American elm

Distribution & Availability

The Eastern to Midwest USA. Limited availability in both lumber and veneer, due to the impact of Dutch elm disease1. Elm is now regenerating better in some regions and is still exported, but in relatively small volumes, therefore some grade qualities and specifications may be limited.

General Description

Red elm has a greyish white to light brown narrow sapwood, with heartwood that is reddish brown to dark brown in colour. The grain can be straight, but is often interlocked. The wood has a coarse texture.

Physical & Mechanical Properties

Elm is moderately heavy, hard and stiff with excellent bending and shock resistance. It is difficult to split because of its interlocked grain.

Specific gravity (12% MC) 0.53
Average weight (12% MC) 593 Kg/m3
Average volumetric shrinkage (Green to 6% MC) 11.0%
Modulus of Rupture 89.635 MPa
Modulus of Elasticity 10.274 MPa
Compressive strength (parallel to grain) 43.852 MPa
Hardness 3825 N

Working Properties

The wood of red elm is fairly easy to work; it nails, screws and glues well and can be sanded, stained and polished to a good finish. It dries well with minimal degrade and little movement in performance.


Rated as non-resistant to heartwood decay, and classed as permeable to preservatives.

Main Uses

Furniture, cabinet making, flooring, internal joinery and panelling.

Other Information

Bird pecks are a natural characteristic in all the elm species and are not considered a defect when grading lumber to the NHLA standard.