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Spalted Wood: How to Give Your Home a Uniquely Natural Look

Anyone planning on doing remodeling in their home, especially those who are looking to utilize wood in order to give their home a more “natural” look, needs to be aware of spalted wood. Wood spalting can be done to any kind of tree species, and while the type used will affect dimensions of the wood such as strength and weight, the result is always incredibly beautiful. In fact, spalted wood is one of the most prized types of wood available. If you’re thinking about using wood for decorative purposes in your remodeling design and you haven’t heard of spalted wood, then you can’t miss out on the possibilities it has to offer. If you are already considering using spalted wood, then you need to be aware of its pros and cons, as well as how and where it should be used.

First, what is spalted wood? In a nutshell, “spalting” refers to “the coloring or bleaching of wood by fungi”. The cause of this process of fungus-induced wood coloring is absolutely fascinating. When a tree dies, the wood it is made up of becomes available for colonization by wood-decomposing fungi. Once the wood is available, various species of fungi move into the lumber, growing in between the cells. If more than one individual fungus starts to colonize the wood, then these individual fungi begin to compete with one another for territory within the wood. The fungi exude various chemicals that prevent other individuals from invading their territory. These chemicals stain the wood, and each individual fungus exudes a chemical that is entirely unique to that specific individual. This means that no two pieces of spalted wood will ever look the same. The competition for territory within the wood creates a mosaic pattern of different colorations, with intricate lines demarcating where one individual’s territory turns into another fungus’ territory. Think of each line representing a border that separates one fungus’ territory from another’s.

Since any kind of wood can undergo spalting, there are literally a limitless amount of options for home decorative purposes regarding spalted wood. However, some types of wood are more ideal than others, and since the process is caused by wood decomposing fungi, it’s important to understand that the type of wood used, as well as the type of fungus used, will greatly influence the weight, strength, appearance, and usability of the lumber. Considering that degradation of the wood is a factor, the best types of wood used for spalting are hardwoods such as maple, beech, birch and/or oak.

Logically, you don’t want to consider spalted wood for any structural purposes in your home. If you’re thinking of using spalted wood to add a uniquely natural look to your walls or flooring, it is best to use spalted wood as a veneer, as its structural integrity is compromised compared to un-spalted wood. This is also a more cost-effective way to utilize spalted wood, as the process of creating it is time-consuming and therefore expensive. Nonetheless, thin paneling of many types of spalted wood are widely available, and they provide an incredible opportunity to transform your home into something completely unique. Spalting can be used to add a shade of color to your favorite wood that compliments the rest of your home layout, or it can be used to accentuate the grain patterns of your most prized type of wood. The process of choosing the type of wood you want for your home is extremely fun but when you add the extra dimension of using spalted wood, the options become limitless and extremely customizable. The fact that no two pieces of spalted wood are identical adds an extra layer of satisfaction, because you know that with spalted wood, no one else has a home that looks like yours.

The use of spalted wood isn’t just limited to veneer panelling either. In fact, the use of spalted wood in furniture such as dressers, coffee tables, or desks offers the opportunity to use this incredibly beautiful wood in a wide variety of ways in your home. While I wouldn’t recommend using spalted wood for furniture that you’ll be sitting or laying on, the structural integrity of a spalted hardwood such as maple is more than adequate for supporting the weight of various household objects. A quick google search of spalted furniture will reveal that there are countless applications for this type of wood regarding furniture, and no matter what combination you decide to go with, it is guaranteed to give your home a refined, yet natural look,

The prized nature of spalted wood amongst woodworkers and home design enthusiasts is leading to an increased interest in this exquisite and tasteful wood. This increased interest has led to more and more production of this type of wood, and with this, the art, as well as the science of wood spalting has become more and more refined. It is now an exciting time to be considering using spalted wood in your home, as the options and ability for customization are becoming infinite. If you want to redesign your home to have a natural look, yet want to ensure that your home’s look won’t be copied by any jealous friends or neighbors, look no further than spalted wood. Just make sure to be absolutely thorough in your research regarding how and where you want your spalted wood, and what types of wood are going to be used, paying special attention to how their weight and strength will be affected by the type of spalting.

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