Contractor Talk - Professional Construction and Remodeling Forum banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Folks,

I have a customer that wants me to install a handrail and newel in Maple. They want the maple because it will "match" their new hardwood flooring.

When I went to the lumber yard to price out maple handrail/newel they suggested Beech as the maple was very expensive and had a two-plus week lead time. Looking at pictures of the beech, it looks very similar in grain to the maple however I will need to stain the pieces to match the floor.

What are your thoughts on maple versus beech? I've never really done any kind of work with beech wood before so I don't really know what to expect between matching grains and color matching. Can I get away with Beech as a quicker and less expensive alternative or do I wait and spend the money on Maple. The customer is ultimately paying for the materials so that's not particularly my concern. My concern is matching the materials or closely matching.

Your input is much appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Remodel
Joined
·
30,193 Posts
It looks like the rail color was chosen to pick up some of the stone colors in the wall - clever way to unify that stairway.
 

·
Administrator
Maker of Fine Sawdust
Joined
·
53,385 Posts
Beech is more akin to oak. Try for the maple, charge the client accordingly. Or just give them the choice and see what comes of it.
 

·
Maker of fine kindling
Joined
·
6,199 Posts
Beech is nothing like maple.
By no means buy the beech and pass it off as a match to maple.
Discuss it with the client and offer a sample of beech with a contrasting finish.
FYI. My finisher does not like staining beech. It gets blotchy and difficult to achieve a nice even color tone. His words.
 

·
Registered
Remodel
Joined
·
30,193 Posts
FYI. My finisher does not like staining beech. It gets blotchy and difficult to achieve a nice even color tone. His words.
I wouldn't stain the wood. This is one of those that natural or seal it and tinted coats work OK. I rarely work with it other than as firewood.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I would wait for the maple. Beech isn't that much cheaper than maple, at least out here. Maple isn't that much fun to stain either.
Thanks all for the input. As I mentioned prior I'm still kind of new to working with species other than red oak or maple. I haven't really gotten into many high-end type of carpentry jobs. Most of my customers are too cheap and want things painted or just don't like wood.

Anyway, if I had to substitute (I'm going to push for the Maple if that's the look they want) is there another species that is "relatively" close? Again going back to the swatches, Alder & Cherry look similar in grain but I found out before that the grain in the swatches don't always look like they really do. Even the red oak looks like a smooth tight grain which I know it's not.

Thanks so Much,
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
818 Posts
Soft maple, or maybe poplar with no heartwood could be stained to look similar. Beech has a finer grain than red oak, it's more similar to sycamore.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Railman

·
stacker of sticks
Joined
·
8,502 Posts
I hate it when everything is all the same kind of wood. My in-laws have everything in oak. Floors, stairs, banister, molding, doors, Windows. Then they wanted chery cabinets so they changed all the molding in the kitchen to chery. They built the house. It just looks so plane.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
818 Posts
Sanding sealer...
 

·
Registered
Remodel
Joined
·
30,193 Posts
I think Basswood's post got skipped over a little bit. The picture he posted illustrates a couple of important points in choosing interior colors. The rock wall is mostly grey, but with a range of rust brown as well. The rail is stained to within the range of rust brown from the wall, unifying it with the wall.

Here's the trick that was used - the floor is stained a shade darker than the rail. It doesn't "match", but it goes with the rail and wall. It's one of the easiest ways of pulling a color scheme together.

If this were paint, you'd take some floor paint and mix it half and half with white, and that would get you the rail paint. Once you move out of having to have an exact match on color, having an exact match grain / texture isn't important, and can add interest.

Bass' picture is a little more sophisticated - the range of shades in the floor add interest, as does the range of shades in the stained rail / stairs and the range of shades in the stone work. The stone work add texture as well. In one sense, this is a sophisticated design using ranges of colors and some texture, but the technique is pretty simple and accessible once you understand it. Generally, if you want to emphasize a feature, go with a lighter shade.
 

·
Artisan Carpentry
Joined
·
1,985 Posts
btw, those stairs are not a project I had anything to do with. I just like them and the contrast with the floor.

My house has light oak narrow strip flooring and dark stained oak trim. It is an old craftsman style place and the oak looks good here. Though ordinarily, I am tired of seeing oak.

On Beech, here is some trivia. The German word for beech is "buche" which is where we get our work "book." Germans used to write on beech trees and beech tablets.

They still have a preference for bookcases made of beech in Germany. So their bookcases are literally "buchecases."

Here is a blog post I wrote about this:

http://www.basswoodartisancarpentry.com/blog/origin-ofbooks/
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
352 Posts
Nice blog Bass.

For your information, all books are filled with paper. Paper was Invented by the Egyptians, not the Germans. It goes back long before the Middle Ages.

Lets just say that while the Egyptians were writing on paper (hieroglyphs), the Germans were still kicking the beech slats out of their cribs. LOL...

Bob

Bob
 

·
Artisan Carpentry
Joined
·
1,985 Posts
Nice blog Bass.

For your information, all books are filled with paper. Paper was Invented by the Egyptians, not the Germans. It goes back long before the Middle Ages.

Lets just say that while the Egyptians were writing on paper (hieroglyphs), the Germans were still kicking the beech slats out of their cribs. LOL...

Bob

Bob
What I meant is not that the Germans made the first collections of paper bound together or rolled in scrolls or whatever. The word "buch" is German, so the first time anyone called something written on a "buch" it was a German.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
I have some birch I got from a mill probably 15 years ago that could be mistaken for maple at a glance . Perhaps they meant to say birch instead of beech.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
352 Posts
basswood said:
What I meant is not that the Germans made the first collections of paper bound together or rolled in scrolls or whatever. The word "buch" is German, so the first time anyone called something written on a "buch" it was a German.
I was just trying to give you some more information for your blog. You seem interested in history.

Bob
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top