Archive for the ‘Hardwood v Softwood’ Category

Hardwood versus softwood furniture

Monday, December 6th, 2010

When furnishing your house one of the first decisions to make is whether to buy hardwood or softwood furniture. But first, it’s important to understand the differences between these two types of wood.

Despite first impressions, the terms ‘hardwood’ and ‘softwood’ don’t refer to the actual hardness or softness of the wood, but instead to the type and species of tree from which they derive.

Timber classed as hardwood comes from deciduous trees, such as oak, birch and maple, which lose their leaves in the autumn and winter months.  Softwoods meanwhile are those taken from evergreen trees, such as pine and various other forms of conifers, which retain their leaves all year round.

On a more practical level, hardwood furniture is generally more expensive than softwood furniture. This is in large part because hardwoods such as oak take a far greater time to grow to maturity than softwoods. As well as providing a faster turnaround in profits, this also means that softwoods are easier to grow in large purpose-made plantations, while hardwoods often have to be sourced from existing and ancient forests. This also makes softwood furniture the more environmentally friendly choice.

Hardwood furniture is however usually regarded as being higher quality and is generally more durable. While it is more expensive than softwood furniture, due to its durability it can last a lifetime, and so represents a sound investment.