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Know Your Materials When Buying Wooden Furniture: Part 2

In the last article, we talked about engineered wood and solid wood. Up next, we shall look at the natural wood: hardwood and softwood. These are materials that come from Mother Nature, and thus are typically more expensive than engineered wood.



Hard Wood


Refers to a variety of wood cut from angiosperm trees like oak, mahogany, teak etc. More likely to be used in high quality furniture.


  • It’s strong, durable, and does not bend easily.
  • Will last for a long time if you take good care of it and can even be passed down through generations
  • Come with a variety of beautiful grains, textures, and colours that made hardwood furniture highly desirable and gorgeous
  • Has higher fire resistance than softwood


  • Some species of hardwood are hard to come by or are being over-harvested, which is detrimental to the environment.
  • As a result, hardwood is extremely costly.
  • Some species are so rare that they are only used for furniture accents.




Responsible for 80% of the world’s production of timber and a wide range of applications, this is a group of wood materials that is harvested from gymnosperm trees (usually with cones and needles) like cedar, pine, fir, and spruce. Its colours also tend to be on the lighter side.


  • Contrary to what its name suggests, softwood is not necessarily softer than hardwood furniture.
  • Generally less expensive than hardwood, which is probably due to their faster rate of growth.


  • Most softwood species are less dense than hardwood, except for balsa (a type of hardwood that is softer than pine).
  • They’re also lighter than hardwood and have a lower fire resistance than hardwood.
  • The natural resins in softwood give out Terpene vapours and other VOC gases.

Not sure which material to go for? Well, it ultimately depends on your budget and how much use you think your furniture is likely to get. For example, you might want to consider investing in a dining table of better quality wood than particle board especially if you enjoy having meals with the family every day. If you are keen on getting hardwood furniture, then try buying wood that come from a sustainable forest.

Read the previous part – Know Your Materials When Buying Wooden Furniture: Part 1

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