Hardwood Species Grain Guide

Use this guide to easily identify hardwood species

Forest 2 Home's Grain Guide

Each hardwood species has its own characteristics. This wood grain guide can help you identify Northern hardwood lumber species based on the wood's grain and color. This guide includes White Ash, Basswood, Butternut, Birch, White Oak, Cherry, Hard Maple, Hickory, Poplar, Red Maple, Red Oak, Soft Maple, and Walnut hardwood species. Need help identifying a species? Reach out! Our team of hardwood experts would be happy to help with your wood grain identification needs.

Cherry hardwood properties


Cherry is known for its reddish brown coloring and is 100% heartwood on one side. Its grain is normally straight with the occasional curly grain pattern.

Hard Maple hardwood grain

Hard Maple

Hard Maple is a light cream color with subtle red undertones. It is 100% sapwood on both sides. Its grain is usually straight with the occasional wavy grain.

Red Oak hardwood grain

Red Oak

Red Oak is a light to medium brown with reddish undertones. It is 100% heartwood on one face. It has a straight grain with a porous texture.

Walnut hardwood grain


Walnut is a light to medium brown and has a minimum of 90% heartwood on one face. It is mostly straight grained.

White Oak hardwood grain

White Oak

White Oak has a light brown heartwood and slightly paler sapwood. It is strong, tough, dense, tight grained and durable.

Red/Soft Maple hardwood grain

Red Maple

Red Maple has close grained sapwood and is creamy white and with reddish brown heartwood. The grain is often dotted with flecks. 

White Ash hardwood grain

White Ash

White Ash hardwood is dense with bright white sapwood, light tan heartwood, and uniform, well defined annual growth rings.

Poplar hardwood grain


Poplar is a light, soft hardwood with sapwood that is white or light green cast.

Basswood hardwood grain


Basswood is a soft, light weight wood, pale in color, with fine close grain.

Hickory hardwood grain


Hickory's heartwood is a medium brown with a paler yellow sapwood appearance. Its grain is usually straight with the occasional wavy grain.

Birch hardwood grain


Birch's heartwood is a light reddish brown, with nearly white sapwood. The grain is generally straight or slightly wavy, with a fine, even texture.

Butternut hardwood grain


Butternut is often referred to as “White Walnut” because of its light tan to cinnamon-colored heartwood and has a cathedral like grain pattern.