AskDefine | Define hardwood

Dictionary Definition

hardwood adj : made of the hard-to-cut wood of a broad-leaved tree, as e.g. oak; "hardwood floors" [ant: softwood] n : the wood of broad-leaved dicotyledonous trees (as distinguished from the wood of conifers)

User Contributed Dictionary



hardwood (countable and uncountable)
  1. (mostly in botany and forestry) The wood from any dicotyledonous tree, without regard to its hardness.
    Balsa is a hardwood, but a soft hardwood.
  2. (in more general use) As the preceding but limited to those that are commercial timbers, and are at least average in hardness.
    In the USA, ash, hickory and oak are some of the most prominent domestic hardwoods.
  3. (forestry) The tree or tree species that yields the preceding.
    This hardwood has been planted extensively throughout the hills here.
  4. A joint term for the commercial timbers, without distinguishing which.
    You should have used hardwood for this window sill instead of this junk.


See also

Extensive Definition

The term hardwood designates wood from broad-leaved (mostly deciduous, but not necessarily, in the case of tropical trees) or angiosperm trees. Hardwood contrasts with softwood, which comes from conifer trees. On average, hardwood is of higher density and hardness than softwood, but there is considerable variation in actual wood hardness in both groups, with a large amount of overlap; some hardwoods (e.g. balsa) are softer than most softwoods, while yew is an example of a hard softwood. Hardwoods have broad leaves and enclosed nuts or seeds such as acorns. They often grow in subtropical regions like Africa and also in Europe and other regions such as Asia. The dominant feature separating hardwoods from softwoods is the presence of pores, or vessels.
Hardwood species are more varied than softwood. There are about a hundred times as many hardwood species as softwoods. The vessels may show considerable variation in size, shape of perforation plates (simple, scalariform, reticulate, foraminate), and structure of cell wall (e.g. spiral thickenings).
Hardwoods are employed in a large range of applications including (but not limited to): construction, furniture, flooring, utensils, etc.
Hardwoods are generally more resistant to decay than softwoods when used for exterior work. However, solid hardwood joinery is expensive compared to softwood (in the past, tropical hardwoods were easily available but the supply is now restricted due to sustainability issues) and most "hardwood" doors, for instance, now consist of a thin veneer bonded to medium-density fibreboard (MDF).

See also

Wood flooring


  • Schweingruber, F.H. (1990) Anatomie europäischer Hölzer—Anatomy of European woods. Eidgenössische Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landscaft, Birmensdorf (Hrsg,). Haupt, Bern und Stuttgart.
  • Timonen, Tuuli (2002). Introduction to Microscopic Wood Identification. Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki.
  • Wilson, K., and D.J.B. White (1986). The Anatomy of Wood: Its Diversity and variability. Stobart & Son Ltd, London. xx
hardwood in Danish: Hårdttræ
hardwood in German: Hartholz
hardwood in French: Bois dur
hardwood in Macedonian: Тврдо дрво
hardwood in Dutch: Hardhout
hardwood in Chinese: 硬木
hardwood in Finnish: Kovapuu
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