Hardwood v Softwood

By: Philip Doleman


You may have heard people talking about two different kinds of wood - hardwood and softwood.

Suprisingly, these names have almost nothing to do with how hard or soft their woods are!

In fact some softwoods are harder than hardwoods! The names hardwood and softwood have to do with the trees that the wood comes from.This also applies to how the wood burns some softwood burns better than hardwood.

Hardwood

Hardwood comes from broadleaved trees. These are the sort of typical native British trees like oak, ash and beech. Most of these trees are deciduous; they lose their leaves in the winter. There are about a hundred times as many hardwood species as softwoods. Hardwoods are generally far more resistant to decay than softwoods when used for exterior work. In the past, tropical hardwoods were easily available but the supply is now restricted
because of the concern about the conservation of tropical forests.

Softwood

Softwood comes mainly from evergreen, coniferous trees which keep their foliage all the year. These are trees like pine and fir trees that are typical of cooler parts of the world. In general softwood is easy to work and has a huge range of uses. It is the prime material for structural building , but is also found in furniture and other products such as doors and windows. Softwood is also harvested for use in the production of paper.

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