Birch vs Aspen: A Closer Look at the Differences

birch vs pine wood

Birch and aspen are deciduous (hardwood) trees belonging to the Betulaceae family. While the two hardwood types share multiple similar characteristics, they also have many distinct features that set them apart. In this article, we’ll learn all about the differences between birch wood and aspen wood in terms of physical appearance, properties, workability, price, uses, etc.

Birch trees, easily recognizable by their unique white bark and saw-toothed leaves, thrive in diverse climates across the Northern Hemisphere. The reddish-brown heartwood is known for its strength and aesthetic appeal and is prized for landscaping and traditional medicine.

Aspen trees can be recognized by their famous quaking leaves and vast woodlands that often form deep colonies through a single root system. They are found commonly in North America and Europe. The heartwood of Aspen is nearly white or light brown and not as strong or durable as birch.

About Birch Wood

Birch is a hardwood prized for its strength, versatility, and distinct pale-brownish appearance. Sourced from various species within the Betula genus, birch has a fine grain and smooth texture, making it easy to work with. Particularly famous for woodworking and furniture crafting, it is moderately hard and durable in terms of resistance to decay and insects. It’s also resistant to wear and tear.

Because of its ease of working and machining, it is easy to carve into intricate designs and precise detailing. Additionally, its fair weight-to-strength ratio makes it suitable for both regular and extreme applications, from cabinetry to furniture and flooring.

Popular species include Bog, Cherry, Dwarf, Downy, Himalayan, Paper Bark, River, Silver, Weeping, Water, and Yellow Birch.

About Aspen Timber

Aspen timber, sourced from various species in the Populus genus, stands out for its unique appearance and applications. The wood can be recognized by its light color, which may range from light yellowish brown to nearly white, and straight grain. The fine texture and soft structure makes it suitable for crafting paper, fiberboard, and furniture.

It is lightweight and sometimes used in construction. It is easy to handle and fairly strong. Despite being a hardwood, it’s not very dense or heavy. The durability is low and it is not resistant to insects and decay. Particularly prized for its versatility, aspen remains a sought-after material in various industries and artistic applications.

Top species include Bigtooth, Chinese , Common/European , Japanese Aspen, Korean , and Quaking Aspen.

Birch vs Aspen wood

difference between birch and aspen wood

Here’s a synopsis of the difference between birch and aspen timber:

# Birch Aspen
Scientific name: Betula papyrifera (Paper birch) Populus tremuloides (Quacking aspen)
Type: Hardwood Hardwood
Found in: Northern and Central North America Canada and Northern United States
Tree size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter
Avg. dried weight: 610 kg/m3 415 kg/m3
Janka Hardness: 910 lbf 350 lbf
Heartwood color: Light reddish-brown Light brown to nearly white.
Grain/Texture straight or slightly wavy grain; fine, even texture Straight grain; uniform medium texture
Durability Moderate Low
Resistance to decay/insects Low Low
Workability: Easy to work with Easy to work with
Price Low to moderate Low to moderate
Uses: Plywood, doors, boxes, furniture, crates, panelling, turned objects, interior trim, flooring, and other small specialty wood items. Boxes, crates, veneer, construction, plywood, etc.


Birch vs Aspen: Tree

Both birch and aspen are deciduous trees belonging to the Betulaceae and Populus families, respectively.

Birch trees, distinguished by their thin trunks and striking white bark, display a range of species spread out across the Northern Hemisphere. Aspen, recognized by its quaking leaves and thin and white trunk, primarily grows in North America and Europe.

Birch leaves are typically saw-toothed, while aspen leaves have a more rounded shape.

Birch vs Aspen: Appearance

The two popular commercial hardwoods, showcase contrasting appearances.

Birch wood is characterized by its pale cream to light brown color, which is often accompanied by slight reddish or yellowish hues. The most notable feature is the striking white or silvery bark of birch species, creating an elegant and visually appealing contrast. The grain is typically fine and even, with a smooth and refined texture.

In contrast, aspen wood exhibits a lighter color with a pale, almost white appearance. Its grain is generally straight and its texture is uniform and medium. The wood may sometimes have distinct black knots and scars, providing a unique aesthetic to finished products.

Birch vs Aspen: Hardness & Strength

In the space of hardwoods, the difference in hardness and strength between birch and aspen is easily notable.

Birch, recognized for its robustness, is quite harder and denser than aspen. This inherent strength makes it suitable for a variety of applications, from furniture to flooring, where durability is paramount.

Aspen, while softer and less dense, is much more flexible. It’s also considerably strong, which makes it appropriate for uses such as paper production and certain construction applications.

Birch vs Aspen: Durability and Resistance

When considering durability and resistance, birch and aspen exhibit different properties.

Birch, with its denser composition and hardness, tends to be more durable and resistant to wear and tear. However, it’s prone to damage by decay and insect attacks. The wood is suitable for applications requiring robustness, such as flooring and furniture but not ideal for outdoor uses.

Aspen, although softer, displays some resistance to wear and tear. Same as birch, aspen is also not durable in terms of resistance to decay and insects. It is also not suitable for outdoor applications, though is sometimes used in construction.

Birch vs Aspen: Workability

While both are deciduous hardwoods, they offer outstanding workability due to their moderate hardness and easy handling.

Birch, with its moderate density and fine, uniform grain, is easy to work with. It particularly excels in intricate designs and furniture crafting due to its smooth texture. It works well in various machining processes and finishing techniques. It Turns, glues, and finishes well.

Aspen is even softer than birch and is notably workable, particularly favored for applications like paper production and carving. The inherent flexibility of aspen wood further improves its workability, offering versatility in crafting. Drying and nailing can be challenging, but it glues and finishes well.

Birch vs Aspen: Availability and Price

The price and availability of Birch timber and Aspen wood are influenced by factors such as geographical distribution and demand.

Birch, with various species found across the Northern Hemisphere, is generally easily and widely available. Its popularity in woodworking and furniture matches with a stable market supply.

Aspen, found mainly in North America and Europe, is also accessible but the price may differ by location. It is generally more affordable than birch due to its softer nature and lower density compared to birch. Prices also depend on local availability and demand.


Both are popular hardwoods with numerous applications fitting to their unique properties.

Birch, with its durable, hard and strong wood, is prized in furniture making, cabinetry, and flooring. Its fine grain and workability also make it suitable for intricate woodcrafts and carving. Birch bark, known for its strength, is traditionally used in crafts and medicine.

Aspen, valued for its flexibility and lightweight, is commonly used in paper production, boxes, fiberboard, crates, and packaging. Its straight-grained wood is favored for items like matchsticks and for making disposable utensils.

Both birch and aspen are considered good firewood, with birch wood having a slight upper hand due to its higher BTU value (20.8 million per cord) compared to Aspen’s 18 million per cord.

How to Choose the Best Hardwood and Where to Buy?

If you need help selecting the right hardwood for your woodworking project or are confused between birch and aspen, feel free to call or Whatsapp Cameroon Timber Export SARL at +237671776559 or visit our website to seek professional guidance and explore our wide range of premium hardwood and softwood species. Worldwide shipping with the best wholesale price and quality guarantee.