How To Distinguish Between Different Types Of Wood

As long as people have been building things and worked in construction, wood has been one of the world’s most reliable building materials. In fact, wood is the most energy efficient material with which to make products.

When it comes to homes, wood is one of the most popular building materials. In fact, a single-family home contains about 13,000 board feet of lumber and about 94% of all new homes are built with wood frames.

Hardwood products are more naturally durable than other building materials and have a high density than softwoods, so any hardwood products you have in your house are going to have greater strength and durability. That durability makes hardwoods an ideal choice for flooring, furniture and construction.

When outfitting a home, hardwood products such as hardwood flooring are a popular option. A Hardwood floor is strong, durable and require a low amount of maintenance. Hardwood floors also allow for better air quality, make economic sense and are long lasting. For some home owners, hardwood floors are aesthetically pleasing, adding a certain amount of grace and charm to a house.

If you’re considering doing a DIY wood-working project in your house or buying wooden furniture pieces for your home, it’s important to differentiate between the different types of woods that are available.

  • Hardwoods: In North America, there are hundreds of varieties of hardwoods that can thrive in temperate climates. These varieties include oak, cherry, maple, ash and poplar. Each of these varieties can be crafted into long lasting hardwood products. As an added bonus, they all have unique markings and different textures, colors and grain patterns. So whether you’re looking to build or buy something out of big leaf maple wood or curly cherry wood, there are hundreds of options available.
  • Softwoods: These are your typical cone-bearing trees that have needles instead of leaves. In North America, softwood tree varieties include pine, spruce, redwood, cedar and fir. These are good for structural lumber needs such as 2x4s and 2x6s.
  • Tropical hardwoods: These aren’t native to North America and as such, their hardness, luster and grain pattern can differ from their North American counterparts. Tree varieties like this include teak, mahogany and rosewood.

    • Before you buy or build anything out of wood, you would do well to refer to the Janka rating system. The Janka system measures the relative hardness of woods with a hardwood like hickory being among the hardest and a softwood like aspen being the softest. Referring to this rating system can help you decide what wood you might want to work with.
      Different woods on the scale include:

      • Hickory (1,820 pounds)
      • Hard Maple (1,450 pounds)
      • White Oak (1,360 pounds)
      • Beech (1,300 pounds)
      • Red Oak (1,290 pounds)
      • Black Walnut (1,010 pounds)
      • Soft Maple (950 pounds)
      • Cherry (950 pounds)
      • Elm (830 pounds)
      • Cottonwood (430 pounds)
      • Aspen (350 pounds)

      There are many benefits to building with wood and buying wooden pieces to outfit your home, whether you install hardwood flooring, pick wooden living room furniture or buy other pieces of essential furniture. Whatever you pick, there are hundreds of varieties available and the key before building or buying is to check the hardness of whatever type of wood you’re interested in.

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