Pine vs. Redwood: Which Wood to Use?

Pine vs. Redwood: Which Wood to Use?

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If you are planning on building something out of wood, then you’ve already made a good choice, as it is by far one of the best materials you could possibly use. That said, there are many different types of lumber out there, and not all of them have the same properties.

Today, we want to compare two very popular species of lumber often used for construction, pine, and redwood. Let’s figure out what makes these two types of wood different from each other, so we can figure out which one is best for your next project.

What Is Pine?

The first tree we are focusing on is the pine tree, specifically the eastern white pine. This species is very commonly found in North America and is also commonly used for woodworking, construction, and related purposes. This is a softwood coniferous tree that grows in North America.

The eastern white pine generally has an even and straight grain, as well as a medium texture. Although, it can have many gaps, knots, and big resin canals. The sapwood of the tree is generally pale yellow, with the heartwood being light brown.

Let’s keep in mind that the eastern white pine tree is not overly durable, as it is one of the softer types of softwood that can be found in North America. It’s also not particularly resistant to the elements, moisture, decay, pests, or the outdoors in general.

It’s not great for outdoor use and it’s also not the hardest wood in the world, so it’s usually reserved for very basic purposes, such as carvings, boxes, crates, pallets, millwork, small decorative pieces, and relatively low-end indoor furniture and cabinetry.

What Is Redwood?

We then have redwood, which is otherwise known as the giant Sequoia tree. This is one of the biggest trees in the world, with trunks as wide as 30’, and reaching heights of over 250’.

This tree is native to Oregon, Washington, California, and other close regions in the United States. This is a coniferous tree, which means that it keeps its needles during the colder seasons, and yes it is a type of softwood.

Redwood is not a very hard type of wood, and it is quite susceptible to denting, scratching, and all sorts of physical damage. However, a big defining feature of this material is that it is very resistant to fungus, pests, moisture, and decay, making it ideal for outdoor purposes.

It’s also quite lightweight, which many people like because it makes it relatively easy to work with. In terms of appearance, this material usually has a reddish-brown heartwood with a much creamier sapwood.

The redwood tree has a fine texture with a straight grain, although it can contain a limited number of imperfections, voids, and knots. Redwood is often used for a variety of applications, particularly for outdoor purposes, because it’s so resistant to moisture and pests.

Pine vs Redwood: What Are the Differences?

Now that we know what both pine and redwood are, let’s figure out what makes the two different from each other.

Hardness

Eastern white pine has a Janka hardness rating of 380 lbf, while redwood comes in at 420 lbf. As you can see, redwood is just slightly harder than eastern white pine. However, they are both very soft, and both do not resist denting, scratching, or other types of physical damage very well.

Density

In terms of density, redwood comes in at 28 lbs/ft3, whereas eastern white pine comes in at 25 lbs/ft3. Therefore, redwood is not only slightly harder than eastern white pine but also slightly heavier.

One could then assume that redwood is a bit more durable, although its heavier weight does make it a bit harder to work with.

Pest and Moisture Resistance

Something else worth noting here is that eastern white pine is not very pest or moisture-resistant at all, and is not ideal for outdoor purposes. On the other hand, redwood is very resistant to the elements.

It is actually one of the best options for outdoor use that you could possibly have at your disposal. If we had to choose one for outdoor purposes, it would certainly be redwood.

Overall Strength

What is funny is that eastern white pine has a higher modulus of elasticity than redwood, which means that it takes a lot of pressure to make it bend.

However, redwood has a higher compressive strength and modulus of rupture. Overall, this means that redwood can handle a bit more weight and pressure.

Workability

Both of these types of wood are fairly soft, lightweight, and have a good number of knots, gaps, and canals. In the grand scheme of things, both are very easy to work with. Redwood may suffer from a bit of tear-out when being sawed, but that’s about it.

Appearance – Color and Grain

As you can probably guess, the biggest difference between these two types of wood is that eastern white pine is much lighter in color than redwood, which features a reddish-brown color.

Pine may also have more knots and resin canals. In the grand scheme of things, this is of course more a matter of personal preference than anything else.

Cost

What is kind of surprising here is that because many people love the appearance of redwood, and because it is so resistant to moisture, it can cost up to $30 per board foot, whereas eastern white pine usually tops out at around $10 per board foot.

When to Use Pine?

If you are looking for a relatively affordable type of wood that is ideal for indoor purposes and basic use, then eastern white pine is perfectly fine.

It’s not the most durable type of wood in the world, so we wouldn’t use it for high-traffic applications, and we wouldn’t use it for outdoor purposes either. However, for things like crates, boxes, decorative pieces, millwork, and low-end furniture, we think it works perfectly fine, plus it’s affordable too.

When to Use Redwood?

Although redwood also might not be overly durable or resistant to damage, it does have the advantage of working well outdoors due to a high level of moisture and pest resistance.

Therefore, you could use it for outdoor furniture and all sorts of outdoor applications. It can also be used for basic indoor purposes, mainly the same things that you could use pine for.

Alternatives to Pine and Redwood

If you need a type of wood that is harder and more durable, try options such as ash, ebony, mahogany, maple, and teak.

Summary

At the end of the day, the differences here are quite clear. The biggest being that pine is ideal for indoor use, whereas redwood is ideal for outdoor use.