Hardwood or Softwood?

Hardwood or Softwood?

As promised, here is a short article about all things hardwood and softwood. If you haven’t seen our IGTV yet then check it out for more info.

Before we start a project, we need to know what timber we’ll work with; hardwood or softwood. We get many questions asking what the difference actually is, so we thought we’d put together a simple explanation.

So, what is the difference between hardwood and softwood?

We all know that hardwood and softwood exist, but not everyone knows the difference between the two. We’re here to shed some light on these differences so that you know exactly what type of timber you need for your next project.

Let’s go!

Black Oak Walnut​
Victorian Ash Black Oak Walnut

The difference between hardwood and softwood

This may come as a shock to some of you, but hardwood isn’t necessarily harder than softwood, and vice versa! We know, crazy hey? For example, balsa wood, which is known as one of the lightest woods in the world, is a hardwood!

The distinction between the two woods lies within their reproduction. Hardwood comes from a tree called the ‘deciduous’ tree which produces seeds with a form of covering, whilst softwoods are gymnosperms which let seeds fall to the ground with no covering at all. Basically, the type of seed a tree produces decides whether the seed will grow into a softwood or a hardwood. The species include Eucalyptus, Balsa, Mahogany, Blackbutt, Tasmanian Oak, Victorian Ash, Spotted Gum and heaps more.

There is, however, some truth behind the density of the tree putting it into either the hardwood or softwood category. Evergreens on the whole tend to be less dense than deciduous trees, and as such are seen as a softwood! However, as balsa proves, there is no weight requirement to being a hardwood. Species of softwood include Cedar, Spruce, Pine and Hemlock, for example.

What can I use these types of wood for?

Hardwood and softwood can be used for all kinds of projects, so which wood you should use depends on your project. If you’re planning on adding a statement piece to your home with some high-quality timber or tackling some construction that really needs to last (like a house), then hardwood is the one for you. For example, balsa wood is used a lot for modelling projects, whether that’s for a car or to see a house come to life in 3D.

Something to keep in mind is that hardwood produces a very high-quality product that offers great durability over time. They are generally more expensive, but just like the old saying; you get what you pay for!

Softwood timber is most used for feature walls, ceilings, affordable furniture (IKEA, Fantastic Furniture etc.) doors and windows. We love it because it’s a versatile building material, offers a beautiful finish, and can be used to create stunning features for residential and commercial projects.

We choose to use premium pine softwood to build jigs or model a new design piece. Softwood trees grow much faster than hardwood, therefore these timbers tend to be cheaper because they’re easier to source.

If you ask us, the best way to choose the right timber for you is to think about what you would like to achieve in the short and long-term future. At the end of the day is also comes down to the aesthetic you want to achieve and what type of wood you love the look and feel of the most.

Now that you know the differences between softwood and hardwood, we hope you’re feeling more confident in choosing the right timber for your next design masterpiece. Have a look at the material page on Hegi Design House to find out what in-house timber we love to work with.