Is pine a hard or softwood?


Is pine a hard or softwood

It’s quite a common thing that many people think that softwood is what is soft, and hardwood is what is hard. Right?

This is the most common thinking in many people’s minds. But, does this make any sense? Actually not, not at all. 

The words may sound correct like calling softwood and hardwood, but the terms are not referring to their physical properties rather it’s simpler than that.

This is why pinewood is soft.

Speaking of pinewood, it belongs to the softwoods. Even though you may think it’s quite hard to touch, the term softwood is not what it is referring to.

Instead, it means pine trees are gymnosperms, simply put their seeds are not covered by any shell-like walnut (a hardwood tree). 

Also, since they don’t shed their leaves in winter, and have leaves like needles and cones, thus, such trees are classified into the softwood group.

Furthermore, the seeds of such woods are normally not covered, when falling on the ground many turn into trees as well.

Initially, pine cones are hard, but later they are dispersed by the wind through a wider area.

Reasons: why is pine called softwood?

There are some reasons why a pine tree is called a softwood tree. Which we’ll discuss below.

  • To begin with, a pine tree doesn’t have any visible pores, even if you use a microscope you will not be able to see any pores since there are not any.\

 

  • Furthermore, the leaves of pinewood are coned in shape and look like a needle. Which is another reason to say that It belongs to softwood.

 

  • The trees are gymnosperms which means that their seeds are not covered with a shell or any type of skin. This is one of the most general rules of speciation.

Moreover, they have the ability to quickly grow and are readily available across the world.

  • Lastly, they are lighter than many hardwoods, and traditionally found are light colors like creamy, white, pale yellow, which qualify them to be called softwood.

Is pine the softest wood?

NO, pinewood is not the softest wood of all even if it’s popular and also known as the one the softest wood. But still, it didn’t beat the softness of the Balsa wood.

Balsa is the softest wood on the earth, interestingly it belongs to the hardwood category. But, its physical nature is very soft to touch, even with hands it can get scratches and is more prone to dents.

Generally, the lightweight also means the wood is less dense, which speaks to the fact that their trees are fast-growing.

The Balsa tree, which is the fastest-growing tree, can reach a height of 30 to 45 meters within a span of 2-3 years. 

Light-gray bark with white marbling is usually present on the stems. In terms of density, balsa is the softest wood on Earth.

Is pinewood stronger than plywood?

The strength and stiffness of pine wood are far superior to plywood. It is less likely for a solid wood shelf to sag compared to it made of plywood. 

Especially when it comes to wood flooring, solid wood or pine wood is the better option than any type of chipboard or plywood

Natural wood is known to resist decay, over time it tends to get denser and gain more stability; contrasted with wood-engineered woods, which tend to become weaker over time.

Pine Wood is lighter than Oak

One of the common facts is that pinewood is one of the lightest woods out there. Speaking of the oak wood compared to it, you will notice it will be 2,3x times heavier.

That’s due to the fact, generally, fast growers tend to produce less dense wood than trees that take a longer amount of time to grow. 

For instance, oak wood takes around 15-20 years on average to produce lumber of wood that a pine tree can produce in less than 5 years. This makes pinewood one of the lightest woods.

What makes pinewood cheaper?

Pinewood production is less costly because the seeds of pine trees can spread through wind, and because they require less maintenance, they grow more rapidly than other types of wood.

On the other hand, if we speak about hardwoods pricing.

You will find them very costly due to the fact they are angiosperms meaning their seed doesn’t spread through the wind.

Furthermore, most of the natural wood trees take years to grow, that’s also affecting their overall cost since growers have to wait and maintain quite a long period.

Lastly, there is one more thing that affects the price, that is to get useful lumber.

Since mostly pinewoods produce long trees, which is why getting straight lumbers is not a big deal.

On the other hand, natural woods like redwood, are often found in curved shapes. Making it difficult to get ideal lumber.

Softwood vs hardwood- visible difference

There are different types of hardwoods and softwoods, but you might not know which will be best for your project. 

It is generally true that hardwoods carry a strong structure used when strength is given the top priority, whereas softwoods are more workable and readily being used in making interior and exterior furniture.

The below table explains things very well.

CharacteristicHardwoodSoftwood
Hardwood Softwood
The origin of the product 
Trees with deciduous leavesA tree that remains evergreen
A few examplesOak, Teak, MahoganyPine, Spruce, Fir
PriceMore expensiveLess expensive
DensityTypically harder (but not always)Usually softer (but not always)
ColourGenerally darkAlmost always light
StructureLower sapHigher sap
GrainCloseLoose
Fire resistanceGoodPoor
WeightHeavyLight

Softwood vs hardwood; Touch has nothing to do with it.

Since we already understand the terms soft and hard is not about how their physical nature is, instead it’s something that classifies how they reproduce.

In fact, to make this argument more understandable there is a wood called Balsa, which is basically classified as hardwood but actually, its physical nature is utterly different. 

Fun fact: Balsa tough, called hardwood, is the lightest and the least dense wood in the world. It’s much lighter and less dense than pine wood as well.

Using physical properties to classify.

Woods of different species have different physical characteristics, and these differences can be observed by the naked eye as well as under a microscope for better clarification. 

The pores in softwoods are invisible, so there is no grain that can be seen unlike in hardwood. Furthermore, softwoods tend to be lighter in color than hardwoods. 

A hardwood tree is generally recognized by its broad, glossy leaves, whereas a softwood tree is normally characterized by needles and cones.

References-

https://kitchencabinetkings.com/glossary/pine-wood/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Softwood

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardwood

https://www.laver.co.uk/blog/hardwood-vs-softwood-whats-the-difference/

4 thoughts on “Is pine a hard or softwood?

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