If you are looking to build something around your house out of wood, whether we are talking about decking, trim, furniture, or anything in between, using solid lumber is always a great option to consider.
With that being said, there are of course many different types of wood out there to choose from. Two very popular types of wood to consider are mahogany and redwood.
However, mahogany and redwood are quite different from one another, and right now we’re going to figure out what those differences are.
What Is Mahogany?
Mahogany is a tropical hardwood tree that is native to the Americas, especially to the warmer regions and is a deciduous tree, meaning it loses its leaves in the colder seasons. Although this tree is found mainly in the Americas, due to exportation, it can also be found in Oceania and Asia.
The mahogany tree has a very straight and tight grain, combined with a smooth texture, and relatively few voids, gaps, and knots. It has a very deep reddish-brown color, more red than brown, and it tends to darken over time.
Mahogany is a very durable, dense, and hard type of wood that also contains a good bit of resin. Is very resistant to rot, pests, fungus, and moisture, which does make it ideal for both indoor and outdoor purposes.
This is a popular choice for a variety of high-end applications, such as luxury furniture, doors, windows, cabinets, and more all making for great options to make out of mahogany. This is one of the more expensive types of wood out there.
What Is Redwood?
Redwoods, also known as giant redwoods or giant sequoias, are the largest trees in the world, with trunks as thick as 30’ and reaching heights over 250’. The redwood or sequoia is native to California, Oregon, Washington, and other areas in the USA. Keep in mind that the redwood is a coniferous tree, which means that it does not lose its needles in the cooler seasons, and yes, it is a softwood, not a hardwood like mahogany.
Redwood is not the hardest of woods around, so it does dent and scratch fairly easily, although it is fairly durable in the sense that it is resistant to rot, decay, fungus, pests, and moisture. Moreover, redwood is fairly lightweight, which makes it a popular choice to work with.
In terms of appearance, redwood has a pale to dark reddish-brown heartwood and cream-colored sapwood. This wood has a relatively fine texture and a straight grain, although it can contain some knots, voids, and imperfections. Redwood can be used for a number of building applications, and it does work well outside due to its moisture resistance. It’s also used for things like doors and cabinets.
Mahogany vs. Redwood: What Are the Differences?
Now that we know what both mahogany and Redwood are, let’s take a closer look at the differences between them.
Hardwood vs. Softwood
Perhaps the biggest difference between these two types of wood is that mahogany is a hardwood whereas redwood is a type of softwood. For more about the differences between softwood and hardwood, read this article.
Mahogany has a Janka hardness rating of roughly 900 lbf. On the other hand, redwood has a Janka hardness rating of just 420 lbf, so less than half that of mahogany. This means that redwood is much softer than mahogany and much more susceptible to scratching, denting, and damage from physical impact.
Weight and Density
Just like mahogany is much harder than redwood, it is also much denser and heavier. Mahogany comes in at roughly 900 kilograms per cubic meter, whereas redwood comes in at roughly 450 kilograms per cubic meter. Therefore, mahogany is just about twice as heavy and dense as redwood. Sure, redwood is therefore lighter in easier to work with, but it’s also not nearly as structurally sound or durable.
Pest and Moisture Resistance
Something that you probably know about mahogany is that it is an extremely rot-resistant and moisture-resistant type of wood, plus it’s also very resistant to fungus, pests, and other such problems caused by the elements. It is a great option to go with for outdoor use.
With that being said, due to the high tannin content contained in redwood, it is actually even better in terms of moisture, pest, and thalamus resistance. Therefore, if you are looking for the best type of wood to use for exterior purposes, redwood is the better option.
If you want a type of wood that is sustainable and eco-friendly, then mahogany is the better option go with, as it is far more sustainable. Redwood, on the other hand, is considered an endangered species and is highly protected, therefore less sustainable and less available.
Redwood and mahogany both look very nice, with mahogany having a dark reddish-brown color with a very rich hue. Redwood on the other hand is also reddish-brown in color, but a bit lighter, and it has a much more rustic and natural appearance. Mahogany is also richer and darker than redwood.
In terms of grain, redwood has a straight grain that can be smooth or slightly coarse, whereas mahogany has a straight, tight, and interlocked grain. Moreover, mahogany also has a finer texture than redwood. Most people would agree that mahogany is the far better-looking of the two.
Although the price will vary greatly depending on your location, one thing you can rest assured of is that mahogany is much more expensive than redwood.
When to Use Mahogany Wood
If you are looking to make some really beautiful high-end furniture, doors, windows, and cabinets, whether for indoor or outdoor use, and you are willing to pay a pretty penny, then mahogany is a fantastic choice to go with. Sure, it’s expensive, but also extremely durable and long-lasting, not to mention aesthetically pleasing.
When to Use Redwood
If you are looking to make furniture, decking, or anything similar, particularly for outdoor use, then redwood is the better option to go with. Although mahogany does fine outdoors, redwood does better. That said, redwood isn’t as durable, so it’s not the best for long-lasting durability or structural soundness, but it also isn’t quite as expensive.
Alternatives to Mahogany and Redwood
If you are looking for the hardest and most durable wood around, any kind of hickory, cherry wood, and ironwood is ideal. If you are looking for the most moisture-resistant woods out there, red cedar, oak, larch, chestnut, and Douglas fir are all ideal.
For more alternatives, read our article about wood similar to mahogany.
As you can see, both mahogany and Redwood are great options to consider, although they are very different from one another. Now that you know what the main differences between them are, you can make an informed choice between the two.