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What is the Difference Between Hardwood and Softwood Lumber?

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Learn the differences between hardwood and softwood floors.

If you are interested in woodworking or generally want to learn more about wood, a good starting point is to understand the difference between hardwood and softwood. These are the two main categories of lumber, so knowing their distinctions will be important to choose the right lumber for your needs.

Many assume the two wood types mainly differ based on their hardness — coming from their name — but this is always not necessarily the case. Below, you will find more information about hardwood vs softwood, so you can have more clarity on the matter.

Difference Between Hardwood and Softwood Lumber

Before diving into the difference between hardwood and softwood, we need to know where these types of wood come from in the first place. Hardwoods come from flowering plants or angiosperm trees like oak, maple, and mahogany, while softwoods come from cone-bearing or gymnosperm trees like spruces and pine trees.


For the most part, it is true that hardwoods generally have a harder and more rigid structure. However, as mentioned above, it is not always true. For example, balsa wood is classified as hardwood, but it is known to be softer than most other softwoods.


Perhaps one of the advantages of hardwoods is their resistance capabilities. Generally, hardwoods are naturally resistant to weather conditions and have better resistance against fire. Softwoods, on the other hand, usually need to be treated for them to have good resistance against various elements.


It can be hard to pinpoint how hardwoods and softwoods differ in terms of aesthetics since it could be a matter of preference. Softwoods tend to come in lighter shades, giving a sense of vibrancy to go with your homes. Spruce, for example, is a top choice for many homeowners due to its elegance and decorative nature.


Use is another common point of difference between hardwood and softwood. You will often see hardwoods used for furniture, flooring, and other durable construction projects. Softwoods are found more frequently in building components, wood-wares, paper pulp, and some furniture. They are particularly common for housing projects since they are easy to install, given their flexible structure.

Other Differences

Since hardwood grows at a significantly slower rate than softwood, it is often more expensive. Likewise, given their biological makeup and the trees they come from, hardwoods lose their leaves annually, whereas softwoods generally retain their cones and needles through the year. Lastly, hardwoods are usually denser than softwoods due to their compact structure.

Trust in Quality Suppliers for Your Lumber Needs

Now that you know the difference between hardwood and softwood, you might have a better idea of what you need. As one of the leading lumber suppliers, we offer a diverse selection of wood options that are sure to match every project–big or small. Contact Peninsular Lumber today at 813-875-8805 to learn more about our lumber supplies.