Why Is Oak Hardwood More Expensive Than Softwood
Nov 25, 2014
Have you ever wondered what makes one type of timber more expensive than the other? Or more specifically why oak has consistently been one of the more expensive hardwoods for generations? Well it comes down to a few fairly simple factors beginning from the seed. Hardwoods grow a lot slower than their softwood counterparts, which means that they require more production time, man hours, etc.. Now, of course this isn’t the sole reason that hardwoods like oak tend to be more expensive.
Because oak is a slow growing deciduous tree it utilises a system of vessels which transport water around the tree, this is opposed to softwoods which contain elongated cells called ‘tracheids’. It is the structure of these vessels which makes oak such a dense and strong wood, and also the structure of these vessels which gives oak its unique ringed look.
So Oak Is Denser And Slower But I Don’t Know Why It’s More Expensive
Well, aside from the time the tree has to occupy the lot (think car park fares), the fact that oak is a denser wood than most means that working with it is a lot harder. You have to have better, sharper tools and use them more diligently, as it is far easier to irreparably damage the wood when working with it. It being more difficult to work with means you need better craftsmen spending more time on it too, in order to make the best products on the market.
What Else About Oak Makes It So Expensive?
Its strength and durability are really up there with the best. For wood that is easily grown in many climates it has an incredible lifespan when finished properly. It’s also extremely high in tannin which makes it very resistant to pest and fungal infections.
When buying oak, ensuring you treat the finished product properly, you are guaranteed for that the products will last you a lifetime. The same goes for products which are kept outdoors or face outside like oak window frames. Ensuring that the craftsmanship was top notch, you will have no problems with the material.
Over the generations it’s also become a symbol of luxury and quality. Notoriously durable and expensive, the distinctive markings of oak wood are a fundamental part of why it retains such value. When quartersawn, you can see the veins running through the timber, unique to each and every piece of wood, meaning that every single product made from oak comes with its own natural, individual design.
Image by Graham