Many times solid wood furniture will be advertised as hardwood or softwood. Most trees can be categorized as one of these two types of wood. Today we’ll look at the difference between the two.
Hardwood trees are higher in density than other trees. Species such as mahogany, oak, hickory, maple, teak, beech, walnut, and alder are all in the category of hardwoods. Hardwood deciduous trees lose their leaves in autumn and the trees are slow in growth. They usually come from a flowering plant or an angiosperm.
Softwood trees have a lower density and include species such as pine, fir, cedar, spruce, balsa, juniper, and redwood. Softwood trees come from coniferous, evergreen, or gymnosperm trees. Most Christmas trees are generally softwood trees made from the three softwood evergreen families: fir, pine, and spruce.
Hardwood is often more durable than softwood because of its physical makeup. Some exceptions to this rule are the yew tree, a softwood, that is structured more like a hardwood, and the balsa tree, which is categorized as a hardwood, but is a softwood in structure.
Hardwood and Softwood in Furniture
Features of Hardwood Furniture
Hardwood furniture is often characterized by the elegant presence of pores in the wood. The pores in the wood are unique and appear in a wide range of shapes and sizes. This occurrence is due to the way water travels throughout the living tree from its roots. Another aspect of hardwood furniture is the distinct grain pattern usually visible in the wood. Hardwood furniture is also said to have a higher resistance to fire than softwoods.
Features of Softwood Furniture
Softwood trees do not contain pores such as hardwood, but are made from tube-like lines that are visibly straight. Fiber boards are often made from softwood and also some pieces of lightweight furniture. These pieces sometimes include beds and entertainment centers for electronics, and are often made from softwoods such as fresh smelling cedar and redwood.
Species Commonly Used in Furniture
Maple wood is a heavy and durable hardwood. It is a very strong, moisture resistant type of wood that stands the test of time in years of wear and tear. Furniture made with maple is often great for outdoor garden and patio furniture. Although pale in color, maple is very much in demand these days. It can be painted, stained, or just left naturally colored. The wood also has natural swirls and a fine wood grain.
Oak wood is one of the strongest hardwoods used in furniture. Oak is considered a traditional material and is often used in rustic themed furniture. However, oak can be varnished extremely well and can therefore be finished to fit nearly every decor. It is also somewhat resistant to surface stains, which makes it a great choice for those seeking a long-lasting piece of furniture.
Elm is another popular hardwood. Elm is not considered as hard as oak, but its interlocked grain makes it somewhat resistant to splitting, and as a hardwood it is very durable. This is a popular wood in furniture because of the dark lines in the wood that characterize it. The small patterns in the wood can sometimes bear a resemblance to feathers, giving every piece a unique pattern.
Pine wood is a lightweight softwood that looks wonderful when it is stained. A unique, affordable dining table can be made from pine. Other furniture pieces made from pine, such as chairs and buffet tables, can add a chic appearance to any home. Pine wood is also used for manufacturing writing and printing papers, and is used for making shipping containers, corrugated boxes, and grocery bags.
If you would like to view a selection of hardwood heirloom furniture, visit Amish Oak in Texas at our locations in San Antonio, TX and New Braunfels, TX.