Human beings have used trees for construction since we first started using tools and building fires. Even with ancient man, they used trees for firewood, to make tools, and to build lodging. All in all, we use the lumber of trees everywhere we live and work. Lumber is used to build houses, sheds, furniture, flooring, and decks.
You will often hear someone mention that a certain wood is a “hardwood” or a “softwood”. What does that mean? All wood is hard if I hit you in the head with it! So how do you know why wood is called “hard” or “soft”? To begin with, the two categories start with the seed of a tree.
So How Do I Know The Difference Between Hardwood and Softwood?
We separate all trees into two categories: hardwoods and softwoods. We place a tree in a category based on its seed. If the seed is coated, like an acorn, then we consider the tree a hardwood. In this case, the definition of a coating is far-reaching, including trees that produce fruits as well as those that produce nuts.
All hardwood trees are flowering trees, or angiosperms. If the seed does not have any protective coating, like a pinecone, then we consider the tree a softwood. All softwood trees are gymnosperms.
Given these points, hardwoods are deciduous trees that bear fruits and lose their leaves annually. Also, softwoods are coniferous evergreens that produce cones and keep their needles year-round.
Common Example of Hardwood Trees
Listed are some of the common Genera of Hardwood Trees;
Common Example of Softwood Trees
Listed are some of the common Genera of Softwood Trees;
To learn more about scientific names, Read More.
What Are The Characteristics of Hardwood?
Although it is not all-inclusive, most hardwoods are denser than softwoods. Also, hardwoods have pores which are not present in softwoods. This is the primary reason hardwoods have such a prominent grain.
Hardwoods are much more resilient to the elements compared to softwoods. It is more resistant to rot, water, and fire. However, though it is more difficult to burn, it will burn longer and hotter.
Hardwoods are slower growing and so have a higher price tag.
To learn more about hardwood trees, Read More.
What Are The Most Common Uses For Hardwood?
We often use hardwood in applications that are under greater stress and wear because of its durability. Furthermore, its durability makes it excellent in the applications of flooring and furniture.
We use hardwood in all general construction of buildings and decks. In fact, hardwood is also used to build boats because of its natural rot resistance.
The prominent grain of hardwoods also makes for more delicate and beautiful uses. We often make musical instruments from hardwoods.
The most known application for hardwoods is for flooring. We have used hardwood for flooring for hundreds of years. It creates an attractive finish and can stand the test of time. You can cover it with a protective veneer, which can be sanded and re-applied.
Overall, hardwoods are ideal in situations that demand both beauty and durability.
What Are The Characteristics of Softwood?
Softwoods are less dense than hardwoods. However, this does not mean it is necessarily weaker. Given that, pine is the most commonly used wood in general construction despite it being a softwood. The applications are typically less seen. It does not always have a beautiful finish but is still strong.
Dependent on the type of tree, softwoods have some applications for its finish. Its lower density makes it easier to shape. Also, softwood trees grow much faster than hardwoods. Overall, this leads to a higher supply and a lower price tag. Softwoods are less resistant to water and rot but burn easily.
To learn more about softwood trees, Read More.
What Are The Most Common Uses For Softwood?
Softwood is strong and grows more easily, so contractors use it in standard applications such as framing, joists, and studs. Moreover, the lower density helps carpenters form softwoods into molding and window frames.
They manufacture plywood from softwoods. For centuries, we have also been manufacturing paper from softwoods.