Although everyone’s opinion on colors and shapes differs, many people consider walnut wood to be a beautiful wood. As seen by the countless projects posted on social media and internet forums, walnut lumber is popular. However, there is one disadvantage to this type of wood: it is expensive. But, why is walnut wood so expensive?
The high cost of walnut wood can be attributed to a number of factors. The key issues are a paucity of supply due to the slow growth of these trees and high demand from woodworkers and hobbyists, which I’ll go into more detail about in this article.
Woodworking has also become a more popular hobby in recent years. Many people start woodworking and notice the qualities that walnut has to offer.
In this post, I will not only answer your question, why is walnut so costly, but I will also share more information about walnut lumber so that you can gain a better understanding of it and use it properly.
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Why Is Walnut Wood So Expensive?
Walnut wood prices don’t change for one reason, but mostly because of several sources.
To give you a good insight into the answer to the question, why is walnut wood so expensive, I will therefore go into these different sources in more detail.
To give you an idea of what walnut wood costs, you will gain insight into these thanks to a short price discussion based on the current walnut wood prices.
I’ll go over walnut wood and its uses in greater depth in the second half of this post. By the end of this essay, you should have a good understanding of what walnut wood is, what you can do with it, and whether it’s worth the money for the project you’re working on.
What Is the Source of the High Cost of Wood?
The main source of why walnut wood is so expensive is that the price of wood began to rise gradually in 2018. This is due to a series of natural disasters, such as forest fires that damaged millions of trees, as well as political and economic problems between countries with forests, which affect the price of trees and their wood.
Another major factor causing the high cost of walnut wood is the scarcity of wood. Walnuts are trees that grow relatively slowly, which means that it takes some time before they are ready for felling.
As a last reason for the high prices of walnut wood, we as woodworkers have a part in this, and that is the demand for this type of wood.
As you may know, this wood is highly sought after by furniture makers because of its high strength and toughness. Also, its unique color makes it very popular.
Growing Black Walnut
Walnuts, as previously stated, grow slowly. If you are in the correct growing zone for walnut trees, you shouldn’t have too much trouble growing one, but it will take around 20 to 30 years to produce a mature tree that is ready for felling.
The difficulty with black walnut trees is that they have a chemical called juglone in their roots. Some plants and trees are poisoned by this chemical. Other trees and plants will be killed or stunted as a result. If you want to grow walnut trees and other plants, you’ll need to conduct some research.
This juglone is not only present in the roots, but also in the leaves and wood, albeit to a lesser extent. However, many do not realize this, but juglone can be harmful to humans. So if you want to use walnut wood for applications that come into contact with foodstuffs, this is strongly inadvisable.
Earlier I wrote the article, is walnut wood toxic, important health info, an absolute have to read, especially because this article contains information that even professionals are not aware of.
If you want to use wood where it will come into contact with food, it is important to use wood that does not contain toxic substances and cannot contaminate the food. Although some types of wood can only contain low levels of toxic substances, they can cause chronic poisoning.
So you will have to look for non-toxic types of wood if you want to build cutting boards or other kitchen tools in wood. To help you with that, you can find the article, the complete guide to what kind of wood is food safe, on my website.
What Is the Average Cost for Walnut Lumber?
Walnut wood prices will fluctuate constantly, but to give you an idea of how much walnut wood costs, I’ll give you an example of current walnut wood prices below.
If you want to purchase S4S Black Walnut wood cut to size, you can expect to pay around €4.90 ($5.25) to €11.6 ($12.50) per plank of kiln-dried wood.
Here I would like to clarify what S4S means.
S4S wood means ‘Surface on 4 Sides’. This is when you buy wood that has already been prepared, planed, and primed to be used right away. As an end-user, you will therefore have to spend little extra work to ‘straighten’ the wood.
Walnut Wood Features and Qualifications
Walnut wood is very popular among woodworkers, and that is not without reason. Walnut lumber contains many characteristics and qualifications that make this type of wood worth using. The main characteristics and qualifications of walnut are:
- Resistant and tough. Walnut has an average Janka hardness of 1,220 lbf (5,410 N). (More info about Janka hardness here).
- Heavy, strong, and durable. Walnut has a durability class 3. (More info about durability classes here).
- Impact-resistant and suitable for turning and cutting.
- Has a high bending strength.
- It is made of fine-grained material.
- Resistant to spoilage.
In addition, there is also the unique color of walnut wood that differs depending on the type of walnut you use, as well as the wood grain pattern. As there is more to say about this, discover more about it in the sections below.
Walnut wood colors
Walnut wood comes in a variety of tonnages and colors, depending on the type of walnut and the portion of the tree from which it was harvested.
Sapwood is the tree’s exterior covering, which is pale yellow, gray, and practically white. The primary core of the tree, known as Heartwood, is dark brown and light brown in color with purple, gray, and reddish rays and dark stripes.
Walnut comes in a variety of colors, each with its own particular flavor. As an example, I’ll show you three types of walnut wood: dark black walnut, gray-brown English walnut, and light-colored Butternut. The images are displayed below, along with a link to more information about the various wood species.
Wood grain pattern of walnut
The walnut tree’s structure is fragile, smooth, and coarse in appearance, and it has been described as having knots or abnormalities on occasion. When a tree splits into two branches, the wood fibers wrinkle and form natural cross grains.
Every year, a new ring emerges, along with creases where the wood is pushed. A walnut kernel shell resembles a solid rotating pattern.
Walnut with a characteristic grain pattern sits between the exceptional oak and the homogeneous texture of the maple.
Is Walnut a Hardwood or Softwood?
Walnut is classed as a hardwood because it is a deciduous tree. Walnut wood is tougher and more resistant to environmental impacts because it is a slow-growing tree.
Black walnuts may withstand up to 1,010 lbf (4,490 N) of force, according to the Janka test rating (a test that determines how much damage a wood can withstand). The English walnut is significantly tougher, with a breaking strength of 1,220 lbf (5,410 N).
Is Walnut Good for Outdoor Use?
This type of wood is quite resistant to weather influences, and may thus be used outdoors, thanks to its durability class 3. Walnut wood has a 15-year life expectancy.
More info can be found in my article, is walnut wood water resistant. I highly recommend reading that article.
What Woodworking Projects Is Black Walnut Used For?
Due to its color and properties, walnut can be used for a wide variety of applications. The best-known applications for this are:
- Trim and Moldings
Note: Many will recommend walnut wood to use for cutting boards because of the beautiful color of the wood. Don’t do this though! As I wrote earlier in this article, walnut wood contains a toxic substance called juglone. More detailed information in my article, walnut wood is toxic, a must-read article.
Black walnut, because of its high price, will be used for more expensive solid furniture. To keep the price down, veneers are sometimes used on cabinets.
Outside using walnut for touching projects, you can start using walnut wood for just about any project. So what you use black walnut for is completely up to you.
It is a beautiful wood, but remember that it is an expensive wood. So it is good to think about whether walnut can increase the value of your project and whether it is worth using this type of wood. It would be a shame to waste expensive walnut wood on simple jobs or parts that are no longer visible afterward.
Does Walnut Darken with Age?
If you’ve ever worked with wood, you’re well aware that manufactured furniture made of maple or oak discolors over time.
The type of wood determines how it discolors. Oak, for example, discolors faster than other types of wood. Other types of wood will fade only little.
Walnut discolors with time depending on how the wood is used. When the wood comes into direct touch with the sun’s rays, the discolouration will be different from when the wood is in a dark situation. As the walnut ages, its color will brighten and take on a warm honey tint.
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Oak Vs Walnut, What Is More Expensive?
Ok, walnut is expensive, and you could already discover the reason for this at the beginning of this article. If you can think of enough reasons why you should use walnut, then I’d say go for it. However, if walnut is not absolutely necessary, you can look for a worthy alternative.
Another high-quality wood that could replace walnut is oak, but is this wood cheaper, just as expensive, or even more expensive than walnut?
Well, in short, walnut is more expensive than oak. The reason for this is that Oak is more readily available than Walnut. Due to this larger offer, the purchase price will not be so high.
However, you will see for yourself that if the supply of oak ever declines while demand remains constant or even rises, these prices might fluctuate dramatically. Depending on your project’s requirements, you’ll have to look for another option at that time.
To see more differences between Walnut vs Oak, and to get inspired in which one of these woods are the one you need for your project, check out my article, Walnut vs Oak, a quick guide to help you choose.
Another alternative may be mahogany wood. In my article Walnut Wood vs. Mahogany: Which Is Better for Your Projects? I will go deeper into the differences between these types of wood so that you are even better informed and can make the right choices
Why Is Walnut Wood So Expensive – Final Thoughts.
Ok, why is walnut wood so expensive? Well, that will never be for one reason, but a combination of several reasons.
The main reason for this high price is that walnut is a slow grower, but at the same time, it is a very popular type of wood because of its fantastic properties.
A low supply and high demand cause walnut wood prices to rise, whereby you will have to ask yourself whether walnut lumber is the type of wood that is important for your project.
Are you looking for a certain hardness, durability, or color that your project requires, or can you deviate from this and look for a worthy but cheaper alternative.
Hopefully, this post not only answered your question, why is walnut wood so expensive, but also provided you with further information about this sort of wood. Make sure to check out the links to my other articles for a more in-depth look at walnut wood or other essential tips if you’re thinking about using wood for your project.
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