announcement

Update: Check new design of our homepage!

Softwood Vs. Hardwood

Softwood Vs. Hardwood

There are several differences between a softwood and a hardwood. These two types differ in their density and hardness, though these are not the criteria for classifying a wood as hardwood or softwood. Let's see how woods are classified into these two categories.
DecorDezine Staff
Last Updated: Oct 05, 2018
The hardwood and softwood can differ in their density. In general, hardwoods are denser than softwoods. However, some softwoods can be denser and harder than some hardwoods.
In fact, density and hardness are not the criteria for classifying a wood as hardwood or softwood. The main criteria of classifying a wood as hard or softwood is the type of tree from which it is obtained.
Softwood and Hardwood
The softwood is more readily available and less expensive than the hardwood, which is why it accounts for about 80% of the world's timber production.
wood
The term 'softwood' is basically used to refer to the wood obtained from gymnosperm trees like conifers. So, softwoods are obtained from trees like pine, cedar, cypress, redwood, spruce, and larch.
Clear Cutting Logging Pine Forest
Most of the gymnosperms are evergreen trees, and so, the term softwood is also used to refer to the wood obtained from an evergreen tree.
On the other hand, hardwoods are obtained from angiosperm trees, most of which are deciduous trees. The basic difference between angiosperms and gymnosperms is that the seeds of the gymnosperms are not protected by any kind of covering, while angiosperm trees produce seeds that remain covered with some sort of covering.
wood texture
Examples of hardwoods are oak, maple, ash, mahogany, cherry, teak, and birch.
At the microscopic level, softwoods and hardwoods can differ in their structure. In softwoods, only two types of cells can be found, and these are known as longitudinal wood fibers and transverse ray cells. Softwoods lack vessels for water transport, which however, can be found in hardwoods. The vessels in hardwoods can be discerned as pores.
hardwood flooring
As far as the application of these two types of woods are concerned, softwoods are more suitable to be used in the construction of buildings, paper making, wood furniture, printmaking, and mill work, while hardwoods are usually preferred for making furniture, flooring, and utensils.
Wood Pellets
Wood pellets are basically made from compressed wood, and are used in pellet stoves. They are made from both softwoods and hardwoods.
Hardwoods usually have low moisture content and hence, the pellets made from these tend to burn longer. Hardwood pellets produce more coals or denser ash, but steady heat. On the other hand, softwood pellets produce more heat initially.
Grilling spiced chicken
Compared to hardwood pellets, softwood pellets are easier to light, for which they are ideal for making kindling and also for campfire. Hardwood pellets can be used for cooking, as they can give steady heat for a long time.
However, it is important to note that the process of making pellets can almost equalize the heat value, as well as the burn time of both softwood and hardwood pellets. Therefore, one should buy pellets of high quality, made only from compressed wood.
Flooring
new hardwood stairs and floor
Hardwoods are usually preferred for flooring than softwoods. However, that does not mean that all hardwoods are equally suitable for this purpose. The maple, oak, teak, cherry, mahogany, walnut, and elm wood are commonly used for flooring.
Modern Room With Plasma Tv
Compared to hardwood floors, softwood floors are less expensive and they can look very attractive with slightly softer texture than the hardwood floors.
Basically, the choice between these two types of woods depends on the specific project, and its requirements. Some projects can require softwoods, while others may necessitate the use of hardwoods.
In general, softwoods are great for intricate woodworking, as they are easy to work with. Flooring is a project that demands strength, density, and durability. So, you have to choose the type of wood, that can meet these requirements.
To sum up, you can find a large number softwoods and hardwoods with wide variations in their hardness and density. So, while choosing a particular type of wood for a project, you have to make sure that the wood has even grain, it does not have splits and excessive knots, and is strong enough to serve the purpose for which it is used.
If you have any doubt, then talk to a professional about the various types of woods and their applications.