Different Wood Types

There are three broad types, or classifications, of wood. The first is softwood, which primarily comes from coniferous evergreen trees such as pines and cedars, according to the University of Missouri. The second is hardwood, which is taken from deciduous trees like oaks, maples and cherries. The third type of wood is manufactured wood, such as plywood. All of these groups can be broken down further into many more categories, depending on the grade (quality) of the wood.


Hardwoods are generally more durable than softwoods, although they do not bend easily and are more difficult to work with. These woods are used for furniture, trims, flooring and even musical instruments. Rosewood, for example, is often used to make instruments. Oak is a popular choice for furniture and flooring. Cherry ages to a rich red color and is often used to make fine collectibles or high-quality furniture. Teak resists moisture well and is often used on boats. Walnut, which can be stained very easily, is a popular choice for cabinets, gun stocks and paneling.


Softwoods are used in construction, primarily for framing and decorative trims, according to the University of Missouri. Pine, which has a very uniform texture and is easily painted or stained, is widely used for cabinetmaking, molding and boxes. Spruce is a light but strong softwood that is perfect for masts for boats, spars (the support structure for the wings) for aircraft and ladders. Redwood is a popular softwood used in outdoor construction such as decking, fencing and outdoor furniture. Cedar, with its distinctive and pleasant scent, is used for chests, jewelry boxes, paneling to line closets, and novelty items.

Manufactured Wood

Manufactured wood is made with thin layers of wooden sheeting, held together with adhesives. Some or all of the layers may be made with powdered wood. Fiberboard, for example, is very soft and made with compressed powdered wood. It is often used to make shelves. Chipboard is similar to fiberboard, but it is made of wood chips held together with adhesive. It is often used to make low-cost kitchen cabinets or flooring and covered with a thin sheet of laminate. Plywood is composed of thin sheets of wood laminates. The laminates are glued together, creating a strong but flexible sheet of wood.

Keywords: different wood types, kinds of wood, hardwood and softwood

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. She has worked as an educator and now writes academic research content for EBSCO Publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.