Types of softwood, Get to Know About The Evergreen Wood

Wood’s literal meaning is a part of a tree called a trunk, a branch, or a twig which over time grows and hardens; this happens because the trunk or twig undergoes a lignification process. 

Basically, people will see all wood is alike. Even though, in fact, there are many types of wood around us that are completely different. Each tree produces a different type of wood.

Wood has long been the raw material for many things that humans need. It can be said to be a gift from God to us. 

If you look around you, you can be sure that there must be one or two objects made of wood in almost every room you live in now. 

Human life is not far from the use of wood. Starting from the simplest thing like when we cook.

Since a long time ago, before stoves, people cooked using wood as a medium for conducting heat, which is still often used, although not as much as it used to. Other uses are as household furniture such as tables, chairs, cabinets. 

When we build a house, wood will be the most important thing to think about. In building a house or other building, choosing wood is very important.

The selection of wood should be made by consulting an architect or a wood expert who does have extensive knowledge of wood. This stage also determines the success of your building when it is finished, whether it will last for years or only a few months.

If you are interested in the world of wood, then for starters, you can start learning about wood by understanding the explanation of wood types by distinguishing wood based on its properties, namely hardwood and softwood. Types of hardwood come from trees that have wide leaves.

Usually, hardwood-producing trees shed their leaves in autumn, but not all, as Acacia and Sengon trees do not wither their leaves in autumn. 

As the name suggests, hardwood has a tough, heavier density. If you often see wood with unique patterns, this is one of the characteristics of hardwood. 

Due to its hard texture, durable and unique pattern, hardwood tends to be more towards furniture, panels, and other decorations.

Unlike softwood, softwood is wood that is produced from trees that have needle-like leaves. 

There is a lot of fiber in softwood and contains xylem cells. The growth of softwood-producing trees that will continue to grow throughout the year has earned these trees the nickname of  ‘evergreen.’ 

In terms of the fruit produced, softwood-producing trees will produce coniferous fruit, which means cone-shaped fruit.

While the trunk is cylindrical in shape, and the growth of the branches is tapered monopodial. 

Looking at the characteristics of softwood that have been mentioned earlier, of course, there are types of softwood that you need to know if your curiosity about wood is increasing. The following is an overview that you can read on.

Types of Softwood

These are the most common types of softwood for you all beginner learners about wood.

Pines

Pinewood is one of the types of softwood that is the most familiar in our ears; everybody knows about pines. If we dig deeper, there are more than 20 types of pine in the world. 

However, 2 types of pine are superior in the market, namely Radiata Pine and Merkus Pine.

Radiata Pine can grow to 30 meters tall with stems up to 80 cm in diameter. The habitat of Radiata Pine thrives in the countries of South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. 

The characteristic of Radiata Pine is it has red brownish color, while the sapwood is yellow with a little cream color. Meanwhile, Marcus Pine thrives in Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. 

The height of this tree can reach up to 45 meters with a tree diameter that can reach 1 meter. The color of this pine is almost similar to Radiata Pine.

These two types of softwood are superior softwoods with many enthusiasts because the price is relatively low compared to other types of softwood. 

The outstanding characteristics of pines are their bright color that is suitable for making decorative furniture, is light and resistant to shocks, and most importantly, is environmentally friendly.

Spruce

The next softwood-producing tree is Spruce which tends to grow in areas that have cold climates. This tree has approximately 17 species found on several continents such as Asia, Australia, and Africa.

Spruce is an evergreen tree that can grow to a height of up to 35 meters. The shape of the fruit produced by pine is oval; this makes this tree often confused with pine trees. 

The wood color of the spruce tree is brown with a touch of red, while the sapwood is lighter in color with yellowish-brown accents. 

The use of spruce softwood also varies from wood construction, wood floors, cabinets, furniture to making crates.

Red Cedar

The cedar tree is one of the types of softwood that is well known to a lot of people, the original habitat of the cedar tree is in the mountains of the Mediterranean. 

You will easily identify this tree because the trunk and branches are quite numerous and have a strong wooden structure. 

While the tree’s shape resembles a pointed needle and is green, these leaves are coated with a wax coating which affects the thickness of the leaves.

This tree can grow to a height of 60 meters. Uniquely, the resin level contained by this tree is quite high. Therefore this tree has a distinctive aroma. The heartwood of this tree is red to purple violet. 

While the outside is a pale yellow to white, the most common uses of red cedar are cabinets, carvings, furniture, pencils, to bows.

Larch

Larch trees have habitats in Northern Siberia, China, Japan, and these trees are also abundant and dominate Canada’s boreal forests. Larch can grow to a height of up to 50 meters. Unlike other evergreens, Larch trees are barren in autumn.

The advantage of the Larch tree is that it is resistant to rot because of the natural resin content it contains. Meanwhile, the heartwood of this tree is yellow to brown, while the outside is almost white. 

The needle-shaped of Larch leaves will grow in groups along with the temporary shoots. The fruit is small cone-shaped, about 1-3 cm long, and has a short bract. 

Common uses for Larch are veneers, fences, floors, electric poles, and wood construction.

Disadvantages of Softwood

Each type of wood must have its advantages and disadvantages. We need to know this matter to choose what type of wood we deserve to choose and use for our future needs. The following is an explanation of some of the disadvantages of softwood.

Lower strength than hardwood

This fact can easily be known because it can be ascertained from the density of each wood. The denser the wood, the stronger the wood.

Not Flexible

Some softwoods have stiff characteristics, making them difficult to bend and inflexible, such as pine wood. Therefore, this type of wood is not suitable for use as a modern furniture material.

Flammable

Wood is a very flammable material, especially when it is dry, and for the record, when the wood is damaged or burned, it cannot be used anymore. 

Due to this weakness, wood is not used in constructions requiring heat-resistant and fire-resistant materials but is used in supporting construction only.

Easy to expand

This deficiency is owned by pine softwood, which can easily expand, bend, scratch, and rot, so we must be extra careful when using this softwood. This also causes that pine wood to be not suitable for making outdoor furniture.

Not a very good mold resistance

Some types of softwood have low mildew resistance, so it is better to use softwood items; we have to avoid excessive wet/humid because this will make the fungus thrive. 

Seeing the shortcomings of types of softwood above, of course, several tips can be done to reduce these shortcomings

  • Take care of your furniture made of softwood according to the characteristics of each wood. 
  • You can also add a base to your furniture, so they don’t come in direct contact with the floor. This is good for preventing your furniture from scratches.
  • Next, please put it in a dry place. Keep in mind that the wood material must be at the right temperature and in a dry room. 
  • The temperature that is too hot can dry out the wood and shrink it, causing cracks in the wood layer. 
  • Meanwhile, damp air can make wood brittle due to mold and termites, which can damage furniture. 
  • The last tip is to lift the furniture if you want to move it, avoid direct friction with the floor because if this happens, the floor and your furniture will be equally damaged.
  • This damage will reduce the function and aesthetic value of the furniture.
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