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Hardwood vs Softwood: What is the difference?

 
Simply put:

Hardwood: Comes from trees with leaves. This species of tree like Apple and Maple Trees are scientifically referred to as deciduous and angiosperms.

Softwood: Comes from trees with needles.This species of tree like, cedar, pine, and spruce are scientifically referred to as coniferous and gymnosperms.

Now that we have the definitions out of the way let’s clear up a little of the confusion between the two types of trees. The biggest confusion between the two stems from their names. Hardwood and Softwood. You would expect, as any rational human being would, that any hardwood flooring made from hardwood to be naturally a hard wood and the same for all softwoods. However, this is not the always the case. There are softwoods that are harder than some hardwood species Southern Yellow Pine (Softwood) is harder than Silver Maple (Hardwood). To understand more about the hardness of a species of wood (aka Janka scale) please refer to this previous post or to this wikipedia page.

The reason for this scientific classification is the presence of pores in the wood.  Softwood species have these types of linear tubes (not really pores) that transport water and make sap to keep the tree alive in the cold of the winter. Hardwoods on the other hand have pores of all different shapes and sizes that also allow for water to flow throughout the tree. The structure of these pores helps to shape the distinctive grains of the hardwood species and also makes the tree slightly more fire resistant than their softwood brothers.

When it comes to your floors hardwood are the more durable species to choose but they are also on the more expensive side. That is not to say that all softwood species of flooring are bad. There are many excellent choices of softwood flooring that are just as attractive and durable as some hardwood species. In order to make an informed decision simply visit the Hardwood Flooring Store and one of our associates will help you make a choice that is right for you.