Differences Between Hardwood and Softwood

Wood pallets, like any wood product, may be manufactured from hardwood or softwood. In the United States, 504 million acres, nearly 25% of the nation’s land area is available to produce timber resources for commercial wood products. These forests contain many different types of trees, including those that produce hardwood and those that produce softwood. Here are a few differences between hardwood and softwood:

Type of Trees

It would be easy to tell hardwood from softwood if it were just a matter of searching for “wood pallets Tampa” and feeling a hardwood pallet and a softwood pallet to see which is harder to the touch. However, this is not, strictly speaking, the distinction between hardwood and softwood. Rather, hardwood and softwood refer to the types of trees used to produce a wood product. Hardwood trees are angiosperm trees, such as deciduous trees – the type of trees that grow leaves and produce seeds in the form of fruit pits or nuts. Examples of hardwood trees include walnut, balsa, oak, elm, hickory, and maple. Softwood trees are gymnosperm trees, such as coniferous trees – the type of trees that grow needles and drop seeds without any sort of covering. Examples of softwood trees include pine, fir, and spruce. While different trees may grow in Georgia and Florida, searching for “hardwood pallets Atlanta” or “hardwood pallets Florida” will always turn up wood pallets from the same trees.

Structure of the Wood

While hardwoods are generally denser than softwoods, this is not always the case. More important than the density of the wood is the microscopic structure of the wood. Hardwood has tiny vessels inside the wood that carry water while the tree is alive. Softwood has no vessels inside the wood because it uses tracheids – water conducting cells – instead. Again, whether searching for “wooden pallets Miami” or “wooden pallets Orlando,” the distinction between hardwood and softwood is consistent since it is scientifically determined.


Hardwood trees grow more slowly than softwood trees. This is due to the type of trees that fall into the hardwood category. Hardwood trees generally have leaves and, as everyone knows, leaves fall off in autumn. This means that during the winter, hardwood trees stop growing or grow very slowly. Softwood trees, on the other hand, usually have needles and, as everyone knows, needles stay on during the winter. This means that softwood trees usually grow year-round. Since hardwood trees grow slower, they usually have a denser wood than faster growing softwood trees. However, this is not always the case, since balsa wood has a very low density, yet is considered a hardwood because of the type of tree balsa wood comes from. Whether searching for “hardwood pallets Tampa” or “softwood pallets Tampa,” these differences will always distinguish hardwood from softwood.

In summary, the distinctions between hardwood and softwood are not as simple as merely feeling the wood. Rather, the distinctions depend on the species of tree that the wood is harvested from. Hardwood is generally angiosperm trees, while softwood is generally gymnosperm trees. The structure of the wood itself, as well as the way the wood grows, determines the general properties of the wood once it is incorporated into a wooden pallet.

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