It may surprise you to learn that not all hardwoods are hard and not all softwoods are softer than hardwoods. This may seem confusing until you realise that whether a wood is a softwood or a hardwood is not actually determined by how dense the material is; it is actually determined by plant production.
All hardwood trees are angiosperms. This means that they produce seeds which have a protective covering such as fruit or a seed with a shell.
Trees which are softwood are called gymnosperms and they are determined as having seeds which do not have any sort of protective covering whatsoever. Most people believe that a hardwood will be more dense than a softwood and, although this is often the case, it is not always a true statement. For instance, there is a wood known as balsa wood which is one of the lightest woods around. It is highly pliable and is one of the lowest density woods available, but, it is still considered to be a hardwood because it comes from an angiosperm tree.
Both hardwood and softwood can be used in the construction of furniture. Softwood timbers are generally used at the cheaper end of the market as it is much less expensive to produce. Softwoods such as cedar, pine and redwood are often used to produce cheap readily available furniture. Softwood may be cheaper but it is much inferior in quality when compared with hardwood furniture. Some of the most popular hardwood timbers for making wood furniture include oak, ash, acacia, mango and mahogany.
Hardwood timbers are generally accepted as being the highest quality wood and thus are more expensive than their softwood counterparts. This may put some people off buying hardwood furniture but if they really thought about it they would realise that buying hardwood furniture is a great investment as the hardwood furniture could easily last them a lifetime, whereas softwood furniture has a less impressive shelf life. Although softwood furniture offers excellent value when purchased, it will certainly not last as long as a hardwood such as oak.
Softwood furniture is much less durable than their hardwood counterparts and, unfortunately, this means that they need much more care in the home. It is very easy to accidentally scratch or make dents in softwood furniture which could be irreparable. Softwood furniture also tends to have less attractive markings and so they do not stain as well as hardwood and, therefore, look a lot less attractive in the home. Hardwood furniture is very much less likely to dent or warp and is highly attractive in any home. Oak furniture and mango furniture in particular give the home an expensive looking finish when compared to pine furniture, which is probably the most popular softwood used. The grain in a high quality piece of hardwood is highly attractive and when finished with natural oil, stain or beeswax looks very attractive and brings a classy look to any household.
Hardwood and softwood furniture today can both be bought very easily from online furniture retailers. This means you can browse many pieces of hardwood and softwood furniture without leaving your home. We also have a guide to online furniture retailers.
As well as this article we also have articles providing information on Oak furniture, Ash furniture, Birch furniture, Pine Furniture, and Indian Furniture. If you like these articles you may also find our article on the characteristics of hardwood furniture article invaluable.
If you already have a range of hardwood furniture in your home, our articles on treating hardwood furniture, repairing hardwood furniture, joinery and specifically dove tailed joints will help you get the most out of your furniture, and spot quality when shopping in furniture.
Other articles on offer at Oak Furniture Land include our rustic furniture, teak furniture, wood and hardwood furniture, classic traditional furniture and contemporary modern furniture will also help you differentiate between the different styles of hardwood furniture available.
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