What Is Acacia Wood?
What is Acacia wood? It’s a common questions we’re asked because we make custom furniture and cabinetry for our clients. If your in the market for high end wood products then you’ve probably heard of Acacia wood. But you may not know that much about it. This article will try to fix that. We’ll be discussing Acacia wood, what it is, how it’s used, what it costs, the pros and cons, and other useful info.
Acacia wood comes from the Acacia trees and shrubs that are native to Australia. They’re also found in Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and parts of the Americas. There are more than a thousand different types of Acacia tree that are all similar but do have some differences. The trees have a hard wood that’s great for making long lasting furniture or other home goods. And they have a beautiful grain that holds stain well so it looks great either stained or natural. Hard woods like Acacia are fantastic for furniture and large panels because they not only look great but are also very durable.
Acacia is a broad term, each of the over a thousand different acacia trees each have their own name like Mimosa, Thorn Tree, wattle and Babul. When you build furniture it’s important to not only look at Acacia trees but also the specific tree because wood density and grain patterns will vary a bit from tree to tree.
The majority of acacia wood imported into the United States comes from two species: Acacia Koa, also known as Hawaiian Koa, and Acacia Blackwood. Although other types are available through wood dealers.
There are over 1000 species of Acacia tree found throughout the world. This example is from Australia. It’s hardwood and beautiful grain are ideal for furniture making.
What Is Acacia Wood Used For?
Acacia timber has been used by different cultures for centuries to produce a variety of products. And it’s still widely used today for all sorts of purposes.
- Acacia wood is made into bowls and other kitchen products.
- Canoes and other boats are commonly made out of Acacia because it’s durable and floats well.
- It’s made into ukuleles because of its natural resonance.
- Cabinets, carvings, and furniture are all made out of Acacia.
- Flooring, parquet, stair rails, veneers, and wardrobes.
- In Central America, some species grow fat thorns which are made into jewelry, dolls, and other souvenirs.
- Finished wood beams are made of Acacia because of it’s strength and beautiful looks.
Acacia Wood Is Durable
Acacia wood is a dense wood which makes it both highly durable and water resistant. These are both ideal qualities to have for heavily used furniture and cabinets that are frequently used and come into contact with water.
Some woodworkers claim that even when left untreated, indoor Acacia wood products will last for decades without showing any signs of aging. However, when left outside untreated Acacia wood can decay and bugs can eat into it. In this case we recommend that you seal it properly.
Because there are over 1000 different species of Acacia it’s color can range from light to a deep brown with a fantastic natural grain. Acacia wood has a warm, rich look that’s perfect for wood products that aren’t painted. Although, because the wood is very dense it holds a coat of paint really well with a super smooth finish.
Acacia woods durability means it won’t get scratched easily. This is a big benefit when making coffee tables out of Acacia wood. It’s also not an easy wood for bugs to chew into because of how hard it is. It comes in handy when your making outdoor furniture.
Acacia’s water resistance means the wood won’t warp or buckle and is resistant to fungus and mold growth. Another useful quality when making furniture for the outdoors.
Acacia is also naturally antibacterial which makes it safe enough to use for preparing or serving food. This is a great quality for kitchen countertops or serving trays.
A Very Hard Wood
The hardness of a piece of wood is measured on a scale called the Janka scale. The Janka test measures the amount of force required to embed a 0.444″ steel ball into the wood to half of its diameter. Woods with a higher rating are harder than woods with a lower rating.
The Janka Hardness rating for different types of Acacia wood is extremely high. We can’t list all 1000+ species but below are a few examples.
- Large leaf Acacia wood has a Janka hardness rating of 1700.
- Hawaiian Koa Acacia wood has a Janka rating of 1790.
- Small leaf Acacia wood has a Janka hardness rating of 2220.
- Babul Acacia wood has a Janka rating of 2300.
- Australian Blackwood Acacia wood has a Janka rating of 1160
Each species of Acacia wood falls within the range of 1100 – 2500 on the Janka scale.
Acacia woods on average are over 50 percent harder than European White Oak, 20 percent harder than hickory, and 90 percent harder than carbonized bamboo. It has an average density rate of around 60 pounds per cubic foot. Compare that with oak which is 45 lbs/cubic foot. Even when compared with maple, one of the hardest domestic woods which ranks 1,450, Acacia wood easily wins. That’s a very hard wood.
Acacia’s rating is even higher than popular species like hard maple and even oak, which are both known for their density and durability.
Acacia wood is marked and sold according to it’s species and grain pattern. The nicer the wood the more expensive it is. A slab like this can easily cost over $1000.
Acacia wood grows all over the world including Asia, India, the Middle East, Australia and The Americas. It’s also grown commercially on plantations for its wood, thorns, roots and even tree sap, known as Gum Arabic. Gum Arabic is used for medicinal purposes, as an additive to soft drinks, and as the outer coating for hard shell candies like M&Ms.
Because its so widely available and plentiful farmers can harvest the wood for a lower cost. However with over 1000 species used for all sort of purposes prices vary quite a bit.
High end furniture makers use Acacia because of it’s density, color and beautiful grain. Premium cuts of wood aren’t cheap and make Acacia wood one of the most expensive furniture grade woods you can buy. Especially for large slabs which are needed when you make a table or cabinetry.
If your making bowls or a serving tray out of a lighter Acacia wood then you can buy it pretty cheap. However for a premium cut that’s used to make a dining room table, expect to pay a lot.
Acacia Is A Beautiful Hardwood
Acacia wood is naturally smooth because of it’s density bet gets even smoother when sanded and polished.
It typically has a warm color that looks great stained or left natural. And the wood has a beautiful grain pattern which is a big plus when your using it to build a finished piece of furniture or cabinetry. It’s smooth surface can achieve a high gloss sheen and holds paint really well.
When you paint a cabinet it’s best to use a dense wood or composite material that won’t buckle, warp, twist or expand and contract much. Otherwise the painted surface will show cracks and separation at the joints. You won’t have any of these problems with Acacia wood. It contains high amounts of dense figured grain and is super smooth which makes for a great paintable surface.
Many species of Acacia have broad grain patterns with open pores with interlocked grain patterns that can turn at angles of up to 90 degrees. It’s a really cool look that you won’t get from other types of wood. However, because of these unusual grain patterns the wood can be damaged when milled.
Many species, like Hawaiian Koa, have patterns similar to mahogany which can include gold, amber and reddish brown coloring. Colors can swirl into a sort of ribbon formation which adds a lot of character and detail to the finished product. This beautiful grain patterns is one of the many reasons why high end woodworkers love to work with Acacia wood. Boards with the best grains are hand selected by furniture makers and command high prices because everyone wants wood with the best grains.
It’s natural grain is distinctive and very different from other common woods like oak, maple or pine. Acacia looks beautiful whether polished, stained, natural or painted.
Looks Can Vary
With over 1000 species of Acacia trees to choose from there’s going to be some variation. Some species have more variations in their grain pattern. Lines can intersect or turn at right angles and even swirl. While others follow a very straight up and down pattern.
Colors vary too. Some Acacia is a rich gold, amber or reddish brown tone while others are lighter and have more yellow, almost looking like a pine.
Density levels which are graded by the Janka scale vary quite a bit too. You may not realize this but the hardness of your wood effects how it looks as a finished product. The denser the wood the smoother it is. Smoother surfaces hold varnish and paint better. And hard woods don’t warp, buckle, twist or expand and contract as much as softer woods. When your building a complex piece of furniture all those seems need to stay tight. Even tiny changes in the woods size can create cracks in the finish.
Acacia wood is generally bought at auction. The hardest woods with the best grains can sell for hundreds of dollars per piece but they end up making the finest furniture.
Outdoor furniture is made out of Acacia wood. This simple table and chairs were stained a medium brown and later sealed.
How To Care For Acacia Wood Products
There are so many different type of Acacia wood products there’s no one best way to care for them all. We’ll break things down into a few smaller categories to make care a little easier.
Acacia Wood Kitchen products
Kitchen products like plates and serving trays made from acacia wood should be hand washed but not soaked in water or exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures. Acacia wood products, like all wood products, shouldn’t be washed in the dishwasher. For best results, refer to the care instructions on your acacia wood product.
Acacia Furniture And Cabinetry
Acacia wood furniture or cabinetry should be cleaned just like any other wood product. Spray and wipe them down with a simple cleaning product that’s safe to use on wood and a soft cloth, rag or paper towels. Don’t soak them in water and don’t let water sit on them for too long or you could get water spots.
Vary the cleaning product based on the type of finish your furniture has. If it’s varnished, painted or natural could have different cleaner requirements.
We recommend simple cleaning solutions that are safe on bare wood because they should be mild enough to work on varnish or paint too. We like to use a spray bottle filled with warm water and a little soap.
Oiling or waxing your wood once a year with a soft brush is enough to preserve the woods moisture and color. You don’t have to do it but some people swear by it. It really depends on the home and how much humidity is in the air. If you live in a very dry climate then oiling the wood can help prevent cracking. However in humid climates the woods should be fine on it’s own.
Excess oil should be gently wiped off with a soft cloth or rag an hour or so after treatment.
If you want your furniture to last for generations then consider these tips:
Furniture made with Acacia wood is like a living thing. For a longer lasting piece, proper maintenance is very important.
- Too much water and wood cells will swell, too little and they will shrink, causing cracking.
- Wipe the furniture daily with a slightly damp soft cloth to remove all dust and pollen. Some moisture will stay behind and get absorbed into the wood.
- Avoid alcohol, deodorants, perfumes, nail varnishes and other similar liquids. If a spill occurs, wipe as soon as possible with a dry cloth. These liquids will pull moisture from wood which causes cracks. Alcohol such as red wine can stain the wood.
- Keep your furniture out of prolonged direct sunlight. This can cause fading and in some cases cracking.
- Keep furniture away from the fireplace or radiators because this can cause warping.
- Use placemats and coasters when possible.
- Avoid cleaning your furniture with a rough surface.
- Avoid polish or cleaning products containing silicone. These can dry out Acacia wood over time.
- Don’t use detergents or any cleaning products that contain ammonia. These will take moisture out of the wood.
- Due to how hard Acacia wood is, you don’t have to worry about scratching as much as with other woods. If a scratch does appear, use a touch up marker to or stain conceal the scratch.
Acacia Wood Outdoor Furniture
Outdoor furniture made out of Acacia wood should be sealed. Even though it’s a hard wood it can still rot or get infested by bugs if allowed to sit outdoors without proper care. It doesn’t matter if you stain or paint it or if the seal has a sheen. If you want a natural look then use a sealant with no shine and no color.
A sealer will help stop water from penetrating inside the wood grain and it’ll stop bugs. But you have to maintain it. No single coat of sealer last forever. We recommend re-sealing every season. When it rains you’ll notice how water beads and runs off sealed wood much better than when it’s left untreated.
Cleaning should be done just like indoor wood furniture. Wipe pollen or dirt off with a soft cloth, rag or paper towels after spraying with water and a simple cleaning solution.
Acacia wood makes a great flooring product. It’s dense, hard to scratch, resists mold, doesn’t buckle and looks great.
Acacia Wood Flooring
Acacia wood is a wonderful material for flooring. it’s durable and very dense, doesn’t scratch easily and has a beautiful color and grain. And because of how dense the wood is, it’s doesn’t absorb water easily which makes it great for use in kitchens and baths.
It’s grain patterns are unique with colors ranging from golden tans, deep dark browns, lighter brown, and even some off white colors. The primary color of your flooring will be the one you choose, but expect to see shades of all these other colors beautifully mixed in. Acacia flooring adds distinctive style and charm to your home.
It’s also very easy to maintain. Just sweep up any dust that collects on a routine basis or use a damp mop when you need to. No special cleaning products are needed and we recommend a simple soapy water solution.
Acacia has a natural resistance to things like warping, twisting, buckling and swelling so your wood floors will lay tight and flat without squeaks.
If you are sensitive to mold and mildew, then this is a great flooring option for you.
It’s naturally resistant to mold like most dense hardwoods. This applies to both solid and engineered acacia hardwood flooring. So if you’re considering using hardwoods in your kitchen or other damp areas of the home then Acacia wood is a good material to consider.
How Much Does Acacia Wood Flooring Cost?
While acacia wood flooring is more expensive than some other flooring products, it’s not the most expensive wood flooring you can buy.
Here are some general guidelines on what to expect when shopping for acacia wood flooring:
- Acacia solid hardwood flooring costs between of $3 to $8 per square foot to purchase.
- Engineered acacia wood flooring ranges from $2.50 to $8 per square foot.
- Acacia laminate wood flooring runs from approximately $0.75 to $3.50 a square foot.
Since hardwood flooring is pretty easy to install, you can do it yourself to save some money. If you don’t have the equipment you can rent it at just about any Home Depot. If you prefer to have it professionally installed, here’s what you can expect to pay:
- Solid and engineered acacia wood flooring will cost between $3 and $8 for installation.
- Laminate acacia flooring will range from $1.50 to $3 for installation.
Keep in mind that these are estimates. Factors such as where you live, the brand and style you choose, and difficult installation areas such as a staircase can impact the price. You also need to account for the flooring design. Some have inlays or fancy borders which would all be extra. Also staining is a factor. Colors and types of stains will vary as well as the design. If you have a two tone design with a fancy border then it will of course cost more than a single color.
Acacia wood is easy to work with when fresh and is even quite flexible. Once fully dries it becomes harder because of how dense the dried wood is.
Is Acacia Wood Easy To Work With?
Before it fully dries Acacia wood is easy to work with. However, after it dries, Acacia becomes very hard and durable. This allows us to make beautiful acacia wood furniture and cabinetry.
Because of how easy it is to work with prior to drying, we can carve and even bend it into all sorts of shapes and designs.
As hard as Acacia wood is when it fully dries, when moist it’s pretty flexible. With a little heat and moisture you can you can work it into all sorts of creative shapes.
Once Acacia wood has fully dried it’s harder to work with but not impossible. We can still cut, rout, drill and carve it into pieces that make fantastic finished products. It just gets a lot harder. Bending the wood is a big problem once it’s dried so we’d highly recommend doing this when the wood has a higher moisture content.
Overall, we’d say Acacia wood is pretty easy to work with.
Is Acacia Good For Burning?
As a general rule of thumb, harder woods burn much better and hotter than softer woods do. And Acacia is a very hard wood.
Typically you can expect about the same amount of heat and longevity per log as with oak. Keep in mind however that there are over 1000 species of Acacia wood. The harder the wood the better it is. So if your goal is to use the wood for burning then buy the harder types. The problem is that harder species of Acacia are also used for furniture making because they tend to have a nicer color and grain.
You don’t want to compete with furniture makers for fire wood so buy the scraps that are left over. They can’t be used for making anything so you can buy them cheap.
Any type of Acacia wood is good for burning. Even softer types are still very dense so you really can’t go wrong no matter species you buy.
Acacia Wood Product Gallery
Here are a bunch of photos and information about some of our favorite Acacia wood products.
Acacia hardwood flooring with a wide plank and light stain. The wood has a very nice grain pattern with barely any knots.
Lightly Stained Acacia Wood Flooring
Acacia wood is a great material for wood flooring. It’s very durable and comes in a few different forms. With over 1000 different species of Acacia wood, chances are you can find a color and grain you like.
Furniture or countertops can be cut out of a large wood slab. This one has been marked for a table.
Acacia Wood Slab
This huge real wood slab has been chalked for a long table or countertop.
Acacia wood flooring stained a medium brown with a slight sheen. Acacia is a fantastic flooring material.
Medium Brown Stained Acacia Wood Flooring
Medium brown stain with a very light sheen is a fantastic look in this while colored living room. We recommend keeping the flooring sheen as dull as possible, egg shell is about as shiny as we like to go.
Acacia hardwood flooring with no stain. Just a light seal is more than enough with a beautiful hardwood like Acacia.
No Stain Wide Plank Acacia Flooring
This floor features wide plan Acacia with no stain and an egg shell finish. The wood is so beautiful all by itself you really don’t have to alter it much.
Acacia wood is great for making all sorts of products which include bed frames. This frame is made up of multiple Acacia panels, stained a medium brown with a high gloss finish.
Acacia Wood Bed Frame
You can build just about any wood product out of Acacia which includes a bed from. Multiple panels can be cut and secured together with varying grain direction to achieve this look. A light brown stain with high gloss varnish complete the look. Matching end tables and other furniture pieces were also made that are out of view.
Acacia wood kitchen table with round top and carved base with wooden chairs. Simple light brown stain and egg shell varnish.
Acacia Wood Table
Kitchen tables and other furniture pieces can be made out of Acacia wood. It’s a great material for the kitchen because it doesn’t scratch easily, resists mold and water.
A wood Sliver like this can be used to build a medium sized round table.
Acacia Wood Sliver
Large wood slices are sold for big dollars depending on the species of Acacia, the color and grain. It’s not uncommon to see prices well over $500 per piece. This can be cut to build a single piece round wood kitchen table.
This bed frame is been made out of two large slabs of Acacia wood. It’s an expensive design because slabs this size aren’t cheap but it really shows off that beautiful grain.
Acacia Timber Slab Bed Frame
Building a bed frame out of two large slabs is a great way to show off that beautiful grain. The wood has to be just right though. This effect wouldn’t be the same if you used a wood without a deep grain like pine.
Solid wood slab dining room table with a natural curved edge. No stain and a simple flat sealant.
Solid Slab Dining Room Table
Solid slabs can be bought and made into all sorts of furnishings including a dining room table. If your wood has a nice color and beautiful grain like this then all you need is a simple flat varnish. Even the edges can be left uncut so the table has a natural edge.
Dining room with a modern design. Shiplap walls with wainscoting. Muted grayish brown stains.
Modern Acacia Wood Dining Room Table
This modern dining room has a muted gray stain that matches the floor and goes beautifully in this all white room featuring shiplap and wainscoting.
Rustic dining room table with a stone fireplace.
Rustic Acacia Wood Dining Room Table
A real wood dining room table with light brown stain and light varnish is a beautiful way to finish a dining room. This fantastic fireplace features a real stone surround, mantle and hearth.
Real wood coffee tables with a light stain and varnish will always be in style and work with a huge variety of home styles.
Acacia Wood Coffee Table
Wood coffee tables have been around practically forever and they’re not going anywhere. The design is simple. All you need is a light brown stain and simple varnish. Choosing a material with a nice grain is key.
Beautiful wood cabinetry and built in refrigerator door panels. Rich brown stain with an egg shell varnish.
Acacia Wood Cabinetry
Real wood cabinetry and refrigerator door panels with rich brown stain and an egg shell finish. Shaker style with with flat panel designs.
Wood countertops are a beautiful finish and you have more options then just a simple butcher block look.
Acacia Wood Slab Countertops
If you like the look of a wood slab countertop in your kitchen then you have more option than just a simple butcher block. Acacia is a wonderful choice. It’s very dense so it doesn’t scratch easily, it resist mold and mildew and is naturally anti bacterial. It resists water and looks fantastic.
Real wood kitchen cabinets with a beautiful grain, medium brown stain and light finish.
Acacia Wood Kitchen Cabinets
If you lie the look of real wood cabinets like this then it’s all about the grain. That’s why Acacia wood is such a great choice. Not many species of wood have a grain this nice.
This real wood super slim coffee table design is sleek. Stained a muted gray brown with no shine.
Natural Acacia Wood Coffee Table
This super slim real wood coffee table has a muted gray brown stain and no shine. It’s all about the grain. The slim design gives it a modern, sleek look.
This beautiful outdoor living space features a huge real stone fireplace with matching stone walls, stone tile flooring and wood furniture.
Acacia Wood Outdoor Furniture
This beautiful outdoor living space features a wonderful real stone fireplace with matching stone walls and stone tile floors. Real wood furniture made from Acacia wood with brown stone and no sheen.
Odd shaped damaged wood slice with lots of knots taken out marked for sale.
Damaged Acacia Wood Sliver
Damaged wood slices will sell for a lot less money because you’ll get smaller usable pieces out of them. You can’t make a one piece table or countertop out of this but it’s great for small furniture pieces. Slices like this have so much left over that the pieces are sold for firewood.
Summary: What Is Acacia Wood?
There are over 1000 species of Acacia wood. it grows all over the world including Asia, Africa, The America and Australia. The wood, roots, sap and even the thorns are all used to make a wide variety of products which include furniture, cabinets, boats, kitchen products and even musical instruments. It’s an eco friendly wood that’s very plentiful and ever farms on plantations commercially so it can be left alone in the wild. The wood is very dense, is easy to work with, has a beautiful coloring and wood grain. It’s definitely a material worth considering your next woodworking project.
I hope this article helps you choose the right material for your next project or just gave you a bit more useful information about Acacia wood.
If you have any questions or comments e-mail us any time. We’d love to hear from you.