Pine wood is one of the most affordable softwood used in many woodworking projects. It’s becoming increasingly popular, so knowing its limitations can help you anticipate fixes or repairs for your wood projects.
Here, our woodworking experts will share the key disadvantages of pine wood, specifically for outdoor applications and building houses. Keep reading to learn more!
Advantages of Pine Wood
Although pine wood is a softwood, it has the strength to support residential framing and flooring purposes like hardwood. It’s a more affordable option than other wood-making woods and is easier to work with despite being a medium-weight wood.
Pine is the right choice for woodworking because it has lesser chances of wear and tear, making it durable as decorative items and storage wood furniture.
The light color and natural wood patterns of pine accentuates designs well on projects, and can help you achieve your preferred patterns and styles easily.
Here is the list of why pinewood is beneficial to your wood project.
9 Drawbacks Of Pine Wood
Pinewood has several disadvantages you should consider. To give you all the details, here are the major drawbacks of using pine wood.
1. Prone to Scratches and Dents
Pine wood is more prone to scratches and dents than most wood types, which has a higher hardness and is denser, with a Janka hardness rating of 1,360 lbf.
Depending on pine varieties, pine wood Janka hardness ratings are 870 lbf (3,870 N) for Yellow pine trees and 380 lbf (1,690 N) for White pine trees specie.
The Janka hardness test is a standard procedure to test a wood’s hardness – the higher the Janka hardness rating, the higher its resistance to scratches, wear, and dent.
Pine has lower resistance to wear and tear because it has a low density and hardness, like oak, cedar, spruce, and hemlock. Using it as flooring is not ideal because it cannot withstand foot traffic. It is also not the right choice for kitchen fittings like cupboards and countertops.
This is one of the drawbacks of pine that you can fix by rubbing the scratched area with sandpaper or fine-grade steel wool.
Ensure the marks are gone before wiping them using a lint-free, dry cloth. However, applying a proper sealer or finisher can keep pine wood in good condition – resistant to dents and scratches.
One of the disadvantages of this lumber is having more knots, causing an uneven appearance. Knotty pine wood is less durable than regular pines or those without knot areas.
Knotty pine is lightweight, making a weaker foundation for furniture, and may reduce the attractiveness of your pine wood furniture because of the knots.
Although you can use pine for your interior wood projects for a modern look, only limited furniture-making allows you to use knotty pine wood. Some of these are decking, flooring, window frames, and paneling.
Pinewood being knotty is a natural occurrence in its trees because the wood grain deviates from accommodating wood inside the branches. Many knots also appeared after branches were broken or cut off.
So, there’s a high probability of getting pine wood with knots for your woodworking projects. But you can check the texture of pine wood before purchasing, preventing uneven surfaces and less durable pine furniture foundations for woodworking projects.
3. Poor Resistance to Weather
Pine woods are not weather resistant because their fibers break under rough weather conditions and extreme temperatures. The wood cracks easily, primarily when used as outdoor pine wood furniture.
Pine woods can only withstand too much exposure to heat and rain without proper sealant and finisher. Water can penetrate untreated wood, and the heat can crack and split the wood, causing the wood to be damaged, rot or decay. It can lose strength and dimensional stability.
This is one of the disadvantages of this wood type. However, you can prevent the wood from breaking by applying proper sealant, stain, or finisher before placing pine wood furniture outside. This will ensure tolerance for frequent weather fluctuations and harsh elements.
4. Hard to Stain
Does pine wood stain well? In fact, pine woods are hard to stain well because it quickly takes stain with their porous and dense fibers and penetrates quickly into the wood. This type of wood requires four to five stain coats which turn into a blotchy surface because of the thickness it produces.
A blotchy or tacky surface results from the huge thickness of the stain on the surface, resulting in a longer drying time. A sticky finish may come from staining the wood while the wood is wet.
But this is one of the disadvantages you can resolve by applying a pre-stain wood conditioner or primer before staining pine furniture. This will help the pine wood surface takes paint or stains evenly, preventing blotchy or tacky texture.
When you stain pine furniture after wood conditioning, ensure to work with the direction of the wood grain and apply only two to three coats of stain. The stain will give your wood a consistent stain application, and your wood will have an additional layer of protection from harsh elements.
5. Gets Darker With Age
Pinewood has its original light wood color, and it gets darker or reddish over time if prolonged exposure to sunlight. It is also caused by air oxidation of the wood finishes, such as water-based stains or paint products.
As it ages, other pine wood turns from light to a darker golden color with a rich look. Depending on your pine wood furniture style and designs, some woodworkers appreciate the darkening of pine wood, but others still prefer the original light color.
So, if you want to retain the original light color of your pine furniture, apply a clear proper sealer or finisher like mineral spirits. This will protect your wood from the air, chemicals, scratches, and sunlight.
6. Lots of wood movements
Pinewood loses its dimensional strength because the shifting temperature and humidity make the soft wood move irregularly. It can expand and shrink, depending on whether the water penetrates the wood or evaporates from the wood.
Wood deformation  is one of the disadvantages of this wood, which affects the stability of the wood. The water penetrates the pine wood when the humidity is high, which makes the pine sink or warp. When the temperature is high, the wood fibers expand, causing it to crack and split.
Therefore, apply wood sealant and finisher to slow the pine wood’s irregular movements before using it on your furniture. The adhesive will keep the water outside of the wood and secure the bond of wood fibers, preventing it from warping, cracking, and twisting.
7. Requires Regular Maintenance
Since pine is prone to scratches and dents, wood deformations, and darkening of color, it requires regular maintenance and extra care. Unlike oak or maple, pine has a porous surface where contaminants can easily penetrate the wood.
Pinewood has soft fibers, and, if not properly sealed, the wood will deform due to shifting temperatures and humidity. Also, this wood is not ideal for outdoor use because it is not resistant to harsh elements such as chemicals, water, dirt, and ultraviolet from sunlight.
If you have some pine wood furniture, place it in the shade or limit its exposure to outside. Although sealant or finisher added a protective layer to the pine wood surface, it only had a minimal effect.
Because of the nicks and dents to your pine wood, you need to refinish it occasionally to maintain your piece in good condition. Otherwise, your wood will have a weathered look, with uneven texture, deformations, and other disadvantages possible in your wood projects.
8. Less Flexible
Among the disadvantages of pine wood is it’s less flexible. This means it can be used for most furniture pieces but not on modern homes and wood furniture.
By applying distressing techniques, you can only use pine furniture for a rustic or country style. Otherwise, it is not the right choice for outdoor wooden furniture.
9. Expands Easily
One of the disadvantages of this wood is that it quickly expands as it is not stable and durable wood as oak. This wood has soft fibers and a porous surface, causing the water to trap inside the wood and resulting in the wood’s warping and splitting.
The occurrence of irregular movement of pine wood fibers causes this.
Uses of Pine Wood
Pine has a wide array of use, and most of it involves all types of carpentry. You can use it for window and door framing, cabinetry, furniture making, paneling, flooring, and decking. You can also use pine wood for shipbuilding, instrument making, and crafting because it is lightweight.
Pine is easy to cut and shape, but the strength and durability of this wood have limitations on woodworking projects. The original light color of pine is also a gain of every woodworker in using this wood for attractive pine wood furniture and decorations.
Wood is known to be a building’s thermal source, making pine wood one of the best thermal performance to insulate a home. It’s also highly resistant to insect damage and rot, making it ideal for fences, decks, and outdoor structures.
In addition, knotty pine makes carving sculptures and decorative items more attractive. You can also have pine wood for landscaping, gardens project, and other rustic furniture.
Can You Use Pine Outdoors?
Pine is not suitable for outdoor use, unlike most hardwoods, which is one of its disadvantages. It’s a less durable softwood with a porous surface that can absorb moisture and water quickly.
So pine wood deforms over time. If you use it for outdoor pine wood furniture, apply pre-stain wood conditioner before applying stain or finishing products. You must maintain the pine wood surface by applying sealant or varnish regularly.
Although not ideal outdoors, you can seal its pores using a quality wood sealer. This will keep the moisture and water from penetrating the wood.
One option if you are going to use pine outdoors, choose a pressure-treated pine wood. This type of wood has a longer lifespan than regular and knotty pine wood.
Besides, it requires less maintenance. You can use high-quality waterproof wax or pine oil to keep it in good condition and prevent the disadvantages while woodworking.
Is it Good for Building a House?
Pine wood is the right choice for your house or residential construction because it is widely available. Pine is abundant, which makes it accessible and inexpensive for your woodworking projects.
When properly treated or conditioned, pine wood resists splitting, warping, shrinking, and twisting. It has a natural insulating property ideal for houses in areas with cold weather.
With pine wood as your floors, cabinets, and walls, interior wood surfaces are aesthetically attractive and have more rustic or country styles.
Pinewood as house frames and other constructions can last over 20 years if the wood has been stained, treated, or conditioned. Wood framings need to undergo wood treatment to protect them from pests and decay.
Is Pine Wood Toxic?
Pine is a non-toxic wood. Therefore, you can use it safely for furniture and children’s toys.
However, it contains natural oils that cause skin irritation but is not considered toxic. Using pine for furniture and other wood construction supports sustainability and is an environmentally friendly option in choosing lumber.
Is Pine Wood Resistant to Water? How About Termites?
Pine is not water resistant and susceptible to pests and termite infestations compared to hardwood. This is one of the major disadvantages of pine wood when used as furniture.
Pine offers better resistance to moisture than other softwoods. But to achieve water-resistant pine wood furniture, apply proper sealing and finishing.
You can use polyurethane, lacquer, varnish, or tung oil on pine to add a protective layer from any substance that can penetrate the wood. Pressure-treated pine wood can last 50 years, even for outdoor use.
Pine wood furniture is susceptible to termites and other pest infestations. To keep your wood from decaying or rotting due to infestation, paint or add a coating as protective layers.
Does Pine Have Tannins?
Pinewood has tannins, considered below the average in regular pine wood. But pine with knots contains high tannins or resins, particularly in the knot areas. All timber contains tannings that bleed the wood furniture if not correctly sealed or conditioned before painting or staining.
Tannins appear if the wood furniture has a high moisture content, affecting the pine’s light color. So to make your wood ideal and the right choice, remove the tannins using an oxalic acid-based solution or white spirits. Then rinse it with water and let it dry for 48 hours.
You can use any light shade of the best oil-based primers and a polyurethane top coat to prevent tannins from appearing while keeping the aesthetic grain patterns of pine.
Is Pine Wood Cheap?
Other than disadvantages, using pinewood has gained, such as it is cheaper than hardwood, like cherry or walnut. The estimated pine wood cost is around $2.50 to $7 per board foot. But depending on your location, pine may be more expensive than other woods.
Knotty pine wood is cheaper because of its uneven appearance but can be used in most woodworking projects. This wood is affordable and easy to work with, making it ideal for furniture-making.
How Long Can Pine Wood Last?
Pinewood has a lifespan from two to five years, depending on the treatment of your wood.
For example, knotty pine has a three to five years lifespan if finished or appropriately treated. Sugar pine can surpass the 2-year mark, but this specie has limitations on furniture and other wood projects requiring detailing.
Yellow pine has the most extended lifespan among pine species which could reach five years, despite its disadvantages in woodworking.
What’s the Tensile Strength of Pine?
Pinewood has 27,000 to 52,000 psi (pounds per square inch) tensile strength based on the pine species, grain orientation, age, and other factors. The structural strength is higher if the grain is horizontal and the wood has aged. Hence, it continues to be durable and cured over time.
For example, western white pine ranges from 31- 44- to 57,000 psi, Southern yellow pine has 22- to 37,000 psi, and longleaf pine has 52,000 psi.
Pine Wood vs Oak: Which is Stronger?
Oak is stronger than pine wood, but pine is still the right choice for wood furniture. This wood has many advantages, including its light color and appealing wood patterns.
Most hardwoods, like oak, have a natural resistance to insect and termite infestation and a good resistance to rot. It has excellent durability and is heavyweight because of the interlocking grain, which pine wood lacks as a softwood.
Pine Gets Wet: What Will Happen?
Unlike most hardwoods, pine has no natural waterproof ability and does not offer good resistance to warping, rot, and discoloration. If the pine stays wet over time, mold and mildew accumulate, increasing damage to your wood and changing its light color to weathered gray.
Therefore, when untreated pine gets wet, you should dry the wood entirely and as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it will eventually rot and decay from exposure as early as six months until a year.
But properly sealed or treated pine wood offers good resistance to water and moisture. You can have your pine wood furniture in good condition for 10 to 15 years. Also, treated wood is resistant to scratches, dent, decay, and rotting, especially outdoors.
The lower density makes the wood split easily. Pine wood can also crack or break after wetting and dries out often. The cracking and splitting of the wood is because pine has a lower moisture content, and the air fills up the spaces.
How to Waterproof Pine Wood
Waterproofing pine wood is essential to prevent the furniture from rotting or decaying after prolonged exposure to water or moisture. Here are the basic steps to make pine wood resistant to any liquid substance.
Step #1: You must prepare the materials, including quality waterproofing sealer, sandpaper, stiff brush, and tack cloth.
Step #2: Use water and a stiff brush to remove the residues, including raised grain, on your furniture.
Step #3: Using sandpaper, you should also remove the dust, dirt, and debris. When sanding, work in the direction of the grain.
Step #4: Remove the sand dust using a tack cloth and ensure no impurities are left on the surface so you will have a uniform texture once sealed.
Step #5: Paint a waterproof varnish or sealer once the surface is smoothened. You must use a brush and work along the direction of the grain. Ideally, apply two to three coats of waterproofing but ensure every coat is dry completely before applying the next layer.
We recommend a clear oil-based sealer or stain since pine wood has an attractive grain pattern that looks appealing to your pine furniture.
Step #6: After the sealer has dried completely, you can use exterior polyurethane paint for protective coatings. This will prevent the pine wood furniture from getting scratched and keep water or moisture from penetrating the wood.
Which Wood Type Holds the Most Weight?
Other wood types that can hold the most weight depend on the variety of the lumber. Each type of wood has different characteristics, including density, tensile strength, Janka hardness, and resistance to harsh elements.
Softwoods like fir, cedar, and pine have soft fibers which can easily bend, dent, and scratch. They can hold considerable weight when used properly and undergo kiln-drying lamination and waterproofing.
However, softwoods hold less weight than hardwood can. In construction projects, you can rely on most hardwoods, such as oak, hickory, ash, maple, walnut, and elm, giving you a durable and strong wood foundation.
Most disadvantages of pine wood are realized when its preparation does not include pre-stain wood conditioning or sealing before painting or staining.
Now that you know all the disadvantages you might encounter, you can start making pine furniture properly – no more trial and error.
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