Varieties of wood and their uses

If you’re not involved in woodworking or joinery, you may assume that all wood is the same. This is not true, however, and there are in fact different wood varieties to use for different purposes. It’s key to know about them, as this allows you to get the finished result and look you desire. But what are the major types of wood used in joinery?


One of the major wood varieties is hardwood. This is a slow-growing wood that is normally produced from broad-leafed and flowering species of deciduous trees. The seeds for the trees this type of wood comes from are made inside a shell, such as a nut or fruit.

In terms of general properties for joinery, hardwood usually has a close, dense grain with low sap content. It is also darker in colour and often more expensive to buy. As wood varieties go, hardwood lasts for a long time and has superb durability. This, combined with the fact it takes longer to grow, explains why it is more expensive. Heavy in both density and weight, it offers excellent resistance to fire. Common uses for hardwood include tables, chairs, cabinets, benches, tool-making and flooring.

Photo Beech hardwood panel.

Beech is widely used for furniture framing and carcase construction, flooring and engineering purposes.


When talking about wood varieties, the other major type you commonly see is softwood. This is faster growing than hardwood and is normally made from evergreen trees (such as those in the fir, spruce and conifer family). Trees from which softwood comes have needles rather than leaves and have seeds either uncovered or in cones.

Softwood is flexible, lighter in colour than hardwood and usually less expensive to buy. This is because it grows faster which means there is more available in terms of supply. It also reflects the faster production time in creating softwood from trees. This wood variety has a higher sap content than hardwood and a looser grain.

Lightweight and low density, it is not very resistant to fire. Softwood can be easier to work on than hardwood though but less durable. Common uses for softwood include interior mouldings, wooden window construction, and the creation of sheet materials like plywood, panelling, furniture and cladding.

Photo of pine softwood used in joinery

Pine wood is widely used in high-value carpentry items such as furniture, window frames, panelling, floors, and roofing.

Sustainable timber is key

While hardwood and softwood are the two major wood varieties to choose from, the real secret is choosing sustainable timber. Opting for timber that is sustainable ensures that we look after the natural resources our planet has and use them in a sensible way. This, in turn, enables us to avoid running out of timber supplies in the future.

Let JCM Fine Joinery help

Here at JCM Fine Joinery, we are experts in choosing the best type of wood to use for the project at hand. We only use sustainable timber from across the globe which meets either FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) standards. Get in touch today for more details about our bespoke joinery service.

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