In addition to understanding lumber color change, in general, it can be helpful to understand the unique color-change scenarios of some particular species. Four lumber species stand out as having especially unique color-changing standard properties, varying greatly from their freshly milled color to their eventual appearance.
The Mystique of Cherry Finish
What many know as “cherry finish” is possible only with significant amounts of time and chemical assistance. Freshly milled cherry is actually a light pink color, not the dark red many associate with the species. When left to its own devices, Cherry does deepen in color, but more to a brown than to a red. Only with the addition of stain or dyes does accumulated dirt over the years help create the dark red hues (falsely) associated with Cherry.
Today’s furniture makers often heavily apply dye in order to achieve the desired effect, and often the wood they use isn’t Cherry at all. Because of the fact that by nature, Cherry will continue to change under the finish, the color that eventually emerges may not be what you had in mind — and definitely won’t be the one with which you started!
The Unique Color of Teak
Teak is in a class all its own, when it comes to color change. Often used for exterior applications, this species’ high oil and silica content contributes to its ideal use for marine applications. In addition to protecting the wood from the elements, the extractives help transform the streaky, colorful look of freshly milled or planed Teak into its trademark golden hue. While the look of freshly milled Teak may be confusing, it’s the sun-baked Teak that its fans are after.
The Surprising Transformation of Purpleheart
Third on the list is a much less common species, Purpleheart. This unusual species displays a shade of purple when freshly milled, but then it transforms into a more typical brown, as its extractives react to light, heat, and air. That change can be disappointing to the customer who chooses Purpleheart because of its unique original color.
The Timeless Beauty of Mahogany
A fourth species, Mahogany, starts out similar to Cherry, with a light pink tint. It quickly deepens into a reddish brown that continues to darken over time. Only after decades of chemical reactions and accumulated dirt does it arrive at the rich dark shade which antiques exhibit. Like Cherry, fresh Mahogany often disappoints those hoping for the look they associate with the species.
Communication and education is key in avoiding disappointment or confusion about the color changes of these four species. If a customer desires to retain the freshly sawn color of the wood, then adding finish before color change will be important. On the other hand, if a customer doesn’t know what to expect, frustration will be the inevitable result. To avoid issues relating to color change, make sure to ask your customers exactly what they’re expecting and inform them about any misguided ideas.