Softwoods are not necessarily softer than hardwoods as it is simply the type of tree that they are from; Deciduous (hardwood) or Coniferous (softwood). There are a wide range of softwoods suited to different applications -

  • Pine - has a pale yellow to brown grain that darkens with age. It is a lightweight, easy to work material that is a commonly used for interior construction and low cost furniture. It is prone to knots in that can cause an increase in resin and a structural weakness leading to splitting. There are 2 main types of pine - Parana pine & Scots pine. The latter is less prone to knots, darker in colour and more expensive 

  • Larch - has a pale to reddish brown contrasting grain and is used for its durable, tough and water resistant properties. It machines well to an attractive surface finish making it suited to exterior cladding, flooring, furniture & joinery. It has a higher durability & resistance to rot than most other softwoods allowing for its use outside. However, its knots have a tendency to come loose creating weakness

  • Spruce - ​has a white, creamy coloured, fine even grain that has a high stiffness to weight ratio. Due to its hardness it is typically used in construction, furniture and musical instruments. As a material it is not as durable as other softwoods and prone to knots. It is generally used internally as externally it is prone to rot with a lifespan of 12–18 months. Spruce is a vital part of the pulping process to manufacture paper due to its long wood fibres which bind to give strength

  • Cedar - ​can come is a range of grain colours and material properties due to the large number of species grown around the world. Typically it is known for its scent as it contains thujaplicin which is antibacterial and antifungal. This makes it suited to clothes storage as it protects them from insect damage & can equally be used in panels to line walls. It is also commonly used for roofing & musical instruments


Softwoods are less prone to infestations of woodworm than hardwoods due to certain species of insect preferring damp hardwood. Woodworm is a generic term given to the infestation of beetle larvae that eat through wood. This visibly manifests itself as tiny holes in the surface of the wood around 1mm in diameter which are clustered together. 

Adult beetles lay eggs on or just under the surface of the wood resulting is grubs hatching and feeding on the wood causing structural and cosmetic damage. A higher moisture content is typically required in the wood to reflect the natural habitat of the beetles and is therefore commonly found in buildings with damp problems. In order to save the structural integrity of the wooden item chemical insecticide treatment is required

Material Properties - Softwoods

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