Pine wood is one of the most ubiquitous and least expensive types of wood available. Because of this, some people hold pine wood in low regard.
Pine wood varieties are beautiful and diverse, featuring various colors, textures, and wood grains. It is useful as wood in architectural features, foundational building material, and in the creation of by-products like paper.
What is Pine Wood?
Pine wood comes from pine trees of the genus Pinus. According to the American Conifer Society, there are 121 species of pine tree. You can find pine trees in the Northern Hemisphere in temperate regions from Asia to North America. It is the largest family of conifers. These are evergreen trees that maintain their green leaves throughout the year.
Pine trees are long-lived with some varieties that live up to 1000 years. They range in size from 10 feet-260 feet tall. Pine tree wood is resinous and has a notable but attractive smell. It is one of the most important commercial woods available. Pine wood is important as timber and for grinding into pulp that is used in paper.
Quick Details of Pine Wood
|Ranges according to the location in the tree from white to light yellow to hints of golden red
|Medium texture and a closed grain
|Pine wood grain is straight to curvy
|Non-durable nor resistant to insect infestations, sometimes pressure treated to increase resistance
|Easy workability with hand and power tools, finishes can be blotchy
|Some allergic reactions and asthma like symptoms with the pine sawdust and pollen
|Lumber is available all over the United States
Types of Pine Wood
Here are some of the most important species of pine woods available. All pine wood is softwood, but pine wood is available in two types: soft pines and hard pines.
- Soft Pine Wood – Soft pine is characterized by a low density and an even grain. There are three main types of soft pines. These include Sugar Pine, Western White Pine, Eastern White Pine, and Limber Pine. Soft pine is a very inexpensive wood variety that is used for cheap wooden furniture and packing crates.
- Hard Pines Wood – Hard pines have a denser texture than soft pine woods. They have a more distinct grain pattern than soft pine wood. Hard wood pine contains four distinct subspecies including Pinyon Pines, Red Pines, Southern Yellow Pines, and Western Yellow Pines.
Pine Wood Characteristics
Pine is a softwood that has qualities that make it useful in a variety of applications.
Pine wood has medium strength and durability. It also has good elasticity which makes it a good construction material. Certain types of pine wood are stronger than others. For example, Yellow pine is one of the strongest of the pine woods having greater compression and bending strength than other pine wood varieties. In general, pine wood has no natural resistance to rot, decay, and insects though pine boards can be pressure treated to increase its strength.
The color of pine wood depends on its location in the tree. The sapwood, the wood closest to the bark, is a pale yellow. The heartwood, the wood closest to the center of the tree, has a reddish hue.
Pine wood has a medium texture and it is easy to finish. Pine wood has an open grain meaning that the natural pattern of the lines of the grain are broad with obvious rings. There are obvious knots that are regular in appearance.
The texture of pine is such that it does not always take stain well. Some wood workers recommend painting pine boards as this creates a more uniform appearance.
Sustainability of Pine Wood
Pine trees are one of the most common types of coniferous evergreen in American forests. They make up about 25% of the cone-bearing trees in the forest. Pine tree wood is sustainable in terms of growth and replacement. Most of the environmental impact comes from production and transportation factors. Look for certification labels from reputable organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification to see if the product or pine wood boards you are buying is produced in a sustainable manner.
Pine Wood Pros and Cons
Pine wood has many positive qualities, but consider the negative qualities before you decide if this is the right wood for your project.
- Workability – Pine wood is easy to work by hand or with power tools. It finishes well.
- Sustainable – Pine wood is a sustainable source of wood. It is supplied by many local groups, so you can choose producers closer to your home.
- Cost – Pine wood is one of the cheapest woods available. It costs between $2.50 -$7 per board foot.
- Availability – Pine wood is available all over the country from wood shops to big box stores.
- Strength – Pine wood is a softwood and is not suitable for certain projects that will suffer wear and tear.
- Staining – Pine wood is soft and absorbs stain. It can create a blotchy appearance.
What is Pine Wood Used For?
Pine is useful in a variety of applications.
Pine Wood Furniture
The Inyo Dining Table from Crate and Barrel uses white pine which has a lovely light color, a light grain, with small knotting throughout. This table features a FSC certification so you can be sure that this product looks good and is sourced in an ethical way.
Pine Wood Paneling and Trim
This mountain cabin utilized knotty pine paneling. It is an attractive wood that creates a rustic look for mountain cabins.
Pine Wood Floors
These are wide plank reclaimed Eastern White Pine floors. They are knotty and have a red color that works well with this historic home.
Pine Wood Bowls
These pine wood bowls from Maker & Moss are cut from tree rings and carved by wood crafters in Java. The interior of the bowls retains the wood’s gorgeous natural rings.
Pine Wood Sculpture
The natural beauty of the pine tree is displayed in the gorgeous wooden sculpture from artist Jozef Zedmak.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Is pine wood soft or hard?
Pine trees are conifers. All conifers are softwoods. There is some confusion about this because there are both hard pines and soft pines. Hard pines are harder than soft pines but they are much softer than hardwoods like oak and cherry.
What does pine wood look like?
Pine wood has some variation in color depending where it is located in the tree. The sapwood is pale yellow and the heartwood is more red in tone. It has a golden grain with a clear ringed pattern. Pine wood also has visible knots.
Is pine wood furniture durable?
Pine wood furniture is softer than furniture that is made with hardwoods. It does dent and scratch more, but it is durable for everyday wear and tear.
Where can I find pine wood furniture near me?
Pine wood furniture is popular due to its easy machinability and its low cost. It is easy to find pine wood furniture at big box stores like IKEA. You can also find pine wood furniture at higher end retailers like Crate and Barrel or from small artisan woodworkers on sites like Etsy.
Pine wood is a softwood and is available all across the United States in the form of raw wood and finished products. Pine wood has a reputation as a low-quality wood, but it has many characteristics that make it a good choice for certain products and uses.