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The difference between hardwood and softwood timbers

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The difference between hardwood and softwood timbers

Do you know the difference between your oak and your pine? The former is classified as a hardwood and the latter a softwood; but what are the variations between the two and how does choosing a hardwood or softwood make a difference to your project? Here we compare hardwood and softwood, as well as suggesting the best uses for each type of timber.

 

Hardwoods aren’t always harder!

The distinction between hardwood and softwood is made on the basis of the way in which the trees reproduce, rather than the physical hardness of the timber! Deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves annually and reproduce through the production of seeds with a covering (such as acorns, cherries, hazelnuts or apples) produce hardwood timber. As they tend to grow more slowly than conifers, they usually result in denser timber, but this is not always the case. In contrast, softwood trees are conifers. Conifers also produce seeds, but these are found on cones and are distributed by the wind. Examples of softwood include pine, cedar, juniper and yew.

 

Is hardwood or softwood best?

Both types of timber can be used in a variety of different ways. There is no “best” type of timber! Generally, hardwood tends to be slightly more durable and rot more slowly, but with the correct preservative, there is no reason why softwood can’t last equally well. There are also differences in timber colour as weathering occurs: stains or varnishes can ensure that your timber retains your preferred colour, regardless of the type selected.

For further advice on the right timber for your project, reach out and speak to a member of our experienced carpentry team today.