Hardwood, Softwood and Laminate Flooring Compared

Moretti Blog   •   March 29, 2016

Hardwood Softwood Laminate

Choosing the appropriate type of flooring timber for your home is one of the most important decisions you can make. Not only should the type of timber you choose look great, it needs to be sufficiently durable and appropriate for the environment you are placing it in.

To help you make the right decision, the team at WoodandBeyond have written the key differences between softwood, hardwood and laminate flooring!

Softwood Flooring

Softwood refers to any timber that has come from trees in the gymnosperm group. These trees usually have needle-like leaves, open seeds and fast growth rates. Softwood varieties include pine, ash, beech, birch, cedar, fir, hemlock, redwood and spruce.

An estimated 80% of the world’s production of timber is softwood and it is the most common type of timber used in home construction

Softwoods are commonly used for structural framing, flooring, bench tops, wall cladding, decking, joinery and beams. Because most softwood varieties grow very quickly, they are considered to be a renewable source of timber.

The key difference between softwood and hardwood is the cell structure of the timber and the presence of vessels. Hardwood trees have closed cells and use vessels to carry nutrients. Softwood trees have open cells that allow nutrients to flow from cell to cell. This makes softwood timbers more permeable and receptive to preservative treatments that can improve their durability. It also means that hardwood timbers tend to have more strength and durability, because of the thicker cell walls.

However, certain species of softwood have higher durability and strength ratings than some hardwoods, including longleaf pine, yew, white Cyprus and Douglas fir.

Key Advantages of Using Softwood Flooring
  • Cheap – because softwood grows so quickly and is so abundant, it is the cheapest flooring option.
  • Renewable resource – because softwood trees grow so rapidly and these timbers are plentiful, it is an environmentally friendly option for your home.
  • Easy to work with – softwood timber is considered easier to work with than most hardwoods.
  • A beautiful appearance – softwood floors are only surpassed by hardwood floors for their beautiful appearance.
Key Disadvantages of Using Softwood Flooring
  • Soft and easy to mark or scratch – it is possible to mark some softwood floors very easily. Items like heavy furniture, high heels and dropped cans can dent or mark your floor.
  • Easily damaged by moisture and humidity – softwood is unsuitable for wet or humid environments, because it will warp or split

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood refers to timber that has come from trees in the angiosperm group. Like softwoods, hardwood trees produce seeds. However, they often wrap the seed in fruit and some varieties o