A wood slab refers to a flat piece of wood, generally large enough to be used as a tabletop or similar application.
A wood slab can be obtained by cutting a large tree to its length (or width for trees with very large trunks) to achieve an intact flat slab that can be planed, surfaced, and finished to achieve the desired final look.
A wood slab can also be manufactured by combining two or more narrow wooden planks using glue to form a large panel.
Wood slabs are used in a wide range of applications, from tabletops to counters, desks, coffee tables, and benches. They are prized for their natural beauty and the stunning appeal they bring to any piece of furniture.
Here’s everything you need to know about the different types of wood slabs and their pros and cons.
What is a Wood Slab?
A wood slab is a plain, large, flat, thick piece of wood used as a tabletop or countertop. It can be a single piece of wood or made by joining two or more pieces obtained from the same or different trees.
The notable thing about an organic wood slab (obtained from a real tree) is that it is unique (unlike any other slab) and displays a distinctive natural wood pattern or character.
Wood slabs add a natural, classic look to any place where they are used.
The term ‘wood slab’ is also often used to refer to flat slabs of particleboard or plywood covered by laminates to make them look like real wood. However, real wood slabs are made of 100% real wood and have a unique pattern unlike anything else. It’s like a distinctive piece of art made by nature herself.
Types of Wood Slabs
Based on the manufacturing process, wood slabs can be of two major types – single slabs and joint slabs.
1. Single Slab
As the name suggests, this type of wood slab is made up of a single piece of wood. It is obtained from a large tree in the form of a thick slice by cutting either by the tree’s length or width. There is no change done to the structure. Only the surface, on both sides, is finished as required to make it smooth and add protection against water and other damages.
Single slabs, particularly from rare or exotic hardwood trees, are highly sought-after as they retain the natural organic beauty and shape of the tree. These slabs are generally used for making stunning but expensive tabletops and countertops.
While single slabs are outstanding in appearance and the most natural tree product, wide slabs can be rare and quite expensive. Also, the irregular shape of natural slabs could be a problem in some spaces.
Single slabs can be further divided into three types – live edge, natural edge, and straight edge.
1.1. Live edge slabs
This type of wood slab has the live edge or bark of wood maintained to achieve the most natural look of a tree.
1.2. Natural edge slabs
This type of wood slab has the bark removed from the edges to achieve a smoother finish and improve its versatility for future use.
1.3. Straight edge slabs
In this type of wood slab, the sides of the slab are trimmed to achieve a straight edge, which is done particularly to improve its appeal and to make it fit modern styling needs.
2. Joint Slab
Another common way of producing wood slabs is by combining (joining) two or more pieces together to obtain a large enough slab.
It is difficult to find trees that are large or wide enough to produce large slabs of intact wood. These trees have to be very old and can be extremely expensive or rare to find, particularly high-quality hardwoods such as teak and walnut. This is why many modern wood slabs are made by joining smaller pieces according to requirements to obtain a large slab.
2.1. Bookmatched slabs
One of the most common types of joint slabs is the bookmatched slab, which is made by joining two almost-same panels of the same tree to form a larger slab.
This type of joint wood slab offers a symmetrical look and is commonly used for large dining tables. To build this type of slab, two successive wood cuts obtained from the same tree are joined using high-quality glue. The process of manufacturing bookmatched slabs results in higher material wastage because the sides are cut before they can be joined.
2.2. Hexo Slabs
Hexo slabs are another kind of jointed wood slab. It is made by joining multiple, usually six or eight, small panels of wood to form a large slab enough to be used as a tabletop.
Multiple narrow wooden planks are joined together to achieve a distinctive look. The benefit of this type of wood slab is that it can be made from younger trees or even from leftover wood from other projects. It is very cost-effective compared to alternatives. Despite being not as attractive or appealing as single or bookmatched slabs, Hexo slabs are popular for their organic look. They can be made in any custom size.
2.3. River Slab
This type of joint slab contains an empty space between the two panels, which is filled by using epoxy resin.
The river-like design is made of epoxy resin, which is a durable, waterproof adhesive. It is used to join the wood panels together. The combination of real wood panels with a modern epoxy layer gives a unique & attractive design suitable for tabletops and many other applications.
Choosing the Right Wood for Slabs
Even though there are many types of wood slabs with different options, you can further customise the looks and quality of your wooden slab by using different types of wood.
Normally, solid hardwoods are used for slabs. While high-quality species such as walnut and Bubinga can give an exotic appearance to your slab, cost-effective options such as poplar are perfect for those looking for an attractive wood slab tabletop on a budget. Here are some of the best wood species for slabs:
Black Walnut wood is prized for its dark colouring with rich grains and incredible durability including resistance to decay, insects, and cracking. Due to high demand and limited availability, it is considered an expensive wood. Black Walnut’s graceful appearance makes it a captivating choice for crafting beautiful centrepieces for dining tables, coffee tables, and TV consoles. Due to the low natural width of walnut trees, finding single slabs can be difficult, and it is most commonly available in the form of jointed slabs. Contact White Knight Consulting Ltd or visit our website to buy high-quality walnut wood at the lowest price.
Teak, one of the most popular hardwoods, is highly appreciated for its appearance and durability. Due to its high oil content, Teak is naturally resistant to rot and is therefore suitable for outdoor furniture. High-quality slabs are made from teak obtained from old trees, at least 10 years or older. Young plantation teak may not be as durable. Teak is a wonderful choice for making natural wood slabs, but it can be expensive due to low availability. At White Knight Consulting Ltd, you can buy ethically sourced teak from FSC-certified sources.
Oak is another suitable choice for wood slabs. Oak slabs feature a versatile and timeless appearance. Its beautiful grain patterns and robustness make oak ideal for making high-quality slabs. It perfectly fits places requiring either a classic charm or modern elegance and can be used for making stunning dining tables, coffee tables, tabletops, and shelves having maximum natural beauty and durability of the popular oak wood.
Ash wood slabs provide a gorgeous and durable option and can be used in many applications ranging from furniture to interior design. The distinct grain pattern and light colour of the wood make slabs that are elegant and versatile and can be used in many applications both interior and exterior. Many old ash trees can be wide enough to produce large single slabs.
Exotic hardwood species like Bubinga are also commonly used for slabs. The wood features a beautiful reddish colour, giving a timeless appearance to any piece of furniture. It is also a very hard & dense wood with good sturdiness, making it perfect for high-quality slabs for use in a range of applications.
Poplar, which is a light cream-coloured hardwood, is another popular option for extracting wooden slabs. Sometimes, poplar wood can have burls or other figures on its surface which makes it particularly attractive for tabletops and similar applications.
If you’re looking to buy wood online or need help selecting the right wood for your project, you can reach us at White Knight Consulting LTD to talk to one of our specialists about your timber requirements. You can also explore our website to know about the various wood species we sell and export worldwide. Contact us to know more.