Softwoods VS Hardwoods

By: Katie Trevino

June 29, 2017

Flooring

How to tell a hardwood from a softwood

Generally, wood tends to be put into one of two categories: softwood or hardwood. But what exactly classifies a wood as a hardwood or a softwood? Some might think that hardwoods are more durable than softwoods based off of their names alone. However, hardwoods are not always denser than softwoods. The terms hardwood and softwood are actually referring to the origin of the trees. In general, hardwoods come from deciduous trees which are trees with enclosed seeds and lose their leaves annually, while softwoods come from conifer trees which come from uncovered seeds and remain evergreen.

What’s the difference?

Softwoods tend to be less dense and therefore easier to cut, while most hardwoods tend to be denser which makes them sturdier. In practical terms, this denseness also means that the wood will split if you hammer a nail into it. Thus, you need to drill screw or bolt holes to fasten hardwood together. But structural lumber is soft and light, accepts nails easily without splitting and, thus, is great for general construction.

The most common way of differentiating the types of wood is by using the Janka Scale to test a wood’s hardness. This involves measuring the amount of force needed to embed a 0.44” steel ball to half its diameter in the wood. Read more about the Janka Scale here.

So which type of wood should you choose?

The decision to buy a hardwood or a softwood for your wood flooring needs can depend on various factors: such as personal taste, décor, and your price budget. Normally, hardwood flooring materials are a littler pricier than softwoods but for good reason! Hardwoods are more durable and require less maintenance than softwoods and can last you several years.

Hardwood and softwoods both can be used for a variety of projects, so it all depends on what your needs are. If you’re wanting to create a floor in a high traffic area or the structure for a house, then hardwood is the way to go! However, it’s really up to a matter of preference. There are hardwoods and softwoods that would both be suitable for every project so it’s up to you to decide which wood flooring option you’d like to go with!

If you can’t seem to make a decision on which wood option is the correct choice for your next project, we can help you pick out the perfect wood to match your needs. Contact us today at WoodCo, let us know your situation, and we’ll give you our best suggestions! WE have years of experience helping people find the best wood and wood products for their projects and we are certain that we can find an option in one of our collections that will fit your needs.