Types Of Lumber And Its Applications

Wood that has been processed into planks and beams is referred to as timber. In the US and Canada, it is also known as "lumber". Lumber is a common term that applies to various lengths of wood used as construction materials. As opposed to poles or pilings, which have round cross-sections, the pieces of lumber are cut lengthwise from the trunks of trees and are distinguished by having generally square or rectangular cross-sections. Lumber or timber is  wood or firewood of growing trees. Any wood that is capable of yielding a minimum dimensional size can be termed as lumber or timber. There are two different types of lumber - softwood and hardwood. Softwood lumber comes from evergreen or coniferous trees like fir, pine, spruce, redwood, and cedar. For a reason, these woods get their classification as they can be easily dented with just your fingernail. Extra care must be taken to maintain the wood's stability over a lifetime, as it absorbs and loses moisture much easier than hardwoods. When compared to hardwoods, this wood can be light, soft and easy to work. In contrast, the hardwood lumber comes from deciduous trees like ash, maple, oak, hickory, teak, birch walnut and mahogany. Except with the balsa wood, most hardwoods are harder than softwoods and they aren't as easily dented.

Following is a list of common types of lumber and their characteristics. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of each type.


Softwood Lumber

Few of the most popular softwood types of lumber grown across the world are :

  • Pinewood
  • Firwood
  • Redwood lumber
  • Cedarwood
  • Hemlock wood - eastern and western

A) Pinewood

Pine is very easy to work with, and because most of its varieties are relatively soft, it lends itself to carving. Being a strong, shock-resistant material, pinewood is a common choice among carpenters for making furniture. The visible round grains that tend to be darker than the wood itself, make pinewood different from others. Over time, pine develops a "patina" that gives a country-like quality to the wood. As it is quite affordable and requires less maintenance, that's why it is bought and sold without any trouble. This type of wood is resistant even in humid or extreme weather conditions. Pine wood is widely used in high-value carpentry items such as paneling, floors, window frames and roofing. The resin of some species is an important source of turpentine.

B) Firwood

Firwood is one of the world's best-known timber species. Often known as Douglas Fir, this wood has an interesting, straight and pronounced grain with a reddish-brown tint to it. As it's inexpensive, fir is most often used for building and some furniture-making as well. Fir lumber is also commonly used for building complex structures like bridges, owing to its strength, durability, and stiffness. Unlike other woods, the Douglas fir wood maintains its original shape and size even when the season changes. The grain patterns are unique in their outlook when cut properly. Mostly favored by constructors and builders of both residential and commercial houses and buildings.

C) Redwood lumber

This lumber also referred to as Vavona, Sequoia, Coast Redwood, and California Redwood, ranges from a light pinkish-brown hue to intense reddish-brown. Its sapwood, however, comes in a pale white/yellow hue. Sometimes, you may come across this lumber having straight grains with wavy or curly figured pieces. The redwood lumber is different as it's durable and decay-resistant and because of its resistance to moisture, it's used mostly for outdoor projects. It's quite easy to work with this lumber with simple machinery and hand tools owing to its manageable weight and size. Redwood lumber can be used for the construction of beams, posts, trim, decking, furniture, and musical instruments.

D) Cedarwood

This is timber of high quality.  The western red cedar is the most common type of cedar. This type of wood has a straight grain, is relatively soft and has a slightly aromatic smell. As it can handle moist environments without rotting, it's mostly used for outdoor projects. Cedarwood plays a vital role as an ingredient in colognes, essential oils, perfumes, body wash, fragrant soaps, etc. It's also famous for insect-repelling quality.

E) Hemlock wood

The hemlock lumber comes in two main types - eastern and western

Eastern Hemlock - Also known as Canadian hemlock, its texture is usually straight with uneven interlocks or spirals on it. When cutting this type of wood, extra attention needs to be given. To the fact, eastern hemlock isn't the easiest lumber to work with. You can make out some of the common things like crates, plywood, pallets, boxes, framing, etc., with this eastern hemlock wood.

Western Hemlock - This is another type of hemlock lumber with usually straight grains and slightly uneven texture. Just keep in mind that western hemlock is a type of lumber that may cause a runny nose, skin allergy, or respiratory issues. Its functionality is similar to eastern hemlock in the making of all the above things.

Hardwood Lumber

Few of the most popular hardwood types of lumber grown across the world are :

  • Balsa wood
  • Oakwood
  • Maple wood - hard and soft
  • Walnut wood
  • Ashwood
  • Poplar wood

A) Balsa wood

This is the softest and lightest type of hardwood that needs warm climatic conditions with a good drainage system and plenty of rainfall. One advantage of this balsa wood is that it provides efficient insulation against sound and heat. It's easy to work around balsa wood, as you may not require heavy-duty tools like sanders and saws, owing to its manageable weight.

B) Oakwood

This is one of the most used woods for furniture because of its durability and high-end finish. It's available in two varieties - red and white. As white oak is strong and resistant to moisture, it can be used on outdoor furniture. A beautiful "ray flake" pattern can be seen in the grain. There are a few things that you will have to consider when looking for oak wood like genuineness, eco-friendly, craftsmanship and durability. Oakwoods are notorious for changing their color over time. Oakwood can be used for constructing cabinets, boats, furniture, wine caskets, flooring, barrels, and kitchenware.

C) Maple wood

The maple wood comes in two varieties i.e. soft and hard. Compared to many other kinds of wood, both varieties are harder as hard maple is so hard that it's difficult to work with. On the other hand, soft maple is relatively easy to work with. Both the varieties are more stable than many other kinds of wood, because of their straight and fine grain. Moreover, they also tend to be inexpensive than other hardwoods. Just like oak, maple wood also changes its color over time. Maple wood is used in the construction of flooring, furniture, kitchen accessories, and high-end cabinets. This type of lumber consists of a fine, even texture with slightly curvy or straight grains.

D) Walnut wood

It’s a rich brown wood that’s easy to work with. Unfortunately, walnut is a little expensive and you may find wood-makers using walnut wood for manufacturing gunstocks, carvings, flooring, cabinets, knick-knacks, and furniture. Before buying walnut wood, ensure that its original as its pure form consists of straight grains along with some curves.

E) Ashwood

This type of hardwood is one of the most attractive pieces and is pretty easy to work with. It’s a great option for high-end furniture at homes, restaurants, and offices. Apart from its physical appearance, it also has many other characteristics like lightweight, durability, stain-absorbent, etc.

F) Poplar wood

Poplar wood, also known as tulip poplar and yellow poplar, it has straight grains with low gloss textures. Poplar wood also changes its color with time due to overexposure to light. Although it lacks appearance, poplar lumber due to its smooth surface and low density is still used for making crates, frames, and pallets.

For thousands of years, lumber has been used for in manufacturing tools, furniture, and weapons; for making fire; and constructing houses. The demand for lumber continues to grow and doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Processing wood products is a billion-dollar worldwide industry today. Not only does it produces construction lumber, but also paper, turpentine, textiles, plywood, fiberboard, cardboard, resin, and a wide range of industrial chemicals.

Lumber Production

As per industry reports, we have provided a list of major lumber production companies that includes the largest and most profitable lumber corporations, businesses, vendors, agencies, and firms in the world.

  • Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies, Inc.
  • Arnold Laver
  • Cellulose Irani
  • Deltic Timber Corporation
  • Gunns
  • Jewett-Cameron Trading Company
  • Maxxam Inc
  • Patrick Industries, Inc.
  • Pope Resources
  • Trex Company, Inc.
  • Universal Forest Products
  • UPM
  • Weyerhaeuser