Cottonwood: Uses, Types, and Properties

Cottonwood Uses, Types, Properties, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Eastern and Black Cottonwood are two species in the genus Populus that has quite a lot of similarities. Both are even called by the same common name, “Cottonwood.”

Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) is 100-165 ft tall and 4-6 ft in diameter. The distribution of this plant is Central and eastern United States.

While Black Cottonwood is 80-150 feet tall and 5-6 feet in diameter, with a Northwestern North American distribution.

Both are low-value timber and non-durable against decay. However, the wood can still be used for several things, such as veneers, boxes, crates, plywood, and utility purposes.

What is cottonwood?

Cottonwood is the wood of the species Populus trichocarpa and Populus deltoides. These low-value wood, not resistant to decay and are susceptible to insect attack.

Even so, cottonwood is still pretty good for some things, although its quality can’t be compared to some other woods.

Eastern Cottonwood is light brown with straight and slightly irregular grains. Black Cottonwood is also yellowish light brown, with irregular, interlocking grains.

The look of Black Cottonwood wood is also better than Eastern Cottonwood.

The properties of cottonwood

Both cottonwoods, which we discuss here, have pretty similar properties.

Among them are not durable against decay, susceptible to insect attack, easy to work, standard health risks, cheap and low-value wood, the same commonly used, and others.

The difference between the woods is only the appearance and other properties that we don’t know yet.

The woods also doesn’t hold nails well and don’t split easily.

Be careful during the drying process, as this wood may warp and become distorted. The good news is these woods can be glues and finish well.

Cottonwood advantages and disadvantages


Cheap: Cottonwood prices are in the low range. This was not a good wood used for various purposes because it’s usually regarded as low-value wood.

However, it provides its advantages for this wood. The low price allows people to use this wood for business purposes at a low cost. One of the uses of this wood is crates.

Making a crate doesn’t need to use expensive quality wood. Because we think this need only needs hardwood. The cottonwood can also be used for utility lumber at a low price.

So, some utility purposes can be easily resolved.

Easy to work: Both are woods that are easy to work with the machine and by hand tools, although some things can get in the way of processing.

For example, a not clear surface because the cutter is not sharp enough is terrible at holding nails, distorted, and warped during drying.

However, this wood is still considered easy to work. Moreover, cottonwood is not easily broken. It seems that it’s better to use a machine when working, especially when cutting.

This is to speed up and simplify the work. The risk of errors can also be avoided by using though.


Not durable: Cottonwood is not durable to rot. Therefore, this wood is not suitable for long-term wooden objects, such as furniture and others.

That’s why it’s a good idea to use this wood only for the common uses we mention in this article. This wood is also susceptible to insect attack.

For this reason, it seems that outdoor uses such as fence posts are not recommended. This wood is unreliable in durability.

You should avoid using cottonwood and choose wood with better quality. But, use it if it’s just a common purpose.

Cottonwood for boxes

One of the everyday use of cottonwood is boxes. Even though it has a quality that we value low, cottonwood is still good when made into boxes.

The simple reason is that a wooden box doesn’t require quality materials. Before making it, please think about the purpose of using the box.

If you want to make a small box for short-term use, then cottonwood can be used.

However, if you want a large box with long-term use, we don’t think this wood is good enough for this. Choose the better wood.

Cottonwood for crates

You don’t need to worry too much about the quality of the crate material because it’s just a waste of time and doesn’t matter.

Especially if the chest is only used for temporary and ordinary purposes, that’s why you can use cottonwood to make chests.

There’s no need to worry about its poor resistance to decay or susceptibility to insect attack because you can get this wood at a low price.

Also, we think you can use cottonwood to make bulk chests for business purposes. Although it seems this business is not very profitable.

Cottonwood for veneer

You can use cottonwood for veneers. Although we think the quality is not good. However, it seems quite suitable for it, and it looks the veneer also doesn’t consider the quality of the wood used.

Another reason cottonwood is suitable for this may be because it’s easy to work. I’ve mentioned this before, although it may be more difficult to thin the wood.

Make sure to use quality and sharp tools and do good pre-cutting planning. Once you’ve made your veneers, you can either use them for yourself or sell them.

Cottonwood for plywood

If you want another option in using cottonwood, you can use it for plywood. It seems we think plywood doesn’t require high-quality wood at a high price.

That’s why it seems pretty good for plywood. This wood is easy to work, including by machine. You probably won’t get any significant obstacles in the process.

Make sure you have a quality machine, and it’s well prepared before working. So that there are no obstacles when making plywood.

Once the plywood is made, use it for personal use, even though selling it’s likely to be more profitable.

Cottonwood for utility purpose

The last use of cottonwood is for another utility purpose that may be required. Cottonwood is a wood that is undervalued, cheap, and the quality is not good.

However, this wood can still be used for various valuable and profitable things. Examples are some of the things we previously mentioned above.

Another example is the use of lightweight construction as a support material.

You can also use this wood to make low-cost agricultural areas, although we think it’s best to use durable wood.

Would you please use this wood according to your needs?

Types of cottonwood

Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)

Eastern Cottonwood up to 165 feet tall, with distribution in the Central and eastern United States This wood is light brown to yellow with darker straight grains.

Eastern Cottonwood is not durable against rot and is susceptible to insect attack. For this reason, we don’t recommend this wood for long-term use.

Eastern Cottonwood is easy to work and cheap. Good for some things like boxes, crates, veneers, and others.

Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa)

The properties of Black Cottonwood have many similarities with Eastern Cottonwood. For example, not durable against rot, susceptible to insect attack, efficiently worked, cheap, including the same in everyday use.

However, the Black Cottonwood tree is only about 150 feet tall, with the Northwestern North American distribution.

It seems like you don’t need to choose this wood for various purposes because we think it isn’t good. Choose only for utility purposes that require a wood quality that fits black cottonwood.


Black and Eastern Cottonwood is not a good wood for furniture because we think bad enough for that.

So, don’t ever think that this wood is exotic and high quality like some rosewood and others. Some disadvantages are not durable against decay, susceptibility to insect attack, less attractive appearance, and others.

The advantage is that it’s cheap, and it’s pretty useful in some ways. We advise you to avoid using this wood, especially if you need it for long-term use.