When you're looking at timber flooring, one of the first decisions you'll need to make is whether to use a softwood or a hardwood. All trees are split into one of these two categories. Hardwoods do tend to be harder, but the distinction actually relates to seed structure. Hardwood trees have coating around their seeds, while softwood trees do not.
When it comes to flooring, most people assume hardwood timber is the right choice, but that isn't necessarily the case. Here are just four great reasons to use softwood instead.
1. Lower Cost
There's a wide range of softwood species available for you to choose from; regardless of your final choice, you'll almost certainly be paying a lot less than you would for a hardwood. This is partly because hardwoods generally have more uses and therefore are more sought-after. However, it's also due to growing time. Hardwood species take a lot longer to grow tall enough to be cut into planks. The longer a tree takes to grow, the more expensive its wood.
2. More Eco-Friendly
The fact that softwood species grow faster than hardwood species comes with another benefit: eco-friendliness. Trees that grow quickly are more sustainable and tend to consume fewer resources as they grow. If you want timber floors but also want to keep things eco-friendly, choosing a softwood species should solve your dilemma.
3. Rustic Appearance
Hardwoods tend to be much darker than softwoods. Think of teak and mahogany as archetypal hardwoods and something like pine as an archetypal softwood. This makes hardwoods popular for grander properties, but softwoods are often nicer in casual residential environments. With colours ranging from near-white to deep yellow, softwood flooring makes a room feel lighter and more open. Softwoods also tend to have more prominent grain and knots, so they offer a more rustic appearance.
4. Easy to Work
Despite the name, softwood timber is still very tough; it's simply not quite as tough as your average hardwood. However, that can actually be an advantage. Because softwoods are a little more giving, they tend to be much easier to work. For example, sending a nail through a piece of softwood will generally be easier, and they'll often require fewer fasteners to stay down. It's also easier to cut, and some softwood flooring can even be held down with glue instead of nails. Even if you aren't helping with the installation yourself, this should save on manpower.