Hardwood and Finish Details

About Our Hardwoods

We use only premium-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 is locally harvested, thus reducing our carbon footprint.

It's true that 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 as well suited as solid hardwood for use in pet kennels.


Hard maple is a very light-colored, almost white hardwood with a smooth, closed-grain, uniform texture. It's virtually equal to our red oak in hardness, and is our strongest, stiffest 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. It's one of the best hardwoods to make pet pens from. So, if you prefer a light colored finish, perhaps to match your maple cabinets, maple is an ideal choice.

Red Oak

Red Oak is slightly darker than most maple and occasionally has a very slight pinkish tint. It's dense, very hard, and also resists shock (as would happen if the pen were dropped while being carried). The wood grain is mostly straight and open - a 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.

About Our Finish

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

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!

For a small extra fee, we can stain a Pupperton pen to match* any woodwork or other finish manufacturer’s color.

* The accuracy of the color match is predicated on the quality of the supplied sample. We have done quite well with simple descriptions and photos, but our matching accuracy confidence notably improves if you could tell us a finish manufacturer's brand and color name if you know it. There is a small additional fee for custom color matching based on several factors such as pen size, color and/or application effect (e.g., distressed, antiqued, etc.). Please note that since this makes for a custom order, please allow up to 4 week for custom-finished product delivery.

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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, each part is individually hand wiped
      to apply the stain and then again to remove excess stain later.
   3. The parts are individually spray clear-coated (base coat)
   4. The individual parts are all sanded by hand to knock down any raised
      wood fibers and smooth imperfections.
   5. The individual parts are sprayed again with a final clear top coat.
   6. The pen is assembled.

This process yields a 2 (or 3 coat if stained) satin-smooth matte gloss finish. You will still be able to feel the texture of the red oak.

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

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.