Acacia and walnut are both top-shelf hardwoods that are popular with designers globally.
Acacia, also commonly referred to as wattle or thorn tree, boasts over a thousand species.
Initially native to Africa and small parts of Australia, different species of Acacia can be found in basically all continents except Antarctica.
Acacia is one of the most significant trees to humans and many civilizations have practiced transcendent spiritual rituals with this tree species, associating it closely with aspects of their religions, superstitions, medicine, and culture.
Its ability to resist burning to charcoal also added to its mystical quality since wood is generally highly flammable.
In recent decades, due to its proliferation all over the world, it has become a popular and available choice for furniture and décor.
Walnut trees are native to specific parts of Asia, the United States, and Mexico.
There are at least twenty species of walnut trees, among them, Butternut, Andean Walnut, Japanese Walnut, East American Black Walnut, and English Walnut.
Walnut trees are not considered a particularly available resource, especially for timber.
The fact that they are not large trees in terms of both length and girth, made walnut a rarity in woodwork. When it was actually used, its products came at a hefty premium.
The walnut tree has recently been cultivated for timber though initially walnut trees only became an option for lumber after the tree had outgrown its vibrant nut-producing years.
The species grown for wood today is the East American Black Walnut or the California Walnut.
Both trees will give you stunning furniture pieces though they do have some uniquely separate features as well that should influence your decision.
Acacia Vs Walnut: Which one is better?
Either hardwood is a worthy investment and as for which is better, it is really a matter of taste and preference.
It also depends on what kind of product you wish to make. Sculpting is harder and less aesthetically practical with Acacia while your cabin flooring would do better with the harder Acacia.
Here are some of the distinct features between the two products:
Acacia wood is generally a deep rich reddish-brown in color and has a lighter colored almost blonde sapwood. The older the tree the wider the heartwood which is darker in color and the thinner the sapwood which is lighter.
Since Acacias harvested for timber tend to be quite young, most of the Acacia used for furniture will appear quite softer and lighter in color.
The color scheme of the acacia tree rests along with a range of colors sometimes even appearing in a deep red that has an undertone of brown making it appear like a red block nestled in a wide ring of blonde.
The range is so extensive that no two blocks of acacia can be identical even when cut from the same tree. Coupled with such color, the grain is quite distinctive and robust and acacia has visibly numerous knots.
Walnut is a deep robust brown, rather dark with undertones of black and even deep blue. The sapwood can be a dull color of yellow.
Walnut blocks also have a color range though not as extensive as that of Acacia. The grain is fairly straight, even, and smooth with few knots if any.
Raw wood is easy to differentiate but once they have been worked and finished with stains, Acacia and walnut can appear identical.
Due to the dramatic nature of its colors and grains, Acacia furniture features clearly defined patterns of both light and dark browns and beiges. This can offer a captivating aesthetic that has a very natural but wild appeal.
Walnut has a more even majestic aesthetic owing to its even color and grain structure. The deep brown hues of walnut are imposing and grand making it a favorite for most office furniture.
Traditionally and even today, walnut has been used largely for ornate furniture pieces and striking artwork due to this aesthetic.
It is common to find walnut being used in the décor of high-end cars, homes, and offices for its opulent aura.
Acacia has a denser grain than walnut which makes it the top contender for hardness between the two.
Acacia has a Janka rating of 1700 to 1750 depending on the specific species while Black walnut which is the most commonly used tree for timber has a rating of 1010.
Both hold up very well as materials for furniture despite this difference.
Modern machinery and better technology have made it easier to work on wood in general.
Acacia is a harder material and given the rich grain structure, it is much harder to mold and cut compared to walnut.
Walnut is softer and more agreeable and this quality is significant in the making of ornate and decorative furnishings because intricate designs can easily be carved into walnut blocks than into Acacia.
The smoother grain structure of walnut also does not interfere with the nuanced sculpting on the block.
Acacia, particularly the kind used in timber is abundant globally and fast-growing which means it is not in danger of depletion from lumbering.
Walnut trees are much rarer to find more so outside of the United States and in large quantities.
Many cultivars today are growing the Black Walnut for timber which is helping to proliferate the tree for timber. Both trees are sustainably available for lumbering.
Durability and Maintenance
Both Acacia and walnut are hardwoods which makes them highly durable materials resistant to rot, fungus, water, and heat damage.
Both kinds of wood are also scratch-resistant and do not easily warp or bend. Both will easily last over five decades in stellar condition.
They require little to no maintenance and if you have bought them finished then no maintenance other than wiping down dust is necessary.
If they appear dry, which could happen after a number of years, a light coat of the appropriate polish should fix them.
You will spend a pretty penny for any hardwood and these two are no exception.
While Acacia may be harder and even more durable, walnut is scarce and is in high demand for specialty pieces and bespoke furniture.