If you want to install Aspen hardwood floors or want to construct a deck and need to know if Aspen is the best option, this post is for you. A wood can either be hardwood or softwood. Each type of wood is well suited for a particular type of project.
In this post, you will understand what makes a wood hardwood or softwood. You will get to know if Aspen is hardwood or softwood, the pros, and cons of aspen hardwood, and other details on Aspen wood.
What is Aspen Wood?
Aspen wood is a rare type of wood. It has a creamy white sapwood with heartwood. Aspen has a uniform texture, a fine grain with diffuse pores. The wood has low flammability and doesn’t split when nailed. It easily absorbs stain and paint to produce a good finish.
Aspen is not considered a good lumber or pulpwood but it still has uses that make it maintain its high demand over time. It is used in the production of cheap furniture, matches, replaceable fencing, animal bedding, decking, sauna construction.
Aspen wood comes in four major types and the type depends on the location. These are the four types of aspen wood and the location they are obtained.
- Eurasian Aspen from Europe
- Quaking Aspen from North America
- BigTooth Aspen from Rocky Mountains USA
- Chinese Aspen from China
HardWood Vs Softwood
Before discussing if aspen is hardwood or softwood, you need to understand what makes a wood hardwood or softwood. Most people think that a wood is considered a hardwood if it’s hard and softwood if it’s soft. That’s not true. There are certain qualities a wood or tree needs to have to be considered hardwood or softwood.
Hardwood is obtained from deciduous trees. The trees are known to lose their leaves in autumn and are generally considered angiosperms. Hardwood trees are generally more expensive and are known to grow at a slower pace. Examples of hardwood are Teak, Oak, Hickory, Maple, Beech, Balsa, Alder, and Mahogany.
Softwood is obtained from conifer trees. The trees are known for their needle-shaped leaves and are considered gymnosperms. They grow at a faster rate and are generally cheaper than hardwood. Examples of softwood are Pine, Fir, redwood, yew, juniper, and Spruce.
Hardwood Vs Softwood
Hardwood and softwood have different features that make each unique. It is from these features that you can determine if a wood is hardwood or softwood. These are some of the features that differentiate hardwood from softwood.
Color: Hardwood normally has dark colors unlike softwood that has light colors.
Weather Resistance: Hardwoods are resistant to natural elements like water. That is why they are the best choice for outside wood work like fencing and decking. Softwood has low resistance but treating the wood can make it resistant to natural elements.
Durability: Hardwood is highly durable, while softwood is less durable.
Weight: Hardwood is heavy and hard, while softwood is lightweight and soft. Note that there are some hardwoods that are soft.
Branching: Hardwood trees have fewer branches than softwood with more branches.
Workability: Hardwood is difficult to carve, while it is easier to carve softwood.
Uses: Hardwood is used for furniture making, flooring and paper making. Softwood is used for furniture, cabins, paper pulp and solid wood products.
Is Aspen A Hardwood?
Yes. Aspen is hardwood but it is considered a soft hardwood. The hardness of the Aspen wood varies and the wood scores 420 on Janka Hardness Scale which is quite low. The wood is stiff, tough and doesn’t contain resin.
Aspen is known to glue well and doesn’t split when screwed or nailed making it a good wood for flooring, replaceable fencing and furniture. The wood switches from brown to greyish white with no visible transition.
Pros of Aspen Wood
These are some of the pros of using the Aspen wood for your projects.
a. Cheaper Cost
We mentioned earlier that hardwoods are generally more expensive than softwood. Despite being a hardwood, Aspen is quite affordable when compared to other hardwood types out there. The cost of an Aspen wood plank depends on its thickness and length and width. On average, Aspen cost from $2.50 to $9.00 for each plank.
b. Absorbs Stain
Some types of hardwood have the problem of not holding stain or paint well. Aspen holds paint and stain well to produce a good finish. You can expect the paint to last for at least four years on Aspen wood before there is a need for a new paint job.
c. Withstands Nailing and Screwing Well
Aspen is considered a soft hardwood but it does withstand nailing and screwing without splitting. You don’t have to bother about the wood splitting when installing aspen to subfloor even with larger nails. Also, it is easy to shape Aspen wood.
d. Maintains Stability
Most hardwoods are known to shrink or swell according to the temperature at a particular time. Aspen maintains stability regardless of temperature changes.
e. Bonds Well With Glue
You don’t have to worry about glue sticking when working with Aspen wood. Aspen bonds well with different types of wood glues. You may need to add more water when using a water-based glue on aspen wood to avoid the adhesive drying sooner.
f. Low Flammability
Flammability is how fast an object can catch fire. When compared to other hardwood types, aspen has low flammability.
Cons of Aspen Wood
Despite all the pros listed earlier, the Aspen wood has some downsides you need to know.
a. Availability Issue
Aspen wood is not readily available, that is why it doesn’t always come as a top option for wood work. Even when found, it’s usually not easy to determine the quality of the wood since Aspen is not graded.
b. Too Narrow For Flooring
Hardwood flooring requires the use of wide wood planks. Aspen trees have narrow trucks and thus produce narrow planks. This makes it unsuitable to be used as hardwood floor planks.
c. Stains Unevenly
When used on an uneven subfloor, Aspen absorbs stains unevenly. The remedy is to ensure you level the subfloor by sanding before you stain or apply paint. Also, remember to apply a wash coat before staining.
d. Durability Issues
Most hardwoods are known to be durable and last for a long time. Aspen isn’t as durable as other hardwood, and doesn’t last long. The lifespan of the aspen wood is a little over five years. If you need a wood that can withstand years and years of wear and tear, Aspen isn’t the option for you.