Chess boards come in a variety of materials. Depending on your needs and the aesthetics you desire, you can find chess boards in many different solid woods, with wood veneers, with a gloss lacquer, with a satin finish, made from plastic, made from vinyl or even as stoneware.
Chess boards made of solid woods have a number of different variations of what that wood is. For example, wooden chess sets can be made of boxwood, sheesham or ebony woods. Rosewood and red sandalwood are additional options, though they are endangered and becoming less available. The decreasing availability of material, however, makes these particular sets more valuable. Higher-level tournaments are usually played on solid-wood chess boards whereas lower-level tournaments are usually played using plastic sets.
It could be beneficial to consider wood veneer in lieu of solid wood. A solid wood chess board can warp, crack or break more easily than wood veneer. In addition, wood veneer is the less expensive option of the two choices. Solid wood can be the better choice if there is ever any damage since repairing solid wood is a lot easier than sanding veneer, for example. You can also purchase a solid wood chess board with a gloss lacquered or satin finish to avoid minor damage.
Plastic chess boards are ideal for lower-level tournaments because of the low cost. They are also ideal chess sets for schools because they resist stains and are more child proof than wooden boards. Vinyl chess boards are very portable which makes them suitable for chess matches that involve a lot of traveling, such as high-school or college chess.
Natural stone chess boards have a patchwork feel to them. They tend to have unique, elegant designs and sometimes come with decorative borders. Made of slate, marble or other stoneware, these boards are clean, easily stay in place and are great display pieces.
Magnetic chess boards are perfect for traveling. Coming in many different sizes, magnetic boards are compact and durable. The best quality of a magnetic chess board is that, if you are a passenger during a long trip, you and your opponent can stop and take a nap. When you wake up, the pieces will be in the exact same spots where you left them.