Species Specs: Beech

Fagus spp. genus

The Fagus spp. Genus (beech) family contains only about 10 species of trees in North America, Europe, and Asia. For the wood flooring industry, we will only focus on American Beech (Fagus grandifola).

American beech grows primarily along the Ohio-Mississippi river valleys, along the Appalachians, and through Eastern Canada. Some other related trees in the beech family are found in Europe, western Asia, and Australia.

The genus Fagaceae name is derived from the classical Latin name, from the Greek word meaning to eat, referring to the edible beechnuts (though bitter). Some beech trees can grow to 400 years old and upwards of 165 feet tall.

Commonly used in residential flooring, gym flooring, furniture, cabinetry, millwork, turnery, brush backs, cooperage, handles, food containers, butcher blocks, and clothespins and as plywood. Beech wood is also used in the aging process for Budweiser beer. Beech tree leaves may be used in fine salads or steeped in gin for several weeks, creating a liqueur called beech leaf noyau.

The heartwood of beech is mostly dark to light reddish brown, and the sapwood is generally a pale white or straw color, sometimes with a pink or brown hue.

Beech grain is straight, fine, and with a uniform texture. It can sometimes be interlocked. Growth rings are faint. On quartersawn material, the rays are clearly defined and numerous. American beech is coarser than European beech wood.


Beech has a dimensional stability factor of 5.5 percent (radial) and 11.9 percent (tangential), meaning this species may shrink/swell up to 11.9 percent of its given width, depending on how it’s cut, when going from green (30 percent MC) to oven dried.

.00190 (radial), .00431 (tangential)


Tongues have a tendency to split when using staples or when the PSI is too high from the compressor. It normally is recommended to use 18-gauge fasteners when nailing beech. Beech tends to shrink/swell extensively when in service, which should be accounted for during installation and its service life. Beech bends well.

Beech sands satisfactorily when following the proper sanding sequence but may be difficult to stain.

Sources: The Wood Database; Copyright © 2008-2016, Eric Meier | Wood Handbook (Wood as an Engineering Material), USDA Forest Products Laboratory | A Guide to the Useful Woods of the World; Copyright © 2001, James H. Flynn Jr. and Charles D. Holder | Missouri Dept. of Conservation | Just Fun Facts

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