The main goal of this paper was to clarify to what extent extractives and wood structure determine the surface properties of hardwoods, mainly tropical. The role of wood extractives relative to properties, such as wettability and free surface energy, has been confirmed. The most significant seemed to be cyclohexane extractives. It was further found that in the case of tested tropical wood species, the extractives contents were high. Moreover the important role of axial parenchyma in wood wettability was established. It was established that multiple regression analysis could be useful in understanding wood properties as the result of the complex structure of wood. The obtained data is crucial from a practical point of view for its disclosure of those wood species that require surface modification prior to varnish coating.