Home » Is Redwood a Hardwood? (Characteristics, Pros & Cons)

Is Redwood a Hardwood? (Characteristics, Pros & Cons)

Are you planning to use the Redwood for an upcoming project, such as building a fence or furniture, and wondering whether it is hardwood? On the other hand, you just might be curious about the hardiness of the Redwood.

Either way, the hardness of a particular type of wood material holds tremendous significance and determines its purpose in accordance with its features. It means some wood materials can be used for furniture while others cannot.

So, to answer the most critical question, is Redwood a hardwood? The answer is no! Redwood is a type of premium softwood commonly used for making boxes, barns, doors, and cabinetry. 

Whether a specific type of wood is classified as hardwood or softwood depends on its physical structure and density. This raises a few questions: Are hardwoods sturdy and durable materials? Is softwood a soft material?

Difference Between Hardwood and Softwood

Let’s start this section by answering the questions mentioned above. Just as its name implies, hardwood is a durable and hardy material made from angiosperm trees (the ones that have flowers and produce seeds), such as beech, hickory, mahogany, maple, oak, teak, and walnut. 

On the other hand, softwood is made from gymnosperm, or trees with needles and cones, such as Cedar, Douglas fir, juniper, spruce, yew, pine, and Redwood. Softwood is softer compared to hardwood and less durable. However, there are a few exceptions. 

For example, the wood from yew trees, which is softwood, is very hardy, while wood from balsa trees is pretty soft, considering it is classified as hardwood.

1. Application

Softwood is frequently used for making windows, furniture, decking, patio covers, and many others. 

On the other hand, hardwood is generally used for items and construction components that are meant to last for longer such as high-end furniture, decks, or flooring, 

2. Density

As you probably guessed, hardwoods have a higher density, unlike softwood.

3. Cost/Price

Hardwood is more costly compared to softwood for numerous reasons. Besides excellent durability and hardness, hardwood trees grow at a much slower rate than softwood trees. 

Similarly, softwood trees have poor resistance to fire, while hardwood is not that easily ignited. 

What is Redwood Hardness?

What is Redwood Hardness?
Image Credit: valgoriawood

Just in case you have doubts or are unsure what the term hardness refers to, here is a simple explanation. Wood hardness refers to measuring a particular wood’s resistance to dent, wear, and tear. 

The hardness of wood is measured using the Janka hardness test, which measures the force (N, Ibf) needed to embed the wood and its density. So what is the level of hardness of a redwood?

Redwood has a hardness rating of 420 Ibf or 1,868 N, compared to other hardwoods.

Despite this minor drawback, Redwood is unlikely ever to warp or split, which tells you about its durability. Furthermore, it has good weather and decay resistance, which explains why you can find it in exterior use.

Although Redwood is not that dense and hardy, its low density allows the professional to manipulate this wood for various purposes. 

Redwood Application, Characteristics, and Features

As mentioned, despite its low density, Redwood offers a number of advantages which also includes its fantastic array of colors, ranging from light pink/brown to deep red/burgundy/brown. 

Therefore, it is no wonder that some people use it to make musical instruments, decks, boxes, and construction beams. Now, talking of redwood characteristics, this type of wood comes with a straight-grain structure. However, some types have irregular grain patterns. 

  • Precisely due to these specific patterns, Redwood offers extraordinary wood finishing features. Painting or staining this wood is a very easy and straightforward job. 
  • Because of this wood’s low density, it has high workability, meaning that if you are a beginner and are just trying to learn a thing or two about woodworking, this is the correct type of wood for you. 
  • For example, if the wood is tough and sturdy, you have certain limitations regarding its use. Also, it would help if you had various special tools for cutting, drilling, sawing, and carving, which is very easy with Redwood. 
  • Redwood has tannins, which are excellent repellents against various bugs and insects that might want to find refuge or shelter in your redwood window or box. 
  • If coated with the right type of paint, Redwood is pretty resistant to rotting and decaying. This does not mean it will last forever. After all, wood is a natural material, which is bound to rot eventually. 
  • Unlike most softwoods, Redwood is resistant to fire thanks to tannin acid, a chemical that keeps them safe from fires. 
  • Like many other types of wood, Redwood has a specific smell/odor.

To summarize, Redwood is a decay and rot-resistant type of wood with high workability and resistance to insect attacks and inclement weather. It also has moderate moisture resistance. 

What Are the Advantages of Redwood?

What Are the Advantages of Redwood?
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Redwood is relatively durable and will resist wear and tear compared to other woods in the softwood category. 

As mentioned, Redwood is very easy to work with, and you can easily cut, saw, and drill it. Furthermore, it is very light, contributing to this easy use and application. You can move it quickly without asking for help or employing some tools or vehicles. 

One of the significant advantages of Redwood is its appearance. Its wonderful combinations of warm reddish and pinkish colors make it ideal for musical elements of furniture because it makes them attention-grabbing and fantastic. 

Redwood can also be used outside as well as inside. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Redwood?

Although Redwood is pretty resistant to dents, it can be easily stained. Because of this issue, you need to maintain and care for it if you want it to last longer and keep its colors. If the Redwood is used indoors, it needs high maintenance, which implies cleaning and varnishing it. 

This is a huge disadvantage for some people because it needs to be done regularly. 

Furthermore, as you could have guessed, Redwood is not a cheap material. On the contrary, expect to pay a hefty price for this wood. What contributes to this high price of Redwood is the continuous harvesting of Redwood forests. 

In addition, the population of these forests has decreased in the last couple of decades. Redwood has always been a wood material in high demand, so you can expect to pay a bit more for this precious and easy-on-the-eye wood. 

Talking of its color, if you do not maintain it, not only will the wood lose its main features, but this incredible array of brownish and pinkish shades will fade over time into a medium brown color. 

Comparison Between Redwood and Other Types of Softwood

As mentioned, the hardness level according to the Janka test for Redwood is 430 lbf or 1,868. What about other types of wood?

For example, the Brazilian walnut has the highest hardness value, which is 3,684 lbf (16,390 N). The second place is reserved for Red Mahogany which has a 2,967 lbf (12,000 N) hardness value.

Hickory, Pecan, and Satinwood have a hardness value of 1,820 lbf (8,100 N), while Ash (White) has 1,320 lbf (5,900 N). All of these wood species have much more density than Redwood.

However, there are some types of wood with lower density than Redwood. For example, Basswood has 410 lbf (1,823 N), while Sugar Pine has 380 lbf (1,690 N). Similarly, Aspen has 350 lbf (1,557 N), while White Cedar has 320 lbf (1,423 N). 

There are also types of wood that have a similar density to Redwood, such as Cypress, which has 510 lbf (2,269), and Black spruce, which has 520 lbf (2,313 N) 

Ultimately, what makes Redwood unique is its versatile application; it can be used for indoor and outdoor purposes, and it has excellent natural resistance to weather elements. 

Which is more durable and hardy: Redwood vs. Cedar?

Which is more durable and hardy
Image Credit: aricavallo

Many tend to ask whether Redwood is harder and more durable than Cedar. The answer is yes! Cedar is one of the types of wood with the lowest density, and Redwood is at least 23% stronger than Cedar.

Western Red Cedar is the most compatible wood with Redwood due to numerous similar characteristics. These woods are both very resistant to rotting and very stable. However, their different color is considered to be a significant difference.


The most important takeaway from this article is that Redwood is not hardwood but softwood. 

According to this category, Redwood has less density and lower hardness value than hardwood trees. In addition, it is pretty high-cost-nearly twice expensive as pine wood.

However, despite its couple of flaws, Redwood is excellent for beginners exploring the woodworking field. Furthermore, this reddish wood is fire-resistant and rot-resistant, which makes it ideal for furniture or outdoor projects. 

Which type of wood is best to work with, in your opinion? Please, share your experience. If you have questions, do not be a stranger and ask away! 

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