17 Different Types of Pine Wood - Home Stratosphere

17 Different Types of Pine Wood for Floors and Furniture

Pine trees have a flexible wood which is durable and comes in a wide range of colors. It's also less expensive than other wood. Discover all the different types of pine wood you can use for flooring, furniture and cabinetry.

Log cabin interior with pine wood flooring

Where would society be without pine wood? Pine trees are easily the most commercially significant wood species in the history of forestry. Pine trees are coniferous trees that are part of the genus pinus, and the pinaceae botanical family. The genus consists of over 120 different pine species.

Pine lumber is a very flexible wood that is both durable and comes in a wide range of colors. It is used in all aspects of both raw construction and finer woodworking projects. Pine trees are a softwood species that grows extremely fast and in dense stands — this makes them the ideal tree species for the timber industry.

Pine trees are the most ubiquitous evergreen trees found in the northern hemisphere. In fact, the United States once was home to over 100 million acres of pine trees. Their number has since dwindled because of logging, but they remain as one of the most abundant trees in North America.

Pine is a wood type that has a multitude of uses. They have a very high value when it comes to all types of carpentry, including pine furniture making, window and door framing, panelling, pine wood flooring, and roofing. Keep reading to learn how you can incorporate this wood type into your next home project!

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History

Humans have been benefitting from pine wood for centuries. Pine trees were the first trees used to make log cabins! The earliest record of pine logging started from the 18th century when pine trees were chopped down and transported to mills by horses and the rushing torrents of rivers. Once in the mills, they were cut into boards and blocks to make furniture. Even today, the beautiful and varied wood of pine trees is used to make furniture and flooring.

Characteristics of Pine Trees

It is as equally important to be able to identify a tree species by its wood, as it is by its leaves, bark, and growth habit. Pines are evergreen conifers. This means that they possess needles that remain green and persist all year long, and that they produce cones instead of flowers as reproductive traits.

Looking down at an impressive stand of tall pine trees in a hardwood coniferous forest

Growth Pattern

Pine trees will vary in height depending on the species and growing location. They can be anywhere from a measly 10 feet tall, to a baffling 260 feet tall. They average out between 50-150 feet. The smallest known pine species is the Siberian pine, whereas the largest known pine species in the ponderosa pine.

These are also very long lived trees, as long as they can exist in their ideal growing conditions. Some will live to be 100 years old, while others can average at around 1000. The oldest known living specimen on the planet is a bristlecone pine that is 4,600 years old.

Leaves

Pine trees produce needle-like leaves. They emerge in clusters of needles called fascicles, and each fascicle will have between 1 and 7 individual needles. The needles are long, pointed, and will vary in different shades of green and blue/green.

Pine needles exhibit a spiral growth habit along the shoots of the tree. These spring shoots are commonly known as “candles”, because they stand erect like a candle might.

Bark

The bark of a pine tree will also vary depending on the species. There are some pine trees that grow very thick, scaly textured, dark brown bark, whereas others will grow very thin, flaky, and light grey bark.

Growing Regions of Pine Trees

Pine trees are wonderfully impressive trees. This is because they are able to withstand some of the coldest temperatures known on the planet, and some of the warmest temperatures known on the planet.

They have an extremely large growing range all over the northern hemisphere. They can be found in any number of habitats, from arid desert, to the rainforest, from dried out mountain areas, to right beside the ocean.

17 Types of Pine Wood

Pine trees can be divided into two main categories: soft pines and hard pines. It is important to know the distinction when choosing your preferred wood type, as each category has specific qualities.

Four types of pine wood

Soft pine trees are known for having low density and an even grain. This means that the growth from the earlywood to the latewood transition is more gradual, resulting in fewer growing pains (like “knotty pine”, spaces, etc). Soft pines include species like the sugar pine, western white pine, eastern white pine, and limber pine.

Hard pine trees are known for being both very hard and very dense but with an uneven grain. This is because there is a very abrupt transition from earlywood to latewood. Hard pines include species like the shortleaf pine, slash pine, longleaf pine, loblolly pine, sand pine, spruce pine, table mountain pine, pitch pine, Virginia pine, and pond pine.

Then there are the intermediate hardness pine tree species. This category consists of trees that carry qualities present in both the soft pine and hard pine category. This category includes the lodgepole pine and the ponderosa pine. This wood type is known for being more light weight but with an even grain even though there is abrupt earlywood to latewood transition.

Soft Pine Wood

This category is characterized by pine trees with low density, fine texture, small resin canals and even grain. The trees in this group are predominantly white soft wood pines, with heartwood of light brown color with a slight pinkish tint.

Its sapwood is very pale yellow to almost white. The wood is very durable and is resistant to swelling, splitting or warping. It has four prominent species: sugar pine, western white pine, eastern white pine and limber pine.

White Pine WoodWhite pine timber

1. The Sugar Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Lambertiana

Growing Range: Mountains of the Pacific coast of North America, from Oregon through California to Baja California.

Tree Size: 130-200 ft tall, 3-5 ft trunk diameter

Sugar pine is the largest species of pine tree and can attain a height of over 200 feet. Botanists have called it the most majestic species of pine in the world.

When sawn, sugar pine wood shows brown streaks from the resin canals in tree trunk. Out of the four prominent species, sugar pine has the coarsest texture and largest resin canals.

This valuable wood is used in fine millwork, including exterior and interior trim work, such as frames, moldings and sashes as well as making musical instruments like piano keys!

2. The Western White Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Monticola

Growing Range: The Sierra Nevada, the Cascade Range, the Coast Range and the northern Rocky Mountains.

Tree Size: 100-150 ft tall, 3-5 ft trunk diameter

Also known as silver pine, western white pine has an even grain and medium to coarse texture. The Western white wood is used to make plywood, veneer, boxed, wooden matches, interior millwork and construction lumber. Because of its even grain, the wood is ideal for carving and is prized for pattern making and fine furniture.

Unfortunately for the species, the western white pine tree population has been gravely damaged because of white pine blister rust, which is a fungus that quickly infects pine stands. Over 90% of the western white pine population has been taken out by this devastating invader.

3. The Eastern White Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Strobus

Growing Range: Eastern North America

Tree Size: 65-100 ft, 2-4 ft trunk diameter

Eastern white pine has a finer texture and smaller resins than the Western white pine and sugar pine. It is most commonly used as timber for construction in northeast United States. It is used in interior millwork, construction lumber, carving and boat-making. In fact, its wood once started a war.

The white wood was so prized in ship-making; the king of England would mark the biggest and best trees for his navy, resulting in the Pine Tree Riot of 1772, which also contributed to the Revolutionary War.

4. The Limber Pine Tree

Growing Range: Pinus Flexilis

Growing Range: Mountains of the Western United States, Mexico, and Canada

Tree Size: 40-50 ft tall, 2-3 ft trunk diameter

The limber pine tree is capable of living an extremely long time. The oldest known specimen is said to be over 2000 years old, and another at 1140 years old. This species graces the rocky mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Rocky Mountain White Pine or limber pine has very limited commercial value and is not used for limber. It is mostly used in fuelwood or rough construction. However, the limber pine is a very important member of the local forests and is a vital source of food and habitat for many animal and insect species.

Hard Pine Wood

Southern pine trees are the embodiment of perfect hard pine trees. Unlike soft pines, hard pines have a higher density, resulting in harder wood, uneven grain and an abrupt earlywood to latewood transition. Average dried weights for hard pine range from 28 to 42 pounds per cubic feet.

Southern pine lumber is extremely hard with a dried weight of 36 to 42 pounds per cubic feet. Their heartwood is reddish brown and their sapwood is yellowish white. Its four major species are the shortleaf pine, longleaf pine, slash pine and loblolly pine. It has several other minor species as well, like sand pine, spruce pine, table mountain pine, pitch pine, Virginia pine, and pond pine.

Hard pine wood is especially valuable because of the “heart pine”. Heart pine is the heartwood of any pine tree, which is basically the very centre of the tree trunk. Old growth heart pine is particularly valuable because it is extremely sturdy and beautiful, yet easy to work with.

This aspect of a pine tree can be used to create heart pine flooring, antique heart pine furniture, and many more attractive home additions.

Yellow Pine WoodSouthern yellow pine timber

5. The Shortleaf Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Echinata

Growing Range: Eastern United States

Tree Size: 65-100 ft tall, 2-3 ft trunk diameter

The shortleaf pine is a very important species to the forestry industry. It is fast growing and provides a wonderful habitat for various insect and animal species. Though sometimes exhibiting a crooked trunk, they are also important to the lumber industry.

Shortleaf pine is used for lumber production. What’s great about this beautiful wood is that it is quite affordable. The timber is used as a source of wood pulp, plywood veneer and lumber for heavy constructions like bridges, railroad tracks, beams and pulp.

6. The Longleaf Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Palustris

Growing Range: Southeastern United States

Tree Size: 100-115 ft tall, 2-3 ft trunk diameter

A tree that grows very prosperously in the southern United States, the longleaf pine tree is known as being a cultural symbol of the United States, and is the official state tree of Alabama. It is slow growing, but can live an average of 500 years!

The longleaf pine is prized because of its clear and straight wood, with few defects. It is used for timber and ship building. It is also used in interior and exterior construction; for stringers, poles, roof trusses, joists, piles, subflooring and sheathing.

7. The Slash Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Elliottii

Growing Range: Southeastern United States

Tree Size: 60-100 ft tall, 2-3 ft trunk diameter

The slash pine tree is best known for existing in remarkably swampy habitats. It is also known for having unusually high strength, as is one of the hardest hardwoods there is. It is comparable to ironwood!

The timber yielded from the slash pine is used in heavy construction, like beams, poles, bridges and railroad ties. It is also used as a source of plywood, wood pulp and veneers. More importantly than that, it is a very important pioneer habitat that repopulates areas that have experienced severe environmental distress.

8. The Loblolly Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Taeda

Growing Range: Southeastern United States

Tree Size: 100-115 ft tall, 1.5-5 ft trunk diameter

The strange thing about loblolly pine is that it does not have the characteristic scent of pine. The loblolly pine, like the slash pine, is used in heavy construction work like roof trusses, beams, stringers, joists and piles. However, it is also used to make furniture, wood floor boards, composite boards, pallets, boxes and plywood.

9. The Sand Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Clausa

Growing Range: Southeastern United States

Tree Size: 16-33 ft tall

The sand pine tree is a rather shrubby tree that grows in very specific regions of the southern United States. It will only grow across peninsular Florida and into the Alabama coast. This fire adaptive tree is very important to the Florida scrub.

The rather thin branches and trunks of the sand pine tree make it unsuitable for most woodworking tasks, though in its native growing region it is often used for wood pulp.

10. The Spruce Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Glabra

Growing Range: Coastal Plains of the Southern United States

Tree Size: 50-80 ft

Unlike other pine tree species that tend to grow in very dense and crowded stands of pure pine, the spruce pine tree can be found growing scattered amongst other hardwood forests in moist forest habitats.

This type of pine wood is often used for heavy construction purposes, and can be found on projects like bridge and railroad building, along with beams, poles, fences, plywood, and is also used popularly as wood pulp and veneer.

11. The Table Mountain Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Pungens

Growing Range: Appalachian Mountains of the United States

Tree Size: 20-40 ft

Because the table mountain pine tree tends to grow in scattered patches rather than large pure forests, it is a little bit more difficult to harvest them. Pure table mountain wood is rarely sold on its own, and will rather be sold in batches along with more consistent growing pine tree species.

Nevertheless, this fast growing, resilient hardwood tree is used for many different household projects, anywhere from flooring to pine wood furniture.

12. The Pitch Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Rigida

Growing Range: Eastern North America

Tree Size: 20-98 ft

The pitch pine tree is a valuable tree species because it can grow in very hostile environments that are low in nutrients, where other plants and trees cannot grow. It is also a “pioneer species”, meaning it is the first specimen to vegetate a location after it has experienced a disaster.

Pitch pines are known for having rather crooked trunks, and they don’t grow very fast either. But because it can grow in unfavorable sites, it can be used for commercial purposes in areas that may not very easily receive shipments of wood.

Historically, pitch timber was used for ship building, timber mines, railroad ties, and radio towers. Nowadays, it is used for rough construction projects, as well as pulpwood and as fuelwood.

13. The Virginia Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Virginiana

Growing Range: Appalachian Mountains of the United States

Tree Size: 18-59 ft, 20 inch trunk diameter

The Virginia pine tree is a wonderfully versatile pine tree species. It is long lived, fast growing, and has some pretty sturdy wood. It was traditionally used as mine timbers, as fuelwood, and to make railroad ties.

In modernity, it is a very good tree for reforestation and is important to its local ecosystems. They are a common Christmas tree farming choice, and they are also valuable to both the lumber and the wood pulp industry.

14. The Pond Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Serotina

Growing Range: Southeastern United States

Tree Size: 60-100 ft

Much like the pitch pine tree, the pond pine tree also tends to exhibit a rather wonky growth habit. However, because of their fast growth, long lives, and wonderfully tall tree trunks, they still hold some value for commercial distribution.

Because it is a southern yellow pine, it can be used for more heavy construction purposes. It goes into the making of bridges, railroad ties, beams, poles, as well as for plywood, veneers, and for pulpwood.

Intermediate Hardness Pine Wood

The wood of this group is not as hard as the Southern yellow pines but not as soft as white pines either. Although they have an abrupt earlywood to latewood transitions, their weight is considerably light (only 28 to 29 pounds per cubic feet of average dried weight) and they have a more even grain. Their two main species, lodgepole pine and ponderosa pine, are so similar, they are marketed interchangeably.

Ponderosa pine wood

15. The Lodgepole Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Contorta

Growing Range: Western North America

Tree Size: 65-100 ft tall, 1-2 ft trunk diameter; size varies widely depending upon subspecies

The lodgepole pine is named so because Native Americans used to use them to make tipis and lodges. This type of pine has at least three subspecies that vary from short stubby trees to tall and slender trees. The heartwood of this tree is light red-yellow brown and the sapwood is yellowish white. The heartwood color is not delineated from the sapwood color and when flat-sawn, the wood exhibits pronounced dimples. Lodgepole wood is used for plywood, veneer, subflooring, sheathing, cabinetry, interior trim, poles and construction lumber.

16. The Ponderosa Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Ponderosa

Growing Range: Western United States and Canada

Tree Size: 100-165 ft tall, 2-4 ft trunk diameter

The heartwood of Ponderosa pine is light red-yellow brown and the sapwood is yellowish white but unlike the lodgepole pine, they are demarcated. Ponderosa pine also have similar, though less prominent, dimpling than lodgepole pine.

The clear wood of Ponderosa pine is used for building doors, sashes, blinds, moldings, cabinetry, sheathing and subflooring. It is used to make crates and boxes as well. Knotty Ponderosa pine is a popular choice for interior woodwork

Red Pine WoodRed pine timber

This group only has one species in the United States and is related to two species found in Europe; the Austrian Pine and Scots Pine. Red pine wood has a category all on its own.

17. The Red Pine Tree

Scientific Name: Pinus Resinosa/Pinus Sylvestris

Growing Range: North America

Tree Size: 65-100 ft tall, 2-3 ft trunk diameter

Red pine is also called Norway pine, which is quite puzzling, since the species is not native to Norway. Some believe that the name arose when early European explorers mixed up the tree with Norway spruce.

Red Pine has a light reddish brown heartwood and pale yellow to nearly white sapwood. The grain of this wood is straight and even with a medium texture, not too fine but not too coarse either. It also has a somewhat oily feel.

The timber of red pine is used for poles, cabin logs, railway ties, lumber, pulpwood, fuel and construction lumber.

Uses of Pine Trees

FlooringPine tree timber used in flooring

Because of its beautiful colors, which range from almost pure white to reddish brown, pine wood is a popular choice for floorings. The timber is relatively soft and does not have the hard, brittle feel of other hardwoods.

Pine flooring comes in tongue and grove planking. Its planks are very smooth with almost no defects. However some believe, pine trees planks with knots, color variations and swirls — which are characteristics of lower grade flooring — actually look better, because they add character. Pine planks fit very tightly together and do not shift or move when hit with a mallet or block.

Trims and MoldingsYellow pine tree wood used for trim

One of the biggest uses of pine tree limber is as a trim product. The wood is used for doors and window frames, cabinets, baseboards, chair rails, fascia, picture frames, brick molds and crown molds. Since many types of pine have soft wood, it is flexible and can bend easily to fit into every nook and cranny. The wood can easily be patched, sanded and finished as nails drive into it easily.

Pine wood is also marketed as paint-grade because it takes tints well and comes in affordable prices. Oils, stains and clear finishes are used in pine moldings, giving the fixtures and furniture a rustic look, especially when cabinetry units are made.

DecksA deck or patio made from white pine timber

Pressure-treated pine is one of the most affordable options for deck building. If treated every year with water-repellant, pine can grow for up to 15 years! Some builders use pressure-treated pine for all types of framing, because of its moisture-resistant quality and use composites for deck board. Pine that is not pressure-treated should not be used for building decks at home.

In Conclusion..

Pine trees can have a life of 100 years to thousands of years. In fact, one Great Basin bristlecone pine is 5,068 years old. The original number of pines in North America has dwindled to a fraction of their population because of deforestation. Now, however, measures are being taken to replace the cut-down pine trees. Fortunately, these trees grow quickly, with some fast-growing varieties growing two feet or more each year.

If you are pining for some pine tree wood for your home, check out the above types. We are sure you’ll find one that best fits your home.

Return to all hardwood types here.

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