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How To Pick Quality Wood in Furniture

June 9, 2013 1
How To Pick Quality Wood in Furniture

Choosing a piece of furniture is one decision that can haunt you for a good few years to come. Picking something you think looks nice and hip — all the while arguing with your partner on whether his lounger fits your classic reception or not — is daunting enough.

But we can help  you with one aspect; we are letting you in on many popular manufacturers’ tricks.

Interior designer Mohamed Nouh, partner at Faragh Designs, gives us his tips and tricks to tell whether the wood you’re buying is of quality enough to last you a few years or if it will crack, deform and even infest your house with insects within a few months.

As a general advice, Nouh says, “The problem with most kinds of wood in Egypt is that its mostly imported, thus expensive. People need to buy furniture from credible places or manufacturers as long as they have no experience with wood types and quality.”

Editor’s note: For more information or advice, get in touch with Nouh on

1. Kind:

Before you go out buying wood furniture there are basics you should know about the kind of furniture and wood you are getting.


The most popular types of naturals woods are: 


Beech Wood

Beech Wood


Pine Wood

Pine Wood



Red Oak Wood

Red Oak Wood


- Zan (beech): Has a reddish color and a linear, striped pattern that is very soft with minor color variations. It is cheaper than oak but more expensive than moski and normally used to for visible parts of the furniture because it looks nice and is cheaper than oak.

- Moski (a type of pinewood): The cheapest wood and has large, brown, rings.It is mostly used for inner frames and invisible parts of the furniture because it is cheaper, yet harder than beech wood.

Arw (oak)Nouh tell us oak is probably the most popular wood type amongst Egyptians, it is rather strong and durable and has a pretty grain marking.

- Mahogany: Mahogany is characteristically of reddish brown color and its markings are linear and not circular. Mahogany is more expensive than oak, and is very famous and widely used amongst Egyptians in the borders of natural wooden floors parquet.

Azayzi (a type of pine wood): Similar to moski and is also a type of pinewood but more expensive and has less markings than the moski, it is also of whitish or beige color. Nouh explains that the main difference between azayzi and moski is that the variance in color between the rings is high. It is also widely used and preferred for outdoor furniture, since its more resistant to sun and humidity than other popular kinds of wood. 

Other available types are  balout (ash),  goz (walnut) and sag (teak), which is very popular with outdoor furniture but requires periodic oiling to maintain it.

The most popular engineered woods (manmade woods that are made of derivative wood products pressed together and topped with a layer of better-quality wood) are:

Ablakash (plywood): This is made from glued thin layers of lesser-quality wood (often veneer) and is normally cheap and resistant to cracking and stains.It is affected by moisture and so rarely used outdoors.

MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard): This is denser than plywood and made of hardwood or soft woos residuals into wood fibers mixed with wax and glued together. It has received some criticism due to the fact that it is often glued using formaldehyde resins, which may emit volatile organic compounds that poses health risks in sufficient concentrations.

– Conter (particle board): Also known as chipboard, these are made from, as the name suggests, particles, chips or shavings of wood glued together with other materials, they are also cheap but rarely used outdoors.It is also prone to discoloration and expansion if used as an outer layer.

Furniture may be made solely of solid wood, engineered particle wood or a  mixture of engineered and solid woods. Nouh explains that engineered wood is mainly used in manufacturing big surfaces like table tops, doors, kitchen units or cupboards. This is mainly because the engineered wood panel can go up to 3 x 1.5 meters. The natural solid wood is mainly used for supporting and main structures with smaller cross sections like table legs, sofa frames, door structures. 

- Solid, natural wood furniture: This is the best quality, and obviously most expensive, it is made of, as the name suggests, only solid wood, hence lasts longer and is called massif (or massive in English) in Egypt. Although you could find dining rooms and old furniture made of solid wood, it is unlikely to find a closet, for instance, made solely of solid wood these days in the majority of stores. Nouh tells us that the only major disadvantage of solid wood over engineered wood is that its more expensive, and requires higher skill to fabricate specially in big pieces of furniture

Mixture of veneer and solid wood: This is used to provide good looking pieces of furniture at lower cost and it is the most common type in the market, especially for bedroom closets and cabinets, and they are cheaper than solid wood and still provide endurance and longevity. These are made of solid wood in more vital spots of the furniture, such as the frames and structure of a cabinet, as well as veneered engineered wood, topped by a layer of better quality wood, for the panels .  For example, a dining table would be made of solid wooden legs, and the top would be made of conter or MDF wood that is covered by a veneer of the same wood type of the legs.  This is what you get when the seller tells you that it is made of a ” eshra w awayem zan,” (top layer and frames made of beech or any other natural, solid wood) but the core is conter (particle board.) 

Particle board and composite wood pieces: Made from a mixture of wood pulp, plastics and glue, particle and composite furniture are the cheapest and least quality furniture.

Continued on next page: More tips on weight, color, manufacturing and finishing


  1. santo

    for more details

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