24th July 2018

Blog: So, what is the difference between softwood and hardwood timber?

profile image
Posted by: Carly

You’d be forgiven for having a look at the title of this article and having a little chuckle to yourself, thinking we’ve completely lost the plot! Surely softwood is soft and hardwood is hard, no? It can’t be much simpler than that, you might think. But no, the terms softwood and hardwood timber don’t refer to the density or hardness of the wood itself. These are terms that refer right back to the tree and how it reproduces itself.

When thinking of renovating and replacing the windows in your home, you may be asking yourself, which timber should my new windows be made from?

Well there’s a question!

Let’s look at the difference first. The implication from the terms ‘softwood and hardwood’ suggest that the hardwood is stronger, harder and more durable.

There’s the thing, it’s not quite like that. The generic terms, softwood and hardwood, are used to describe two different types of tree. Softwoods are trees that have needle shaped leaves, ‘Coniferous trees’ like pines, spruces, fir trees and Christmas trees, as we know them. Hardwood is produced from trees that have broad-leaves known as ‘Deciduous trees’ like Oak, Ash, Beech, Mahogany and shed their leaves during the winter months. This means that deciduous trees produce hardwoods and evergreens produce softwoods.

So, is there any difference in density? Broadly speaking it is fair to say that hardwoods are denser than softwoods, and more durable when used for external joinery, but it’s not always the case. Such softwoods like pitch pine is as hard as nails and very durable, and Hemlock is used for making piers and it’s naturally resistant to water-borne bugs.

Additionally, Balsa wood throws this argument to the sharks. Balsa wood, which is classified as a hardwood and used for modelling, is one of the lightest, least dense woods you can find. So, there you have it, there’s no density or weight requirement to be classified as a hardwood, it’s all to do with reproduction.

Just because a wood is a hard wood, it doesn’t make it good for external joinery. Beech, for example, is dense, hard and heavy as Oak and will rot faster than pine if you leave it outside in weather. Typically, softwoods are recommended for paint finishes, and hardwoods for stained finishes.

Easy to maintain and good-looking timber windows really announce sophistication, natural elegance and beauty! Why not take a few minutes to browse our Timber Product Range right now?

You may also be interested in reading the following blogs:
What is the Difference between Solid Timber and Engineered Timber?
What is the Benefit of a Factory Finished Timber Window?
Timber Bi-Folds

Recent Timber Projects


Read our previous post - «

Recent Projects

Recent Projects

We proudly work with...