The United Kingdom, with its varied climates and landscapes, is home to a wide range of timber species. These species have been used for centuries, not just for their utility in construction and manufacturing, but also for the beauty they bring to furniture and decor. Understanding these common timber species, their characteristics, and uses can offer insights into the UK's rich woodworking heritage and inform choices for projects today. Here’s an overview of some of the most prevalent timber species found across the UK.

Oak (Quercus Robur and Quercus Petraea)

Characteristics: Oak is renowned for its strength, durability, and the beautiful grain that makes it so sought after for both structural and decorative uses. There are two main species of oak in the UK - English oak (Quercus robur) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea), both valued for their hardwearing nature.

Uses: Oak is extensively used in construction, particularly in framing, flooring, and in making furniture. Its resistance to fungal and insect attacks also makes it a preferred choice for outdoor furniture.

Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris)

Characteristics: Scots pine is the only native pine in the UK. It's identified by its straight trunk and a crown of blue-green needles. The timber is yellowish-white to reddish-brown, known for its distinct growth rings and natural resin pockets.

Uses: Its strength and relative ease of working make it suitable for general construction work, carpentry, and joinery. It is commonly used in the production of pulp for making paper.

European Larch (Larix Decidua)

Characteristics: European larch is a deciduous conifer, which sets it apart from most other conifers that are evergreen. It has a pinkish-brown heartwood that's tough and durable, with a fine, straight grain.

Uses: Larch is favoured for its waterproof qualities, making it ideal for outdoor use, such as in cladding, decking, and fencing. It is also used in boat building.

Ash (Fraxinus Excelsior)

Characteristics: Ash wood is pale cream to light brown, with a straight grain. It's known for its strength, elasticity, and light weight, making it easy to work with.

Uses: Due to its flexibility and strength, ash is commonly used for tool handles, furniture, and sports equipment such as cricket bats and hockey sticks.

Beech (Fagus Sylvatica)

Characteristics: Beech is a hard, strong, and heavy wood with a fine, tight grain and a high shock resistance. It has a uniform texture with a white to pale pink colour.

Uses: It's often used in furniture making, particularly for solid and laminated boards. Beech is also used in flooring, turnery, and for kitchen utensils, thanks to its resistance to abrasion.

Cedar (Cedrus)

Characteristics: British-grown cedars can vary in colour from dark to light red-brown. Cedarwood is soft, lightweight, and possesses a distinctive aroma. It has excellent natural resistance to decay and moisture.

Uses: Its durability against rot makes it ideal for roofing shingles, exterior cladding, and garden structures such as greenhouses and sheds. Cedar is also used for making musical instruments and cigar boxes.

Cherry (Prunus Avium)

Characteristics: Cherry wood has a fine, straight grain with a reddish-brown colour that darkens with age. It's relatively hard and has good resistance to decay.

Uses: Cherry is highly valued for furniture and cabinet making due to its colour and finish. It is also used in veneering and turned objects.


The UK's timber species offer a remarkable variety of characteristics that cater to a vast array of applications in construction, manufacturing, and crafts. Selecting the right type of wood for a project not only ensures the durability and beauty of the finished product but also contributes to the sustainable management of this valuable resource. Whether you're a professional artisan or a DIY enthusiast, understanding these common UK timber species can help you make informed decisions for your projects and appreciate the natural heritage of the British Isles.