Mahogany vs. Walnut: Which One to Use?

Mahogany vs. Walnut: Which One to Use?

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If you are planning on building anything around your home, solid wood is always a fantastic option to consider. With that being said, there are many different types of lumber out there. Two very popular types include mahogany and walnut.

However, these two types of wood are fairly different from each other, and today we want to figure out what those differences are. We’re going to examine both of these materials in great detail to figure out which one is best for your next big project. Let’s get to it and compare mahogany and walnut.

What Is Mahogany?

First, we have mahogany, which is a specific type of tropical hardwood tree that is usually found in warmer areas of the Americas. This is a deciduous tree, so it does lose its leaves during the colder times of the year. That said, the mahogany tree can also be found in various parts of Oceania and Asia, thanks to exportation over the years.

Mahogany wood features a very straight and tight grain, although it can sometimes be interlocked. This lumber generally does not have any gaps, voids, or knots. At the same time, it also features a fairly smooth texture, combined with a deep reddish-brown color that generally darkens over time.

Mahogany wood is tough and dense, and it also contains a good deal of natural oils and resin. Thanks to this, mahogany is extremely durable and resistant to various forms of physical damage. It’s also extremely resistant to moisture and rotting, as well as pests and fungus, making it a great option for both indoor and outdoor use.

That said, mahogany tends to be fairly expensive, which is generally because of its high level of durability as well as its beautiful aesthetics. For this reason, it’s generally reserved for higher-end applications, such as making very high-end windows and doors, luxury furniture, cabinets, and other pieces where durability and aesthetics are of importance.

What Is Walnut?

We then have the walnut tree, specifically the eastern black walnut tree. This type of tree loves well-drained soil combined with direct sunlight, and they do love to grow all throughout eastern Canada and the eastern United States. These trees can grow as tall as 150,’ with diameters of 8,’ so they are quite large. Keep in mind that walnut is a moderately-to-very hard type of hardwood.

Walnut wood tends to have a fairly tight and straight grain, although it can sometimes have some curves. Walnut wood may also have a few knots, gaps, and voids, although not too many of them. In terms of color, walnut is fairly deep brown, generally a very deep coffee-like or chocolate-like color.

What is interesting to note is that as far as North America is concerned, this is the only type of wood that naturally grows very dark. Unlike other types of wood that tend to darken over time, walnut will actually go lighter over time.

Moreover, walnut wood is fairly hard and dense, which means that it is very resistant to all sorts of physical damage such as scratching and denting. Due to its hardness and density, combined with a good deal of natural oils, it also tends to be very resistant to the elements, such as moisture, pests, and fungus. It is therefore a good option for both indoor and outdoor use.

Although it can be used for outdoor purposes, it is more often used indoors, such as when creating carvings, gun stocks, cabinets, furniture, flooring, wood veneers, and knickknacks. Due to all of these reasons, and because walnut trees take such a long time to grow, it is one of the more expensive types of domestic hardwood trees that can be found in North America.

Mahogany vs. Walnut: What Are the Differences?

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


The first difference here is that walnut is the harder of the two kinds of wood. When we look at the Janka hardness scale, you will see that mahogany comes in at roughly 900 lbf, which is very hard.

However, walnut comes in at 1010 lbf, therefore making it a bit harder than mahogany. Due to it being much harder than mahogany, walnut is more resistant to denting, scratching, and physical impacts.

Density and Weight

In terms of weight and density, mahogany wood comes in at between 50 and 55 lbs per cubic foot, depending on the exact tree. Now, what is interesting to note is that although walnut is harder than mahogany, it’s actually much lighter.

Walnut comes in at a maximum of 43 lbs per cubic foot. This makes it about ⅓  lighter than mahogany. Many people say that it is therefore easier to work with because it’s much easier to lift and maneuver. However, this lower density may negatively affect overall durability.


Another difference to consider here is that because walnut wood is a bit harder than mahogany, it’s also a bit more difficult to bend. Now, both of these types of wood bend fairly easily using steam bending techniques, although mahogany does bend a bit easier. Mahogany is therefore a bit easier to work on this front, as you can easily form it into various shapes.

Overall Strength

When it comes down to it, determining which of these two types of wood is stronger than the other is very difficult. On one hand, walnut is much more resistant to denting, scratching, and physical impacts, whereas mahogany is a bit more flexible, so it can handle more weight or bending pressure before it breaks. Therefore, both are very durable, and which of these two types of wood you choose really depends on what your requirements are.

Moisture and Pest Resistance

What can be said about both of these types of lumber is that they are very resistant to moisture, pests, and fungus. The reason for this is that both of these types of wood are relatively hard, dense, and also contain a good deal of natural oils.

The hardness, natural oils, and density of these two types of wood help to keep moisture out and pests at bay. That said, due to its slightly tighter grain structure with fewer knots and gaps, combined with its greater density and higher amount of natural oils, mahogany does tend to be the better option for outdoor use, as it is slightly more moisture and pest-resistant.


Due to the fact that mahogany wood is slightly softer than walnut, and because it has fewer gaps and voids, it tends to be a bit easier to work with than walnut. Walnut wood is going to make your saw blades dull pretty quickly, due to its hardness and propensity to have some knots in it. With that being said, due to their grain structures, both of these types of woods tend to take on paint and stain quite well.


Another difference to consider here is that mahogany is just slightly more eco-friendly and sustainable than walnut, although both are fairly sustainable.

Appearance – Color and Grain

One of the main differences between mahogany and walnut is their appearance. On one hand, we have mahogany, which almost always has a straight grain, although it may sometimes be interlocked. The grain is also extremely smooth, and the color is a reddish brown that tends to darken over time.

Mahogany also doesn’t have many knots or visible imperfections. On the other hand, walnut may have a wavy grain that is slightly coarser than mahogany, and it’s also much darker brown in color, and as opposed to mahogany which tends to darken over time, walnut tends to lighten over time. Both are really beautiful-looking types of wood, and it really comes down to what your personal preference is.


The other major difference to consider here is the cost, with mahogany often slightly cheaper than walnut. Mahogany is going to cost you anywhere between $7 and $15 per board foot, whereas walnut can cost up to $25 per board foot.

When to Use Mahogany Wood?

When it comes down to it, these two types of wood are fairly similar. With that being said, because mahogany is a bit more resistant to moisture, it does make for the better choice when it comes to outdoor furniture and other outdoor applications.

Moreover, many people do prefer the appearance of mahogany, especially that deep reddish-brown color, which is why it is a popular option for high-end furniture, cabinets, doors, and windows.

If you need wood that is fairly resilient to the elements, quite durable, and also looks very beautiful, then mahogany is the way to go. It’s also the better option to go with if you need something that is cost-effective.

When to Use Walnut Wood?

On the other hand, walnut is a much better option when it comes to indoor use. In other words, due to it not being quite as moisture-resistant as mahogany, it’s not quite as good for outdoor applications. With that being said, walnut is harder and lighter than mahogany, which means that it’s easier to work with, and also tends to make for a better option for indoor furniture.

If you need furniture and other wooden constructions that are resilient and resistant to impact, denting, and scratching, then walnut is the better option. Moreover, if you like the much darker brown appearance of walnut, then it does make for a better choice when compared to mahogany.

Alternatives to Mahogany and Walnut Wood

What needs to be said here is that both mahogany and walnut are fairly high-end types of wood that come in at fairly high prices.  If you are looking for something a bit more affordable, then types of lumber such as maple, white oak, beech, alder, and poplar are much better options to go with.

For more alternatives, you might also want to read our articles about wood similar to mahogany and walnut alternatives.


As you can see, both mahogany and walnut are fantastic options to consider, and in the grand scheme of things, they are fairly similar. That said, they do have a few big differences between them, which is where your decision comes and can play.