Selecting the best wood strength and durability is important to the long-term success of your project. So knowing key differences between hardwood and softwood helps to make your decision. Let’s look at some of the contrasts between softwood and hardwood timber.
Hardwood vs Softwood Differences
Many contractors can identify popular wood species and know which species are hardwood and which are softwood. For those less familiar with the differences between hardwood and softwood, we’ve got several key characteristics, uses, and other facts about hardwood and softwood timber.
|Definition||Hardwood comes from deciduous trees which loses their leaves annually. Deciduous trees also produce seeds with a nutty or fleshy covering.||Softwood comes from coniferous trees which remain evergreen and produce needles and cones. Coniferous trees bare exposed seeds.|
|Uses||Garden furniture, flooring, tools, musical instruments, barrels, and decks. (Think about items that need to last.)||Windows, doors, paper, Christmas trees, and home woodworking projects. (Absorbs finishes well, not good for being in exposed to weather elements.)|
|Density||Higher Density – harder, stronger, and more durable||Lower Density – easier to cut and work with, lighter weight|
|Aesthetics||Darker brown, reddish-brown||Pale yellow, light brown|
|Examples||Teak, Elm, Oak, Alder, Beech, Hickory, Mahogany, Maple and Walnut||Cedar, Fir, Pine, Spruce, Redwood and Juniper.|
|Cost||More Expensive||Less Expensive|
|Lifespan||15 + years with little maintenance||10 years if well maintained & treated properly.|
|Growth||Slow growing & takes longer to dry||Fast growing, dries quickly, easier to cut|
|Fire Resistance||More fire resistant||Less fire resistant|
|Maintenance||Very little maintenance – only needs to be “washed” once a year to rid it from algae. Protector does not need to be applied more than once.||More prone to decay – should not be exposed to weather elements over long periods of time. Recommended to use a protector and dry.|