Hardwood Vs Softwood Timber – Which Is Best?

Merbau decking

Of all the materials used in building and manufacturing, timber is one of the most versatile and widely used. But with all the various grades, strengths and colours, choosing the right timber can be confusing. What looks good may not be the best structural timber for your project.

To help you choose a timber that suits your tastes and project, we’ve split the timbers into two categories, hardwood vs softwood. Each type of timber has clear benefits and preferred uses. So, which timber is best for you?

Why choose Hardwood Timber?


Hardwood timber is ideal for internal and external applications requiring an attractive, natural appearance. It has many benefits over softwood, including:


Hardwood timber is known for its exceptional strength and durability, making it suitable for long-lasting projects like decking


Hardwood timber has a higher density compared to softwood, which contributes to its strength and ability to withstand heavy loads.

Wear Resistance 

Due to its dense nature, hardwood timber is more resistant to wear and tear, making it suitable for high-traffic areas and heavy-use applications.

Attractive Appearance

Hardwood timber often features beautiful grains and rich colours, adding an aesthetic appeal to various applications, such as furniture and joinery.


The versatility of hardwood timber means it can be used for a wide range of applications, including construction, furniture, decking, boat building and interior finishes.


Hardwood timber tends to be more stable than softwood, meaning it is less prone to warping, shrinking or expanding with changes in temperature and humidity. This stability is particularly valuable for applications like flooring and joinery.

Resistance to Decay and Insects 

Many hardwood species possess natural resistance to decay and insect infestation, making them suitable for outdoor applications without the need for chemical treatments.

Fire Resistance

Hardwood timber generally has better fire resistance compared to softwood, making it a safer choice for construction purposes.


Due to its durability and resistance to decay, hardwood timber products often have a longer lifespan, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

Benefits of Softwood Timber

Softwood timber

Logging restrictions on certain hardwood species has potentially shed more light on softwoods lately. However, it’s important to understand the advantages of softwoods before you begin your project.  


Softwood timber is often more affordable than hardwood timber, making it a cost-effective choice for various applications, including construction, fencing and packaging.


Softwood trees, such as Pine, grow at a faster rate compared to hardwood trees. This makes softwood timber more readily available in the market.


Softwood timber can be easier to work with due to its lower density and lighter weight. It can be cut, shaped and nailed more easily, making it suitable for DIY projects and construction where ease of handling is important.


Softwood trees typically have shorter growth cycles, which means they can be harvested and replenished more quickly compared to hardwood trees. When sourced from sustainably managed forests, softwood timber can be an environmentally friendly choice.

Thermal Insulation 

Softwood timber has better thermal insulating properties compared to hardwood, making it a suitable material for construction applications where energy efficiency is important.

Accepts Finishes 

Softwood timber tends to accept finishes, such as paints, stains and varnishes, more readily than hardwood. This allows for a greater variety of finishing options to achieve the desired aesthetic.


Softwood timber is lighter in weight compared to hardwood, which can be advantageous in applications where weight is a consideration, such as in construction or transportation.

While we can’t categorically say that one timber is superior, it’s clear that each has multiple benefits.

With its exceptional strength, durability and wear resistance, hardwood timber is a good choice for long-lasting and visually appealing projects. Its stability, resistance to decay and insects, as well as its fire resistance further enhance its suitability. 

On the other hand, softwood timber is cost-effective, easy to work with and widely available. Softwood timber’s sustainable growth cycles contribute to its environmental friendliness, and its insulation properties can enhance energy efficiency. 

If you need assistance choosing the right timber for your project, talk to the experts at Austim. As Perth’s leading timber supplier, Austim stocks a wide selection of timber products and can help you select the perfect timber for your project and budget.


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What our clients say

Austim are a great partner and timber supplier. Our business is based on the East Coast of Australia and we partner with Austim for WA projects. We have had a long lasting and great working relationship with Austim for many years. Highly recommend them.
daniel wright
daniel wright
06:31 18 Jun 19
Austim is always the first place I try when I need timber and it’s rare that I can’t get what I need there. Stuart is a rare gem of a gent to deal with – quick to respond to any queries, full of good advice and goes out of his way to help get whatever project I’m working on happening to my schedule, even when all I need is a few sticks and a handful of fixings. Highly recommend Austim, the team and young Stuart.
Anni Lilford
Anni Lilford
00:51 16 Nov 18
Stuart went out of his way to make sure we got the product we wanted. He made suggestions on possible constructions and timbers suitable. Very knowledgeable friendly staff all around. Excellent experience, highly recommended.
Holger Butenschon
Holger Butenschon
05:14 22 May 18
Hi Ben,Just wanted to thankyou for your help and advice in our selection of the Millboard Vintage Oak decking also in you recommending Grant from Premier Hardwood Decking. Grant has just completed our decking and we couldn't have asked for a more professional, reliable and competent tradesman. The decking has been installed to a very high standard and the decking itself is stunning. Ian and Sue
susan smith
susan smith
06:27 08 Oct 18
I've used Austim on a few occasions for home projects like decking and pergola, etc and each time the response to my requests for price and delivery have been excellent, the deliveries took place as negotiated, the timber quality was great and value for money. The team at Austim do a great job and make dealing with Austim a breeze.
Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
09:06 25 Oct 18
I have worked with Austim for around 8 years now and they are one of the best suppliers in perth to deal with. I would highly recommend to use them for any timber needs!!!
Art of Timber
Art of Timber
07:55 05 Mar 20
I had been looking for some cedar for my kayak project and had rung a couple of other places with no luck. When I contacted Austim they were very helpful, had the timber in stock and I was on my was in 20 minutes. The wood was very good quality and has really finished up beautifully. Thanks to Austim.
mark alderson
mark alderson
02:03 08 Apr 17
I"d like to thank Austim for there help in supplying me with material that firstly I thought I'd have trouble sourcing as it was marring up with originally 30 year old existing timber.My project was not a massive project but still needed the attention of an new build.The timber supplied by Austim was machined to size with absolute perfection, where I had to remove old pieces and replace with the new pieces they fitted perfectly.once the floors are re-sanded and varnished they will be back to there former glory. Thanks again to the staff at Austim.Regards Bob Heppenstall.I've just added a finished photo after the Floor Sanding was completed.Original timber was Tassie Oak, and the new is Vic Ash, as you can see there is only a slight variation in the final product.I hope this gives anyone thinking doing the same the confidence to proceed. Regards Bob Heppenstall.
Robert Heppenstall
Robert Heppenstall
10:05 12 Oct 18
Great service over phone and by email. Product supplied is high quality - no issues. Staff accommodating and friendly.
00:18 07 May 20
Good service with fair prices.
Colin Della Bosca
Colin Della Bosca
08:14 04 Jun 20
Great service and product.I struggled to find a bench top in the size and material I wanted, so was really happy when I found one with Austim.It came fully protected with wrap and was undamaged when I got it home.Thanks
Matt Harrison
Matt Harrison
06:29 08 May 23
Good selection, friendly staff, competitive pricing. Preferred over the 'hardware store'.You can hand pick if you need superior quality, Ben Price helped me with sorting through
Dirk Wachter
Dirk Wachter
03:59 12 May 23
Quick responses, timber prepared to request including cutting to Size. Easy pick up. Highly recommend.
Martyn Lethbridge
Martyn Lethbridge
06:42 05 May 23
We wanted Marri boards to make a bed - Austim provided beautiful planed and sized boards - at a good price - delivered on time......excellent service!
Mark Warren
Mark Warren
06:53 20 Aug 21
Ordered some merbau timber through austim to replace some rotten pine stair treads. The guy on the phone was very helpful .the timber was straight and had no faults or damage. Sent a message with a picture to say the timber had been delivered. Would definitely order timber from them again
Galaxie Galaxie
Galaxie Galaxie
05:25 29 Nov 23
Ron has help me out tremendously with designing and supplying two decks. Everything required to build them including screws Concreate, stirrups and timber. Service is excellent and at competitive prices.
Craig Bussanich
Craig Bussanich
01:25 06 Oct 23
Excellent service! The gentlemen that served us was so helpful and sorted out our kitchen bench top in 15 minutes! Great product!
sophie sherlock
sophie sherlock
07:24 06 Oct 23
Wow! What amazing customer service. Ron took care of working out what I needed and guided me expertly through the product range. Invoice was raised on Wednesday afternoon and the wonderful Wade delivered my order on Friday morning. He went above and beyond what would normally be a kerbside delivery, changed the Hiab strapsTo longer ones and expertly delivered it safely over my side wall. Super impressed, he’s a keeper Austim!
Wilma Ashby
Wilma Ashby
00:10 22 Mar 24
Absolutely amazing service and knowledgeable team and specially Tim very knowledgeable and friendly and knows his stuff.
02:37 10 Jan 24
Very tidy and well laid out timber warehouse with a well stocked accessories shop. Friendly staff with great product knowledge and advice.
07:37 22 Mar 24

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“The timber quality is excellent, the price was competitive, the communication spot on and the delivery just right. Well done and thanks again”