Mahogany is usually a reddish-brown in color. However, the wood itself is not exactly the same color and has variations in its darkness. The different related species of the mahogany tree have varying hues from the lighter pink shades to red and golden and deep brown. Another factor that decides the color of the hardwood is its age; young mahogany wood is light; the older it gets, the darker it becomes.
Many of the celebrated antique pieces were quite light in color when they were finished years ago. Though most people associate mahogany with a dark reddish color, originally it is a lighter brown when left in the natural finish without any stain; the red color is the result of stain, and it is not the natural color!
Stains are applied to wood as part of its finishing process. These stains render the furniture with an additional color depth and luster. The stains are applied not only to mahogany hardwood; other hardwoods are also colored using the various shades of stains. For example, red stains are used for finishing Walnut wood furniture to get a deep red like red wine color. The red stain will look good on three different woods: mahogany, cherry and walnut.
The color of true mahogany varies from light pinkish browns to dark browns. However, other wood species, which are also sold in the name of mahogany but are not genuine mahogany, have lighter shades ranging from yellow to brown. For example, Royal Mahogany which has a similar lustrous appearance and easy workability as that of true mahogany comes in pale to dark red-brown colors; Khaya Mahogany is usually brown; Sapele Mahogany is pink red or red brown; Sipo Mahogany is dark red to brown; and White Mahogany has a light golden yellow color. All these are not genuine mahogany but resemble it in their grain, hardness and durability. As true mahogany or its related species have slightly darker colors that deepen as they mature, the light mahogany shades of any substitute wood can be used as a cheaper and lighter alternative.