Is Redwood a Hardwood? (How hard is Redwood?)

is redwood a hardwood

Redwood is a premium construction wood that is popularized because of its weather resistance and beauty. Redwood is generally used for fences, panels, furniture, and many other indoor and outdoor woodworking projects. When it comes to the building projects with Redwood, people are curious about its hardness. So, let’s figure out, Is Redwood a hardwood?

Redwood is not a hardwood. Redwood is a softwood with a hardness rating of 420 lbf (1,868 N) which is relatively lower than most softwoods. Redwood comes from a deciduous coniferous tree like other softwoods that doesn’t lose leaves in fall.

But that’s just a quick snapshot and there’s a lot more to know about Redwood than just that!

In this article, we’ll explore is Redwood a hardwood and how hard is Redwood by taking its characteristic qualities with pros and cons. Also, we’ll talk about how strong Redwood is with its uses.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about the hardness of Redwood compared to other popular wood types as well.

So, let’s jump in!

How Hard Is Redwood?

Redwood is a very soft wood compared to many hardwoods and most softwoods as well. It comes from a gymnosperm tree like other softwoods that have needles and cones. There’re no visible pores structure in Redwood because of tracheids

The hardness of Redwood is tested by a standard method called the Janka hardness test.

Janka hardness test is calculated by considering the resistance against wear and dent of a particular wood. if any wood has high resistance against dent and wear, that means its Janka hardness rating is high.

According to the Janka hardness test values, Redwood has a hardness rating of 420 lbf (1,868 N) which is significantly less than most hardwoods and softwoods.

Even though Redwood is considered a softwood, it is harder than some angiosperm woods like Aspen and Basswood. Plus, Redwood has excellent against warping and splitting. Therefore, the durability of Redwood is high.

Usually, we don’t see much of using softwood for outdoor woodworking projects.

But because of having good weather resistance and decay resistance, Redwood is commonly used for exterior use. The less hardness and density make the wood easy to work with.

So, let’s have a look at the hardness of Redwood compared to other wood types. As we all know the Janka hardness rating of Redwood is 420 lbf (1,868 N) and let’s see how harder or softer Redwood is 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)
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 the hardness of Redwood is significantly less than many other wood types that we use in our day-to-day lives. But Redwood is harder than White Pine, Aspen, and White Cedar.

The specialty of Redwood is, that it is a type of softwood that we can use for both interior and exterior purposes without any hesitations due to its natural resistance to the environmental elements.

Redwood Characteristics

Redwood is a softwood that has a color range of light pinkish-brown to deep reddish-brown. It is a beautiful wood that adds a unique appearance to your house.

Usually, Redwood has a straight grain structure, but some have irregular or wavy grain patterns. Because of having a straight grain, Redwood has some excellent wood finishing properties. Staining and painting Redwood is easy.

Redwood is considered one of the strongest softwood types in the world despite being extremely soft. It has good resistance against warping and splitting.

The workability of Redwood is high. Therefore, working with Redwood is easy even for a beginner in woodworking. Cutting, drilling, sawing, and carving Redwood is easy with normal woodworking tools.

If you’re a beginner and looking for wood to make outdoor woodwork, Redwood is highly recommended due to its excellent user-friendliness. Plus, Redwood has natural tannins that repel bugs and insects to make the wood protected. Therefore, Redwood furniture or woodworks has good resistance against insect attacks, rotting and decaying.

Redwood is resistant to fire. Therefore, it can be kept in any area without any hesitation. It’s a clean, sustainable, versatile, and recyclable wood with some exceptional qualities compared to other softwood types.

Here’re the most significant qualities of Redwood,

  • Softwood
  • High workability
  • High resistance against insect attacks
  • Weather resistance
  • Decay and rot-resistant
  • Less density
  • Distinct odor
  • Straight grain pattern

Here are the main characteristic features of Redwood,

ColorReddish-brown
Density0.35 kg/m3
Hardness420 lbf (1,868 N)
Stiffness1.10 Mpsi
Wood TypeNorth American Softwood
ApplicationsPosts, Decks, Musical instruments, Boxes, Furniture

So, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of Redwood in terms of its hardness.

Pros and Cons of Redwood

ProsCons
SoftwoodNeed high maintenance
LightweightProne to dents and scratches
Repel insects and bugsExpensive
Weather-resistant 
Decay resistant 
High durability 
High workability 
Versatile 

As you can see Redwood is a wood that is filled with lots of advantages. Most of the disadvantages of Redwood can be skipped with proper maintenance and good finishing techniques.

So, let’s have a look at the applications of Redwood because of being a softwood.

What Is Redwood Used For?

Redwood can be used pretty much for any indoor and outdoor woodworking project because of its excellent workability and natural weather resistance.

Here’re some applications of Redwood,

  • Posts
  • Benches
  • Decking
  • Flooring
  • Patio furniture
  • Gates
  • Pergolas
  • Paneling

How Strong Is Redwood?

Redwood is a fairly weak wood compared to most hardwoods and softwoods. Because of having poor strength, Redwood furniture and woodworks need high maintenance and proper finishing. Otherwise, wood tends to crack and is prone due to environmental elements.

The compressive strength and bending strength of Redwood are as follows,

  • The compressive strength of Redwood is 5,220 psi
  • The bending strength of Redwood is 7,900 psi

As you can see the strengths of Redwood are significantly weak. Therefore, Redwood cannot be used for applications that work against high stress. It can only use for regular woodworking applications.

That’s it, folks! Now you have a clear idea about, Is Redwood a hardwood with its pros and cons.

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about the hardness of Redwood.

Is Redwood Harder Than Pine?

Redwood is harder than sugar Pine and Yellow Pine, but softer than yellow Pine. Both Pine and Redwood belong to the softwood family. But when it comes to the woodworking world, Redwood is a more versatile wood than Pine because of its excellent qualities that are applicable in both indoor and outdoor woodworking projects.

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

Wood TypeHardness
Redwood420 lbf
White Pine380 lbf
Sugar Pine380 lbf
Yellow Pine870 lbf

Is Redwood Harder Than Cedar?

Redwood is harder than Cedar. Even though Redwood is significantly softer than most of the other woods, it is harder and denser than both western red Cedar and white Cedar.

According to the Janka hardness ratings, the hardness of Redwood and Cedar is as follows,

Wood TypeHardness
Redwood420 lbf
Western Red Cedar350 lbf
White Cedar320 lbf

Therefore, Redwood can be considered one of the best alternatives for Cedar in terms of its hardness and toughness.

Is Redwood Harder Than Oak?

Redwood is softer than Oak. Oak is significantly harder and denser than Redwood. Oak comes from hardwood trees with lots of exceptional qualities such as high durability, high strength, and high versatility than Redwood.

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

Wood TypeHardness
Redwood420 lbf
Red Oak1,290 lbf
White Oak1,360 lbf

As you can see the hardness of both Red Oak and White Oak are so bigger than the hardness of Redwood.

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

In this article, we have deeply explored, is Redwood a hardwood, and how hard Redwood is by taking its characteristic qualities with pros and cons.

Redwood is softwood with excellent durability and high workability. Even though it comes from a softwood family, it has natural resistance against insects and good weather and decay resistance as well.

If you’re a beginner in woodworking and looking for a softwood to practice with for both indoor and outdoor woodworking projects, Redwood is the best wood you should go with.

Furthermore, we have discussed the strength of Redwood and answered some frequently asked questions about the hardness of Redwood compared to other wood types as well. Hope you have gained good knowledge about Redwood a hardwood with its uses. So, let’s try to focus on your next woodworking project with Redwood. Keep practicing!

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!

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