Common Types of Wood

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Jan 01, 2011 | Networx Team
types of wood
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A successful wood project is dependent upon the proper selection of wood. An uneducated choice of wood for a deck, closet or even bookcase can lead to all sorts of problems, from rot to termites. Choosing wood doesn't need to be confusing. With the help of a carpenter, you can be sure to choose the right wood. Or read below to understand some of the different characteristics of wood types before starting your project.

You may have heard the term lumber in reference to wood used for building. Lumber simply refers to wood to be used for construction work. A lumber yard is where lumber and wood products for construction are sold.

There are two common types of wood: hardwoods and softwoods.


Hardwoods come from deciduous trees. Deciduous trees are trees that shed their leaves. Hardwoods tend to be more expensive and include mahogany, cherry, maple and oak. Hardwoods are sold by the board foot, which is defined as a square foot of rough lumber that is 1 inch thick. Hardwoods are less likely to absorb moisture.


Softwoods come from coniferous trees (cone-bearing trees) such as evergreens. Softwoods are sold in standard thickness and widths. Softwoods are most commonly used for home construction and are less expensive than hardwoods, partly because they grow fast and straight. Popular softwoods include pine, fir and redwood.

There are two kinds of lumber commonly used: select lumber and common lumber.

Select Lumber

Select lumber is best when appearance is most important, such as with furniture and cabinets.

Common Lumber

Common lumber is used for general building and other home projects.

Select lumber and common lumber are each graded, which makes choosing a wood a bit easier. The grading is based upon the number of knots and blemishes, and on general quality. Learn more here about lumber grading.

Be sure to consult with a local carpenter to determine the best wood for your project. 

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