Is Juniper A Hardwood? (How hard is Juniper?)

is juniper a hardwood

Juniper wood is popular for indoor and woodworking projects such as gardening boxes, fencing and walls, furniture making, and more.

When I was first working with Juniper to make a piece of furniture, I was curious about its hardness and other details compared to other wood that we commonly use.

I did some research to find out the hardness of Juniper wood and to confirm whether it’s a hardwood or softwood. So, let’s discuss, Is Juniper a hardwood?

Juniper is not a hardwood. Juniper is a softwood with a Janka hardness rating of 626 bf (2,780 N) which is considered a dense softwood. Juniper is 35% harder than Pine and 50% softer than Red Oak. Juniper comes from a coniferous tree and the wood is hard, dense, and tough.

But there’s more to know about the hardness of Juniper.

In this article, we’ll widely explore is Juniper a hardwood, how hard Juniper wood is, characteristics of Juniper wood with its pros and cons.

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

Let’s dig in!

How Hard Is Juniper?

Juniper is a softwood, but it is harder than many other softwoods because of its high hardness and density.

There’re many types of varieties of Juniper with different hardness levels. Here’re the popular Juniper wood species with their hardness,

Juniper Wood TypeHardness
Western Juniper626 lbf (2,780 N)
African Juniper890 lbf (3,960 N)
Alligator Juniper1,160 lbf (5,160 N)

Of the above variants of Juniper, the western Juniper is the most common one and should discuss the most.

Janka hardness rating is the test of measuring the resistance for wear and shear of a particular wood. If any wood has high wear and tear resistance, that means its Janka hardness rating is high.

Western Juniper has a Janka hardness rating of 626 lbf (2,780 N) which is significantly higher than many other softwoods and some hardwoods as well.

For example,

Juniper wood is 35% harder and 70% stiffer than Pine. Plus, it is harder than Cedar, Hemlock, Redwood, and hardwoods like Elm and Poplar.

Juniper is softer than Beech, Ash, Oak, and some other luxurious high-end hardwoods.

Overall, Juniper is a high dense softwood than other regular softwood which makes it unique and more durable than most softwoods.

Because of being a softwood, working with Juniper is so easy, and being a dese softwood is great to prevent the wood from chipping when working with woodworking hand tools.

Juniper has a fine grain with an even texture which is not common for softwoods. This makes the wood tougher.

Juniper comes from a coniferous tree as other softwoods whose leaves don’t fall annually like hardwood species.

According to the Janka hardness rating, western Juniper has a hardness of 626 lbf (2,780 N).

So, let’s have a look at the hardness ratings of other popular wood types to get a clear idea about how hard Juniper is compared to other woods.

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)
American Beech1,300 lbf (5,800 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)
Sweet Gum850 lbf (3,780 N)
Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
Silver Maple700 lbf (3,100 N)
Juniper626 lbf (2,780 N)
Hemlock540 lbf (2,402 N)
Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
Cypress510 lbf (2,269 N)
Cottonwood430 lbf (1,913 N)
Redwood420 lbf (1,868 N)
Basswood410 lbf (1,823 N)
Engelmann Spruce390 lbf (1,735 N)
Sugar Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)
White Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)
Aspen350 lbf (1,557 N)
White Cedar320 lbf (1,423 N)

As you can see, Juniper is so much harder than the softwoods that we use in our day-to-day lives.

So, let’s have a look at the characteristic features of Juniper as a softwood

Characteristics Of Juniper Wood

Juniper heartwood has pale pinkish orange o dark reddish color that adds a unique high-end look to your furniture.

Because of being a softwood, Juniper wood is so easy to work with.

Even a beginner in woodworking can learn a lot with Juniper wood since screwing, nailing, gluing and finishing is so much easier than with many other kinds of wood.

Juniper wood is dense and tough wood compared to other softwoods. This makes Juniper more durable and better wood for the long run.

Juniper is one of the most durable softwood species because it has excellent rot and decay resistance.

The wood is so tough and dense. Therefore, moisture won’t penetrate deep into the wood causing the wood to rot.

But it doesn’t have good resistance against insect attacks. Plus, in extreme weather conditions, Juniper wood may rot due to water damage.

Therefore, finishing is a must before using Juniper for any woodworking project.

Once the wood starts to rot, there is no need to finish and you’ll have to restore the wood using a quality product like Flexseal.

Juniper has excellent finishing and gluing properties.

You can finish Juniper with lacquer, varnish, or oil finishes like Tung oil, Danish oil, or Linseed oil to keep the wood protected from environmental elements such as moisture and insect attacks.

Juniper has excellent resistance against warping and cracking when drying. This helps the wood to tolerate extreme temperature levels. This is why Juniper is popular for fencing.

Overall, Juniper is a versatile, quality wood with exceptional qualities compared to other softwood types.

Here’re the most significant qualities of Juniper,

  • Dense softwood
  • Fine grain with even texture
  • Light in color
  • Excellent rot resistance
  • Excellent decay resistance
  • High durability
  • High density and toughness
  • Distinct odor

Here are the main characteristic features of Junipers,

ColorPale pinkish orange to Reddish brown
Density0.55 kg/m3
Wood TypeDense Softwood
ApplicationsFencing, Furniture making, Paneling

So, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Juniper wood as a softwood.

Pros And Cons Of Juniper Wood

Excellent weather resistanceDistinct odor
Rot and decay resistanceProne to scratches and dents
High workabilityNeed high maintenance
Easy to finishProne to bacterial infections
High durabilityNo fire resistance
Less expensive 

As you can see Juniper is filled with lots of beneficial qualities. Most of its drawbacks can be easily fixed by applying a quality sealer or finisher.

So, let’s have a look at the uses of Juniper as a well-known softwood species.

What Is Juniper Used For?

Juniper can literally use for any woodworking project because of being highly dense softwood with excellent durability and outdoor woodworking properties.

Here’re some popular uses of Juniper,

  • Garden beds
  • Fencing
  • Furniture making
  • Firewood
  • Exterior constructions
  • Decorative items
  • Boxes and crates
  • Butcher blocks
  • Cabinets

As you see, Juniper is great for anything.

With proper sealing and finishing, you just can ignore its softwood properties since it’s a perfect combination of cool features of both hardwoods and softwoods.

How Strong Is Juniper?

Juniper is stronger than many other softwoods and some hardwoods as well. It is a tough, hard and dense wood with excellent durability.

Juniper is stronger and 70% stiffer than Pine and 85% stronger and stiffer than cedar.

Juniper wood can hold a considerable amount of weight and stress with no deformation due to its excellent warp resistance. This is a unique and uncommon feature of softwood.

But under extreme conditions wood tend to deform over time. You just have to remember it is not hard as high-end hardwoods like Oak or Ash.

Due to its high strength, Juniper wood does not crack or split when drying. This is useful for making outdoor furniture.

However, Juniper is undoubtedly one of the strongest wood types on the planet because of its strong bonds between wood fibers.

The compressive strength and the bending strength of Juniper wood are as follows,

  • The compressive strength of Juniper wood is 32.5 psi
  • The bending strength of Juniper wood is 4.43 Gpa

As above details, you can see why Juniper is strong in this much. It has good flexibility to bend without cracking or splitting the wood.

You can easily soften Juniper wood for bending without damaging the wood due to its excellent strength and density.

That’s it, folks! Now you have a clear idea about whether is Juniper a hardwood and how hard Juniper wood is even though it is officially considered a softwood.

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

Is Juniper Harder Than Pine?

Juniper is harder than White Pine and Sugar Pine, but softer than yellow Pine. Both Juniper and Pinewood belong to the same softwood family.

But Juniper is stronger than Pine because of its high-density fiber structure.

Plus, Juniper has excellent resistance to rotting and decaying, not like Pine. Therefore, overall, Juniper is better and more versatile wood than Pine.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Juniper and Pine is as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Juniper626 lbf
White Pine380 lbf
Sugar Pine380 lbf
Yellow Pine870 lbf

Is Juniper Harder Than Birch?

Birch is harder than Juniper. Birch is a hardwood and Juniper is a softwood that two-time lower hardness than Birch.

Even though Juniper is a dense wood, it cannot beat high-end hardwood like Birch because it is one of the best in the hardwood category.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Juniper and Birch is as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Juniper626 lbf
Birch1,260 lbf

Is Juniper Harder Than Oak?

Juniper is softer than Oak because both red and white Oak is considered hardwoods while Juniper is a softwood.

Oak wood is stronger, tougher, and denser than Juniper in every aspect. You cannot replace Oak wood with Juniper even though it has good durability.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Juniper and Oak is as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Juniper626 lbf
Red Oak1,290 lbf
White Oak1,360 lbf

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

in this article we have deeply discussed, is Juniper a hardwood, how hard Juniper wood is and characteristics of Juniper wood with its pros and cons, and more.

Juniper wood is a softwood that comes from a coniferous tree with a Janka hardness value of 626 lbf (2,780 N). Juniper is a dense softwood because it has high density, toughness, and hardness compared to other woods. It has high durability and excellent resistance as well.

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

Hope you have gained good knowledge about whether is Juniper a hardwood and why Juniper is known as a dense softwood.

Try to use Juniper for your next woodworking project and see why it is so special to other softwoods.

It has both hardwood and softwood properties which is surprising to see!

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 and Facebook.

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