There are lots of reasons to love wood furniture, including its timelessness. And when it comes to timeless timber, acacia wood is right up there as one that has been coveted for centuries for its beauty and durability.
What is Acacia Wood?
Acacia wood, also commonly called wattle, is a dense and heavy hardwood that comes from acacia trees and shrubs in the Acacia genus. There are over 1,350 species, most of which are native to Australia.
Acacia wood is considered special because of its strong, sturdy, and effortlessly stunning appearance. It’s remained a top choice for furniture and is a great choice if you’re looking for good quality hardwood pieces that will last for generations.
Here’s what to know about acacia wood furniture, from what sets it apart to what’s made it a mainstay of interior design for so many years.
About the Acacia Tree
The acacia tree, also known as the mimosa, wattle, or thorntree, has more than 1,350 different varieties around the world. It is a graceful, sub-tropical hardwood tree that’s native to Australia but can be found in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North and South America. The wood that it produces has a number of qualities that make it particularly well suited to interior functions, from staple furniture pieces to countertops, flooring, and decorative objects, such as bowls.
Properties and Characteristics of Acacia Wood
Smooth, dense, and scratch-resistant
Holds stain well
High price tag
Irregular color and grain patterns
Sensitive to temperature fluctuations
Acacia’s ubiquity in the home can be explained by a few key characteristics. Aside from being beautiful, acacia is naturally water-resistant and antimicrobial. While many wood furniture varieties need to be protected from coming into contact with liquids and may warp or form fungus if exposed, acacia can handle regular moisture contact—even without being treated in any special way.
Keep in mind that while acacia wood furniture is water-resistant, it’s not waterproof. To get the full value out of your acacia pieces you’ll want to be sure to keep them away from any standing water. While you won’t have to be concerned about fungal growth, long-term moisture exposure could cause acacia furniture to warp or swell, which would limit longevity and value.
In terms of appearance, acacia is naturally smooth and it has a distinctive, pronounced, and uneven grain that makes wood furniture look so special and unique. Acacia wood colors are deep, warm browns, rich auburn hues, with flecks of bronze interspersed. It holds on to stain well making it equally ideal if you’re looking for an even darker piece. No two pieces of acacia are alike, so if you want more of a homogenous look for your furniture (or flooring), it may be tough to achieve with acacia.
You don’t become the preferred building material of the British Royal Navy without possessing some serious durability. Compared to other types of wood that are commonly used in furniture, acacia beats out popular choices like oak, hickory, and bamboo, with a density that measures closer to marble.
Because it’s so durable, acacia wood furniture isn’t prone to scratching and even unprotected you can likely get away with years of use before it needs to be touched up.
However, acacia is not a cookie-cutter hardwood. There are many species and each varies greatly in density; many species are rated very highly on the Janka hardness scale (a measurement of a wood sample determining how it will dent and wear) though most sold commercially have lower scores and moderate weights.
Acacia wood furniture is a good, practical choice for indoor use. This is particularly true for furniture pieces that benefit from dense hardwood, such as dining tables and benches.
Simple maintenance is all that’s needed to keep it looking its best. This includes washing down acacia furniture as needed with warm, soapy water (do not use any silicon- or ammonia-based cleaners on acacia wood). You can also oil your acacia pieces to bring out more of those rich, natural tones, though stay away from any treatment that contains silicone.
The biggest thing to worry about is discoloration or warping if the acacia is exposed to constant moisture or temperature fluctuations, and fading if it is regularly exposed to direct sunlight.
Acacia wood is a sustainable furniture material, with the acacia tree growing easily, quickly, and plentifully all over the world, often without the need for fertilizer or pesticides.
For the most eco-friendly acacia varieties, look for acacia furniture made from wood that’s FSC-certified, meaning the way it has been grown and harvested has passed the strict standards of the Forest Stewardship Council, a global non-profit that helps promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.
Is Acacia Furniture a Good Value for the Money?
Though the price of acacia is often higher than other traditional hardwoods used in furniture, such as maple and oak, the cost can be justified by considering the durability and long-lasting nature of acacia pieces. While it may be more expensive up front, acacia wood furniture maintains its beauty for many decades and holds up to many outdoor elements that cause other (and less expensive) wood varieties to become damaged.