Is Pine Wood Strong for Furniture, Shelves, and Other Pieces?

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You might be intrigued to discover that pine wood is a favored choice among furniture makers and carpenters. Its affordability and appealing grain pattern make it stand out. But here’s the real question: Is pine wood strong enough for the job?

Don’t be fooled by its classification as a softwood. Let me enlighten you with the surprising strength that lies within pine wood. This hidden sturdiness makes it an ideal choice for crafting stunning, durable woodwork and furniture that will last.

Pine Wood Strength Overview

pine wood strength overview

Pine is a softwood that can outperform others. So, let’s delve into the key factors that make soft pine wood strong.

The several varieties of pine wood are as follows:

Properties

Eastern/Western White Pine Wood

Yellow Pine Wood

Compressive strength

4800psi

8470psi

Hardness

380lb

870lb

Density

0.35

0.59

Bending strength

8600psi

14500psi

Stiffness

1.24Mpsi

1.98Mpsi

Yellow pine wood stands out when it comes to factors like density, hardness, and stiffness, often giving many hardwoods a run for their money. It’s not only strong but also relatively lightweight and user-friendly. 

However, it’s essential to keep in mind that there are hardwood options out there that might offer even greater durability. So, while yellow pine is an excellent choice, explore your alternatives wisely to find the perfect match for your needs.

What is Pine Lumber Best Used For?

When pressure-treated, pine wood can be a great choice for outdoor decking since forests naturally don’t have high levels of resistance to insects or deterioration. But how you can treat pine wood for outdoor use? Find out next!

Pressure-treating increases its durability, fire resistance, and resistance to rot, fungi, and insects. Making pine wood strong.

pine lumber used for

It is also a great option inside the house for baseboards, door frames, window trim, picture frames, and chair rails since it’s lightweight and easy to work with.

Is it Good for Making Furniture?

Pine wood is often used for furniture due to its strength, despite being a softwood with low density.

Although pine is a softwood, the compressive and bending strength is higher than some hardwoods. This is what makes pine a strong wood, making it a durable material for both interior and exterior furnishings.

It can be readily shaped using saws, lathes, or routers; however, it is crucial to proceed with caution and work at a slower pace to avoid any tearing or damage to the material.

It is important to sharpen your tools beforehand, and sanding should always be done with fine-grit sandpaper (80 – 400). To finish the pine wood furniture properly, use staining.

pine wood furniture

What Is the Strongest Wood for Furniture?

Oak is the strongest and best wood for furniture making, while pine wood is one of the most durable lumber options for furniture. Oak is commonly used for top-end pieces of furniture and can last centuries but is typically quite pricey.

Meanwhile, pine wood is a more affordable and right wood option; however, it may get scratched often. Pine wood works great for day-to-day furniture making and projects, but Oak owns this category as the best wood when it comes to strength and longevity.

Is Pine Good for Stairs?

Pine is a great choice for stairs as it’s easy to work with, sand, and finish. It’s also stronger than most wood and won’t decay. One drawback of pine stairs is that they can be damaged easily and are not as strong wood or durable as most hardwoods.

If you have pets with claws, we wouldn’t recommend pine staircases as they could easily be scratched.

pine wood stairs

Between yellow and white pine, yellow is denser and more robust, so most people opt for it. Pinewood takes well to paint and stain too.

How About Shelves?

Pinewood may not be strong enough to use for shelves; it can sag under excessive weight ratio, dent, and scratch easily.

Therefore, while we can use it on certain occasions, harder woods such as cherry, birch, and maple are better suited for shelf-making due to their bending strengths and durability.

Plus, when using pine wood for shelves, you may need additional support for extended spans and regular upkeep, which requires both time and money. If you want the look of pine wood without the drawbacks, it’s best to opt for a stain.

Is Pine Strong for a Bed Frame?

Certainly, when it comes to crafting bed frames, pine wood is an excellent choice. It boasts versatility, affordability, and robustness, making it a top pick. Pine also maintains its shape well and takes to paint effortlessly, making your DIY project a breeze. 

On top of that, it holds up admirably against moisture and stands strong against the threat of decay and rot. Rest assured, pine is a dependable material for crafting bed frames that will endure the test of time.

pine wood bed frame

The downside of a bed frame made out of softwood than hardwood is that it can be easily scratched and dented if not taken care of properly. Be sure to examine the length of the planks as well since longer pieces won’t be able to support the heavyweights of the bed frame.

Nonetheless, pine wood is strong enough to hold two full-grown people, two mattresses, pillows, and blankets over time, thanks to its superior dimensional stability of the bed frame.

Even if you’re a beginner in woodworking for a bed frame, you won’t have any trouble with drilling, sanding, or screwing because of pinewood’s ease.

Is it Ideal for Dining Tables?

Pine wood is an excellent choice for a dining table due to its strength and durability; it is especially resistant to shrinkage, making it a common choice for dining tables.

Unfortunately, many people focus on luxurious materials instead of taking into account that good old pine wood would do the job just fine.

pine wood dining tale

That being said, you can use pine wood for the tabletop of your dining table and opt for metal legs for added longevity. But if you want a full pine wood table, you’ll be happy to know that is also an option!

What’s the Strongest Pine Wood? And How Is it Compared to Other Wood?

This medium-high strength wood, but one of the strongest softwoods, is perfect for crafting sturdy furniture like bed frames and chairs. 

However, be mindful of its soft grain structure or being a softwood, as it is prone to scratches making it unsuitable for decorative items. Here are some common woods and their ratings.

Various Wood Types

Janka Hardness (higher to lower)

Tensile Strength of Other Woods

White Oak Tree

1,360 lbf

770 psi

Red Oak

1,290 lbf

798 psi

Paper Birch

910 lbf

380 psi

Longleaf pine

870 lbf

290 psi

Shortleaf Pine

690 lbf

280 psi

Poplar

540 lbf

460 psi

White Cedar

350 lbf

218 psi

Pine vs Plywood

In most people’s eyes, plywood is often seen as not as strong as solid wood. But, interestingly, certain types of plywood can actually be tougher than pine wood. Take pine plywood, for example; it can withstand more bending force before it snaps compared to solid pine wood.

pine vs plywood

Two factors contribute to making any plywood stronger than pine: the number of layers and the type of adhesives used to bond them. If these two elements are combined properly, then plywood can easily surpass the strength of solid pine.

Pine vs Poplar

When it comes to strength, poplar wood is slightly stronger than pine, but yellow pine is the strongest of the two compared. White pine, on the other hand, is much weaker. 

The Janka Hardness values give us an indication of their respective strengths. Poplar is 540 lb while Yellow Pine is at 870 lb, and White Pine comes in at 380 lb. 

Pine vs Cedar

Though often considered softwood, cedar wood is much stronger and more durable than pine wood. It’s also resistant to warping and shrinking. When looking at Janka hardness values, pine wood is much harder than cedar.

Red cedar is 350 lb, while Cedar is 320 lb., Yellow pine shows 870 lb, and White pine shows 380 lb. To get a similar durability as cedar, many people choose to use pine wood as an alternative.

pine vs cedar

Pine vs Oak Wood

While both Pine and Oak boast strength, durability, and lasting power, Pine often comes with a budget-friendly price tag compared to Oak. 

So, if the economics of your project can’t quite justify the expense of Oak lumber, Pine offers ample strength and is probably the optimal wood choice for your needs.

Pinewood Pros and Cons

Pinewood certainly has its advantages, but it’s not the only material used for making wood products. It’s not always the number one choice either; certain limitations make it less than ideal in some scenarios.

Pinewood Pros

Let’s examine all the beneficial aspects of pinewood to have an unbiased opinion about it since there are many misunderstandings regarding this type of lumber. Here are some of the advantages of pine wood properties without any myths attached to this softwood:

It Doesn’t Warp

Natural wood may not warp as much as vinyl or laminate, but it can still shrink or expand depending on temperature and humidity.

pine vs oakwood

Pinewood, however, remains relatively stable even under normal circumstances, so you won’t notice any warping. That’s because Pinewood doesn’t shrink as much compared to other materials in the same conditions. Here’s a table showing this:

Type of Wood

Tangential Shrinkage

White Oak

10.5%

Red Oak

12%

Paper Birch

8.6%

Longleaf pine Woods

7.5%

Shortleaf Pine Woods

7.7%

Poplar

7.1%

Cedar

4.9%

Easier to Work With

Finishing a project with oak is highly rewarding, but I don’t miss the amount of time it takes to craft the item. Working with hardwood can be difficult. Pinewood, however, is lightweight, has bending strength, and can be conveniently moved to other places.

This makes building projects effortless and transportation very manageable. Additionally, pinewood doesn’t fight against your tools and is much lighter than other types of wood.

pine wood compare to other woods

It’s also easier on your tools too! In terms of density, here’s how pinewood compares to other types of wood.

Type of Wood

Density Rating

White Oak

37 – 56 lb/ft3

Red Oak

45 lb/ft3

Paper Birch

38.6 lb/ft3

Longleaf pine

29 lb/ft3

Shortleaf Pine

35.6 lb/ft3

Poplar

22 – 31 lb/ft3

White Cedar

23 lb/ft3

Durable

It shouldn’t be underestimated how lightweight pinewood is; this type of lumber is tough enough for both hardwood and softwood applications. Additionally, in certain cases, stair treads made of pine are quite suitable, which makes pine stronger.

Not Expensive

The affordability of pinewood is often a deciding factor when it comes to choosing wood for projects. Typically, projects with tight budgets require wood that is equally strong yet cheaper than other materials, and pine fits the bill!

Here are some easy-on-the-wallet DIY pinewood projects you can make from home:

pine wood DIY projects
Decent Moisture Resistance

When it comes to moisture absorption, pine is the ideal choice for certain outdoor areas or places with higher humidity [1]. 

Even though it can be scratched from impact, pinewood won’t easily rot if exposed to moisture. However, it’s best to finish the surfaces as an added precaution.

Pleasant Grain

Pinewood’s grain is attractive, and it’s pleasant to the touch, making it an advantage, especially when the thing is a help or easy to reach.

Pinewood Cons

All types of lumber have their limitations, and this is true for pinewood as well. Below are the cons of pine wood properties.

Prone to Dents

Using pinewood regularly can lead to scratches on its surface. It’s hard to dent it and damage its core with usual use, but it’s surprisingly easy to put dents on its wood because of its low density.

Requires More Paint

Paint doesn’t adhere well to pine, so you’ll need more of it to cover the wood. If money is your priority, then pine shouldn’t be your go-to option if painting is necessary for the project.

pine wood cons
Requires Sanding

Pinewood needs light sanding before it can be shipped. Sand the wood by hand to bring down the grain, which can be quite prominent.

However, in rare cases, due to extra sanding, this may end up taking longer than when working with hardwoods – though pinewood is usually quicker to work with, even when you factor in the extra sanding.

Not as Durable as Hardwoods

Pine is an interesting material, as it is regarded as a hardwood sometimes due to its superior hardness when compared to most softwoods. Still, in regards to most other areas, it rarely measures up to the harder species and usually only comes out on top in terms of price.

Is Pine Water-Resistant?

Pine is somewhat water-resistant, but it won’t be able to withstand constant spills and rainfall. To combat these conditions, the wood must be treated with a waterproof finish to make the pine stronger.

The problem with using a highly waterproof sealant is that it can change the grain of the pinewood, which is often a desirable feature.

Is pine wood water resistant

Therefore, when selecting a finish, you should opt for something waterproof yet still preserves the grain of the wood. Some examples of water-resistant finishes are polyurethane, varnish, and lacquer.

Conclusion

For folks in the woodworking realm, pine wood falls into the stronger category, but it’s not the heavyweight champion of woods. In its raw form, pine wood actually boasts more strength than the furniture-grade oak you might expect. 

However, it’s essential to note that the pine wood you often find in stores is usually of the shortleaf variety, and it doesn’t quite measure up in terms of robustness when compared to most hardwoods.

robert headshot

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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