What is Hard Wood?

What is Hardwood?

Different woodworking projects call for different types of timber. Basically, there are two types of wood: hard and soft. Both are used for many applications from structural to decorative. But what is hardwood? What are the types of hardwood?

This article will discuss hardwood, its features and types and much more.



Isn’t hardwood “hard”? Well, not exactly. Just because there is “hard” in the wood doesn’t mean it’s alway hard. Hardwood is used to describe woods that are more condensed in nature and have more complex structure than softwoods.

They have superior levels of strength and durability, and are available in countless varieties and colours. Hardwoods are very beautiful and are widely considered a timeless material. They are used in a variety of applications such as in furniture, musical instruments, flooring, construction and boatbuilding.

Generally, hardwoods are obtained from deciduous trees. These trees are known to lose their leaves annually. Hardwoods grow slowly making them denser than softwoods. Examples and types of hardwoods include Oaks, Teal, Iroko, Sapele and Meranti



Hardwoods are used for numerous flooring applications in construction. But why are they so popular?

If you’re curious why hardwood floors are so popular, here are some reasons why people, especially some homeowners, love them so much.


  • Hardwood floors are timeless, authentic and stylish.

If you haven’t heard, everyone loves the look and feel of hardwood floors. They are breathtaking and naturally beautiful. They give homes this nice warm feeling. Hardwoods come in a variety of colours and styles.

They can take a rustic traditional look or something more modern. Plus, you get any colour out of them. You can stain them with more brown to get a darker look or spray something light for a bright feel. The best part of hardwood floors is that they are hard to beat when you have them installed everywhere. It gives your floor and home an impressive look and makes your home look larger.


  • Hardwoods for last for years

Hardwood floors can last a lifetime. Plenty of hardwood floors from the 18th and 19th century are still in good conditions today after some good refinishing. Hardwoods are timeless and are able to maintain their shape for hundreds of years.


  • Hardwood flooring increases the value of your house

Hardwood flooring is a huge investment for many homeowners. Given how naturally beautiful hardwoods appear, having one installed in your home will send the value of your home off the roof! Because they improve the value of homes for resale, it is one of the reasons most people install them on their floors. People are willing to pay lots of money for hardwood floorings. Even better, the government classifies hardwood flooring as a capital improvement.

That means, homeowners with hardwood floorings pay less taxes on hardwood than on carpets. And when they decide to sell their home later, they pay reduced taxes to the government.


  • Hardwood floors are easier to clean and maintain than carpets or rugs

Compared to carpets and rugs, hardwood floors are much easier to clean and maintain. Spilling food, drinks or mud from shoes soles on carpets makes carpet flooring ugly.

Cleaning them too isn’t any easier, especially if it is a stubborn stain. If these stains were on hardwood floors, they are much easier to wipe clean, which makes maintaining them easier too. That’s why hardwoods can remain beautiful for a longer period of time. In addition, cleaning hardwoods is faster than carpet or tiles and requires less chemicals.


  • If you have allergies or asthma, hardwood floors are a perfect choice

Many doctors recommend that homeowners switch to hardwood floors, if their children are allergic to carpets or have asthma. Carpets have a tendency to trap dust and allergens, especially under the material. Hardwood, on the other hand, improves indoor air quality in bedrooms and other main living areas.


  • Hardwood flooring cost less that carpets and rugs

Although hardwood floors may be expensive to install at first, they cost much less in the long run compared to carpets and rugs. You won’t need to replace them every 2 or 3 years like carpets, which saves you money. In addition, homeowners who own carpets pay a lot to professional cleaners annually to have them cleaned. Plus, carpets are made from petroleum. With the soaring prices of oil, their prices are expected to increase too.


  • Prices for hardwood and carpets are not far apart

While hardwood may be pricier than carpets, their prices have remained relatively flat for years compared to carpets prices that have increased dramatically over the last 4-5 years due to increase in price of petroleum.
What is the strongest hardwood?
Measuring the strength of hardwood is done using the Janka Hardness test. This test measures the force required to push a steel ball with a diameter of 0.444″ into the wood to a depth of half the ball’s diameter.

Interestingly, the strongest hardwood is the Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum Sanctum and Guaiacum Officinale). This hardwood measures in at 4,500 pound-force (lbf) on the Janka Scale. That’s more than twice as hard as the Osage orange (2,040lbf), and three times much harder than the red oak (1,290lbf).
You can find the Lignum Vitae in Southern and Central America. For a long time, this wood has been used in applications that demand extreme durability and density, such as ships’ tackle and carvers mallet.

With a naturally infused wax-like resin, the Lignum Vitae has top polish finish, making it a preferred choice for turners. In addition, the Lignum has highly water resistant and self-lubricating abilities and is now a preferred material for making shaft-bearings for silent-running submarines.



Maple is harder than Oak. However, harder doesn’t always mean durable. Most hardwoods are susceptible to decays while softwoods resist it. What’s more important than the hardness of your hardwood is where you use them. Besides, oaks and maples are a variety of subspecies and this plays an important role when considering the most suitable option for you.



The Oak has two common varieties: Red and White. Both can be broken down into more subspecies. For the Maples, there are two kinds: hard and soft.

The soft maples have another seven varieties. Of the two, the most popular choice amongst many builders and woodworkers are the red Oak and the hard Maple. When comparing their prices, the white Oak is generally pricier than the red oak, while the soft maple is less pricier than the hard maple.



On the Janka hardness scale, the Maple (1,450lbf) ranks better than the Oak. The Oak scored 1,290lbf.

Grain difference

Grain patterns in wood indicate how hard they are. Hard Maples have interlocked, tight grain patterns that resists cracking along grain lines and reduces water penetration. On the other hand, the red Oak has open pores and broad grain, which allow moisture to penetrate easily at a higher degree than the Maple’s.



Doors and cabinets made from Maple are much heavier and denser compared to those made from red Oak. Maple doors are less porous than oaks due to their tight grain patterns, and although they are harder than Oaks, they are more susceptible to dents and scratches than oaks due to their smooth and uniform surfaces.

Lastly, Maples materials are vulnerable to stains due to their hardness. Compared to red Oaks, Maples struggle to absorb stain at an even rate, requiring extra finishing like sanding, with high-grit sandpaper.