Contrary to popular belief, softwood vs hardwood isn’t distinguishable by varying degrees of wood hardness. Rather, the names are derived from the way the wood is produced and the botanical structure of the timber. However, hardwood timber is generally harder than softwood due to its higher density, though there are some exceptions. Below is a quick guide on softwood vs hardwood, and how you can tell the difference between hardwood and softwood.
Softwood vs hardwoodSoftwoodSoftwood refers to wood that comes from a specific type of tree known as ‘gymnosperms.’ Gymnosperms or ‘naked seed’ refers to a group of plants that have exposed seeds. The most common form of gymnosperms, pine trees and conifers, are also the most common type of wood used in softwood. Fast growing and readily available, softwood is often cheaper than hardwood but not as durable.Softwood is generally a lighter material to cut, which makes it a favourite in the construction industry as it can be used for multiple purposes such as fixtures and fittings and inner wall structures. Pliable and bendy, a softwood such as conifer contains only a few different cell types which means more air spaces – resulting in a softer, more malleable piece of wood. If used for outdoor fixtures, a softwood will often have to be reimbursed with preservative timber formulations to ensure a longer lifespan. When it comes to identifying the key difference between hardwood and softwood, malleability is the biggest indicator.Softwood timber is best used for:
- Structural framing
- Benchtops and cabinets
- Roof trusses
- Outdoor decks