3 Common Types of Softwood Lumber and Their Uses for Construction

softwood lumber

If made to choose between softwood and hardwood, most home builders might consider softwood as the more economical choice, since softwood trees are abundant and grow faster than hardwoods. But each softwood tree produces lumber with different qualities, so you should be able to carefully distinguish which ones are good for your project. To help you in choosing the right wood for your construction project, here are three of the most common types of softwood lumber and what they are used for.

Pine lumber

Since pine is one of the most abundant sources of lumber, it may not be as expensive as other types of lumber, and is mostly used in construction and furniture.

In North America, pine lumber has three main types. One of these is the southern yellow pine characterized by its high density and strength. It is popularly used for construction projects.

A variation of pine that is not regarded as ideal for construction is white pine. But its softness makes it easy to craft into various things, making it great for handicrafts, furniture, and carpentry.

Blue pine has the same qualities as the southern yellow pine, except for the color. The color of blue pine could range from blue or brown to gray. The variations in color are expressed by the fungus that tends to grow on it. It is also dense and strong, and can bear a lot of weight but does not stain very well. Like yellow pine, blue pine is great for construction and furniture making.

Poplar lumber

Poplar can be classified as softwood or hardwood. This is because it is the hardest known softwood, placing it at the threshold between the two wood types. Cabinet makers, in particular, favor using poplar because it can look like the more expensive hardwoods, such as oak and cherry, when it is stained properly. However, it can be easily scratched and damaged, so it is usually painted on when used in furniture. When used for construction, poplar lumber is great for ceiling moldings and trims.

Cedar lumber

cedar lumber

Another softwood lumber, cedar is good for indoor and outdoor projects, and has two main types:

White cedar is naturally resistant to rotting and bugs, making it favorable for a variety of construction purposes. It can be used for siding, decks, fencing panels, outdoor furniture, shingles, and even saunas. Since it is also water resistant, white cedar can also be used to build boats and ships. It does not crack or split, so the shingles made from it can last a long time.

Red cedar is popular due to its prevalent but subtle cedar aroma and is also considered as one of the most durable kinds of lumber. It can be just as good as white cedar for indoor and outdoor projects, but not as much for boats and ships. Most cedar chests available in the market are also made of red cedar.

Remember that you do not have to stick to one type of lumber for one project. You may mix and match them according to what they are good for, like using white cedar for the shingles, poplar for ceiling moldings, and blue pine for the floor. You might also want to look into hardwood lumber if you have the budget, since hardwood can be more durable than most softwood lumber.

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