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Softwoods vs. Hardwoods

The terms “softwood” and “hardwood” do not indicate softness or hardness of particular timbers.

The term Softwood is used to describe wood from coniferous trees, which are cone-bearing seed plants with vascular tissue and tend to be evergreen all year round.

The dominant feature separating Softwoods from Hardwoods is the absence of pores, or vessels within their cell structure, indicating less complex cell structure.  The pores or vessels are water and mineral conduits of the tissue of the plant.  Hence, the more pores / vessels with the timber, the more nutrients and water can be supplied to the timber’s tissue, which in turn causes spiral thickening of the structure of the cell and higher density, making the plant stronger.

The absence of those pores in softwoods indicates that the timber has a lesser density and therefore is less durable.

But there are some variations of softwoods, which are not necessarily softer than hardwood timbers. 

The term Hardwood is used to describe wood from deciduous (broadleaved) trees, which are trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally. 

It is because of that natural process; they tend to have a slower growth rate, but do have a higher density and are therefore harder in structure than evergreen trees.



Oily Timbers

Oily timbers such as brush box and grey box, may cause problems with drying times and adheasion of top coats.  Extra care is needed when sanding these type of timbers, as well as and extra time between the coating stages and further extra cruing time.

Porous Timbers

Porous timbers such as Pine and Cedar, absorb larger quantities of varnishes and at a faster rate than other timbers, making them difficult and more expensive to coat.



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