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Advice, FAQs, Timber

Hardwood vs. Softwood: What’s the difference?

Choosing the best material for your windows and doors may seem daunting, and taking into consideration the different types of timber available can complicate matters further. The term timber groups together both hardwood and softwoods, and understanding the differences between the categories can be key to helping you make the correct choice for your project.

It may seem like common sense that the difference between the two is obvious – with hardwood being hard and softwood being soft, however this can be misleading since density is only one variant between several differing characteristics.

The main difference between the two is the type of tree the timber is sourced from. Softwoods tend to come from coniferous trees, also known as evergreen, such as pine and fir – trees that don’t lose their leaves in the autumn and winter months. Alternatively, hardwoods are generally made up from deciduous trees (trees that shed their leaves) like oak and beech. These trees tend to grow slower than softwood, therefore making them naturally denser and typically more expensive than softwoods. Additionally, hardwoods tend to be darker in colour than softwoods.

However, despite the knowledge that softwoods tend to be more malleable than hardwoods, there are some types of hardwoods that are just as pliable as softwoods and vice versa – for example, balsa wood derives from deciduous trees, classifying it as a hardwood despite the fact that the wood itself is very soft and lightweight. As a result, balsa wood tends to be used in the same way as other softwoods. Therefore, it isn’t so much the density of the wood that classifies a certain timber as hard or soft, it generally comes down to the type of tree and the speed in which it grows and can be reproduced.

Both types of wood are often used for external joinery, like windows and doors, and although it is difficult to recommend a specific material, we at Timbertherm Windows can assist you with making your choice. We offer both soft and hardwood options for our products, with engineered pine as our standard softwood and meranti for hardwood – which like most hardwood options, looks great if you are considering a stained finish for your product.

Timbertherm Windows

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