Woods of Mexican Furniture

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Mexican Furniture Made With Pine

Pine (Pinus spp.), or Pino in Spanish, is one of the world’s most commercially important trees. Pine species are native to almost all of the Northern Hemisphere, and have been introduced to temperate and subtropical regions around the world. Mexico boasts several native species of pine tree, including the Mexican White Pine, the Michoacan Pine, and the Montezuma Pine. All members of the pine family are fast-growing softwood trees. Because the trees are typically grown on plantations, they are also a sustainable choice. In additional to their timber, pine trees are also used for wood pulp, edible pine nuts and ornamental planting. While pine is plentiful in Mexico, most pine furniture is made with pine sourced from Brazil and Chile. 


While the characteristics of pinewood vary from species to species, most types are light in weight and light colored, with straight grains and minimal figure. The trees grow tall and straight, producing large amounts of useable timber in long lengths. Pine wood also takes a stain very well, making it versatile. Hardness varies: the softest Pine has a Janka Hardness Rating of just 380 while Red Pine is actually harder than oak with a Janka Hardness Rating of 1,630.


Because of its versatility and ease of working, pine is a very popular choice for furniture makers, including makers of classic Mexican furniture. It is also used in flooring, structural work, molding and cabinetry. It can be easily stained or painted, allowing it to be recolored to fit a variety of styles. Knotty pine is an excellent material for rustic furniture, while darker stained pine makes for beautiful hacienda styles. Once harvested, pinewood has no natural resistance to decay or insect attack, making it suitable for indoor use only. Pine furniture should be made in the way our Mexican artisans make our Gringo furniture pieces; that is with kiln-dried pine, which protects it from insects and pests. 


Kiln drying also helps prevent warping and cracking. Mexican rustic furniture made with local grades of pine may well evolve their shape over time, especially in coastal and humid climates. Buy roadside at your own risk! You should confirm that your Mexico pine rustic furniture is made from kiln-dried pine both to minimize the potential for shape changing as well as to avoid insects.


Pine Painted Finishes

Pine furniture can be readily painted to make beautiful cottage-style finishes. Some finishes are painted to hide the wood grain entirely. Others use ‘antique’ cottage finishes that show off the grain. Artisans also can use painting techniques that incompletely paint the piece so that it gives off the impression that the painted finish has faded, as if it were weather or left out in the sun. Here's a great piece using this 'antique' faded finish that can be applied to most any pine furniture piece.



Pine Stains

Here is a summary of the most common pine finishes.


Light Stain

Here are typical ‘light’ stain examples for pine.


The light stain is suggest of ash wood, light oak, and birch. Light finish can be applied with or without varnish. The light stain may be picked up unevenly, even appearing to be almost untreated – letting the beautiful natural wood grain show through. It is common to use a wax sealer that protects pine furniture from water and maintaining its original color. Rustic furniture sometimes is sold unfinished. We typically use either a wax finish or a light stain with was finish.


Medium Stain

Here are typical ‘medium’ stain examples for pine. You can see the predominant color is brown.

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The medium stain provides a darker appearance reminiscent of oak. It provides an impression of weight, while still showing the natural grain of the pine. 


Dark Stain

Here are typical ‘dark’ stain examples for pine. Black becomes the dominant pigment in the finish, while wood grain still is apparent.

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The dark finish connotes age and the feeling of hardwood – similar to very hard woods like mesquite. Dark stains still reveal the wood grain. Dark stain is commonly used in the famous Hacienda-styled pieces. For example, here is our popular Percy Table in reclaimed dark finish. Here is a great example of wrought iron with Dark stain with our Hacienda Merida Armoire.



Chocolate Stain

Because pine has an open cell structure, the wood can absorb a lot of stain and therefore customers sometimes feel dark stains do not enough concentration of darkness. In such cases, some furniture buyers prefer a ‘chocolate’ finish. Chocolate ‘stain’ is actually not a stain at all, but instead it is a paint finish.


Chocolate gives pine an intense, opaque black finish as in these examples. This can be appropriate when you want a dramatic appearance to offset other grey-scale decorating elements. 


Distressed Pine Furniture

Because pine is relatively soft, it is straightforward to create pieces that have an aged or distressed appearance. The most rare and expensive versions of distressed wood is ‘reclaimed’ which either is recovered from nature or intentionally weathered. More common are a variety of intentional distressing techniques. One technique is to distress the pine with an awl or mallet of nails to give a ‘wormhole’ appearance. Another technique (really) is to beat the piece with a heavy chain or implement. Manipulating the painted surface by 'scraping' it is a great way to give a weathered or aged appearance to a piece as well. For example:

Some artisans have their signature way to distress the wood they use. The result is unique and can add an aged charm that calls forth a certain charm and dignity to your décor.



Parota (Enterolobium cyclocarpum), often also known as Guanacaste or Elephant Ear Tree, is a large and spreading tree native to the tropical regions of Central America. It is the national tree of Costa Rica, and grows as far north as central Mexico and as far south as Brazil. Because of the breadth of their canopies, they are often grown as shade trees to shelter cattle or coffee plantations from the hot sun.

Parota trees grow quickly and are a sustainable source of wood, thanks in part to reforestation. Here is a close-up from our Parota Live Edge Table


Parota wood is a light to medium shade of reddish brown and extremely coarse, with an interlocking grain. It resembles Hawaiian Koa or Acacia, although it is significantly less expensive. It has a Janka Hardness Rating of 470, quite soft for a tropical wood, and is easy to shape. Its porousness also makes it easy to stain, even to very dark shades, but it is often just sanded and sealed to preserve its original often lighter appearance that includes notes of red, honey and brown. Note the beautiful complex grains, as in our Nayarit Chest of Drawers, from our Nayarit Dining Set.


The low density of Parota wood makes it a popular choice for carving and bowl turning, as it can be worked easily with hand tools. Because Parota grows quickly, the wood is often available in large slabs. This makes it fashionable for live-edged tables and similar large-format furniture, like the Parota Live Edge Dining Table


Parota also has a beautiful natural lustre that is readily brought out with oils that protect the wood and bring out parota’s intricate grains.

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