The two main types of timber you will see in the industry is softwood and hardwood. Roughly 80% of timber will be softwood but that doesn’t always mean that it is the right product for the job.
A misconception is that all hardwoods are harder (denser) and softwoods are the opposite (less dense). But species such as Balsa wood are considered a hardwood despite having a lighter density. This is because the discerning difference between both is how they reproduce.
Generally softwood comes from coniferous trees such as pine or birch, that keep their leaves all year round. These are gymnosperms that have seeds (like pine cones) that fall to the ground. Once matured these seeds are opened to the wind are can spread over a wide distance. Hardwood trees are angiosperms which will typically shed their leaves during the colder months. Their seeds are normally covered (such as fruit or acorns) and in most cases are a slower growing tree.
Softwood can be a lighter wood that is easy to cut. As such it is ideal in the construction industry and the majority of timber framed buildings will use softwood for roofing and interior walls.