Trees and wood have been an integral part of the development of our civilization. Different types of wood have been used from early Paleolithic times for constructing buildings, woodworking & DIY and manufacturing tools, construction equipment, weapons, and furniture. Right from ancient times, the use of wood has been dependent on cost, quality, and availability.
Wood is a hard-fibrous material forming the trunk and branches of trees or shrubs. There are many structural and non-structural applications of the wood used in construction. As wood is a general term, it is important to understand its application in construction.
According to the tree experts at Burbank Tree Pros, wood is only second to stone in terms of its application in the world of construction. It is a widely preferred material when it comes to building houses, shelters, and boats. The chemical properties of wood are inherently complex, but despite this challenge, we have successfully harnessed its unique characteristics to build a variety of composite structures. Let’s understand why wood enjoys such popularity in the construction and home decor segment.
Benefits of Using Wood in Construction
- Wood is a natural material that’s easy to work upon, widely available in huge quantities, and has several varieties. Each type of wood can be used for specific purposes.
- It is lightweight and sturdy, Further, it is available in a variety of patterns and looks natural.
- The material has been used since ancient times. Therefore, skilled workers who have adequate knowledge about the different types of wood are easily available globally.
- Wood retains its thermal properties. Thus, it is highly resistant to high temperatures.
- The heat conductivity of wood is relatively low in comparison to materials such as aluminum, marble, steel, or glass.
- It can absorb sound and echo, making it a favorite material for the construction of offices and residential structures.
- Wood is a bad conductor of electric waves. Hence, it’s perfect to provide insulation to a living or working area.
- Wooden houses are inexpensive to build and extend and enjoy low running and maintenance costs over a long period of time. However, this also depends on the availability of wood in the local area.
- Wood paneling is particularly popular for ceilings, covering irregularities, minimizing maintenance, and simplifying the fitting of lighting and the ventilation system.
Different Types of Wood and their Uses
Wood can be broadly classified as Softwood and Hardwood. Density is a major determinant of the strength of wood. Hardwoods, being denser than the softwoods, are stronger and more durable.
According to ‘Madan Mehta, Walter Scarborough & Diane Armpriest’ (Author of Building Construction), the difference between hardwood and softwood is not only based on the density of the wood. This is because several hardwoods are lighter than softwoods. Generally, the distinction between these two types of woods is based on their botanical characteristics.
Let’s learn about the different types of wood used for furniture and in construction.
Softwood comes from the coniferous trees. These trees are also known as evergreen trees as leaves do not fall till the new ones grow. Softwood usually grows in regions having a cold climate. Coniferous trees grow fast; hence, they are less expensive as compared to hardwood. They are more sustainable as they can be easily grown. There are different types of softwood as mentioned below:
01. Pine Wood
Pinewood is a soft, white or light-yellow wood which is light in weight and straight-grained. It resists shrinkage, swelling, and warping. Pine is very easy to shape and stain. Pine decays easily when it comes in contact with soil. It grows in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere. In India, it is found in the western Himalayas, Assam, and Nagpur.
It is used to make all kinds of indoor and outdoor furniture. It is also used to make frames of doors and windows, flooring, and paving materials. Knotty pine is often used for a decorative effect. It is also one of the sources of turpentine.
02. Cedar Wood
Cedarwood is a knotty softwood that has a red-brown color with light lines. Cedar is soft as compared to other softwoods. The wood texture is uniform and highly resistant to decay and insects. They are aromatic in nature. In India, it is found in Kashmir and Assam.
It is one of the famous wood types used for lining drawers, chests, and boxes. Simple cases and storage closets are also constructed from this wood.
Firwood is also referred to as Douglas Fir. Fir is straight grain and has a reddish-brown color. It is uniform in texture and non-resinous and has poor resistance to decay. Fir is hard in comparison to other softwoods. It cannot be stained easily; hence, it’s generally used in the raw form or as a painted surface. Fir is found in North and Central America, North Africa, Europe, and Asia. In India, it is found in Himachal Pradesh.
It is used for furniture, doors, frames, windows, plywood, veneer, general millwork and interior trim.
04. Spruce Wood
Spruce wood is strong and hard. It finishes well and has a low resistance to decay. It has moderate shrinkage and is light in weight. Spruce is found in America, Europe, Asia, Alaska, and Canada. In India, it is found in Western Himalaya and Sikkim.
05. Hemlock Wood
Hemlock wood is light-weight and has moderate strength. It has a low resistance to decay and is non-resinous. It’s found in the United States, Canada, Alaska, England, and Eastern Asia. It is quite prone to shrinkage like other softwoods like firwood.
It is used in the construction of lumber, planks, doors, boards, joinery, subflooring and crates.
Hardwood comes from deciduous trees that have broad leaves, produce fruits or nuts, and are generally inactive in the winter. Hardwoods have a more dense structure in comparison to softwoods. The different types of hardwood are described below.
Teakwood is one of the most popular types of hardwood. It is yellow to dark brown in color and is extremely heavy, strong, durable, weather-resistant, warp-resistant, and does not decay. Often strongly figured, teak may show straight grain pattern. The natural oils in teak make them termite and pest-resistant. Teak does not burn easily. It is quite expensive when compared to other wood types. It is generally found in central and southern India. It is also one of the most preferred types of wood for furniture in India.
It is commonly used as a structural wood for wooden framed houses, doors, windows, and partitions. It is an excellent choice for outdoor furniture like garden benches and lounge chairs. Most homeowners prefer teak for their indoor furniture like beds and wardrobes. It is also used in veneer production.
Oakwood is one of the most widely used types of hardwood. Oak can be distinguished into two basic varieties: white and red. The red variety is also known as black oak (a reference to its bark). It has a very distinct grain and finish. Oak is a heavy, strong, light-colored hardwood. It is very easy to work on. It has good resistance to moisture, fungus, and yeast. Oak is found in different parts of America, Asia, North Africa, and Europe. Such types of hardwood trees are found in the north-eastern parts of India.
It is an excellent choice for household and office furniture like bookshelves and cabinets. It is also widely preferred for outdoor furniture. Due to its moisture-resistant property, it is also used in ships and boats. In modern times, interior decor experts are employing oak for flooring, timber-framed structures, and veneer production.
Maple wood has a fine texture with great strength. It is so hard and resistant to shocks that it is often used for constructing pathways. Maple is resistant to splitting and is highly durable and easy to clean. Maple is found in Asia, North America, North Africa, Europe, and Canada. In India, you can find maple trees in Ooty and other hilly regions.
It is extensively used in making household furniture like console tables, wall shelves, and bedside tables. Maple has a curly grain and is also used for the violin back.
Ashwood is a hard, heavy, ring porous wood. Ash is well-known for its elasticity and strength. It has a prominent grain that looks like oakwood and is white to light brown in color. It is easy to work on with using screws, nails, and glue. It gives an attractive finish. Ash is generally less in demand as compared to other hardwoods; therefore, it’s less expensive compared to other wood types.
Ash is widely used for structural frames and steam bent furniture pieces. It is used in making guitars, drum shells, frames, sports equipment, ladders, and baseball bats. Decorative veneers are produced from ash due to its interesting grain.
Beechwood is a hard, strong, and heavy wood with tiny pores. It is light pink in color and is relatively inexpensive. Beech is tough and yet dimensionally unstable. It is very easy to work with as it is highly resistant to splitting. Beech has less durability for prolonged exterior use. It is found in Europe, Asia, and North America.
Beech is often used for frames, a variety of bent and turned parts. Quarter sliced and half-round cut beech veneers are commonly used. It is also used in flooring, plywood, and other household items. It is rarely used as a decorative veneer. It makes a very good firewood.
Cherry wood is sometimes called fruitwood. It is light to reddish-brown in color, hard, strong, warp-resistant, and closed grained wood. It resists warping and checking. It is easy to carve and polish. Cherry is mostly found in Europe and Asia. These trees are found in the hilly regions of Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh.
It works well when used for decorative carving and for making solid furniture like cabinets, shelves, and tables.
Walnut wood is one of the most versatile and popular wood types with a very fine texture. The wood is light to dark chocolate brown in color with a straight grain in the trunk. Walnut is strong, hard and durable, without being excessively heavy, and warp-resistant. It has excellent woodworking qualities and takes finishes well. It is very expensive compared to other types of hardwood. Walnut is found in Europe, America, and Asia. In India, it is found in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh.
It is an ideal wood choice for crafting dining table sets, coffee tables, veneer, musical instruments, gun stocks, and decoration.Wood is an ancient building material, used as construction material much before cement came in. According to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, more than half of the wood types harvested in the forests is used as a building material in the United States.
The natural beauty and long-lasting nature of wood can bring warmth and beauty to the decor of our homes. Hence, wood is a common building material used in India.
Out of the many construction materials that we can choose from, wood stands out as a unique and amazingly versatile product. Its aesthetic appeal, strength, insulation qualities, and ease of fabrication makes it an ideal choice for an extensive array of construction applications. A homeowner must choose the type of wood depending upon its use and requirements and, if you’re bored while working at a jobsite, buy a loud jobsite radio. It will help pass the time while completing your project.