Timber species

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Wood is a natural material, and is sourced from many different tree species. Each species produces timber which varies in colour, density and performance properties, all of which will influence that species' suitability for a particular job.

Tree species are broadly divided into two main groups: softwood and hardwood. Softwood comes from cone-bearing, coniferous trees, while hardwood comes from deciduous trees which shed their leaves at the end of growing season or during a dry season.

Hardwoods are also further divided based on where they grow, into tropical and temperate.

This Choose and Use sheet contains a species table which details the species, origin, colour, density, texture, moisture movement, working qualities, durability, treatability of Heartwood and uses of a number of common softwoods and temperate and tropical hardwoods.


  • Softwoods
  • Hardwoods
  • Which species of wood do I choose?
  • Table of species and uses
  • Table 1: Softwoods
  • Table 2: Temperate hardwoods
  • Table 3: Tropical hardwoods

Suggested Reading

Principles of green oak constructionnavigation-arrow

There is growing interest in green oak framing for a variety of reasons, from satisfaction in hand craftsmanship to the ecological advantages of using a renewable material.


This Wood Information Sheet (WIS) is an overview of the design and construction principles that specifiers should consider in order to ensure...

23/03/2021 |  Wood Information Sheet  

Timbers – their properties and usesnavigation-arrow

This sheet sets out the properties and uses of 140 timber species used in the UK. This can be used to help with species selection or to identify species with comparable properties when alternatives are required.


The data is presented alphabetically by standard name and includes the botanical name...

05/05/2021 |  Wood Information Sheet  

Specifying timber species in marine and freshwater constructionnavigation-arrow

Historically, the UK construction industry has favoured a narrow range of tried and tested hardwood timbers for use in marine and freshwater applications.


Over-reliance on a small number of species is not compatible within sustainable forest management, as certain species are being over-exploited. This is likely to reduce the...

03/06/2019 |  Wood Information Sheet