Wood has been used for centuries to construct buildings, furniture, boats, and other structures. It is also a renewable resource that can be harvested from trees.
There are three types of wood: softwood, hardwood, and bamboo.
- Softwoods include pine, fir, spruce, cedar, and hemlock.
- Hardwoods include oak, maple, mahogany, cherry, walnut, and teak.
- Bamboo is a grassy plant that grows rapidly and is extremely durable.
But which kind of wood is the strongest? And which type of wood is the best for building?
Keep reading to find out, we have a complete guide coming up for you!
What Is The Difference Between Hardwood And Softwood?
Despite what the name suggests, whether a wood is a hardwood or softwood doesn’t have much to do with the hardness of the wood. Instead, it refers to the type of tree.
Hardwood is harvested from deciduous trees- the kind of trees that lose their leaves once a year. These trees grow quite slowly which makes the wood very dense.
It also gives them grain patterns which are very popular with wood workers. Hardwood is often used in building and construction work.
Softwood is harvested from coniferous trees, also known as evergreen trees. These trees keep their leaves all year round.
The grain on softwood is not very noticeable. Softwoods are not as dense as hardwoods, but their straight grain patterns make them quite strong.
Softwoods like cedar, pine, and spruce are often used to make furniture, and softwood is great for outdoor building projects.
What Is The Janka Hardness Scale?
The Janka hardness scale was developed by German engineer Wilhelm Janka in the 1930s. It measures how easily a piece of material will break when it is struck with a hammer.
This test is one of the most common ways to measure the strength of materials like metal or stone.
The Janka hardness scale ranges from 1-9. A rating of 9 means that the material is very difficult to break, while a rating of 1 means that the material is easy to break.
Materials with ratings between 7 and 9 are considered medium-hard, while those with ratings between 3 and 6 are considered soft.
According to the Janka Hardness Scale, the top five strongest kinds of wood in the world are Australian Buloke, Schinopsis Brasiliensis, Schinopsis Balansae, Lignum Vitae, and Piptadenia Macrocarpa.
However, these woods are quite niche and are not commonly available for building.
Even if a type of wood has a low rating on the Janka Hardness rating, this does not mean that the wood is soft. Balsa is a type of hardwood but it has one of the lowest ratings on the Janka Hardness Scale.
Which Commercial Woods Are The Strongest?
So what about commercially available woods? Which of those is the strongest to build with? The types of wood that are usually used for building tend to be hardwoods.
First, let’s look at hickory wood. Hickory is a relatively affordable type of wood that is used in lots of different types of building and construction projects.
It has been used to build housing, bridges, and other structures. Hickory wood is harvested from domestic trees and has a rating of 1820 on the Janka Hardness Scale.
Ash is not as strong as hickory, but with a hardness rating of 1320, it is still a good option. Ash is considered to be fairly lightweight, but it is still very good at absorbing shock.
This makes it a popular choice for sporting equipment like rounders bats and lacrosse sticks, as it can take a lot of heavy use without splintering.
Oak is a type of wood that a lot of people are familiar with. Oak furniture is highly sought after and has a lovely appearance.
Its hardness rating is lower than ash and hickory wood at 1290, but it is also fairly affordable and readily available.
Cherry wood is quite an expensive choice and it is not as durable as oak, with a rating of just 950. However, the warm coloring makes it a popular choice for statement pieces of furniture.
What Traits Should You Look Out For In Wood?
If you are looking for wood to use for a building project then and you aren’t sure where to start, there are some things you can look out for. Certain characteristics of wood make it ideal for building.
The first thing to consider is the density of the wood. If you are making furniture or using wood for building construction then you want a type of wood that is dense.
If you are working on smaller woodworking projects then you can use wood with less density.
The texture of the wood is also important, as it contributes to the final finish of your wood project.
If you are using wood in a construction project where the frames will be hidden behind brick or concrete then the texture of the wood doesn’t matter too much.
If you are making furniture then the texture is very important, as you will want the furniture to have a smooth finish.
The color of the wood doesn’t make a difference to whether it is suitable for your project, but it could still affect your choice. If you want a warm color then oak or cherry wood could be a good choice.
Ash has a paler, cooler color. It depends on what you are looking for.
Wood grain is also an important feature, as it creates patterns and markings on the wood which can add character to your project. The grain of the wood is the direction that the cell fibers grow.
A straight wood grain tends to be the strongest for building, and tight grain patterns are stronger than loose grain patterns.
Which wood is the strongest depends on how you are measuring the strength of the wood and what you are using it for.
Some woods take a lot of pressure to pierce with a hammer, whilst others can absorb impact without splitting. You need to match the right kind of wood to your building project to achieve the best results.