Are you unable to decide between pine and whitewood? Are you trying to figure out which wood is the best for your project?
Well, you have come to the right place.
It is often seen woodworkers getting confused between choosing whitewood and pine. They can even spend hours at an end just to find out which one is the best for their project.
Both whitewood and pine have their own set of characteristics that makes them different from each other. This also helps you to decide which wood should is suitable for what application.
Sometimes pine wood is sold as whitewood in some regions. Both the wood are very similar to each other and therefore, the confusion exists.
Unless you are a well-experienced person in wood, it’s hard to tell the difference. In this comparison guide of whitewood vs pine, we are going to point out all the existing differences between them.
What is Whitewood?
The botanical name of whitewood is liriodendron tulipifera. It is also known as tulip, fiddle tree, tulip poplar, American tulip tree, and yellow poplar.
No matter what you name it as it is the tallest hardwood tree that can grow up to more than 160 ft. The height of the tree is what makes it the most valuable timber trees in the world.
It is also the fastest-growing tree. The flowering period starts in April and pale yellow or green flowers start to appear in the springtime. Sometimes the flowers are also white.
Whitewood is the native of the three states in the US. This includes Indiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
Advantages of Whitewood
To choose between the two types of wood, you need to first understand the pros and cons of whitewood and pine. That being said, let’s start with the advantages of using whitewood.
1. Perfect for Furniture
Whitewood makes the perfect choice for almost all kinds of furniture. They have an aesthetically pleasing appearance that makes furniture made of it look great. It has a nice grained texture. Not just that but it is also soft and lightweight that makes it easier for you to work with it. Not to forget, whitewood is also very durable. They are hardwood that can make your furniture strong and long-lasting. Also, whitewood is easily available anywhere in the world.
Another advantage of using whitewood for your project is that you can easily paint it. Unlike other wood, it absorbs the paint nicely. The paint penetrates deeper into the wood which helps in enhancing its appearance. Since whitewood is easily paintable, you can keep the wood protected by applying multiple layers of paint on it. This will make it long-lasting.
3. Suitable for Outdoors
If you are planning to make outdoor furniture, then whitewood could be the ideal option for you. As already mentioned above, whitewood is hard and durable. It can easily withstand the outside elements. Therefore, using whitewood for the making of outdoor furniture can be a good idea. However, you should keep it away from water as it can absorb it quickly which in return causes it to warp.
One of the main reasons to use whitewood is because they are inexpensive. They are available anywhere in the world. Also, they grow fast. Since whitewood is available in abundance, they are usually low priced than other types of wood out there.
Disadvantages Of Whitewood
There are some disadvantages too that you need to keep in mind while using whitewood for your project. The problem with whitewood is:
Whitewood is soft which increases its absorption ability. No doubt, it’s easy to paint and stains this type wood. But if you are not careful, then it can absorb excess paint which can ruin your wood.
Therefore, you need to be very particular about the number of coats you apply. You wouldn’t want the wood to absorb too much paint or stains either.
2. Absorbs water
Just like paint, whitewood can also absorb water very quickly. This can cause the wood to warp and crack. Therefore, you need to keep it away from the water always, or else it will ruin your project completely.
3. Rots easily
Another very big problem with whitewood is that it rots very easily. You have to maintain the wood properly or it will start rotting. This mainly happens when it is exposed to outside elements for too long. So even if you are using it for outdoor furniture, you need to make sure that you bring them in when it’s raining or the weather is bad.
What is Pine Wood?
Pine trees are softwood trees that are available all over the world. Pine has many qualities that make it an ideal choice for making furniture. It has an excellent resistance to shock and also features great stiffness. It is because of these reasons that pine wood is preferred by woodworkers.
Due to its soft nature, it is easy to work with. Pine furniture is popular worldwide. Traditionally, it was used for making rustic and Colonial style pieces. But today, it is used for a variety of different styles of furniture including contemporary pieces.
Pine has a very light colour which is mostly creamy or white in appearance. However, some of them are also yellow. Due to the light colour of pine, it is easy to paint or stain it. It allows you to achieve any color you want.
If the colour is not an option, then you can also apply a clear coat just to keep the wood protected and let the natural light color do the talking. It also has a prominent grain texture with knots that are dark in color. This is what gives it a unique look.
Before you think of using pine for your furniture, you should first take a look at the advantages of it.
In comparison to another wood type, pine is inexpensive. They are available all around the world and not just in the US. Since they are available in abundance, the cost of the wood is low. If you want attractive looking furniture at affordable rates, then pine would be a great choice for you.
2. Renewable Resource
Pine trees are one of the fastest-growing trees out there and hence, they are renewable resources of nature.
In Western Australia, pinewood is harvested from plantations. These plantations are regulated by the government. They make sure that their impact on the surrounding environment is maintained at minimal. Since pine wood comes from plantations, it reduces our demands.
3. Soft Wood
As already mentioned above, pine is a type of softwood. Due to their malleable nature, it is easier to work with them. Any woodworker you ask about this, they will agree with you on this.
In comparison to other wood, it is easier to cut, carve, and stain. This reduces the total time taken to complete your project.
The best thing about it is its acceptance of nails. Unlike other wood, it is quite easy to drive a nail through a pine wood. When working with pine, you don’t have to make pre-drill holes.
Another great advantage of working with pine is that they are quite easy to stain. The soft nature of the wood makes it easy for you to stain and cut it. Therefore, it makes the process less time-consuming. As a woodworker, you can make more pieces in less time.
When pine is treated for decay and rot, it becomes highly resistant against them. This makes it durable and long-lasting.
It may cost you a bit extra to treat the wood, but you should consider it as an investment. This is important if you want your pine wood furniture to last long.
However, if you skip the need to treat the wood, it will become more prone to decay and rot. In that case, you will have to replace the wood which will cost you more than treating it. So you need to be smart with your decisions.
6. Natural Design
Out of all the great things about pine, its natural patterns are alluring. This is one of the first things you will notice about the timber.
The grainy texture and natural patterns of the wood are what make it appealing to the eyes. Furniture made with pine, therefore, looks aesthetically more pleasing to the eyes. By getting pine furniture, you can enhance the beauty of your house.
Pinewood also has excellent endurance. This is why they are mostly used for patio, deck, and flooring. It can handle areas with high foot traffic better than any other wood.
It also has high resistance against wear. This makes it an ideal choice for your projects. However, there will come a time when it will succumb to wear. When that happens, you know you have to replace the wood. But the good thing is that pine is a low-cost wood and thus, it will be easier on your pockets.
8. Environment Friendly
Pinewood is also environment friendly. They grow in abundance all over the world. They are harvested in plantations from where we get our supplies. Growing pinewood involves less effort and time. They grow fast and are renewable. Thus, working with pine doesn’t pose any threat to the environment. To be more precise, the tree won’t go extinct for too much use.
Despite all the good points about pine, there are few negatives about it that you should know before, you start working with it.
Pinewood is prone to damage. They get rot and decay easily. This is they need to be treated with strong preservatives. This will make them last longer. However, this also makes pinewood a high maintenance option.
2. Swelling/ Shrinking
As you already know pinewood is soft. This increases the chances of it shrinking and swelling. This mainly happens due to seasonal changes. If this happens to your pinewood furniture, then it will ruin its shape.
When exposed to direct sunlight for long hours, the wood loses its colours. In other words, the colour may fade or change because of the sunlight. This is they don’t make a good choice for outdoor furniture.
Pinewood is not considered to be weatherproof. They easily get affected by outside elements as you read in the previous point. Therefore, it becomes risky for you to leave your pinewood furniture outside.
Difference Between Whitewood vs Pine
Now that you know the pros and cons of both the wood, it’s time we point out the differences between the two wood. From the above pointers, you have already got an idea that both the wood have very similar characteristics.
This makes your choice hard. But after going through the pointers given below, you should be able to understand the differences more clearly, and thus, it will help you to make a better decision.
One of the easiest ways to differentiate between the two types of wood is by looking at the knots. For an experienced woodworker, it is quite easy to tell the difference. But for an amateur or someone who doesn’t work with wood, the kit may take a little more time to understand.
The number of knots in pine and whitewood varies. If you look at pieces of both the wood side by side, you will notice that whitewood have more knots than pine.
The next point of differentiation is the weight. If you ever pick up both the wood, you will feel the difference.
When it comes to weight, whitewood is slightly lighter than pine. Both the wood has a very slight difference in their density. You can easily visualize this with the help of the Janka scale.
This scale can measure pressure. a higher rating on the scale indicates that the wood is denser and is more resistant to denting and wear and tear.
Next comes the colour of the wood. However, differentiating between the two wood by seeing just the colour is a bit difficult. That’s because both of them are light in colour.
Whitewood has a creamy white colour and straight grain. The same colour and grain pattern is shared by yellow pine as well. This makes it practically impossible to differentiate between the two types of wood. This is why yellow pine is sometimes sold as whitewood in some places.
The appearance is so similar that even experienced woodworkers will find it difficult to tell them apart. Therefore, you need to consider other things too. Colour alone cannot help you tell the difference.
Both the wood type is not waterproof. Whitewood has a very good absorbing ability which makes it prone to warping and cracks. The same is the situation even with pinewood.
Both pinewood and whitewood can absorb water and thus, they are not at all waterproof.
In terms of price, pine more expensive than whitewood. This is mainly because of the versatile nature of pine. You can use it for flooring, furniture making, and other many projects.
6. Uses and Applications
When it comes to application, whitewood is commonly used for making daily based objects such as doors, simple furniture, cabinetry, in some cases flooring.
However, on the other hand, pinewood is more versatile and is used in a wide number of things. It is used as building materials, flooring, furniture, and others.
Whitewood gives you durable and solid furniture that can last for ages. It is hard and long-lasting. When treated with preservatives, it can last even longer. With the help of whitewood, you can make some of the most beautiful furniture pieces. Whitewood can last at least 15 to 20 years easily.
Pine is also durable and long-lasting when treated and maintained well. However, it is more prone to rot and decay, so you need to be careful when using pinewood pieces, especially during the weather change. It has a wide grain structure and is quite strong. It can last about 10 to 15 years.
From the above discussion, we can conclude that both whitewood and pine are very similar to each other. They both have certain traits that make them special in their way. If you are looking for a more versatile option, then pine would be a good choice.
But if you are more budget-oriented, then whitewood is a better option. This whitewood vs pine comparison will help you make the right decision.
So which one you choose? Please let us know by commenting here.
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18 thoughts on “Whitewood Vs Pine: Know The Key Differences Between Them?”
Thank you so much for the very clear description! So helpful for a beginner woodworker like myself.
It is totally our pleasure. 🙂
thank you! I am getting into scroll sawing and this info helps in my selection of which wood to use.
It is really great to hear.
Totally my pleasure.
I am wanting to make an opened back fireplace mantel with 1×8 and on the fence between pine and whitewood. Will just stain. Any suggestion about which one might handling heat from fireplace below? Wondering about drying out from the heat. Climate is not too humid near Austin Tx.
I will personally suggest pine wood for fireplace mantel.
My local home improvement store carries both types of wood. But I’m going to build a raised bed for growing veggies, so treated wood is not an option. Both types of wood will absorb water and potentially warp and rot. So for me, the choice becomes price.
Yes, I know. It will increase your costing. 🙁
I am making a farmhouse trestle table base (dining room table). It will be stained / polied or painted. Would white wood be a good choice for this application?
Yes, White wood is a good choice. 🙂
I am about to make many stackable storage crates. They will definitely be an indoor piece. The buyer will decide to paint or stain. Will the knots in whitewood be as difficult to cover as with pine?
it is supposed to be difficult. 🙁
Building a sail boat which would you suggest between the two for the keel it will be epoxy painted.
I would suggest Pine.
I just bout 28 pre-primed pine 1”x4”x8’ trim board for a shed @ $11.97 ea. still have them strapped to the SUV roof rack. I’m thinking of returning and getting untreated white wood for $8.72 each (10’ long as well). What do you think? Great article and thanks in advance.
Yes, I would return the pine and get the whitewood.
Which is the better choice for kickboards on interior stairs?
I would recommend both for kickboards on interior stairs, but would incline to whitewood as it is normally cheaper.