Is Poplar Wood Strong? With Pros & Cons

Is Poplar Wood Strong

Poplar wood is one of the most popular wood types commonly used for making furniture, toys, plywood, decorations, cabinets, etc. Even though poplar is considered a hardwood, the workability is easy as softwoods like pine. Because of that when it comes to interior designs, poplar is a popular choice. Poplar wood is a budget-friendly option for woodworkers. When I was started working with poplar wood for interior and exterior woodworking projects, I was curious about Is Poplar wood strong?

I did some research and here is what I’ve found:

Yes, Poplar wood is strong. It has relatively high density, compressive strength, and bending strength than most other woods. Because of being strong, poplar is used for making cabinets, furniture, picture frames, and many more. Poplar wood is stronger than any softwood, but when it’s come to hardwoods, poplar wood is not stronger than most hardwoods.

But that’s not all there is to talk about.

In this post, we’ll discuss how strong is poplar wood for various applications. Such as furniture, bookshelves, beds, etc. Also, we’re going to compare the strength of poplar wood with other woods, such as pine, oak, and fir as well.

How Strong is Poplar Wood?

You can get an idea about how strong is poplar wood is by focusing on its,

  • Density
  • Compressive strength
  • Bending strength
  • Stiffness
  • Hardness

When it comes to the density of particular wood, high density means the strength is high. Density is measured as specific gravity. In poplar wood, the specific gravity is 0.42 which is higher than all the softwoods and some hardwoods. This is one reason to indicate that poplar is a strong wood.

Density0.42
Compressive strength5540psi
Bending strength10100psi
Stiffness1.58Mpsi
Hardness540lb

As we can see, all the above factors of poplar wood are high. Therefore, poplar wood is considered a strong wood type.

But you always, need to keep in mind that, Poplar is a little softer and less in strength than most hardwoods.

Is Poplar Wood Good For Furniture In Terms of Strength?

Even though poplar is considered softer than most other hardwoods, Poplar is a great choice for making furniture. It has great dimensional stability.

The most important thing about poplar wood is its workability. Because of being softer than most hardwoods, it takes manipulation with a lather, router, or saw well. But you need to make sure that your woodworking tools are well sharpened before working with poplar. Because the wood can tear easily if the cutting tools are not sharpened properly.

Read: How To Sharpen Woodworking Tools!

To avoid tearing, follow slow feed speed. Drilling and other woodworking tasks should do slowly with poplar wood than other hardwoods because of its soft nature. Sanding also should be done with fine-grit sandpapers by starting from 80 grit, 150, 300, and finally with 400 grit sandpapers for better finishing. Finally, do a proper finishing with staining.

If you have followed the above guidelines correctly when working with poplar wood, you’ll be able to get strong poplar wood furniture for interior and exterior usage.

I have researched and listed down some advantages and disadvantages you’ll get by using poplar wood for furniture.

ProsCons
HardwoodDents and Scratches acquire easily
Uniform textureNeed more paint
Easy to work withRequire light sanding
LightweightTear up easily
Can use for outdoor only if it keeps dry 
Inexpensive 

Because of those disadvantages of poplar wood when it comes to furniture making, It’s not the first choice for fine furniture. But it is commonly used for painted furniture.

Tip: You can increase the resistance of poplar wood to dents and scratches by applying good quality oil-based paint on top of it.

However, poplar wood furniture is known as one of the cheapest hardwood furniture you can get from the market.

Is Poplar Wood Strong Enough for Bookshelves?

Poplar wood is strong enough for bookshelves. The only problem that occurs when using poplar wood for bookshelves is poplar gets inevitably painted, hidden, or veneered.

Poplar is the stiffest and common for basic shelving.

The great thing about poplar is because of being hardwood. It is significantly harder than white pine but relatively softer than yellow pine.  

Poplar is an easy common working wood that can be painted. Poplar trim is easy to work with. It paints well and inexpensive as well.

After making the poplar bookshelf, I highly recommend finishing it with paint or polyurethane finish to get the best output. This helps to increase the lifetime of your bookshelf.

Poplar plywood is also known as one of the best choices for making bookshelves. It is high-grade plywood with great strength and resistance than much other plywood available in the market.

If you’re a beginner in woodworking and going to make a bookshelf by yourself, Poplar is highly recommended to practice your skills. Poplar craves perfectly. After the building part is done, do proper sanding and apply the finisher for best results.

Apart from using poplar for bookshelves, the best alternatives you can go for are,

  • Pine
  • Cherry
  • Koa
  • Red Oak
  • Padauk
  • Mahogany

Is Poplar Strong Enough For A Bed?

Poplar is strong enough for a bed. It is known as the most common type of wood for bed frame making.

It has a significant length and grain around 16 feet long which makes it perfect for bed frames. The assembling is also pretty much easy. Even though it is softer than most hardwoods, poplar is more durable and resistant to shrinkage than every type of softwood. This makes it strong for bed.

Because of its strength and high workability poplar wood is a great choice for all interior furniture without any doubt.

How Hard Is Poplar Wood?

Even though poplar wood is considered hardwood, it is softer than most hardwoods. But it is harder than softwoods. In terms of hardness, poplar wood moves towards the bottom end of the hardness scale with a 540 rating for the Janka hardness test value.

You can clearly get an idea about Is poplar wood strong by considering its hardness values from this hardness scale.

Wood TypeJanka Hardness Value (N)Grades
Ebony (Brazilian)16420Exceedingly Hard
Cumaru15470Exceedingly Hard
Ebony14300Extremely Hard
Golden Teak10400Extremely Hard
Rosewood7900Hard
White Oak6000Hard
Ash5900Somewhat Hard
Birch5600Somewhat Hard
Walnut4500Firm
Cherry4200Firm
Mahogany3600Firm
Douglas Fir2900Soft
Chestnut2400Soft
Poplar2400 N (540 lbf)Soft
White Pine1900Very Soft
Balsa310Very Soft

As you can see the hardness of poplar is not satisfying when compared with other hardwoods. This is why the resistance to dent and wear is poor in Poplar wood.

Is Poplar Wood Stronger than Pine?

Poplar is stronger wood than pine. According to the Janks hardness value, poplar has 540 lbf while white pine wood gets 420 lbf value.

But there are many types of pine woods, for example, poplar is stronger than white pine but weaker and softer than yellow pine with 80 lbf.

Even though pine wood has similar strength as poplar, it dents easily. They tend o crack and split when they dry. They’re very sensitive to temperature levels. Therefore, Poplar is better than pinewood when it comes to interior and exterior furniture in terms of strength and durability.

Is Poplar Stronger than Oak?

Oak is much stronger than Oak. When we look at Janka hardness values,

  • Oakwood – 1290 lbf
  • Poplar wood – 540 lbf

As you can see there is a clear difference between them. In terms of strength and durability, oak wood is way better than poplar.

The good side of poplar is its straight grain with zero knots. It easily bends and flexible than oak wood that makes it a better choice for making shelves, frames, and walkways.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Is Poplar Wood Strong?

From this article, I have widely discussed, Is poplar wood strong, what makes it strong, poplar wood for furniture in terms of strength, poplar wood for making bookshelves,

We have compared the strength of poplar wood with other popular hardwoods like pine and oak.

According to the advantages and disadvantages of poplar wood, you can consider poplar wood for your next woodworking project with ease. The workability of poplar wood is incredible and useful for beginners.

Hope you have learned great information from this article about the strength of poplar wood. So, let’s give it a try and start making bookshelf bed frames or any other woodworking project with it. Hope you’ll get the best results!

Leave a Comment