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Outdoor Flooring Materials: Softwoods Vs Hardwood Explained

deck1You’re looking for something to “spruce up” your outdoor balcony, patio, or veranda.  But “you don’t want wood”.  At KANDY Outdoor Flooring we hear that a lot. When we ask why, we’re told that it’s because of the “work” to keep it up.

What we say to our clients – and what we want to tell you – – is that the kind of wood dictates the degree of maintenance hassle. All wood is not created equal. 80 per cent of the world’s timber supply is softwood. For a better performing outdoor floor, you may be better off with hardwood. Exotic hardwood, to be precise.

Reproductive Differences

Evergreen-FotoliaThe difference between softwood and hardwood is all about reproduction. Softwood trees are gymnosperms, growing from seeds with no covering. Hardwood trees are angiosperms; flowering plants with seeds that are covered either by fruit like an apple or cherry, or by a shell like an acorn. Softwood trees are evergreen, tending toward less density and easier to cut. Hardwood trees are deciduous, more dense, and sturdier than most softwoods.

There are some hardwoods, like balsa wood, that are less dense than most softwoods, and a few softwoods, like yew, that are harder than some hardwoods. But a general rule of thumb is that hardwoods are harder, softwoods are softer.

Softwood Advantages & Disadvantages

Cedar and pine are both softwoods that are common for outdoor uses like decks and fences. The biggest advantages of choosing these woods for your outdoor spaces are

pDeciduous-Fotoliarice and availability.  There’s lots of it, grown easily in Canada, easy to cut and harvest, and as a result it’s very affordable. However, its density and porous texture render it more susceptible to splitting, cracking, and warping over as few as two seasons, and it requires frequent stripping, sanding and refinishing to keep it looking attractive year after year.

Exotic Hardwood Advantages & Disadvantages

Exotic hardwoods like ipe and cumaru are very dense, stable hardwoods with natural oils that offer great protection against deterioration due to weather, with the exception of fading from the sun. These exotic hardwoods will retain their smoothness and structure – i.e. without splitting, cracking or warping – for much longer than any softwood. Because they’re native to places like South America, and because they’re harder to cut and heavier to transport, the disadvantage is the initial price. But you’ll save time and trouble over the seasons with much easier, less intensive maintenance requirements and you won’t likely need to replace it.

Janka Hardness Test

Don’t just take it from us. The Janka hardness test is commonly used by wood experts to assess the suitability of wood for use as flooring. The test measures the force required to embed a small steel ball halfway into a wood sample. In North America, the numbers represent the measurement of pounds-force (lbf).

Janka hardness rating

It’s easy to see why the wood KANDY Outdoor Flooring chooses to offer in its suite of outdoor flooring deck tiles are the exotic hardwood species, ipe and cumaru. Our research and experience tells us that the results for our customers, in look, legwork and longevity are simply superior and beyond compare.

Please contact us to set up your free, no-obligation, in-home consultation today. KANDY franchise partners are ready to serve you in Greater Vancouver, Greater Toronto, Kelowna, and now Calgary and Edmonton. Call 1-888-882-2889 today!

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