The difference between hardwood & softwood timbers

You may have heard the terms “hardwood” and “softwood” when speaking of timber, however the difference is not as straightforward as it may sound. The terms “hardwood” and “softwood” do not indicate the softness or hardness of particular timbers. There are hardwoods that are softer and lighter than softwoods. The differences between the timbers relates to the botanical aspect of the wood, the way in which the timer grows and is laid down.

Hardwood timbers are:

  • naturally darker in colour
  • have broader leaves
  • have higher densities than softwoods
  • have the presence of vessels in down the length of the tree to allow for water and nutrients to be absorbed
  • have a higher fire resistance

Types of hardwood timbers include: Tasmanian Oak, Victorian Ash, Spotted Gum, Blackbutt, Stringy Bark and Iron Bark

Softwood timbers are:

  • lighter in colour than hardwoods
  • have need-like leaves (conifer type)
  • typically less expensive than hardwoods
  • grow at a faster rate

Types of softwood timbers include: Cypress, Hoop Pine, Cedar Douglas Fir and Radiate Pine.

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