All About Hardwood Lumber

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Hardwood3Hardwood or Softwood – what’s the difference?

There is a belief that whether a wood is classified as Hardwood lumber or Softwood is dependent upon the density of the wood. In fact some hardwoods are of the least-dense variety such as Poplar and Bassalt.

It actually comes down to the molecular structure of the particular wood as to whether it is described as Hardwood or Softwood. Hardwoods are those that have pores and other elements capable of transporting water.

Also Hardwood trees are Angiosperms, meaning that those trees produce seeds with a hard covering or a shell.

The characteristics of Hardwood

The wood from hardwoods is harder than that from softwoods making it ideal for use as fuel, tools, in the construction industry, boat-building, furniture, musical instruments… to name just a few of the many applications.

Previously hardwoods were widely available but due to over-exploitation they have become increasingly scarce. This has resulted in a market for cheaper hardwood items.

For example, a cheaper hardwood wardrobe may consist of a softwood or medium density fibreboard (MDF) core with a thin veneer applied to the outside.

While Hardwoods can be used for a variety of applications they are most routinely used for furniture or musical instruments or flooring due to their density they can also be used for construction purposes.

This is down to the variety of characteristics inherent in different types of hardwoods. These characteristics include denisity, growth pattern, grain, flexibility, pore size and whether or not it can be steam bent.

For example, the grain of an Elm Wood makes it ideal for constructing the seats of chairs since it will not split like other woods might when driving in the legs or other components.

Hardwood flooring

Hardwood flooring is highly sought after and such floors are made from planks trimmed from a single piece of timber.

Originally hardwood floors were used for structural purposes but with the increased use of concrete as a sub-floor in many parts of the world wood flooring has gained increased popularity, however in homes with full basements the solid hardwood floor still remains a firm favourite.

Solid wood floors can be sanded and finished more times than a normal engineered wood floor due to the thicker wear surface they naturally have.

Whenever installing a hardwood floor you should always perform a moisture test since issues involving the climate or repeated changes in temperature and/or humidity can lead to warping, squeaking, cupping, gapping and delamination of the hardwood floor.

How to maintain your wood floor

Oil soaps should not be used to clean wood floors. Normally all that is needed to maintain the appearance and quality of your wood floor is sweeping and mopping.

Like tile floors dirt and use will affect the appearance but unlike carpets and rugs the wood floor should not retain hidden dirt or odors.

The best thing to do to protect your floor is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and use the products and directions they describe to maintain your hardwood lumber.

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