Douglas Fir vs Pine: Which is Better?

Ever pondered the subtle artistry behind choosing wood? Dive into the intricate world of Douglas fir vs. Pine!

Douglas fir vs Pine

Douglas fir and pine are softwoods that can basically be used for any woodworking project.  

When I was starting my woodworking career, I was curious to know the differences between Douglas fir and pine because I really wanted to know which one is better.

So, I did some research about Douglas fir and pinewood separately seeking their properties, uses, workability, and many other factors.

Here’s what I’ve found about, Douglas fir vs Pine,

  1. Pine wood comes from all over the world, but Douglas fir comes from North America.
  2. Douglas fir is reddish-brown with strong knots, and pine wood can differ in color and knots.
  3. Pine is workable, however softer than Douglas fir.
  4. Douglas fir is more weatherproof than pine, which needs more preparation for outdoor use.
  5. Pine is cheaper than Douglas fir.
  6. Douglas fir is tougher than pine.
  7. Douglas fir blocks insects better than pine.
  8. Pine is a better choice for non-structural use than Douglas fir.
  9. Douglas fir is used for frames, floors, and building parts, but pine is used for interior trim, panels, and decoration.

But there’s a lot more to know.

Where can we send your
FREE Wood Selection Guide?

    Privacy Policy: We hate spam and promise to keep your email address safe.

    In this article, I’ll explore everything you need to know about Douglas fir vs pine so you can choose which one is perfect for your project.

    Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions as well.

    Let’s dig in!

    Differences between Douglas fir and Pine
    Differences between Douglas fir and Pine

    What is Douglas Fir? 

    The conifer family Pinaceae has at least six kinds of evergreen trees in the genus Pseudotsuga, along with Douglas fir. 

    They’re native to North America alongside East Asia.

    Evergreen trees keep their leaves all year long. I love these trees because they have lengthy flat, spirally formed needle-like leaves that grow directly from the branch and fully cover it. 

    Douglas Fir is a softwood with a Janka hardness rating of 710 lbf (3,158 N).

    They also have hanging oblong cones together with 3 pointed bracts.

    I should tell you that you’ll find a lot more kinds of fir, like balsam fir, hem fir, Fraser fir and Himalayan fir.

    Did you know fact about Douglas fir
    Did you know fact about Douglas fir

    Types of Douglas fir

    I’ve seen people class Douglas fir as just coastal and interior.

    But you must know that origin is another way to identify Douglas fir species. 

    The 3 main Douglas fir kinds are;

    1. Chinese Douglas fir 
    2. Big-cone Douglas fir
    3. Mexican Douglas fir

    Now let me tell you a bit more about these types of Douglas fir.

    Chinese Douglas fir

    The Chinese Douglas Fir is a kind of tree that grows in China and Taiwan. 

    In my opinion, it’s similar to the North American Douglas fir, but it looks different and grows in a different place.

    Big-cone Douglas fir 

    Big-Cone Douglas Fir is a kind of tree that grows in California. 

    It has big cones and is similar to the more typical Douglas fir.

    Mexican Douglas fir 

    The Mexican Douglas Fir is an evergreen tree that thrives in Mexico and some areas of Central America. 

    From what I’ve seen it looks like the famous Douglas fir, but grows in different places.

    Characteristic features of Douglas fir
    Characteristic features of Douglas fir

    Properties of Douglas Fir

    • Name: Douglas fir or Doug fir (Pseudotsuga)
    • Appearance: Douglas firs have dark, reddish-brown, heavily grooved bark and grow to 85 meters. They may live as long as 1,500 years.
    • Physical traits: The Janka scale rates it 660 for softness. Strength and density (450kg/m3) are great.
    • Colors: Light brown sapwood and yellowing to reddish-brown heartwood. 
    • Grain: Straight, wavy, or curly grain lines.

    Uses of Douglas Fir

    • Boats: Douglas fir’s resistance to twisting and bending make it a popular wood for wartime US Navy patrol boats and minesweepers.
    • Trim: I mostly use Douglas fir for moldings, sills, baseboards, window casings, and door casings.
    • Airplanes: Douglas fir is used for planes because of its weather resistance.
    • Furniture: Douglas fir is a solid wood that finishes when handled properly nicely so I enjoy making lovely furniture using it.
    Douglas fir flooring
    Douglas fir flooring

    What is Pine? 

    In most northern hemisphere areas, pinewood, genus Pinus, grows naturally. North America Northern, central Europe, eastern and have plenty of it. 

    Pine trees are softwoods that may live 1,000 years and grow to 260 feet. 

    I have seen some pines have thinner, flakier barks, but most have thick, strong barks.

    Did you know fact about Pine
    Did you know fact about Pine

    Types of Pine Wood

    You must know that two dozen pine wood species exist. The most common species are:

    • Southern Yellow Pine
    • Ponderosa Pine
    • Eastern White Pine
    • Red Pine Tree
    • Sugar Pine

    Now, I’ll fill you in on the details of these gorgeous pine wood types.

    Southern Yellow Pine

    Southern pines, like the Southern Yellow pine, are popular for their toughness and long lifespan. 

    Ponderosa Pine

    In my opinion, the Ponderosa Pine, a tree that is native to the western part of North America, needs more spotlight for the incredible wood it gives to the industry. 

    Eastern White Pine 

    The large Eastern White Pine tree in North America is extremely valuable for its soft, white wood.

    Red Pine Tree 

    I love working with North American Red Pine species, it is a lovely kind of wood with a rusty red bark.

    Sugar Pine 

    Native to the western part of North America, the straight-grained, light wood of the Sugar Pine is very popular among woodworkers.

    Characteristic features of Pine
    Characteristic features of Pine

    Properties of Pine Wood

    • Name: Pine wood (Pinus)
    • Appearance: Grow up to 79 meters tall and 1,000 years old.
    • Physical traits: Tough but light, it has more knots than Douglas fir and a low density.
    • Colors: Pinewood has creamy white sapwood and dark heartwood, but it can be stained oak-like.
    • Grain:  Growth rings form as dark bands in straight-grained, ring-porous pinewood.

    Uses of Pine Wood

    • Furniture: I use this kind of wood to create medium-quality, natural interior furniture. 
    • Interior Carpentry: A lot of doors, windows, and platforms are made using this.
    • Exterior Carpentry: I love creating doors and windows, but just not in exposed areas.
    • Construction: Most woodworkers make beams and ceilings with this type of wood.
    • Laminate Wood Production: Functional and beautiful laminated wood are made with pine wood. 
    • Engineered Wood Products: I sometimes make OSB and plywood using this.
    • Wood carvings.
    Pine dining table
    Pine dining table

    What Is the Main Difference between Douglas fir and Pine?

    One key difference I’ve seen between Douglas fir and pine is that Douglas Fir is stronger than most types of pine, so that makes it less likely to wear down or get cracks. 

    Pinewood, however, is usually softer than Douglas fir and is more likely to get damaged by heavy use.

    Differences Between Douglas Fir and Pine 

    There are a lot of differences between Douglas fir and pine so to make it easier for you let me give you a quick rundown of all the differences in this table.

    Aspects                Douglas fir                      Pine
    OriginMostly North AmericaIn Asia, North America,  Europe
    LookTight, reddish-brown knotsMulticolored, clear grain, knots
    Environmental EffectsForest damage problemsEnvironmentally friendly and easier to get
    Strength and DensityStrong and denseLess dense, weaker
    WorkabilityVery workableSofter still workable
    Weatherproofing and EnduranceBetter endurance, good weather resistanceLess enduring, needs protection
    PriceHigher pricesMore affordable
    UsesStructural, cabinets, furnishingsTrim, paneling, non-structural
    Pest/Insect ResistanceGood resistanceLow resistance, less protected

    Now I’ll explain each of these differences between Douglas fir and pine for a better understanding.

    1. Origin

    Douglas fir and pine trees is both native to North America, but you can also find Douglas fir in eastern Asia and pine trees in areas of Europe and Asia. 

    Both trees are evergreen conifers that can grow to be 80 meters tall and live for more than 1,000 years.

    Tip for working with Pinewood
    Tip for working with Pinewood

    2. Appearence

    Douglas fir is orange-red, pine white to golden. Southern yellow pine heartwood is yellowish-brown. 

    In my opinion, Douglas fir’s firm, clean grain pattern has some knots, but southern yellow pine’s softer grain lines can twist if used poorly.

    3. Environmental Effects

    Douglas fir is sometimes taken from natural forests, however, over-harvesting can be a problem. 

    Pinewood is usually simple to get from forests that are handled in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment.

    4. Strength and Density

    I should tell you that with a compressive strength of 7,230 psi, Douglas fir is around 1.5 times more powerful than pine, which holds a compressive strength of 4,800 psi. 

    In view of density, Douglas fir weighs 0.53 kg/m3 against 0.35 kg/m3 for pine, which makes it nearly 1.5 times heavier. 

    So from what I know Douglas fir is much stronger and denser than pine.

    Tip for working with Douglas fir
    Tip for working with Douglas fir

    5. Workability

    Douglas fir and pine are strong softwoods that are simple to work with and take paints and stains wonderfully. 

    From what I have worked with Douglas fir is especially simple to deal with, while pine can be used for many things but can have knots that can be seen.

    6. Weatherproofing and Endurance

    In my experience, Douglas fir and pine make good woods for projects outdoors as they last a long time and don’t get hurt by the weather. 

    Douglas fir isn’t harmed by weather or wetness, but pine, which is a bit less resistant, but you can still use it for work outside with the right care.

    7. Price

    Both Douglas fir and pine are softwoods that are easy to find and are therefore cheap to buy. 

    But Douglas fir costs a little more than pine as it is tougher and lasts longer.

    Tip for working with Pine
    Tip for working with Pine

    8. Toughness

    While being softwoods, Douglas fir and pine both have enough toughness for woodworking. 

    I should tell you that using the Janka scale, Douglas fir is 660, but Southern Yellow Pine is a little harsher at 870. Softer are other pine species, like white pine.

    9. Uses

    Most of the time, you can use Douglas fir and pine for the same things. 

    Both are used for building, building frames, making wooden boats and setting down floors. 

    They are also often used to make frames, cabinets, decking, furnishing and building goods.

    10. Pest/Insect Resistance

    In my experience, pests and insects can affect both Douglas fir and pine. 

    Harmful beetles can harm Douglas fir, but pine is at risk of problems like pine wilt disease carried on by pinewood nematodes. 

    For furniture outside, I highly suggest you use safety measures.  

    Tip for working with Douglas fir wood
    Tip for working with Douglas fir wood

    Pros and Cons of Douglas fir

    You can have a lot of perks using Douglas fir for your wood projects but there are some drawbacks you will also get when using this type of wood. 

    So let me tell you all about those perks and drawbacks I have experienced,

    Pros Douglas fir:

    • Douglas fir is well-known for being strong for its weight and lasting for a long time. This makes it an ideal option for many heavy-duty and structural uses.
    • It has a straight-grain design, making it look nice and giving it structural stability so woodworkers like me love using it. 
    • Douglas fir is simple to do work with and can be cut, planed, shaped, and sanded without any problems.
    • Since I’ve used it many times I can definitely tell you that its heartwood is extremely resistant to rot and breakdown, which makes it good for outdoor use.
    • When given proper care, it can stand up to weather and wetness, so it can be used outside.
    • Douglas fir is easy to stain using proper techniques.

    Cons of Douglas fir:

    • In my opinion, since it’s better than most other softwoods, it is usually priced higher. 
    • If not handled in a responsible way, there may be problems with overharvesting and the environment.
    • Since I’ve worked with Douglas fir so many times I can tell that although it is pretty tough, it isn’t totally free from insects and pests that eat wood.
    • Although knots can add personality, they can be hard to work with in situations where a clear, knot-free look is wanted

    Read to know more about the Main Disadvantages Of Douglas Fir Wood

    Uses of Douglas fir
    Uses of Douglas fir

    Pros and Cons of Pine

    When you use pine wood, there are both good and bad things about it.

    So, let’s find out all the pros and cons of pine.

    Pros of Pine:

    • Pine is usually cheaper than many different kinds of wood, which makes it a good option for people on a budget. 
    • A lot of woodworkers like to use it because it’s simple to cut, shape, and finish since it’s easier to work with.
    • Because of its straight, identical grain structure, it looks natural and nice.
    • Pine is easy to stain, paint, and finish, so I can get very creative with it.
    • This kind of wood is simple to find and comes from healthy trees, so it’s good for the environment.

    Cons of Pine:

    • In my experience, you should remember that pine isn’t as strong as hardwoods or different softwoods, so it’s easy to wear, dent, and harm, notably in places with a lot of traffic.
    • It is more open to bugs and insects than other woods, so it needs to be treated before it can be used outside.
    • In my opinion, pine typically has knots that you can see, which can make it look bad and bring problems in some situations.
    • Pine reacts to changes in humidity and can grow or shrink if it isn’t evolved and finished right.
    • Pine can be used for many things, but from what I’ve experienced it isn’t always as strong as oaks or other softwoods when it comes to building.

    Read to know more about, the Main Disadvantages Of Pine Wood

    From years of working with Douglas fir and pine, they are the same in many ways. 

    For example, both are softwoods and fall under a group of trees called evergreen conifers. But you must understand that the two kinds of wood are likewise different in a lot of ways.

    Uses of Pine
    Uses of Pine

    That’s it folks! Now you have a crystal clear knowledge about Douglas fir vs Pine with their properties and key differences.

    So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.


    How do Douglas fir and pine compare in terms of hardness?

    Douglas fir and pine have varying hardness ratings on the Janka scale, with Douglas fir generally sitting at 660 lb-ft, making it more robust than white pine but slightly less hard compared to some yellow pine varieties.

    Which wood is more cost-effective between Douglas fir and pine?

    Pine generally tends to be more cost-effective compared to Douglas fir, which is often utilized for more premium applications like flooring and decking due to its superior qualities and consequently carries a higher price tag.

    How do Douglas fir and pine respond to weather and moisture?

    Douglas fir has a higher resilience to weather and moisture, generally maintaining its shape even after exposure, whereas pine is more susceptible to permanent warping and swelling, necessitating thorough sealing to prevent moisture absorption.

    What are some responsible sourcing tips for acquiring Douglas fir and pine lumber?

    It is recommended to source lumber from companies practicing responsible forestry and to explore reclaimed lumber options from old buildings, which might not only provide high-quality wood but also contributes to conservation efforts.

    Can you recommend alternatives to Douglas fir and pine for woodworking projects?

    Aside from Douglas fir and pine, other viable options for woodworking projects include spruce, ash, poplar, cedar, redwood, and larch, with premium options extending to woods like maple, cherry, walnut, and mahogany.

    What is the significance of the Janka scale in choosing between Douglas fir and pine?

    The Janka scale helps in determining the hardness of wood, which is vital in selecting appropriate wood types for various projects, as it quantifies the wood’s resistance to wear and denting, helping in making informed choices between Douglas fir and pine based on their respective ratings.

    Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Douglas fir vs Pine

    In this article, I’ve deeply discussed Douglas fir vs Pine by taking their properties, uses, and benefits with key differences in detail.

    Douglas fir, with a tighter grain, offers greater weather resistance and a refined appearance compared to pine. Pine, however, is generally more affordable and lends a rustic aesthetic to projects, but is more susceptible to weather-induced damage. Both woods have varied hardness as per the Janka scale.

    Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions as well.

    Hope you’ve learned all you wanted to know about Douglas fir vs Pine. Now you can select which one suits you the most based on your needs! Happy woodworking!

    Related Posts

    Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

    Leave a Comment