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

Ever tapped on pine and wondered if it’s really a hardwood? Dive in as we unravel the mysteries of wood classifications!

Is Pine a Hardwood Or Softwood

Pine is one of the most popular woods in the woodworking world which can use in pretty much any woodworking project. It is lightweight and made with excellent strength.

When I was starting to work with Pine wood, I was curious about its hardness to use for some heavy-duty projects.

I have researched a lot about this with the help of experts.

Now with years of experience, here’s what I know about, Is Pine a hardwood?

Pine is not hardwood. Pine is a softwood with a hardness rating of 380 lbf (1,690 N) which is relatively softer than most woods. Yellow Pine is harder than White Pine. Pinewood comes from evergreen coniferous trees like other softwoods. Pine is soft and easy to work with.

But there’s a lot more to know!

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    In this article, I’ll widely discuss is Pine a hardwood, how hard is Pine, is Pine better than hardwoods, and Pine wood characteristics with pros and cons as well.

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

    Let’s jump in!

    Pine wood furniture and woodwork
    Pine wood furniture and woodwork

    First, let’s get a quick overview of what is Pine wood.

    What is Pine Wood?

    Pine wood is a type of softwood that is immensely popular and used across various industries, especially in construction and furniture.

    Derived from pine trees, this type of wood stands out not just because of its abundance, but also its distinct characteristics that make it both a favorite and sometimes a point of contention for woodworkers and builders.

    But before we get lost in the details, let me share a story.

    I remember the first time I worked with pine wood. The fresh, resinous scent that filled my workshop was unforgettable.

    The wood was soft beneath my hands, allowing me to carve intricate designs with relative ease.

    But this very softness had its downsides, too. A mistakenly misplaced tool or an accidental drop, and there would be a dent, reminding me of the delicate nature of this wood.

    Yet, the beauty and versatility of pine kept drawing me back.

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

    Understanding Pine

    Pine trees are evergreen conifers, characterized by their needle-like leaves and cones.

    When you think of a classic Christmas tree, you’re likely thinking of a type of pine!

    The wood harvested from these trees has tracheids – cells responsible for water transport.

    If you peek under a microscope, you won’t find any pores, a key distinction that sets it apart from hardwoods.

    Example: If you’ve ever been on a nature walk and picked up a pine cone, that’s a direct gift from a pine tree. Those majestic trees that stand tall and are adorned with needle-like leaves? That’s where our beloved pine wood comes from.

    The Varieties of Pine: Not All are Created Equal

    Interestingly, not all pines are as soft as the others. For instance, certain species of pine wood can sometimes rival the durability of some hardwoods.

    Common commercial species like the eastern white pine, sugar pine, or western white pine are on the softer side. They typically rank lower on the hardness scale.

    Example: Imagine a spectrum where balsa, a hardwood, sits at one end with a Janka scale rating of just 100 lbs.

    On the other end, you have lignum vitae, a heavyweight champion with a rating of 4500 lbs.

    Most pines are somewhere in the middle, with species like the eastern white pine scoring around 380 lbs.

    Characteristic features of Pine
    Characteristic features of Pine

    Now you know what kind of wood is pine. So, let’s head back to our main topic regarding the hardness of pine.

    How Hard Is Pine?

    Pine is very softwood compared to many hardwoods and most softwoods as well. It comes from an evergreen coniferous like Cedar, Douglas fir, and Spruce.

    Because of being extremely soft, Pine wood is easy to work with.

    The hardness of a particular wood can be tested by a standard method called the Janka hardness test.

    Janka hardness test is calculated by considering the ear and doesn’t resistance of a particular wood.

    If any wood has high wear and tear resistance, that means its Janka hardness rating is high.

    There’re three main species of Pinewood that we use in our regular woodworking projects.

    According to the Janka hardness ratings the harnesses of Pine wood species are as follows,

    • Sugar Pine Janka hardness rating is 380 lbf (1,690 N)
    • White Pine Janka hardness rating is 380 lbf (1,690 N)
    • Yellow Pine Janka hardness rating is 870 lbf (3,870 N)

    As you can see according to the Janka hardness test values, Yellow Pine is significantly harder than White Pine and Sugar Pine.

    Because of having a higher hardness, Yellow Pine can be used for tougher and denser woodworking projects.

    There is no visible pore structure in Pinewood as hardwoods because of having tracheid cells. It has light grain like other softwoods.

    Even though Pine wood is significantly soft and less dense, it has good dimensional stability. working with Pine wood is easy.

    Pine wood is easy to carve without chipping wood. making woodcuts is easy as butter.

    Pine wood kitchen cabinet
    Pine wood kitchen cabinet

    Hardness Of Pine Compared to Other Woods

    So, let’s have a look at the hardness of Pine compared to other popular wood types.

    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)
    Yellow Pine870 lbf (3,870 N)
    Douglas Fir710 lbf (3,158 N)
    Silver Maple700 lbf (3,100 N)
    Hemlock540 lbf (2,402 N)
    Black Spruce520 lbf (2,313 N)
    Cypress510 lbf (2,269 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 Pine wood is significantly softer than most other woods. But it is harder than White Cedar and Aspen.

    Because of having less hardness, Pine wood has good machinability and excellent wood for beginners in woodworking.

    Uses of pine
    Uses of pine

    Is Pine Better than Hardwood?

    Pine is better than hardwood not in hardness but its high workability, lightweight, and high strength.

    It has a high strength-to-weight ratio compared to hardwoods.

    Most of the top-quality furniture is made of hardwoods.

    But Pine can be also considered a quality wood because of its wide range of applications such as doors, furniture, cabinets, and other interior and exterior woodwork.

    Pinewood is better than hardwoods in terms of its cost.

    Pine wood is cheaper and has high availability than many hardwood species.

    Hardwoods are better than Pine in terms of density and toughness.

    Pine wood cannot be used for woodworking projects that need to withstand force because of having poor hardness and density.

    In summary here’re the main differences between Pinewood and regular hardwoods,

    Easy to work withComparatively difficult to work
    Easy to cut and carveDifficult to cut and carve
    Less densityHigh density
    No fire resistanceHigh fire resistance

    As you can see Pine wood is almost better than most hardwoods. This is why it has become one of the best woods among woodworkers.

    Tip for working with Pine
    Tip for working with Pine

    Pine Wood Characteristics

    Pine wood is a light-color softwood with a color range from light brown to reddish brown. The color of Pinewood tends to get darkened with age due to sunlight and other environmental impacts.

    Pinewood has a straight grain medium texture.

    Because of having a straight grain Pine wood is easy to cut like butter without chipping or splintering the wood. This is why carving Pine wood is so much easy.

    Pinewood takes stain and paints evenly because of not have a visible porous structure. Therefore, Pine wood is easy to stain and finish.

    Even though it is considered softwood, with proper finish, Pinewood furniture can be used as outdoor furniture.

    The workability of Pine wood is high. Therefore, even a beginner in woodworking is able to practice and sharpen woodworking knowledge with Pinewood.

    Cutting, drilling, and sawing are easy with regular woodworking hand tools.

    Pine wood has a harsh characteristic odor, and it has poor moisture resistance. It rots and decays quickly.

    Therefore, proper finishing is a must for all Pine woodworking projects.

    Here’re some most significant qualities of Pine,

    • Softwood
    • High workability
    • No decay or rot resistance
    • Straight grain structure
    • Easy to stain and finish
    • Easy to glue
    Tip for working with Pine wood
    Tip for working with Pine wood

    Properties Of Pine

    Here’re the main characteristic features of Pine wood.

    ColorLight brown to reddish brown
    Density0.35 kg/m3 White Pine
    0.59 kg/m3 Yellow Pine
    Wood TypeSoftwood
    HardnessWhite Pine 380 lbf
    Yellow Pine 870 lbf
    StiffnessWhite Pine 1.24 Mpsi
    Yellow Pine 1.98 Mpsi
    ApplicationsBed frames, doors, cabinets, indoor and outdoor furniture

    So, let’s find out the advantages and disadvantages of Pine according to the hardness factor.

    Pros and Cons of Pine Wood

    SoftwoodDistinct odor
    High workabilityPoor rot resistance
    Easy to carvePoor decay resistance
    High durabilityDent and scratch easily
    High strengthTear up easily
    Easy to stain and finish 
    Dimensional stability 

    As you can see Pine wood is filled with lots of advantages.

    Most of the disadvantages of Pinewood can be easily fixed with proper finishing and regular maintenance.

    Pine wood bookshelf
    Pine wood bookshelf

    What Is Pine Used For?

    Since Pine wood is softwood with high workability, it can use pretty much for any woodworking project.

    The woodworking tools need to be well sharpened to avoid Pine wood from chipping away.

    Here’re some common uses of Pinewood,

    • Indoor and outdoor furniture
    • Doors
    • Window frames
    • Flooring
    • Roofing
    • Birdhouses
    • Fences
    • Cabinets
    • Plywood
    • Boxes and crates
    • Decks

    How Strong Is Pinewood?

    Pine wood is stronger than most softwoods. But it is weak compared to most hardwoods because of being soft and less dense.

    Because of having excellent strength compared to other softwoods, Pinewood has high durability.

    The compressive strength and bending strength of Pinewood are significantly higher than most of the softwoods and some of the hardwoods as well.

    The compressive strength and bending strengths of Pinewood species are as follows,

    Pine SpeciesCompressive StrengthBending Strength
    Yellow Pine8,470 psi14,500 psi
    White Pine4,800 psi8,600 psi
    Sugar Pine4,460 psi8,200 psi
    Ponderosa Pine5,320 psi9,400 psi

    As you can see Pine wood has some excellent strengths. Yellow Pine is stronger and denser than White Pine. Therefore, it is useful for woodworking projects that need high tolerance.

    When compared with other types of wood, Pine wood is stronger than Redwood, Hemlock, Spruce, Cypress, and Cedar.

    Because of having high strength, Pine wood has good dimensional stability and is able to live over decades with proper maintenance.

    Plus, it’s excellent for both indoor and outdoor projects.

    Now you have a clear idea bout Pine hardwood and how can we gain get maximum benefits out of its excellent features.

    Now I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks that I’ve learned by working with pine for such a long time.

    Pine wood dining table
    Pine wood dining table

    Tips For Working With Pine Softwood

    If you’ve ever stepped into a woodworking shop or tackled a DIY project, chances are, you’ve encountered the charm and challenges of working with pine wood.

    As a softwood, pine has its quirks, but with a little bit of know-how and some hands-on experience, you can make this wood sing.

    Here are some tips I’ve gathered over the years, sprinkled with a touch of my own experiences.

    Use Sharp Tools

    Keeping your tools sharp is always good advice, but with pine, it’s essential.

    Dull tools can cause the wood to tear or splinter, marring the smooth finish you’re aiming for.

    Example: Think of it as cutting a ripe tomato with a blunt knife. It’ll squish before it slices. Similarly, pine needs a sharp edge for a clean cut.

    Prevent ‘Blowout’ When Drilling

    When drilling through pine, there’s a risk of the wood splintering on the exit side.

    To prevent this, always place a scrap piece of wood behind the area you’re drilling. This support minimizes the ‘blowout’ effect.

    Personal Experience: During a project, I once skipped this step, thinking I’d be fine. The result? An unsightly splintered exit hole. Lesson learned!

    Staining Pine: Achieving an Even Finish

    Pine is notorious for its unpredictable absorption of stains. To achieve a uniform finish, apply a pre-stain wood conditioner.

    This helps ensure that the stain is absorbed evenly.

    Anecdote: A friend once attempted to stain a pine cabinet without using a conditioner.

    The result was a blotchy finish that looked more like a leopard’s coat than elegant woodwork. Don’t skip the conditioner!

    Taking Advantage of Pine’s Flexibility

    Pine bends relatively easily, which can be advantageous in certain projects. Steam-bending, for instance, can be effectively employed with pine to achieve beautiful curves and shapes.

    Example: Have you ever seen those stunning wooden archways or curvy chair backs? Pine might just be behind those artful bends!

    Nailing and Screwing

    Given its soft nature, pine can split if you’re not careful. When nailing or screwing, it’s often best to drill a pilot hole first.

    This will guide your nail or screw and reduce the risk of splitting the wood.

    Quick Story: My neighbor once built a beautiful pine bookshelf. But in his excitement, he nailed it without pilot holes.

    The wood split in places, and he had to redo parts of it. Always take the time for those pilot holes!

    Pine wood patio furniture
    Pine wood patio furniture

    So, let’s compare the hardness of Pine compared to other popular wood types.

    Is Pine Wood Harder Than Poplar?

    Yellow Pine is harder than poplar, but Sugar Pine and White Pine are softer than poplar. Even though poplar is considered a hardwood species, it has almost the same hardness as Pinewood.

    Therefore, poplar wood is easily replaceable by Pinewood In terms of its hardness.

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

    Wood TypeHardness
    Poplar540 lbf
    Yellow Pine870 lbf
    White Pine380 lbf
    Sugar Pine380 lbf

    As you can see Yellow Pine is significantly harder and denser than poplar which is excellent to use as a poplar alternative.

    Is Pine Wood Harder Than Cedar?

    Pine is harder than cedar. Both western red cedar and white cedar are softer than all species of Pine wood.

    Both species belong to softwoods.  Pinewood is durable and has better environmental tolerance than cedar because of its high density and hardness.

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

    Wood TypeHardness
    Red Cedar350 lbf
    White Cedar320 lbf
    Yellow Pine870 lbf
    White Pine380 lbf
    Sugar Pine380 lbf

    Yellow Pine is significantly harder and denser than cedar. Therefore, cedar wood is easily replaceable with Pinewood in terms of its hardness.

    Is Pine Wood Harder Than Oak?

    Oak is significantly harder and denser than Pinewood. Oak is a hardwood with extremely high strength and durability.

    Pine wood is no way near to oak wood in terms of hardness. Oak wood can be used for construction woodworking projects, not like Pinewood.

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

    Wood TypeHardness
    Red Oak1,290 lbf
    White Oak1,360 lbf
    Yellow Pine870 lbf
    White Pine380 lbf
    Sugar Pine380 lbf

    As you can see, both red oak and white oak are nearly two times harder than all the Pinewood species.

    Is Pine Wood Harder Than Fir?

    Yellow Pine is harder than Fir, but White Pine and Sugar Pine are weaker than fir.  Fir is an excellent wood for almost any woodworking project.

    Douglas fir is softwood with almost similar properties to Pinewood. It works well, stains well, and is easy to use.

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

    Wood TypeHardness
    Fir710 lbf
    Yellow Pine870 lbf
    White Pine380 lbf
    Sugar Pine380 lbf

    So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.


    What distinguishes hardwoods from softwoods under a microscope?

    Hardwoods show vessels (akin to blood vessels) that appear as pores, while softwoods display tracheids and present no pores.

    Why is pine so commonly used despite being a softwood?

    Pine is abundant, affordable, and versatile. Its ease of use and adaptability make it popular for a variety of applications, from furniture to construction.

    Can pine wood be as durable as some hardwoods?

    While pine is generally softer, certain species can rival some hardwoods in terms of durability, though most common commercial pine varieties tend to be softer.

    Are all pine woods the same in terms of hardness?

    No, there are variations among pine species. For instance, eastern white pine and sugar pine rank lower on the Janka scale, while ponderosa pine and jackpine measure slightly higher, though still below most hardwoods.

    Does the presence of knots in pine affect its quality?

    Knots can impact the structural integrity of pine, but they can also add aesthetic appeal. Pine is sold in different grades, from “Select” with minimal blemishes to “Construction” with noticeable knots and blemishes.

    Why are hardwoods more expensive than softwoods like pine?

    Hardwoods generally have a slower growth rate and are often chosen for projects requiring long-lasting durability, factors that contribute to their higher cost compared to faster-growing softwoods.

    Is it true that hardwood trees have leaves while softwoods have needles?

    Typically, yes! Hardwoods come from deciduous trees that have broad leaves, while softwoods like pine often have needles and cones.

    Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Pine a Hardwood?

    In this article, I have deeply discussed is Pine a hardwood, how hard Pinewood is, and Pine wood characteristics with pros and cons.

    Pine is not a hardwood. It is a softwood because it comes from an evergreen coniferous tree. Because of being soft, it is easy to cut, drill, and saw. Woodworking and carving Pinewood is easy.

    The wood is easy to finish and one of the best wood for beginners to learn woodworking techniques and tips.

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

    Hope you have gained good knowledge about the hot topic Is Pine a hardwood?

    So, let’s try your next woodworking project with Pine and see how its hardness is useful in your projects. 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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