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Advantages & Disadvantages of Different Types of Wood

Updated April 17, 2017

The two main types of wood are hardwood and softwood. There are advantages and disadvantages to using each, and certain projects like home improvements call for a specific type. It's useful to know different kinds of wood and their characteristics before you decide to use them for a project.

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One of the most common types of wood is hardwood. It is acquired from trees once they lose their leaves. Some types of hardwood are walnut, oak, maple, cherry, rosewood, mahogany and teak. They have fine grains and are easy to work with.


Softwoods come from evergreen or cone-bearing trees. Some types are pine, fir, spruce, hemlock and cedar; they are mostly used in home construction. They are lightweight and easy to work with.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Hardwoods

Advantages of hardwoods like mahogany and walnut are high durability and the ability to resist warping and shrinking. They also take different types of finishes and stains well, which enables them to be used in a lot of furniture and cabinetry. These woods also resist moisture and are good for flooring due to their immense strength.

Some disadvantages of hardwoods are that they change colour when exposed to light, like cherry wood, and have a distinct fragrance, like rosewood. Some need great amounts of polish, and others are so tough you need to create a starter hole before driving screws in them.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Softwoods

Softwoods, like fir and spruce, have a uniform texture and a low resistance to decay, which makes them good for furniture, windows and trim. Others, like hemlock, work well in machines and are used mainly in construction. They are also easy to carve and can be used for detail work. A disadvantage to using softwoods is that they absorb moisture, so they are not as stable as hardwoods.

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About the Author

Melissa O'Connor has been writing professionally since 2010. Her work has been published on various websites, including Her writing focuses on topics in design, photography, history, living green and healthy cooking. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from Jersey City University.

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