Is Heart Pine a Hardwood?
Yes and No.
Trees are typically categorized into 2 major families
Hardwoods – that have broad leaves that usually drop off the tree in winter like oak, poplar, maple, walnut and
Softwoods – that have have needle-like leaves year-round, are considered “evergreen” and include pine, spruce, hemlock and fir.
Generally, wood from hardwood trees has a higher density & hardness than softwoods, but actual wood hardness varies in both groups and Heart Pine is the prime example.
The broad genus “Pine” actually has 3 sub-genera :
( 2 ) subtypes are Softwoods: Strobus (white pines or soft pines) and
Ducampopinus (Pinyon, Bristlecone and Lacebark pines)
The 3rd subtype- Pinus, includes over 50 subspecies of yellow hard pines.
But only (1) of the long leaf varieties, Pinus Palustris , can bear the claim-to-fame as “the King’s wood”, which is antique Heart Pine.
Of sailing ships and grand old homes and “The Wood that Built America”
Antique Heart Pine flooring was installed throughout George Washington’s Mount Vernon home and the 260 year-old floor remains intact today.
Early settlers chose to build their houses & ships with this strong, slow growing tree, so Yes, Heart Pine is a Hard Wood.
As heart pine lovers, we work with Long leaf Antique Heart Pine flooring on a daily basis. In fact, our attraction to it got us started in this business in 1984, so it’s no wonder we enjoy sharing it’s rich history.
Long leaf yellow pins took 100+ years to mature, and they can live beyond 500 years! or at least they did once-upon-a-time. The trees largely covered the Southeast along the Atlantic & Gulf coasts. Once they’d grown large enough, they developed what’s call heartwood, or heart content, which can be a radiant dark red, rust or amber color.
About 97% of the total population of the original long leaf Pinus Palustris was harvested for timber use long ago. What’s left of those trees today are what we re-claim & re-constitute for discriminating buyers today.
Only a small amount of first-generation heart pine trees remain.
But there’s still lot’s of that 97% of the 390+ year-old wood for our reclaiming and available for our use today, Yes?
To answer I must ask and answer the original question in another way.
Is heart pine a hard wood?
Heart pine suppliers will tell you Yes: A hard wood to find in the quantities and of the quality that were available prior to 2000.
Heart Pine Hardness & Durability
Indeed, wood from some softwoods species can be considerably harder than that of some hardwoods. Ships wouldn’t have been built with it unless it was.
Yes, it CAN be confusing, but according to the National Wood Floor Association, this softwood pine from the aristocratic Longleaf Pine genera called Heart Pine, possesses a hardness comparable to the standard bearer of hardness- the mighty red oak. Additionally, heart pine it is very stable, meaning it doesn’t twist and bow and wears like iron as a floor.
So, although pine is not considered a hardwood, authentic antique heart pine, is as tough and as stable as the strongest hardwood and likely more some too.