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Hardwood versus Softwood comparison chart

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Hardwood

 

Softwood

Definition

 

Comes from angiosperm trees that are not monocots; trees are usually broad-leaved. Has vessel elements that transport water throughout the wood; under a microscope, these elements appear as pores.

 

Comes from gymnosperm trees which usually have needles and cones. Medullary rays and tracheids transport water and produce sap. When viewed under a microscope, softwoods have no visible pores because of tracheids.

Uses

 

hardwoods are more likely to be found in high-quality furniture, decks, flooring, and construction that needs to last.

 

 

About 80% of all timber comes from softwood. Softwoods have a wide range of applications and are found in building components (e.g., windows, doors), furniture, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), paper, Christmas trees, and much more.

Examples

 

Examples of hardwood trees include alder, balsa, beech, hickory, mahogany, maple, oak, teak, and walnut.

 

Examples of softwood trees are cedar, Douglas fir, juniper, pine, redwood, spruce, and yew.

Density

 

Most hardwoods have a higher density than most softwoods.

 

Most softwoods have a lower density than most hardwoods.

Cost

 

Hardwood is typically more expensive than softwood.

 

Softwood is typically less expensive compared to hardwood.

Growth

 

Hardwood has a slower growth rate.

 

Softwood has a faster rate of growth.

Shedding of leaves

 

Hardwoods shed their leaves over a period of time in autumn and winter.

 

Softwoods tend to keep their needles throughout the year.

Fire Resistance

 

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