Softwood And Hardwood: Whats The Difference?

Jarrah_flooring1First things first: ‘hardwood’ does not necessarily indicate that the wood is harder. Take Balsa wood, as an example– it is among the weakest woods around, but it’s still classified as a hardwood.

To effectively address the question, we’re going to need a quick biology lesson:.

Angiosperms vs Gymnosperms.
Okay, stay with us. There are 2 divisions of seed-bearing plants; Angiosperms and Gymnosperms.

The seeds of Angiosperms have a covering– either soft (i.e. fruit– such as apples, peaches, etc) or tough (i.e. nuts– such as walnuts, macadamias, etc). Angiosperms are hardwoods and comprise many of the plant kingdom.

On the other hand, the seeds of gymnosperms fall to the ground without any sort of covering. Pine trees are a good example– their seeds are grown in pine cones, which are released into the wind once they reach maturity. This assists to spread the tree’s seed across a larger location. Gymnosperms are softwood trees.

The significant structural difference is that hardwoods (Angiosperms) have Vessels or pours in the wood grain whereas softwoods (Gymnosperms) do not.

If that’s too complicated, there’s a much easier method to distinguish the two. Angiosperms are flowering plants while Gymnosperms are not. Also, Gymnosperm trees typically keep their leaves throughout the year, while Angiosperms generally lose their leaves in winter. Hence, deciduous trees are hardwoods, while evergreen trees are softwoods.

So Why The Confusion?
Generally speaking, Hardwoods are hard and strong when compared to Softwoods which, undoubtedly, are often softer and weaker. This is because the vessels in all Hardwoods (which assist carry nutrients and water) enable the remainder of the wood grain to be denser because these fibers do not need to deliver as much nutrients and water. This means that Hardwood is frequently really dense which generally makes it hard and strong.

However this is not always the case, the strongest Softwoods are harder and stronger than the weakest Hardwoods regardless of vessels. This is where the mix-up happens. It is common for carpenters and tradesmen to use the term “Hardwood” to explain any strong wood that is made use of in a structural application and “Softwood” to explain any wood that is simple to shape and work.

So “Hardwood Floors” could technically be a Softwood (such as Cypress Pine) and on the flip side Bamboo floorboards and many Engineered floors are technically Hardwood but not described as such!

Jarrah_flooring10Uses For Hardwood.
Examples of hardwood trees consist of Oak, Maple, Birch, Eucalyptus and Mahogany. Hardwood discovers its way into all manner of things– from tools, watercrafts and structures, through to furnishings and musical instruments. Most relevantly, because of its density, hardwood is commonly made use of in flooring.

Uses For Softwood.
Some of the well-known kinds of softwood are Cedar, Pine and Spruce. Softwood is rather easy to work with, and as such it has the tendency to be utilized in furnishings, windows and doors. It’s likewise used in the manufacturing of paper, as well as different kinds of board such as medium-density fibreboard (MDF).

treated_pine_decking7Softwood can likewise be utilized in floorboards– often supplying a more green alternative when compared with hardwood (as softwood trees grow much faster).

For more information on Hardwood and Softwood contact your local timber yard for advice. They will explain which wood is best suited for your Timber Flooring, Decking and Building projects.