Understanding the Differences Between Hardwoods and Softwoods

There is a common misconception that hardwoods and softwoods can be distinguished from one another based on differences in density and weight. To learn what actually makes hardwood different from softwood and what bearing this should have on your decision to choose one over the other as a homeowner or contractor, continue reading.

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Biological Difference
The simple scientific explanation for what makes hardwood different from softwood stems from differences in trees’ reproductive habits. Hardwood trees produce seeds in a shelled, or protected form. These seeds may be protected by fruit peels or shells. Softwood trees, on the other hand, produce unprotected seeds such as pine cones. Hardwood comes from trees that are deciduous, losing their eaves in autumn. Softwood comes from trees that are coniferous, or evergreen.

Aesthetic Difference
While there is certainly a broad visual difference between deciduous and coniferous trees, there is no clear difference between the way hardwood and softwood look on home flooring, interior and exterior doors, and other design features. Hardwoods and softwoods can both be found in dark and light shades and a variety of textures and patterns.

Functional Difference
Even though hardwood is not necessarily denser than softwood, it does tend to be more difficult to chop and cut through than softwood. It is also more expensive, and generally reserved for use in indoor furniture and flooring applications. Softwood, on the other hand, is commonly found on decks and in fences.

At Southern Lumber in San Jose, our focus is on hardwood flooring but we also carry some softwoods for decks and outdoor living areas. For access to our extensive selection of redwood, teak, cypress, and fir wood, visit our showroom. If you are looking for information about a specific product or service we offer, give us a call at (408) 297-WOOD. 

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