Mahogany vs. Narra: Which One to Use?

Mahogany vs. Narra: Which One to Use?

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If you are looking to build something out of wood, you have many choices to consider. As far as hardwood is concerned, two very good choices include mahogany and narra. Both mahogany and narra have characteristics that make them ideal for their own specific purposes. However, they are fairly different from each other.

Let’s take a closer look at these types of wood to see which one is best for specific purposes.

What Is Mahogany?

Mahogany is a type of tropical hardwood tree that is native to the warmer parts of the Americas. Keep in mind that this is a deciduous tree, which means that it does lose its leaves in the colder seasons. It can also be found in select parts of Asia and Oceania.

The mahogany tree has a very straight, tight, and interlocked grain combined with a smooth appearance. It has virtually no knots, voids, or gaps. It is a deep reddish-brown color, and it does darken over time. This wood is extremely dense and hard, combined with a good bit of resin, which leads to it being extremely resistant to rot, pests, and moisture. It is therefore good for both interior and exterior use.

Mahogany is often used for making luxury indoor and outdoor furniture, beautiful doors, and many other such purposes, such as dressers and cabinets. If you need wood that is strong and looks beautiful, mahogany is a great choice to consider.

What Is Narra?

Narra may also be called mukwa, padauk, Burmese rosewood, or Andaman redwood. This is a timber tree, a hardwood tree that is native to various parts of Africa and Asia. This is a hard and heavy type of wood that has a dense build.

This is a type of deciduous tree, so it has leaves, not needles. Moreover, the wood itself features good rot and decay resistance and is also fairly resistant to pests, mold, and fungus. Although it may dull some blades while cutting, it is also an easy wood to work with.

Narra has a sometimes wavy and interlocked grain that does look somewhat pleasing to the eye, and it has a relatively coarse texture. The wood itself is generally yellowish-reddish-brown in color. Narra wood is commonly used for furniture, cabinetry, veneer, plywood, boatbuilding, and smaller crafts or specialty items.

Mahogany vs. Narra: What Are the Differences?

Now that we know what both mahogany and narra wood are, let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two.

Hardness and Strength

One difference here is that mahogany is not quite as hard or strong as narra wood is. In terms of the Janka hardness scale, mahogany comes in at just under 900 lbf. On the other hand, narra wood has a Janka hardness rating of just over 1,250 lbf. This means that narra wood is about 30% harder than mahogany, so it is far less susceptible to denting, scratching, and physical damage in general. Narra is the stronger of the two kinds of wood.

Density and Weight

In terms of weight and density, mahogany is actually the heavier of these two types of wood. Mahogany comes in at roughly 850 to 900 kilograms per cubic meter, whereas narra wood comes in at roughly 650 kilograms per cubic meter. Therefore, although narra wood is lighter and less dense than mahogany, it is still harder and more durable in terms of its physical properties. Due to it being somewhat lightweight, it’s also not too difficult to work with.

Moisture and Pest Resistance

What can be said about both mahogany and narra wood is that they are resistant to pests, moisture, fungus, and more. Both of these types of wood are ideal for outdoor use. That said, narra is likely the more resistant of the two, especially when it comes to moisture.

Narra wood has a great grain pattern, plus the wood itself contains some substances that help to wick away water. Although both types of wood are totally fine for outdoor use, if you aren’t going to be treating them, narra is the better option to go with. That said, although narra is a bit more moisture-resistant, mahogany seems to be a bit more resistant to pests.

Appearance – Grain and Color

Mahogany has a very tight, smooth, and interlocked grain with a super smooth texture. It also has very few, if any, knots, holes, and voids. It features a relatively deep reddish-brown color. If you need wood that looks very pleasing to the eye, then mahogany is a fantastic one to keep in mind.

We then have narra wood, which also has an interlocked grain pattern, although it’s not quite as tight or straight as the grain of mahogany. Moreover, narra wood is also a bit lighter in color, as it leans more toward yellow hues.


For the most part, both of these types of wood are fairly easy to work with. That said, mahogany can be a bit more difficult to cut due to it being so hard. It can definitely dull blades. While narra will also dull blades, it’s not as bad as with mahogany. On the other hand, due to the grain and texture of mahogany, it tends to take on stain and paint better than narra wood.


Providing an indicative price for these types of wood is hard, as narra is not readily available. As far as mahogany is concerned, you can expect to spend up to roughly 15 dollars per board foot. Narra wood, on the other hand, depending on how available it is, may cost a bit more than mahogany, although there are times when it can cost up to twice as much, especially for very high-quality pieces.

When to Use Mahogany Wood?

If you are looking for some very rich and beautiful wood that is strong and durable, and able to resist the elements, then mahogany is a good choice, particularly for doors, windows, and high-end indoor furniture.

When to Use Narra Wood?

If you need wood that is super hard yet lightweight, looks decent, and is extremely resistant to the elements, and you are willing to pay a pretty penny for it, then narra is the way to go, especially for outdoor use.

Alternatives to Mahogany and Narra Wood

If you don’t need anything super durable, and you’d like to save a bit of money, then softwoods such as fir, pine, poplar, redwood, cedar, and larch are great options to consider.

If you want something similar to mahogany, check out this article for the best options.


There you have it, folks, everything you need to know about mahogany and narra wood to make an informed decision between the two.