HARDWOOD VS. SOFTWOOD LUMBER
While it may be easy to think of hardwood lumber as “hard,” and softwood lumber as “soft,” in reality the differences between the two types of lumber are not quite so black and white. Some hardwood lumber is soft, just as some softwood lumber is actually hard, and the two classifications actually have more to do with the type of tree that the wood comes from than their general durability and workability characteristics. While this is the case, many general characteristics can be applied to both lumber types.
Some important general characteristics to note:
- Hardwood comes from trees that include maples, walnuts, and oaks, while softwoods come from needled and coned plants (called gymnosperms) that include cedars, pines, and spruces.
- Hardwoods lose their leaves during cold winter months, whereas softwoods are ever green & keep their needles year-round.
- Hardwood trees grow at slower rates than softwood trees.
- Although the majority of trees found naturally in the world tend to be hardwood, around 80% of all timber used in construction is actually softwood.
- Most hardwoods tend to have a higher overall density than most softwoods.
- Hardwood lumber tends to be more expensive than softwood lumber.
- Hardwoods are generally used for flooring, decks, and high quality furniture that needs to last for long periods of time, while softwoods are used for paper, low quality furniture, fiber board, and minor building elements such as doors and windows.
- Hardwoods tend to be much more fire-resistant than softwoods.
Though softwoods or hardwoods can be preferred for any given situation or by any specific builder, they can generally be used for the same constructional purposes. Most builders and contractors will tell you, though, that it’s not really an issue of whether to use softwood or hardwood, but about which kind of softwood or hardwood to use, as there is much variation within each category.
Both softwoods and hardwoods have their advantages and disadvantages, so there is never necessarily a single solution for each project. Softwoods tend to be less expensive and easier to work with, making them by far the most common type of lumber used, but on the other hand, hardwoods tend to be more dense and durable, making them the clearer option for higher-quality projects or for areas that experience a lot of foot traffic or wear and tear.
Shell Lumber & Hardware offers a large selection of both hardwood and softwood lumbers to choose from, able to accommodate any and all project scopes. Our specially trained staff can cut lumber down to any size that you need, and we can deliver anywhere within the state of Florida. And if by any chance we do not currently stock in-house the particular type of lumber that you are looking for, then we would be more than happy to locate it and order it for you.
Even if you just have general questions about which type of lumber is best for your particular project, then feel free to give us a call at (305) 856-6401 and any of our friendly and skilled staff members will be happy to assist you and get your project going.