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Poplar Vs Pine Wood – Which Is the Best Choice?


When creating a project, choosing the right material is one of the first steps you should take. Poplar and pine are popular choices when you go for the cheaper woods. So you will have to make your choice, poplar vs pine wood, but which one is better?

To make a choice between poplar and pine, simply assume that poplar is more suitable for visual projects due to its uniform structure, while pine is better suited for use in more humid environments or outdoors.

The best way to determine how to choose between poplar vs pine wood is to examine the individual characteristics of each wood and determine which type of wood is best suited for your needs. That is exactly what you will learn as a result of this article.

Poplar vs pine wood – Which is the best choice?

To answer this question correctly and make the best choice between poplar vs pine wood, you need to look at all the properties of these two kinds of wood separately. Every project will have different requirements and by knowing all the properties of these woods you will be able to make the best choice that best suits your project.

What is Poplar Wood

Poplar Vs Pine Wood - Poplar tree (source_ Wikipedia)
Poplar Vs Pine Wood – Poplar tree (source: Wikipedia)

Poplar is a relatively fast-growing type of wood whose wood is creamy and white in color. The veins are characterized by the reddish-brown to gray hues that run through them. Poplars are deciduous trees. Poplar trees are deciduous. In other words, these trees shed their leaves during the winter.

The wood is sometimes referred to as yellow poplar because of the light cream to the brown color associated with that species.

Is poplar a hardwood or softwood?

You will have to look at the leaves to tell the difference between hardwood and softwood. Hardwood refers to the wood of deciduous trees. Softwood is the wood of all coniferous species.

Please note that there are exceptions. The European larch (Larix decidua) is a conifer that loses its needles in winter. Although this tree loses its needles, it is not seen as a deciduous tree but falls under the coniferous family. The wood of the European larch is therefore softwood.

Poplar wood is light and soft, but because it is a deciduous tree, it is classified as hardwood. Poplar has a lower Janka hardness value, putting it at the lower end of the hardness scale.

Despite being a soft hardwood, poplar ranks higher than most softwoods like white pine but lower than standard hardwoods like oak. Blow you can find some more pros en cons of poplar wood.

Poplar wood pros

  • It is an affordable hardwood.
  • Because of its low price, poplar wood has been widely used for industrial packaging such as crates and pallets.
  • Poplar wood is a stable wood and does not warp or shrink much.
  • Poplar has good resistance to fungi, insects, and other disease-causing pests.
  • It has excellent workability, making it easy to cut more difficult joints such as dovetails.
  • Poplar is lighter than pine, despite being stronger.
  • It has an even texture with few knots, unlike pine.

Poplar wood Cons

  • Poplar has a lower durability class (5) compared to, for example, oak (class 2), so it will not last very long.
  • It can be labor-intensive to handle as it requires a thorough sanding.
  • Poplar can contain multiple color variations resulting in spots.
  • The wood needs a primer to stain or paint properly.

What is Pine Wood

Poplar Vs Pine Wood - Pine tree (source_ Wikipedia)
Poplar Vs Pine Wood – Pine tree (source: Wikipedia)

Pine is a conifer that stays green all year round. What makes pine wood typical are the obvious flaws, including knots and button holes that make the wood almost inoperable in woodworking projects where the parts are visually visible.

In addition to the many knots, pine wood can be recognized by the pure white or reddish-brown color of the wood. If you compare pine to poplar, you will see that there are several species with different colors. Regardless of the color, pine will gray over time.

Pine has a lower quality than poplar, but this is reflected in the pros and cons. However, sometimes, it is better to use pine for your projects. So read on and learn all you need to know about the differences between poplar and pine. With this information, you will be able to make the best decision.

Is pine wood a hardwood or softwood?

Pine is a tree with needles instead of leaves and is a conifer. The needles remain present during the winter (except for the larch) so that the pine is not deciduous and the wood is therefore labeled as softwood.

Pine wood pros

  • Pine is a relatively inexpensive type of wood.
  • Because the wood has sufficient structural strength, it is a popular choice for building.
  • Pines grow quickly and are thus an ideal environmentally friendly and renewable source of wood.
  • The wood is soft and simple to work with.

Pine wood Cons

  • Pine is prone to swelling and shrinking if left untreated
  • The wood contains characteristic knots and other flaws
  • It requires treatment and regular care to withstand the effects of the weather

Poplar wood vs Pine comparison

To get a perfect idea of which choice is the best for your project, it is good to compare the features with each other. Based on your project, you can make a choice after reading the information below which feature plays an important role in your project. Based on that, you can then choose which would become the choice, poplar vs pine wood.

Poplar woodPine wood
Scientific NamePopulusPinus
Tree Size25-50m / 82-164ft15-50m / 49-164ft
AppearanceLight brown heartwood and pale yellow sapwood. Yellow sapwood, the heartwood is darker, ranging from rich yellow to reddish brown.
DensityLight wood, with a density approx. 450 kg / m 3 at 12% humidity.Approximately 500 kg / m 3 at 12% humidity. 
Light to medium-heavy wood.
Janka Hardness2400 N / 540 lbf.
Hardness (Brinell) of 10-15 MPa
2200-5100 kN / 490 – 1150 lbf.
Hardness (Brinell) of 78.0 MPa
WorkabilityPoplar wood is easy to work with both manual and mechanical tools.Pine wood is easy to work with tools and machines but can fluff when planed.
DurabilityClassified as an unsustainable species against rot and susceptible to insect infestation.Sensitive to attack by fungi and insects.
Suitability for finishingCan be easily stained and painted.Can be easily stained and painted.
AssemblyCan be nailed and screwed without making a pilot holeCan be nailed and screwed without making a pilot hole
UsesPaper, matchboxes, and packaging boxes.Construction and garden furniture, pergolas, wooden decks, fences.
Poplar vs pine wood – comparison chart

Poplar vs pine wood: weight

Poplar is lighter in weight than pine because it contains less moisture. That is why, if you’re working on a project that requires weight, Poplar is a much better choice.

One of the reasons why poplar wood is used to make boxes is for this reason. Because of the lower weight, this makes a significant difference in transportation costs.

Poplar vs pine wood: Hardness & strength

Poplar is a hardwood, but it isn’t very strong. While pine is a softwood, some pine varieties can be much harder than poplar.

Both types of wood have low wood hardness according to Janka standards. Poplar and pine are both prone to denting, making them unsuitable for projects requiring hardwoods.

So, now you know both are soft, you should make a comparison between Poplar vs Pine wood, and find out which is the best choice? To get an answer to this, you will have to dig deeper to find the truth and look at the specific wood variants of both. For example, yellow poplar will have a higher hardness than white poplar.

With pine, you will also have to look at the different harnesses between the varieties. To really get a good idea of ​​this, I always use the handy chips on The wood database, a website that you have to save in your favorites next to my website.

If you do research on hardness and compare species by species, you will find that the majority of pine trees will beat the poplar in this part.

Poplar vs pine wood: density

If you look at the hardwoods, you will notice that most have a higher density than softwoods. Poplar, however, is not one of these hardwoods. It is lighter than standard hardwoods and less dense. Because of their diffuse-porous structure, poplar has a relatively low density and is therefore light.

As you could already discover above, Poplar is on average lighter than pine. The density of pine is higher, making the wood sturdier and heavier than poplar. However, pine remains much less dense than standard hardwoods such as chestnut, purpleheart, or oak.

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Poplar vs pine wood: durability

If you want durable wood, pine outlasts poplar. Poplar is a wood that is easily scratched and dented. As a result, rather than heavy outdoor applications, poplar is frequently recommended for indoor construction.

Pine is not the most durable wood, but it is often more durable than poplar. They are frequently impregnated to improve their outdoor durability. This can be easily determined by looking at the color of the wood. The green color of impregnated pine wood stands out.

Poplar vs pine wood: wood workability

Poplar and pine are both very workable due to their softness. If you compare the two in terms of workability, poplar is the superior choice.

Because of its low density, poplar is very easy to work with with machines or hand tools. In most cases, you won’t need to drill pilot holes into the wood or insert nails or screws.

Poplar is also very easy to cut and trim. Poplar will be easier to mill and will have cleaner, fluff-free surfaces after machining.

Poplar vs pine wood: Color/Appearance

Poplar and pine have different appearances because of their color and texture. It can therefore determine the appearance of your project and which choice you will make.

Poplar is white to light cream in color, with brown or gray areas or streaks running through the vein. The color, on the other hand, can vary depending on the variety. When examining the texture of Poplar, you will notice that it has a straight grain, which results in a uniform texture.

Poplar Vs Pine Wood - White poplar (source_ The wood database)
Poplar Vs Pine Wood – White poplar (source: The wood database)
Poplar Vs Pine Wood - Black poplar (source_ The wood database)
Poplar Vs Pine Wood – Black poplar (source: The wood database)

Depending on the variety, most pines range in color from pure white to reddish-brown. However, before beginning your project, it is best to check the color depending on the type of pine you intend to use. Keep in mind that the color of pine darkens with age. The grain of pine is straight and the texture is medium.

Poplar Vs Pine Wood - Pine (source_ The wood database)
Poplar Vs Pine WoodPine (source_ The wood database)

Poplar vs pine wood: Drying

Poplar shrinkage and swelling values are average. Both natural and technical drying are largely unproblematic; however, slow and long drying is recommended due to the high initial moisture content.

Poplar shrinks only slightly when it dries due to its relatively even texture. However, deformations can occur during the drying process. As a result, when working with poplar, always ensure that the wood is sufficiently dry. Learn how to properly dry wood here.

Because poplar wood is quite soft, it is susceptible to weather influences and fungi and insect attack after drying. As a result, use the appropriate finish to adequately protect it.

Because of the resins present, drying in the open air is not recommended for pine wood. Instead, drying must be carefully controlled.

Air drying is difficult because it twists and cracks. Quality wood can be obtained through a controlled kiln drying process.

Pine shrinks much more than poplar. Pine, on the other hand, is less sensitive to wood deformation.

Poplar vs pine wood: common uses

Poplar is mainly used for making paper, wooden boxes, and pallets because of its weight and low cost. In addition, the tree grows relatively quickly, which leads to a sufficient stock.

Poplar is also a flexible type of wood. That is why it is often used in model building and for building guitars. As an added reason, poplar is popular for its clean, uniform appearance.

On the other hand, pine is mainly used as a construction wood. It is popular in indoor applications such as drywall gratings, roofing, and flooring, or in outdoor applications (when impregnated) in decking, fencing, etc.

Poplar vs pine wood: price

Poplar and pine are both relatively inexpensive types of wood. However, prices for different types of wood vary depending on whether you want to use poplar or pine. Another cost consideration is whether the wood is native to your area. The cost of shipping wood will be higher.

Pine is widely regarded as the most affordable wood for use in construction projects. In many cases, it is even less expensive than poplar.

The presence of knots and the texture contribute to the low price of pine. Pine Although it is less expensive than poplar, you may want to spend the extra money and choose poplar for a nicer look to your projects in some cases.

Poplar vs pine wood for outdoor use

Due to their density, pine and poplar are not the best woods for outdoor use. They have a low natural decay resistance and are not suitable for outdoor use without a proper finish.

Outdoors, untreated poplar lasts only four years, while untreated pine lasts only five.

As you can see, untreated pine is slightly more durable than untreated poplar in the outdoors. Both types of wood, however, will last much longer if properly cared for.

Impregnated pine or poplar is more resistant to moisture and water damage, extending its outdoor life significantly. The wood is then pressure treated, which infuses it with preservatives that make it more resistant to rot, insects, and even fire.

Because pressure-treated pine can withstand the elements, it is a popular choice for patios, fences, pergolas, and other garden structures.

When the two types of wood are compared, pine is the better choice for outdoor furniture. Furthermore, when pressure-treated, pine is a better construction wood than poplar.

Poplar wood vs pine – conclusion

Poplar vs Pine wood, there are many reasons for choosing one wood over another, and ultimately deciding which wood to use comes down to exactly what you need to build your project.

Above all, remember that Pine wood is more durable and best suited for outdoor projects. Poplar is a slightly harder wood than pine that is more suitable for carving and indoor projects.


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