Hardwood and Finish Details

About Our Hardwoods

We use only select-grade (virtually knot-free) solid American hardwoods in our pen products, and inspect every piece by hand to verify that it meets our quality standards throughout manufacturing. Being 100% natural, unique wood character is literally engrained into each piece – and that enhances overall visual appeal unlike any man-made material like plastic or metal. Of course, our solid wood is Eco-friendly by virtue of being renewable and without chemical additives such as glue or epoxy bonding resins (our pens are screwed together), and our wood does not come to us shipped over great distances, thus reducing our carbon footprint.

Although engineered wood products such as veneer, plywood, MDF (med. density fiberboard), particleboard, etc., can be less expensive thus leading many other furniture manufacturers to use them to cut costs, those engineered woods are not suited well to pet kennels like solid hardwoods. Much engineered wood lacks the durability and great looks that only natural solid hardwoods can offer.

Some manufacturers and importers of wooden products may call their product some seemingly exotic or "upscale" name, for example, "dark walnut", thus implying that the wood is walnut. It may be true that the finish is dark brown, but the wood is likely not walnut (unless it’s explicitly stated). A dark brown stain applied to some lesser quality wood, possibly unidentified, and that may even change species from production run to production run will not stand up to the long-term rigors of daily pet use like the a real hardwood. When you see Pupperton hardwood products listed as being a specific wood species, it is 100% that species through-and-through – our color names are accurately descriptive – not deceptive or exaggerated.


Hard maple is a very light, almost white colored hardwood with a smooth, fine, uniform texture. It's equal to our red oak as our most dense hardwood, and is our strongest, stiffest, hardest, and most shock resistant species.

Maple is plentiful and popular and finishes completely smooth; it’s perfect for solid paint colors and clear to lighter-medium stains only. Due to its abundance, it costs us less than our other standard hardwoods, and so we pass those savings on to our customers. So, if you prefer a light colored finish, perhaps to match your maple cabinet faces, maple is an ideal choice.

Red Oak

Red Oak is slightly darker than most maple and often has a slight pinkish tint. It's dense, very hard, and resists shock (as would happen if the pen were dropped while being carried). The wood grain is mostly straight and open - classic coarse texture that allows it to take stain and display beautiful contrasts.

Red oak often varies in color tint from tree to tree, so we hand-match stock to make the hundreds of dowels, rails and other oak parts look consistent throughout your product.


Cherry has a long and distinguished history, and is prominently used in high end furniture and cabinetry worldwide. Cherry’s beautiful heartwood varies from light to dark reddish brown, while its sapwood near the bark is nearly white. It's our least dense standard hardwood (and hence our lightest – a possible consideration if you’ll be transporting you pen frequently). It has good hardness, withstands significant bending although is typically considered having a moderately course grain, we sand and finish it so it’s as silky smooth as our maple finish. Pupperton is the first brand to include this fine wood in a standard pet kennel product line as far as we know.

Because of the tendency in cherry for noticeable variability in coloring even within a single piece, we hand-select stock so the hundreds of dowels, rails and other parts are placed to display dramatic character throughout your product. Cherry is also a popular wood to finish two-tone on different parts of the pen to enhance the pen's character.


Walnut’s heartwood (the part we use) ranges from light to chocolate brown. We do not offer a clear finish on this wood; we enhance the grain with a traditional-looking (e.g., Watco danish oil-style) stain instead of our typical clear (when no color is called for). Walnut is a middle-density hardwood, so it travels well due to it’s toughness and relatively lighter weight than the more dense maple and red oak. Due to its relative cost caused by rarity (only making up 1% of the U.S. hardwoods), many customers are mistakenly afraid to take it with them on trips for fear of damage, but our testing indicates little risk in this regard - it's extremely well-suited to our pet pens and their total functionality. Walnut’s grain has medium coarseness (a semi-open grain) when we buy it, but we finish it to being nearly as smooth as our maple and cherry. Like our cherry, Pupperton is the first brand to include this fine wood as a 100% solid offering (not veneered) in a standard pet kennel product line as far as we know.

Our elegant walnut has wonderful grain and color variability within a single piece, with occasional curling and visible grain direction changes that add tremendous beauty to our products made from this wood.

About Our Finish

We apply only a top-of-the-line non-toxic GreenGuard-certified waterborne pre-catalyzed lacquer to our hardwoods. Our testing and customer feedback indicates that this finishing product is extremely durable and holds up extremely well to the pet claws and teeth should your pet try to test it. This finish and our unique structural design work together to inhibit typical pen damage by nearly all small pets.

Our professional finishing department uses a multi-step process to put the best quality finish possible on our pens - it's on par or better than most fine home furniture.

We Offer Custom Finishing!

Best of all, since we build your product to order because we satisfy so many custom design requests of all types, we can stain your pen to match* any woodwork or finish manufacturer’s color card number that you would like us to.

* The accuracy of the color match is predicated on the quality of the supplied sample. We have done acceptably well with simple descriptions and photos, but our matching accuracy improves significantly with better information such as color card manufacturer and associated color number like you’d find at a home improvement or paint stores, or actual small physical sample pieces mailed to us. There may be a small additional fee for color matching, but often it’s at no additional charge – final cost depends on the specific color and/or application effect (e.g., distressed, antiqued, etc.) desired.

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Technical Notes

:Our Step-by-Step Finishing Process Ensures Quality

This is our finishing process:

   1. The individual parts are all sanded by hand.
   2. If the product will be stained, then these two steps are added:
       a. The parts are all stained by hand wiping or brushing each one
       b. The parts are all individually hand-sanded again to remove
          raised grain but not color.
   3. The parts are individually clear-coated
   4. The individual parts are all sanded by hand again to smooth imperfections.
   5. The pen is assembled.
   6. The assembled pen is sprayed with a final clear coat.

This process yields a 2 (or 3 coat if stained) satin-smooth matte gloss finish.

Comparable Properties of our Woods

This table is based on tests by the U.S. Forest Product Laboratory and Weyerhaeuser Technology Center.

(12% moisture content)
Specific Gravity (density) Hardness (lbs)
Bending Strength (psi)
Bending Stiffness (Kpsi)
Maple .63 1450 15800 1830 Fine
Red Oak .63 1290 14300 1820 Coarse
Cherry .50 950 12300 1490 Mod/coarse
Walnut .55 1010 14600 1680 Medium

Specific Gravity: A wood’s specific gravity is an indication of its density. The number itself is the ratio of the wood’s density compared to that of water (1.0). The larger the value, the more dense the lumber.

Hardness (Janka Ball test): The value is the force required to embed a 0.444-inch-diameter steel ball to one-half its diameter into the radial and tangential surfaces of solid wood. The higher the value, the harder the lumber.

Bending Strength (MOR): The maximum load carrying capacity in bending. The larger the number, the higher the load the lumber can support before failing.

Bending Stiffness (MOE): Bending stiffness or elasticity is a description of deformation under load or stress. The larger the number, the less deformation the lumber will have under load.