and maple.

For more alternatives to mahogany, read this article.


Now that you know what the main differences between mahogany and bony are, you can make an informed decision between the two for your next big woodworking project.