Acacia wood is one of the most common woods in the furniture-making industry. It is highly durable, beautiful, and can easily last a lifetime. Even better, acacia performs excellently outdoors.

It’s one of the few wood types that effortlessly withstand extreme weather conditions, including freezing winters. As such, woodworkers naturally love acacia.

Unfortunately, acacia wood isn’t without fault. Despite the endless list of positive characteristics, acacia has several weaknesses that make it hard to like in some circumstances.

Below, we look at some of the disadvantages of acacia wood and the main things you should know about it.

What’s Acacia?

The name acacia comes from a Greek word that means a “thorny Egyptian tree.” The wood is derived from acacia trees native to Australia, now also found in Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, and parts of the Americas.

Acacia trees have many different names, depending on where you come from. For instance, some people call it the thorn tree, while others call it the Asian walnut.

There are over 1350 species worldwide, each with a different name. The trees grow to about 20 to 30 feet (six to nine meters). Solid acacia wood slabs are mainly used for hardwood lumber.

However, the plant also serves many other purposes. For instance, compounds extracted from the bark and leaves have applications in the cosmetic, medical, and pharmaceutical industries.

Properties of Acacia

Acacia is a hardwood. In fact, some studies indicate that it’s the hardest wood in the class of hardwoods, though we believe that title goes to the Australia Buloke ironwood native to Australia.

Nevertheless, at 2,300 PSI on the Janka scale, it’s 55% harder than the European white oak and about 23% harder than hickory. So, this should tell you something about acacia’s hardness.

However, hardness is just one of its many qualities. The following are several other characteristics that make acacia unique;

Appearance

Acacia wood comes in a wide variety of colors, from light brown to a dark mahogany hue. The heartwood is typically medium to dark brown.

Irregular grain structure

The acacia tree is characterized by irregular grain structures. A wavy grain pattern is the most common. Figured grain patterns, such as curl (commonly known as “rings” in Australia), are also common.

Knots

Acacia wood boards are characterized by a high number of knots due to the high number of branches that can grow from a single acacia tree.

Naturally antibacterial

Acacia is naturally antibacterial. This means you can safely use it for preparing and serving food. It’s a quality that makes it popular for making chopping boards, wooden spoons, and other wooden cookware.

Read more: Best Wood for Chopping Boards

Acacia Wood Furniture Pros

  1. Durable
  2. Distinctive
  3. Grain patterns
  4. Wide range of applications

Disadvantages of Acacia Wood

Let’s now discuss some of the disadvantages of acacia wood furniture over other exotic hardwoods. Why do woodworkers sometimes overlook acacia wood?

1. Acacia wood is sensitive to temperature variations  

Although acacia is one of the hardest woods, it doesn’t hold up well under wide temperature variations. For instance, acacia easily cracks in hot temperatures.

Studies show that high temperatures damage the fibers in acacia lumber, causing it to crack with ease. The problem is even worse in regions that experience significant temperature fluctuations over a single day.

For instance, acacia furniture will break down easily in regions with hot daytime temperatures and freezing night temperatures.

Acacia wood also swells in highly humid or rainy/snowy conditions. This makes acacia furniture unsuited to outdoor conditions.

If it’s the only material you have for outdoor furniture, make sure to rotate the furniture to avoid over-exposure to outdoor conditions. Additionally, avoid direct exposure to heat sources, such as sunlight and the fireplace.

2. Acacia wood requires significant maintenance 

Unfortunately, acacia wood furniture items require significant maintenance to maintain their appearance and physical characteristics.

For instance, you must periodically wipe acacia furniture with a slightly moistened cloth to eliminate dust and prevent the accumulation of dirt. Otherwise, the surfaces can become too dry and begin to track.

However, you can’t just soak the wiping rag with anything. For instance, silicon and ammonia-based cleaning products are out of the equation as they contain properties that can cause acacia wood to become too dry and crack.

Instead, you need to wipe the furniture with a mild soap, warm water solution. Finally, you must oil your acacia wood furniture with selected preservatives, or the risk of warping is even greater.

Many experts recommend pigmented finishing oil over transparent oil to provide better UV protection. Unfortunately, not many people are prepared for this level of care.

3. Irregular, unpredictable grain structure 

Some people love the unpredictable, irregular grain structure of acacia wood. However, many people find it complex and difficult to fit into existing décor.

Although no wood is perfect, many woodworkers would rather work with a straight and predictable grain pattern. For instance, we saw earlier that acacia wood is characterized by many knots.

Wood knots come in many forms, though the three main categories are sound (tight), unsound (loose), and encased knots. Whichever type, these knots affect the continuity of wood fibers, sometimes even breaking the fibers.

Knots have two major impacts on woodworking. First, they weaken solid wood. The knot area becomes a weak link. This makes knotted wood pieces unideal for applications that expose the lumber to significant loads, such as making wood bed frames.

Secondly, irregular grain structures make it difficult to fit furniture into any existing décor. You must be very careful not to disrupt the existing harmony.

4. Acacia wood is very heavy and very hard

We’ve already seen that acacia wood is rated 2,300 on the Janka hardness test, making it harder than hickory and white oak. While this is good for durability, the extreme hardness makes the wood very difficult to work.

For instance, you need power tools to cut some hardwoods as you cannot cut them with hand tools. Unfortunately, acacia is one of the wood types that are very difficult to cut.

It is even harder to cut than maple, one of the hardest domestic woods, rated 1,450 on the Janka hardness scale. That tells you everything you need to know about the workability of acacia wood. If you’ve ever tried to cut bamboo, acacia is about as hard.

Additionally, acacia is rather heavy. Working with heavy wood types is a challenge because you need to lift wood pieces frequently when sawing, cutting, smoothing, joining, etc.

Doing so becomes difficult if the wood is relatively heavy. Transporting heavy trunks is also a massive challenge. Keep in mind that acacia isn’t native to North America. It’s mostly imported.

5. Acacia wood is expensive 

Finally, many woodworkers and their clients are not fans of acacia timber because, despite the many disadvantages, it’s still very expensive. It’s worth noting that “expensive” is relative.

For instance, acacia is cheaper than other exotic woods like mahogany and rosewood. So, if you’re prepared to pay for mahogany, then you won’t have a problem paying for acacia wood.

However, it’s significantly more expensive than most American hardwoods, including maple and oak. The average price per foot for 4×4 Australian Blackwood acacia is $7.90, with general prices as high as $10.50 per foot.

Meanwhile, soft maple costs about $5 per foot, while hard maple costs about $6/foot. Red oak is even more affordable at about $3/foot.

For these reasons, sometimes it makes more sense to go with locally available options, such as oak, rather than spend more on acacia.

Recommend Reading: What is the cheapest wood to buy?

Acacia Wood Uses 

Acacia wood is used for many applications, ranging from furniture making to flooring and home décor. The following are some of the main applications;

  • Furniture making: Although it has many uses, the most common application is making indoor furniture items and outdoor patio furniture. Solid acacia furniture pieces are durable, strong, and very beautiful. The naturally fine texture also results in beautiful patio furniture.
  • Hardwood flooring: There are a few reasons why acacia wood makes one of the best materials for hardwood flooring. For one, it’s visually striking. Secondly, acacia is highly waterproof. This makes it perfect for kitchens. Above all, acacia is an extremely durable wood, meaning you don’t have to worry about replacing the floor every few years.
  • Home décor: The two main qualities that make acacia a good choice for home décor are the unpredictable grain structure and the many ways you can use acacia. You can even stain it to different degrees to give varied tones to your decoration pieces. Here’s how to stain acacia wood.
  • Cutting boards and kitchenware: Finally, acacia wood makes excellent cutting boards and kitchenware.

Does Acacia Wood Crack?

Unfortunately, yes. Acacia wood has a tendency to crack when exposed to hot conditions. The main reason is that heat breaks down the otherwise very strong acacia fibers, causing the wood to become brittle. Brittle wood cracks very easily under heat.

However, you can minimize the risk of cracks by keeping your acacia wood products away from direct sunlight and other heat sources.

Does Acacia Wood Warp Easily?

No, acacia wood doesn’t warp easily. Of course, all wood types can warp in extreme conditions. However, acacia is one of the few wood types that are extremely resistant to warping.

The main reason is that acacia is highly water-resistant. Wood warps when its moisture content changes abruptly and unevenly. Acacia doesn’t lose moisture easily, and even when it does, it’s rarely uneven.

How Long-Lasting is Acacia Wood?

Acacia wood is extremely durable, typically lasting a lifetime with good maintenance. The high density and hardness of the wood make it weather, scratch, and rot-resistant, allowing it to live for many years.

In fact, acacia wood furniture can last up to 30 years, even with not-so-good maintenance. That said, though, proper maintenance is critical to ensuring a long life of beauty and reliable performance for acacia wood products.

Acacia Furniture Maintenance Tips 

Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to care for acacia furniture. The following are a few basic tips to get you started.

  1. Wipe down the furniture with a soft cloth slightly moistened with warm, soapy water. Then wipe with a dry cloth or air to dry.
  2. Don’t use detergents or cleaners with silicon or ammonia when cleaning acacia wood products. These products contain elements that can dry up the wood, causing cracking.
  3. If you’re not a fan of cleaning furniture with soap, try a mixture of water and white vinegar. The solution is effective in removing stains such as bird droppings as well as mold and mildew.
  4. Since acacia is sensitive to direct sunlight exposure, consider a pigmented finishing oil over transparent alternatives when sealing for extra UV protection.
  5. Additionally, consider waxing your acacia furniture at least once every year or ideally twice, especially in warmer climates, to keep the wood in top conditions.
  6. Take extra measures, such as covering the furniture when not in use for extended periods, to further preserve the furniture.

FAQs

Is Acacia wood Bad?

No, acacia wood is not bad. While it has several downsides, as do all other wood types, it’s also one of the best options for making outdoor furniture. It’s hard, weather-resistance, and extremely durable.

Is acacia a strong wood?

Yes, acacia wood is very strong. Indeed, acacia is one of the strongest woods. That’s why it’s considered the best for heavy-use furniture such as dining tables, dining benches, and outdoor furniture.

What is acacia best used for?

The most common use of acacia wood is making furniture. However, acacia’s strength also makes it a viable option for support beams in the construction industry. It also has many uses in utilitarian applications.

Is acacia a good choice for outdoor furniture?

Yes, acacia is one of the best wood types for making outdoor furniture. It is dense, durable, and highly weather-resistant. Moreover, acacia wood doesn’t rot easily. These qualities make it the perfect choice for outdoor furniture. 

Is acacia wood safe?

Unfortunately, no. Acacia wood is not safe. The leaves of acacia trees protect the plant from predators by producing a cyanogenic poison. Cyanides prevent cells of the body from using oxygen, which can easily cause heart and brain failure, and ultimately death. So, avoid acacia for making wooden utensils.  

Summary 

Acacia wood is one of the hardest hardwoods, making it a favorite for making heavy-use furniture such as dining sets. It’s also extremely weather-resistant, making it ideal for outdoor furniture.

However, always remember that acacia isn’t perfect. Acacia wood has several downsides that make it ill-suited to selected applications. For instance, acacia is toxic, thus must never be used for making wooden kitchenware.

Leave a Comment