Hardwood or softwood – which timber to choose for outdoor use?


Proper exterior decoration requires not only top-quality materials but above all, thorough knowledge of what material to use for which tasks. Choosing the right wood for exterior decorating in London is a dilemma that often appears in the questions of our customers. In this article, we will explain which timber we consider best for outdoor work, which timber species to consider and why. Here you will learn about the difference between using hardwood and softwood for outdoor construction work.

Outdoor decoration timber choice – what to consider?

Before learning the ins and outs of each timber type, right at the very beginning, it is important to understand – there is no one “best” type of timber for exterior work. While there are types of wood which are better suited to withstand the harsh outdoor conditions, the most important question that has to be answered at the very beginning is – what is the purpose?

Depending on the purpose, a different kind of wood might be a better choice. That’s why, when choosing the wood for exterior decorating in London, we first ask our clients what exactly it is that they want to achieve. Only then we can point towards the best choice of wood for that specific situation.

An example of such a dilemma would be when our client does not require a permanent, lasting solution, but instead, he would like to perform some decorating on a smaller budget. In this case, we recommend the use of softwood – which, for the most part, is cheaper than hardwood (that is not always the case, but a general trend).

However, more often than not, the durability of our work is of the utmost importance. That is why we usually recommend using hardwood for outdoor decorating and renovations.

Quality materials are a sound investment

Speaking from the years of experience in providing exterior decorating in London and exterior painting in London, we can say that investing in top-grade materials is always a good idea. Considering that labour cost does not change whether the materials are low-key or top-grade, the value-to-the-price ratio is always better in the case of good materials. Be it filling materials, resins, glues or timber itself – it is the smart approach to choose a lasting solution.

For this reason, when we deal with exterior renovation in London, when the budget allows it, we opt for durable, high-quality timber. Typical outside renovation works of wooden elements include refreshing windows, doors, wooden decorative elements and so on – and our work must be visible for years to come, not mere months. That is why, for exterior decoration works, we most often recommend hardwood.

Hardwood and softwood for exterior renovation – what is the difference?

Hardwood and softwood offer different properties and possibilities, and to understand their use inexterior decorating works and outdoor renovations, it is best to learn a bit more about their differences:

  • Hardwood – it is typically a more dense, durable type of wood. This is due to the fact that hardwoods (which are harvested from broad-leaved trees) grow slower, producing wood of a more composed and complex structure. This is why it is the preferred type of timber for construction and decoration – it is stronger, more durable and lasts longer. This is especially important for outdoor use, where sturdiness and durability are the most important, as thedecoration or a piece of furniture has to withstand harsh conditions for years to come. Some examples of hardwood include teak, iroko, meranti, oak, maple, walnut and beech.
    Hardwood is typically more expensive than softwood, but at the same time requires less maintenance.
  • Softwood – it is usually the more budget-friendly option when choosing timber for decoration and construction purposes. Softwood is acquired by harvesting conifers, which grow faster. As a result, softwood is easier to come by and cheaper. While not as durable and sturdy as hardwood, it is generally lighter and more flexible. It is usually used for indoor works and decoration. From softwood, we can produce fibreboards, plywood, mouldings, construction framing, windows and the like. While softwood can be used for exterior decorating, it requires more maintenance in the form of impregnates. It decays faster and is less resistant.

As you can see, hardwood is the heavy-duty materials, while softwood is the preferred type of timber when looking a flexible, not-so-durable but still reliable, material.

Hardwood vs. Softwood for Outdoor – final verdict

Time for the final verdict. What do we advise to use for exterior decorating in London in terms of the type of timber?

If we take budget out of the equation, for us, hardwood is the clear winner. It is durable, resistant, requires much less maintenance and doesn’t decay as fast, meaning you only invest once – and then can enjoy the beautiful, quality decoration. It is the quality, lasting solution.

If you’re on a budget or do not need for the work to last (for example, you have an another, main renovation planned), softwood can be the way to go. It is just okay – but sometimes, this is all you need. For temporary solutions, softwood can do the trick.

We hope this article helped you decide between hardwood and softwood for your outdoor decoration project. As always, if you have any further questions or would like to hire an experienced exterior decorating or exterior painting company in London, do not hesitate to contact us!

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