First and foremost, the materials you choose to have your desk made of will determine not only its longevity and strength but also the options you have for finishing. Let's take a look at the commonly available material types and what advantages you'll get with each.
Hardwoods are almost universally considered the best materials for executive desks. For starters, hardwoods have the greatest longevity of any other type of wood. Their densely packed fibers make them naturally resistant to humidity fluctuations, direct water exposure and temperature fluctuations. All of which cause lesser woods to flake, warp and quickly decay.
Hardwoods are also among the most aesthetically pleasing types of wood available for executive desks. Their natural wood grains make them incredible works of art once finished and lend themselves well to blending into several environments. Natural wood grains look exquisite in daylight or cool white lighting and blend well with both modern and traditional office décor.
Manufactured woods offer less than hardwoods do when it comes to longevity, but just as much when it comes to style and finish options. Manufactured woods are made by attaching a (typically) hardwood veneer, to plywood, softwood or MDF core, giving the finished product the appearance of genuine hardwood. Occasionally, this core can be made from hardwood in the highest quality manufactured wood.
If you must choose a desk made from manufactured wood, try to avoid MDF with hardwood veneers. MDF is a particulate wood and because of its porous nature is far more vulnerable to water damage and humidity than other types of wood.
A plywood or softwood core offers a lot more longevity than an MDF core, so we recommend going this route if you need to maintain a budget but insist on high-end style options.
Executive desks are rarely made entirely of metal, but frame and drawer elements commonly are. Full- sized executive desks are already heavy objects on average, so making one entirely of metal is often unfeasible due to concerns for shipping and handling.
If you are set on having a metal executive desk, there are distinct advantages to having a metal desk over a solid hardwood one. First, metal desks are far more water and temperature resistant than wooden desks, meaning you won't have to be concerned about flaking, rotting or warping even in a home with a lot of temperature fluctuation.
Of course, metal can rust over long periods of time, even when not directly exposed to water, however, this can be avoided by a yearly re-finish.