Softwood or Hardwood Lumber in Houston: Which Is Right for You?

There are literally thousands of different types of wood out there. While each wood is nice and useful in its own way, they’re certainly not all created equal. Each species of wood has a different cellular structure, which drastically changes its durability, appearance and other attributes. This guide will be helpful when you’re trying to choose a type of wood for your next project.

Woods and trees are divided into two different categories that you’ve undoubtedly heard about before: hardwood and softwood. Let’s take a closer look at each.


Hardwood lumber in Houston comes from trees that bear nuts or fruits and lose their broad leaves in the winter. However, there are some tropical hardwood trees that don’t shed their leaves. Examples of tropical hardwoods are mahogany, rosewood and teak. Meanwhile, oak, birch, ash, cherry, maple and poplar trees thrive in North America’s temperate climate. All hardwoods, regardless of where they’re from, are hugely popular for furniture, cabinets, flooring and millwork. Two popular varieties include:

  • Maple: In addition to producing delicious syrup for pancakes, maple’s beautiful grain patterns make it a great option for furniture and decorations. It’s also one of the heaviest and most durable hardwoods, so it’s popular for cabinets, flooring and even baseball bats.
  • Oak: Oak trees are some of the hardest on the planet, and come in two varieties: red and white oak. Red oak lumber and white oak lumber may look similar, but they’re very different. Red oaks grow quicker, so the wood is less expensive than white. While it’s more expensive, white oak is far harder than red. White is used for making fine furniture, as well as beautiful moldings and trim for homes. Red oak is a trusty choice for cabinets, desks, chairs and flooring.


Unlike hardwood trees, which all have leaves, softwoods have needles instead. They also produce cones, instead of fruits or nuts. Since they produce cones, they’re often referred to as conifers—Latin for “cone bearing.” Popular examples of softwoods are fir, cedar, hemlock, pine, redwood and spruce. Softwood trees are often used in construction and other woodworking projects. Two of the more popular softwood options are:

  • Pine: Pine trees are one of the most abundant trees in North America. It seems like they grow everywhere! Since the trees grow everywhere, pine lumber is fairly inexpensive. It’s often used in construction and for woodworking projects (think of the Boy Scouts’ pinewood derby cars).
  • Cedar: There are two different types of cedar: red and white. Red is great for indoor furniture, as well as outdoor shingles and other projects. It naturally repels insects, so it’s great for constructing backyard decks in areas with a high concentration of annoying bugs. Red cedar also smells wonderful—just another great aspect of this wood! White cedar won’t crack or split, and absorbs staining really well, so it’s another good choice for decks.

These are just a few examples of wood we have. If you’d like to learn more about all of the different types of softwood and hardwood lumber in Houston that we keep in stock, give Houston Hardwoods Inc. a call today!