Utile: A Great Alternative to Mahogany

Close up of Utile

Mahogany has long been a favorite among those who love quality hardwoods. Its consistent color, beautiful appearance, and ease of use all combine to make it one of the top choices for hardwood enthusiasts, and this has been the case for centuries. High end millwork and prestigious furniture designers frequently use this beautiful wood.

However, the price of mahogany is often too high for many consumers to afford. The use of the trees has become highly regulated, and this means there is far less supply than there is demand. As a result, prices have gone through the roof, and mahogany is quickly becoming something that is considered a true luxury wood. Many individuals have sought an affordable alternative, a wood with all the beauty and durability of mahogany- available at a less costly price.

The Search for a Viable Alternative

This problem has led many to search for a working alternative that offers a similar look and similar benefits as mahogany, without the supply problems. Many people who love mahogany have found that utile lumber, also known as sipo, offers the best possible match to genuine mahogany. In spite of this, the average individual is fairly unfamiliar with this type of wood.

Utile board

Why Utile Works Well

Utile/ sipo is not the only mahogany alternative, but it is valuable because it does not have a pronounced, interlocking grain. This makes working with the wood a bit easier than with other mahogany alternatives, such as theAfrican hardwood sapele. It is also not much heavier than genuine mahogany, and it has a softness that is only marginally harder than the real mahogany.

One of the main differences between the two woods is a darker medullary ray line on the flatsawn surface of the utile. This line is much lighter on the mahogany boards. However, many people feel that this line gives utile a bit more character, making the replacement wood even more appealing and interesting than genuine mahogany.

Bigger Trees Mean More Supply

The utile tree is a very large tree, and that means that more boards can be cut from a single tree. This helps increase the supply of utile lumber, thus lowering the price.

Flat sawn Utile (left) and flat sawn Genuine Mahogany (right)

In the end, utile as a hardwood provides most of the benefits of mahogany with a price that is nearly half that of genuine mahogany. While there are other genuine mahogany alternatives on the market, many of them African in origin like utile, this one offers the closest match to the prized mahogany while giving a look that- especially to the untrained eye- is nearly identical.

Finding the Right Supplier

At McIlvain Company, we are often surprised by how many people are completely unaware of the benefits and low cost of utile. In our continuing quest to teach customers about ways to save money on quality hardwoods, we regularly point them towards utile when the price of mahogany is restrictive for them. If you are looking to create the look of mahogany for your next project, be sure to consider utile as an alternative before you spend the money on the pricier option.

For over 200 years, McIlvain Company has been a leader in the lumber industry. With our centuries of experience, our vast inventory of domestic and exotic hardwoods and softwoods, our dedicated order specialists, and our in-house millwork facilities, it’s no wonder that we’ve been one of America’s favorite lumber wholesalers for so long. We offer the highest quality lumber in the business and serve some of the world’s most discerning customers, and  our nationwide shipping ensures that your top quality lumber will arrive on your job site on schedule. For more information on what sets McIlvain apart or to request a free quote, visit us online today, or check out these selections from our lumber blog:

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