Is Beech a Hardwood Or Softwood? (Ultimate Guide!)

Ever wondered what makes beech wood special? Is it hardwood, or just another type of wood? Dive in and discover why beech wood is a hidden gem in the timber industry.

is beech a hardwood

Beech wood is a popular wood that uses for furniture, flooring, and plywood.

When it comes to woodworking, I was surprised because of its excellent working qualities.

When I was working with Beech I always wondered about its hardness and did a deep research about it.

Now with my years of experience, Here’s what I know about, Is Beech a hardwood?

Yes, Beech is a hardwood. Beech wood has a hardness rating of 1,300 lbf (5,782 N) relatively higher than most woods. Because of having decent strength and hardness for a low price, Beech is considered a versatile hardwood. It comes from a deciduous tree with unique hardwood qualities.

But there’s a lot more to know about the hardness of Beech with its qualities.

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    So, in this article, I’ll explore is Beech a hardwood, how hard Beech wood is with its characteristic features, the pros, and cons of Beech wood, and its uses as well.

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

    So, let’s jump in!

    Beech wood furniture and woodwork
    Beech wood furniture and woodwork

    First of all, let’s have a quick look at what is beech wood.

    What is Beech Wood?

    Beech wood, hailing from the Beech tree, is a type of hardwood that is commonly found across Europe, Asia, and North America.

    It’s treasured for its versatility and resilience, finding applications in diverse sectors like carpentry, furniture-making, and even beer production.

    Becch wood is primarily sourced from the Fagus tree genus, which is a pale cream-colored hardwood, occasionally bearing pink or brown hues.

    When treated with steam for veneer preparation, it often takes on a more golden tone.

    Beech wood is characterized by its straight grain and fine to medium uniform texture.

    The quartersawn surfaces are especially captivating, exhibiting a silvery fleck pattern that’s quite unique to Beech.

    Despite its apparent beauty, Beech wood is often underrated, primarily due to its plain appearance when flatsawn.

    The Versatility of Beech Wood

    The value of Beech wood lies in its versatility.

    Beech is tough, yet bendable, and easily split with a straight grain, which makes it challenging to work with using hand tools but an excellent choice for joinery and carpentry engineering purposes.

    Beech wood has found extensive use in furniture framing, cabinetry, cooking utensils, tool handles, plywood, and sports equipment.

    Musicians also favor Beech for its tone, using it in piano pin-blocks and drum manufacturing.

    It’s the unsung hero in the carpentry world, often hidden in chair and table legs or the sides and backs of cabinets.

    Beech Wood in Daily Life

    While you may not realize it, Beech wood is more common in your daily life than you might think.

    From the structural frames in your home to the chips used in Budweiser’s beer production, Beech wood’s presence is subtle but significant.

    It’s even used to smoke herring and various charcuterie and dairy products in German and French cuisine.

    In conclusion, Beech wood, despite its understated appearance, is an integral part of various industries and applications.

    Its strength, versatility, and cost-effectiveness make it an excellent choice for many projects.

    Advantages of beech wood
    Advantages of beech wood

    How Hard Is Beech?

    Beech is harder than most hardwoods. According to the Janka hardness ratings, Beech wood has a hardness rating of 1,300 lbf (5,782 N) which is a relatively higher value.

    Woods that comes from deciduous plants are considered hardwoods. Beech wood also comes from a deciduous plant from the Fagaceae family.

    But Beech trees have some unique features to other deciduous trees which make them special.

    Beech has a more complex wood fiber structure than softwoods. As a result of being a hardwood, Beech grows slowly.

    The hardwood volume of Beech wood is composed of fiber cells that provide structural support to the stem.

    Beech wood is equipped with vessels, elements, and pores that exist in hardwoods only.

    It has diffused pores structure and growth rings are distinct. Pores are small, solitary, and placed in an irregular manner as multiple clusters.

    Because having a high hardness value, the density of Beech is also quite high. because the density of hardwood is related to its hardness, weight, and strength.

    Beech is heavier, harder, and stronger than other woods with less density.

    So, let’s have a look at the hardness of Beech according to the Janka hardness scale.

    Janka hardness test is a standard method of measuring the hardness of woods based on their resistance to wear and dent.

    Woods with high resistance to wear and dent have a high value in the Janka hardness rating.

    Beech wood dining table
    Beech wood dining table

    Beech Wood Hardness Comparision

    According to the Janka hardness ratings, Beech has a hardness rating of around 1,300 lbf (5,782 N).

    So, let’s have a look at Janka hardness ratings of other popular wood types compared to Beech to get an idea about how hard Beech wood is.

    Wood speciesHardness value
    Brazilian Walnut3,684 lbf (16,390 N)
    Red Mahogany, Turpentine2,697 lbf (12,000 N)
    Brazilian Cherry, Jatoba2,350 lbf (10,500 N)
    Golden Teak2,330 lbf (10,400 N)
    Hickory, Pecan, Satinwood1,820 lbf (8,100 N)
    Hard Maple, Sugar Maple1,450 lbf (6,400 N)
    White Oak1,360 lbf (6,000 N)
    Ash (White)1,320 lbf (5,900 N)
    Beech1,300 lbf (5,782 N)
    Red Oak (Northern)1,290 lbf (5,700 N)
    Yellow Birch / Baltic Birch1,260 lbf (5,600 N)
    Teak1,155 lbf (5,140 N)
    Black Walnut, North American Walnut1,010 lbf (4,500 N)
    Cherry995 lbf (4,430 N)
    Black Cherry, Imbuia950 lbf (4,200 N)
    Red Maple950 lbf (4,200 N)
    Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
    Silver Maple700 lbf (3,100 N)
    Hemlock540 lbf (2,402 N)
    Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
    Redwood420 lbf (1,868 N)
    Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)
    Sugar Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)

    As you can see Beech wood is quite hard than most other wood types. But when it comes to the hardwood category, Beech is light hardwood.

    Beech wood bookshelf
    Beech wood bookshelf

    So, let’s find out what are the characteristic qualities of Beech to become one of the most superior hardwood species on the planet.

    Beech Wood Characteristics

    Beech wood is a pale cream color wood with a brown or pink hue. It is straight-grained with a fine to medium uniform texture.

    Because of being a hardwood with good resistance against wear and dent, Beech wood has great strength.

    But when it comes to its durability, Beech is non-durable because it is susceptible to insect attacks.

    When it comes to woodworking, Beech wood is having good workability. Even a beginner in woodworking can work with Beech wood because it machines well. It holds paints and stains so well.

    Guling and finishing are also easier than most other hardwoods.

    There’re no harmful chemicals in Beech wood and no characteristic odor.

    Therefore, it can use for many woodworking projects including making cutting boards and children’s toys.

    Here’re the top characteristic qualities of Beech wood.

    • Hardwood
    • High strength
    • Poor durability against insect attacks
    • High workability
    • Easy to finish

    Here’re the main characteristic features of Beech wood.

    ColorPale cream color
    Density0.64 kg/m3
    Hardness1,300 lbf (5,782 N)
    Stiffness1.72 Mpsi
    Wood TypeNorth American Hardwood
    ApplicationsFurniture, Flooring, Plywood, Railroad ties
    Beech wood coffee table
    Beech wood coffee table

    Let’s explore these Beechwood characteristics in more detail.

    The Appearance of Beech Wood

    Beech wood is often pale cream in color, and can sometimes have a pink or brown hue.

    One of the most striking features of Beech wood is its grain.

    The grain is straight, offering a uniform and fine-to-medium texture that’s visually pleasing and offers a smooth finish.

    When the wood is quartersawn, it produces a beautiful silvery fleck pattern.

    The appearance of Beech wood can change considerably when prepared with steam, as often done when slicing veneer, resulting in a more golden tone.

    The Strength and Durability of Beech Wood

    Beech wood is hard and heavy, a characteristic of many hardwoods, but it’s also quite bendable, making it suitable for various applications where both strength and flexibility are needed.

    However, it’s important to note that although Beech wood has excellent wear resistance, it’s not particularly durable when exposed to outdoor elements or changes in moisture.

    This makes it a poor choice for outdoor furniture but an excellent one for interior uses such as furniture framing, flooring, and cabinetry.

    Workability of Beech Wood

    Beech wood’s workability is another of its exceptional features.

    It responds superbly to most woodworking processes, such as machining, gluing, finishing, and turning.

    Importantly, Beech wood is a champion when it comes to steam-bending, a process used in furniture making and cabinetry.

    However, due to the significant movement in service, stability and movement must be considered when working with Beech wood.

    Beech wood front door
    Beech wood front door

    Beech Wood and the Senses

    Interestingly, Beech wood does not have a characteristic odor, which may be a positive trait for people sensitive to the smell of other woods.

    However, some individuals may have allergic reactions to Beech wood.

    These reactions, generally linked to the closely related European beech, typically manifest as eye, skin, and respiratory irritation.

    Sustainability and Affordability

    As a readily available hardwood in its domestic regions, Beech wood is quite affordable.

    Its high density, hardness, and comparative low cost make Beech an excellent value proposition, often serving as a cheaper alternative to hard maple in various applications.

    Moreover, the Beech tree species is not listed as endangered, making Beech wood a sustainable choice for those eco-conscious woodworkers.

    In essence, the characteristics of Beech wood combine to create a hardwood that’s both functional and beautiful.

    Its versatility in application and excellent workability make it a favourite among craftsmen, while its affordability and sustainability make it an appealing choice for consumers.

    Beech wood kitchen cabinet
    Beech wood kitchen cabinet

    So, let’s find out what are the advantages and disadvantages of Beech hardwood.

    Pros and Cons of Beech Wood

    HardwoodProne to insect attacks
    High workabilityAbsorb water
    Easy to glue, paint, and sealExpensive
    User friendlyCrack and warp easily
    High strength 
    Shock resistant 
    High density 

    As you can see Beech wood is a versatile hardwood with lots of advantages.

    Most of the disadvantages of Beech can be skipped with regular maintenance and proper sealing.

    What Is Beech Wood Used For?

    Because of having high hardness value than most other woods, Beech wood can be used for,

    • Lumber
    • Veneer
    • Railroad ties
    • Musical instruments
    • Crates
    • Boxes
    • Small wooden projects

    As you can see Beech wood can be used for pretty much any woodworking project.

    Beech wood cupboard
    Beech wood cupboard

    How Strong Is Beech?

    Beech wood is a hardwood with great strength than most hardwoods and softwoods.

    It has moderate compressive strength and high bending strength which is so useful in woodworking. It is hard, dense, and strong.

    The compressive strength and bending strength of Beech wood are as follows,

    • The compressive strength of Beech wood is 7,300 psi
    • The bending strength of Beech wood is 14,900 psi

    Great compressive strength and excellent flexural strength are the key factors of Beech, that make it popular in the woodworking world.

    Is Beech Wood Durable?

    When it comes to the durability of Beech wood, there’s a fair bit of conversation to be had.

    Like any material, its durability depends greatly on how and where it’s used.

    Let’s dive a bit deeper into the subject to get a better understanding.

    Beech Wood Durability in Indoor Settings

    In indoor environments, where it’s shielded from the elements, Beech wood can be quite durable.

    Its high density and hardness contribute to an excellent wear resistance, which makes it a reliable choice for items that see frequent use, such as furniture, flooring, and various turned objects.

    It’s common to find Beech wood in many households, gracing living rooms as elegant furniture, adorning kitchens as sleek countertops, or adding character to spaces as beautiful hardwood flooring.

    Its excellent workability means it can be crafted into a variety of shapes and forms, accommodating diverse design aesthetics.

    Durability Concerns in Outdoor Settings

    However, when it comes to outdoor settings, the story is a bit different.

    Beech wood is considered non-durable or perishable when exposed to the elements, making it less suitable for outdoor furniture or structures.

    It’s also susceptible to insect attack, which can further compromise its durability.

    Thus, if you’re thinking of using Beech wood for outdoor applications, it might be a good idea to consider other more resistant wood types, like teak or cedar, known for their excellent weather and insect resistance.

    Read this comprehensive guide to protect your outdoor furniture from the elements!

    Beech wood deck
    Beech wood deck

    Importance of Maintenance

    Like any other wood, the durability of Beech wood is also significantly influenced by the care and maintenance it receives.

    Regular cleaning, timely repairs, and appropriate finish application can all contribute to enhancing the life of Beech wood items.

    For example, with furniture, a well-applied finish can add a protective layer, guarding against spills, scratches, and general wear and tear.

    Similarly, for Beech wood flooring, regular sweeping or vacuuming can prevent debris from scratching the wood surface, preserving its pristine appearance and structural integrity over time.

    While Beech wood might not be the champion of durability in all contexts, it holds its own quite well in specific applications.

    Its durability indoors combined with its excellent workability and affordability makes it a widely popular choice among woodworkers and interior decorators.

    With the right care, Beech wood can grace your interiors with its natural beauty for many years.

    Congrats folks! Now you know everything you need to know about, Is beech a hardwood and all of its characteristic qualities with pros and cons.

    Beech wood floor
    Beech wood floor

    Let’s compare the hardness of beech to some other popular types of wood.

    Is Beech Harder Than Oak?

    White Oak is harder than Beech, but Beech is harder than Red Oak. Comparatively both Beech and oak have similar hardness.

    Therefore, Beech can be easily replaced with oak wood in terms of hardness.

    According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Beech and oak are as follows,

    Wood TypeHardness
    Beech1,300 lbf
    Red Oak1,290 lbf
    White Oak1,360 lbf

    As you can see only a slight difference in hardness between Beech and oak. Both kinds of wood are hard, strong, and dense and can use for any woodworking project with proper care.

    Is Beech Harder Than Maple?

    Hard Maple is harder than Beech, but Beech is harder than Soft Maple.

    Even though the hardness between hard Maple and soft Maple is significantly high, both have almost the same qualities except the hardness and density.

    Read to know more about the hardness of Maple!

     According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Beech and Maple are as follows,

    Wood TypeHardness
    Beech1,300 lbf
    Hard Maple1,450 lbf
    Soft Maple950 lbf

    Is Beech Harder Than Walnut?

    Beech is harder than Walnut.

    Walnut is considered a light hardwood because it holds the position of one of the least hardwood types on the planet while Beech wood has superior hardness with great strength than Walnut.

    According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Beech and Walnut are as follows,

    Wood TypeHardness
    Beech1,300 lbf
    Walnut1,010 lbf

    As you can see Beech wood is significantly harder than Walnut and if you’re willing to replace Walnut with any other wood with great strength and hardness, Beech is a good option to work with.

    Is Beech Harder Than Birch?

    Beech is harder than Birch. Yellow Birch is slightly softer and less dense than Beech wood.

    As per Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Beech and Birch are as follows,

    Wood TypeHardness
    Beech1,300 lbf
    Birch1,260 lbf
    Beech wood patio furniture
    Beech wood patio furniture

    So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions as well.


    What does beech wood look like?

    Beech wood typically has a pale cream color, sometimes with a pink or brown hue. Its grain is straight, and it often has a fine to medium uniform texture with moderate natural luster.

    Can beech wood be used outdoors?

    Although beech wood is very hard and durable indoors, it is not typically recommended for outdoor use. This is because it doesn’t resist outdoor elements well and is susceptible to changes in moisture and insect attacks.

    How does beech wood respond to woodworking processes?

    Beech wood is highly workable. It machines well, glues, finishes, and turns well, making it an excellent choice for various woodworking projects. It also responds exceptionally well to steam-bending.

    Is beech wood expensive?

    Beech wood is one of the more affordable hardwoods available. Its high yield and widespread availability contribute to its relatively low cost.

    Does beech wood have any historical or cultural significance?

    Yes, in Celtic mythology, the beech tree was associated with femininity and was considered the queen of British trees. The thin bark of the beech tree was also used historically for writing works for religious purposes.

    Is beech wood resistant to rot?

    Beech wood is considered non-durable or perishable and is susceptible to insect attack, making it less resistant to rot, especially when used outdoors.

    What are some common uses of beech wood?

    Common uses of beech wood include making furniture, cabinetry, flooring, cooking utensils, tool handles, plywood, musical instruments, and sports equipment. It’s also used in the manufacture of crates, pallets, and railroad ties.

    Can beech wood cause allergies or toxicity?

    Although no confirmed safety data exists for American beech, the closely related European beech has been reported as a sensitizer, with reactions often involving eye, skin, and respiratory irritation.

    What is the texture of beech wood?

    Beech wood typically has a fine to medium uniform texture. This, coupled with its straight grain, gives it a very smooth feel.

    Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Beech A Hardwood?

    In this article, we’ve deeply discussed is Beech a hardwood and how hard it is by taking characteristic qualities, pros, and cons of Beech wood as factors.

    Beech is a hardwood. It’s recognized for its high density, straight grain, and durability, making it a popular choice for various applications, including furniture, flooring, and musical instruments.

    Furthermore, we’ve discussed what makes Beech wood so special and is Beech a hardwood compared to other popular wood types like Maple, Walnut, Birch, and oak.

    Hope you have gained good knowledge about the hardness of Beech and how we can use its superior qualities for woodworking projects.

    So, let’s begin to start your next woodworking project with Beech wood. Have fun in woodworking!

    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.

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