Hardwood vs. softwoods

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Updated: 4/13/2007 7:48 am
As a general rule, softwoods are used for construction, while hardwoods are used for furniture, cabinetry, and floors. Pine, cedar, fir, and redwood are the most common softwoods, although cypress, hemlock, and spruce are sometimes used. Pine and Douglas firs are the woods of choice for most house framing. Cedar and redwood are frequently used for exterior construction in decks or fences, because of their naturally rot-resistant qualities. Among hardwoods, grain and color are the most prized qualities. Maple and ash are the lightest varieties, ranging from cream colored to light brown. Oak is a versatile wood with a distinct grain pattern, ranging in color from the tan of white oak to the more pinkish red oak. Cherry is a reddish wood with an often intricate grain pattern. Walnut, teak, and mahogany are the darkest hardwoods, ranging from gray-brown to deep red in color. They're all suitable for furniture or floors and take well to a variety of finishes.

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