Properties of Softwood: Spruce Vs Pine A Detailed Comparison

properties of softwood
Though softwoods are generally considered soft and less durable, this isn’t always the case. Many softwood species, including pine, cedar and redwood, are widely used in a variety of projects ranging from furniture making to construction, card boxes, boats, and more.

If you are looking to know more about softwoods or need help choosing the right softwood species for your next project, you’re at the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about the properties of softwood.

Choosing the right type of softwood is important for many reasons. It is good to have at least the basic idea of how certain wood will behave under different conditions, which largely depends on the specific properties of the wood.

Because spruce and pine are two of the most commonly used types of softwood, we will discuss the properties of these two softwood species in detail here.

What Affects The Properties of Softwood

The properties of wood depend on many things, including the species, of course. But, the woods coming from different trees of the same species may also differ in properties if they have been grown in different locations. In fact, the wood produced from the different parts of the same trees can also have different properties. For example, wood extracted from close to the pith will have different properties than the wood taken out from the bark.

Other things that affect the properties of softwood include the growth rings, wood knots, fibre distortions, height of the tree, springwood, summerwood, etc.

Common Properties of Softwood

There are some properties that are common to all softwood timbers. For example, all softwoods are extracted from confers, i.e. trees that have cones. Normally, their leaves are needle-shaped and remain on the trees all year round. Softwoods generally have lower densities and are softer as compared to hardwoods, but not always. They are often light in colour.

Also, softwoods normally have a shorter growth period, i.e. they grow quicker than hardwoods and are easily and widely available at a cheaper price. Because they have low density, softwoods are easier to work with.

Properties of Softwood: Spruce Timber

Spruce is primarily used in construction. Other uses include flooring, packaging, stringed instruments, paper pulp, crates, and millwork.

The spruce heartwood colour is yellowish white or brown. It has a fine, even texture. The grain is straight. It is generally non-resistant to decay and is non-durable. Spruce timber is easy to work with and cuts, glues and finishes well. In terms of strength, the wood is medium hard with elastic characteristics.

Technical Properties of Spruce:

Moisture content (%) – 12
Basic density (kg/m3) – 380
Density (kg/m3) – 440
Tensile strength (MPa) – 90
Bending strength (MPa) – 75
Shear strength(MPa) – 9
Impact strength (KJ/m2) – 50
Hardness(Brinell) – 3,2
Modulus of elasticity (MPa) – 11 000
Thermal conductivity (W/m ̊ C) – 0,24
Heat capacity (J/kg ̊ C) – 1 650

Properties of Softwood: Pine Timber

Pine softwood is used in different applications, including joinery, mouldings, furniture, internal cladding, flooring, veneering, boats, and others.

Pine wood is medium hard and is widely used as a cheaper alternative to many hardwoods for construction and furniture making. Because pine colour will go darker over time, it is specially treated to retain its colour. Also, treated pine is more durable and resistant to insects, termites and moisture.

Technical properties of Pine:

Moisture content (%) – 12
Basic density (kg/m3) – 420
Density (kg/m3) – 470
Tensile strength (MPa) – 104
Bending strength (MPa) – 87
Shear strength(MPa) – 10
Impact strength (KJ/m2)– 70
Hardness(Brinell)– 4
Modulus of elasticity (MPa) – 12 000
Thermal conductivity (W/m ̊ C) – 0,26
Heat capacity (J/kg ̊ C) – 1 650

Spruce Vs. Pine

Though both spruce and pine are softwoods, their properties differ in many terms. Not only do the woods look different from each other, but they also have different physical properties. Pine, for instance, has a more reddish colour, while the colour of the Spruce timber is light yellowish brown. The growth rings in pine are stronger and denser than spruce. Also, pine is easier to work with and does not tear out even with the knots. Pine is harder and more durable when compared to spruce.


Not all softwoods have the same properties, which is why it is crucial to compare different wood timbers in order to find the right fit for your particular project. Pine and Spruce are just two of the many softwoods available in the market. So, always explore all your options and do your research before selecting the right wood.

Need help? We at CameroonTimberExportSarl have more than three decades of experience in timber harvesting, woodworking and consulting. We are a leading supplier and importer of softwood and hardwood timber in 30+ countries across Latin America, Asia, Europe, Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world. Whether you need help selecting the right softwood timber for your project or are looking for the best place to buy quality timber at the lowest price, feel free to contact CameroonTimberExportSarl.