Ash vs. Pine: Which One to Use?

Ash vs. Pine: Which One to Use?

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If you are planning on doing some construction around the house, then choosing the right type of wood is very important. Two very popular materials that you may use for a variety of purposes include ash and pine.

With that being said, these two types of wood are very different, so we want to figure out what those differences are. Let’s get to it and figure out which is the best type of wood to use for your next project.

What Is Ash?

First, we have ash, and here we are talking about white ash. There are a few different types of ash trees, but white ash is generally the most commonly used one for construction, and most other types of ash share a good deal of similarities with this variety.

This is a deciduous hardwood tree that grows in the eastern parts of North America, mainly in eastern Canada, and it can grow to heights of 80’. As for appearance, this type of wood features a regular and straight grain, sometimes with moderately figured boards or curls.

It usually has a medium to coarse texture, as well as some knots. Ash has a medium brown heartwood, with the sapwood being beige to light brown. As for overall durability, this is a very hard type of wood that has a lot of strength, although it’s not very resistant to pests or moisture. It works well for interior furniture, but not for outdoor purposes.

Ash is fairly easy to work with, as it bends easily with steam, it takes on stain and paint quite well, and it is fairly easy to nail and screw. It is one of the more inexpensive types of hardwood around, as it is mostly used for utility purposes, such as for making turned objects, tool handles, baseball bats, boxes and crates, millwork, and sometimes for flooring.

What is Pine?

We then have the pine tree, and here we’re talking specifically about the eastern white pine tree, as this is the most commonly used and most commonly occurring type of pine tree in North America. This tree grows naturally all throughout eastern North America and can reach heights of 100’, with trunks reaching up to 4’ in diameter. This is a coniferous type of softwood tree.

This wood features a straight grain with a fairly even and medium texture, although it can have a lot of large resin canals and knots. The heartwood features a light brown color, with the sapwood being a very pale yellow color.

Pine is actually an extremely soft type of wood, and it doesn’t have a great deal of durability. On that note, this wood is rated as only being moderately resistant to moisture or pests.

For this reason, pine is generally best used for indoor purposes only. It’s just not very resistant to physical damage, pests, moisture, decay, and other such elements. It is often used for fairly basic purposes, such as basic construction lumber, carving, interior millwork, crates, and boxes.

Ash vs. Pine: What Are the Differences?

Now that we know what both ash and pine are, let’s figure out what makes these two types of wood different from each other.


Eastern white pine features a Janka hardness rating of just 380 lbf, whereas white ash comes in at 1,320 lbf. This means that white ash is almost four times as hard as eastern white pine, therefore making it much more resistant to denting, scratching, and other forms of physical damage.


Pine features a density or weight of 25 lbs per cubic foot, while white ash comes in at around 42 lbs per cubic foot. This means that ash is heavier, and therefore a bit harder to work with, although it would appear to also be a bit more durable.

Moisture and Pest Resistance

Eastern white pine is rated as being moderately resistant to moisture and pests, so it can possibly be used for outdoor purposes, especially if it is properly sealed and treated. That said, this wood should not be used outdoors if it is untreated.

On that note, white ash is also not ideal for outdoor use, as it is not at all resistant to the elements. In this case, pine is the winner, as it is slightly more resistant in this regard.

Overall Strength

When it comes down to it, if overall strength is what you are looking for, then eastern white pine is not your best choice here. In terms of the modulus of elasticity, crushing strength, and the modulus of rupture, ash is stronger on all of these fronts.


Pine is a little bit easier to work with in terms of sawing, painting, staining, and nailing, than ash is, mainly because ash is quite heavy and hard.

Appearance – Color and Grain

White ash features a fairly medium brown color with a generally straight and tight grain that is just a little bit coarse. Pine is generally a bit finer in terms of the grain, plus it is also just a little bit lighter in color, but it might have more knots. If what you are going for is aesthetic appeal, then white ash is generally going to be the better-looking of the two.


For decent white ash, you usually won’t end up paying more than about $10 per board foot, usually even less, with white pine usually costing between $5 and $8 per board foot.

When to Use Ash?

If you are looking for a type of wood that is extremely hard and durable that looks nice too, then white ash is always a good option to go with. Just remember that it’s really not ideal for outdoor purposes whatsoever.

When to Use Pine?

If you are looking for a very soft type of wood that looks very nice, and also won’t cost you a fortune, then eastern white pine is a perfectly fine option to use. Yes, you may be able to use eastern white pine outdoors, but you do first need to properly treat and seal it.

Alternatives to Ash and Pine

Seeing as neither of these types of wood is very resistant to moisture, some good alternatives on this front include western red cedar, maple, cherry, oak, mahogany, and ebony. Both teak and ipe are also quite water resistant.


The bottom line here is that if you need affordable types of wood to build things with, then both ash and pine are perfectly fine options to go with. Just don’t expect them to perform well when it comes to outdoor use.