Pinkish to dark red, with rich color and smooth, satiny, most often wavy texture. The sapwood is always paler and may include tones of light gray or yellow. Generally, the color can vary substantially from board to board; hence we can accurately say that each panel is truly unique. The wood is light sensitive and develops an antique-like patina within 3-4 weeks when exposed to sunlight. The patina forms even without sun exposure, due to oxidation, but in this case it takes up to one year. Cherry is one of those woods that can be formal but also delicate. A skilled designer can turn it into a suave, rustic or antique element of decor. It blends well in a pretty wide variety of configurations. It can make a good transition from maple cabinetry to mahogany or similarly dark flooring. It can attenuate the austerity of Shaker style furniture, or the exuberance of a wood such as hickory or zebra.
Although technically a hardwood, the cherry wood is pretty soft (950 on the Janka scale), therefore it is mostly used for bar tops, table tops, island tops, coffee table tops and similar areas that are intended for dining rather than cooking. A cherry top will perform somewhat poorly when used as a food preparation area, since it wears out quite rapidly. It shows good elasticity and dimensional stability, but only average shock and decay resistance.
It machines, shapes and molds exceptionally well. In this regard, it is very good choice for tops with a rich, intricate edge profile. It shows no tendency to split, so it nails and screws easily. Sands very well and polishes to an excellent finish. It has a very good stain acceptance, but its use lye primarily on the grounds of its natural looks.
The beech wood, when steamed for up to 48 hours, turns reddish and makes a very good (and less expensive) substitute for cherry. Apart from its lower cost, steamed beech wood is frequently employed where a cherry effect is desired but substantial hardness and resilience is also required. The wood, however, will lack the wavy grain of the cherry and will not develop the characteristic patina.