By Glacial Wood / December 14, 2016

Wood Species: What is Best for Staircase Longevity?

Stair projects especially deserve extra consideration when it comes to deciding on what wood species will serve the client best. Once stairs are placed, they shouldn’t have to be torn down for issues with warping or wear and tear. Our own craftsmen create turned wood and squared parts for all kinds of custom project needs, which means it’s important that our entire Glacial Wood team knows which wood species work best for each project.

Besides looking for quality of craftsmanship and customization of turned and squared wood stair parts, we always recommend that people search for a local custom woodturning manufacturer who knows the superior wood species for each type of project. In this case, we’re looking at the kinds of wood readily available in the United States that make the best, longest-lasting stairs and parts.

Wood Species: What is Best for Staircase Longevity?


1. Red Oak

The most common species for wood stair parts in the U.S. is red oak, due to being plentiful and its forgiving nature. Red oak handrails and treads are the most popular items made from this wood, but craftsman-made turned wood and squared parts are also well-loved by interior designers, homeowners, and building owners alike. Red oak is also one of the easiest to stain, sand, and finish.

2. White Oak

Harder and it is far more water resistant than its cousin, the red oak. Looks-wise, white oak tends to be grayer with a slight green tint and a swirling pattern to the grain.

3. Ash

Shares a lot of similarities with oak but its closed grain pattern is slightly more obvious. You will find yourself saving money if you choose ash over oak but you may spend more on production because crafting it is more of a challenge.

4. African Mahogany

African Mahogany is very tough considering how light it is. The price point makes it one of the most premium materials for wood stair parts but many Glacial Wood clients would agree that the high-end look of its fine grain and the way that it ages is well worth the price. Our craftsmen also love how easy it is to turn and shape.

5. Cypress

Lightweight, fine-grained, holds paint and finish nicely, and is stronger than most softwoods, Cypress checks all the boxes and more as an excellent staircase wood.

6. American Cherry

Beloved for lending an heirloom quality to stairs and their parts. The tone of the wood practically glows with warmth from its auburn to strawberry blond color. Although it’s a softer wood, American Cherry is sturdy enough for crafting long-lasting stairs.

7. Brazilian Cherry

Shares some of the qualities of the American Cherry wood species, but has a beautiful reddish brown tone that emanates richness. It is hard and equally heavy, but a choice for this wood is a life-long one because it will last that long in the right conditions.


As someone looking for the best craftsmen to make the turned wood and squared parts that you need, you are actually your best advocate for quality. The best way to become a self-made expert on quality stair components is to find a local custom woodturning manufacturer who does outstanding work and cares about the material they use. Here’s more on why we care so much about all of the raw wood materials we stock and use.

We can help you find the best pricing options for your custom project.