Softwood and hardwood, these two kinds of wooden flooring present big differences. Both are equally great flooring choices, but each have their own characteristics.
Here’s an explanation of both to help you make an informed choice for your wooden floor.
Understanding ‘Softwood’ VS ‘Hardwood’ flooring
You may expect this to be the density of the wood and how it feels, but you would be surprised to know that this isn’t the case.
Wood is classified as either soft or hard depending on the tree that produced it and the structure of the seeds of the tree.
The differences in the hardness of the wood can be quite varied for both softwood and hardwood.
In most cases hardwood tends to be harder than softwood, but that is NOT always the case.
The best example of this is balsa wood, which although extremely lightweight, is classed as a hardwood. Likewise, yew is a hard softwood.
Softwood comes from evergreen trees (which have leaves all year round) and are known as gymnosperms.
The seeds of these trees aren’t covered and tend to be lightweight and distributed by the wind, although they may have fruits that fall to the ground.
A good example of this is the pine tree, which drops pines but whose seeds are also scattered by the wind, which means wide distribution of new growth due to germination.
Other species of soft wood trees are;
- less expensive than hardwood
- a lighter color
- higher sap content
- loose grain
- poor fire resistance
Pine flooring is a popular choice as a softwood floor, but is less resistant to damage from shoes with spiked heels, pet paws, and general wear and tear.
However, it’s still a popular choice for wooden flooring and enhances any room that doesn’t have too much heavy traffic such as living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms.
- durable (but not always)
- low maintenance
- costs slightly more than softwood (the harder the wood the more expensive it is)
- good fire resistance
- closed grain
- low sap content
Hardwood flooring is often used for solid wood flooring.
It is considered to be a long-term investment because it’s long lasting and comes in so many choices as a wooden flooring solution for any home, whether modern or traditional.
It’s easy to care for and doesn’t scratch easily.
Deciduous trees (those trees that lose their leaves seasonally) produce hardwood. These trees are known as angiosperms and any fruits they produce have a hard shell, drop to the ground, and are not air-borne, such as acorns.
The most common hardwood trees are;
Some Words of Advice
The difference in hardwood and softwood flooring isn’t in the name or the density, it’s the structure and origin of the tree.
When it comes to choosing a wooden floor, consider which will suit your home and lifestyle better, softwood or the hardwood.
Generally speaking, most of the flooring sold in Ireland is European Oak, this is because of its natural beauty, durability and color finishing potential.
Pine makes also a great option for domestic floors or cladding in any premise.
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