Poplar and pine wood are two of the most common types of wood used for furniture and other standard wood projects. The reasons why these two timber species are famous include their overall above average characteristics, easy availability and low cost.
If you are confused between pine and poplar timber for your upcoming project, here’s everything you need to know about these two wood species in order to determine the best timber option for your project.
What is Pine Wood?
Pine is a softwood in the genus Pinus of the family Pinaceae. There are many species of pine, with red pine, white pine, yellow pine, longleaf pine, shortleaf pine, etc. being the most popular ones. Pine is a softwood but can be considerably hard and durable and therefore suitable for many projects ranging from furniture making to construction, boat making, interior furnishing and others.
Despite being a softwood, pine is strong. It’s not very heavy and has average durability. Pine wood is a pale yellow to light brown in color (darker species are also available). It’s generally easy to work with and is timber of choice for woodworkers around the world.
What is Poplar Wood?
Poplar or Populus is a deciduous flowering plant in the family Salicaceae. These plants have about 25-30 species, most of them are found in the Northern Hemisphere. Though poplar is hardwood, it is rather soft and light in weight. Poplar trees grow very fast and have a higher average height than pine trees. They can easily last for up to 100 years or more.
Poplar wood is a pale yellow to yellowish-brown. Because it is very light and has no durability, it is primarily used for making paper, matchboxes and cheap furniture items.
Pine Vs Poplar: A Brief Comparison
Poplar is primarily used for making paper. A lot of wood is required to make paper and because poplar grows very fast and is easily available, it is the best wood for the purpose. Other uses of poplar include cheap hardwood timber, cheap plywood, electric guitars, drums and decorative items. Poplar tree bark is sometimes used to tan leather because of its high tannic acid content.
Pinewood is one of the most commonly used timbers around the world. It is used for everything from making furniture to panelling, flooring, roofing, window frames, structures, and more. Some species of pine are used to make decorative items. Living pine nuts obtained from certain species are used for cooking. Because pine has low durability and insect resistance, it is often treated before use for exterior applications.
2.Color & Appearance
Poplar is lighter in color. Its color can be white to yellowish cream or brown with occasional grey streaks, depending on the species. The sapwood of poplar is lighter than the heartwood but not always clearly distinguishable. The wood has a straight grain with a uniform, medium texture.
Pinewood is most commonly available in white to reddish-brown color. The heartwood is generally darker than the sapwood and easy to identify. Pinewood color will darken with age. The wood has a straight grain with a medium texture.
3.Strength & Durability
Poplar is not very durable. In fact, it will damage easily and can be dented and scratched. This is one of the reasons why poplar is not very suitable for commercial applications. Poplar is not strong.
Pine, in general, is more durable than poplar. It is also stronger and therefore suitable for a range of applications where poplar is not recommended. However, pine is not as strong as many hardwoods. For example, oak is a more preferred (but costlier) option for making strong furniture that will last decades.
Because poplar is soft and less dense, it is easy to work with hands and tools. Also, it cuts, glues and finishes well. Prior drilling is not required for screwing and nailing. Also, the poplar wood is easy to carve and turn. Because it has plenty of moisture in it, the wood will shrink when drying.
Pinewood is soft. It is denser and heavier than poplar, but it is easy to work with. It cuts, glues and finishes well and is easy to nail and screw with or without drilling.
5.Hardness: Pine vs Poplar Wood
The best way to determine the hardness of wood is the Janka rating, which refers to the “force required to embed an 11.28-millimeter-diameter steel ball halfway into a sample of wood.”
In the case of poplar species, yellow poplar has the highest Janka rating of 540 lbf (2,400 N). White poplar with a Janka rating of 410 lbf (1,820 N) is less hard. Balsam poplar with 300 lbf Janka rating is softer than both.
Pinewood species are generally harder than poplar. Longleaf Pine with an 870 lbf (4,120) Janka rating is the hardest pinewood of all species. Radiata Pine with a 710 lbf Janka rating is the next best.
Pine Vs Poplar: Which to Buy?
In terms of characteristics like hardness, strength, durability, etc., Pine is the clear winner. However, if you are looking for a more affordable and easily available option than pinewood, you can consider poplar as well. Ultimately, which wood you should choose will depend on what you are going to use it for.
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