Timber Ireland : Selecting the Best Wood for Your Project


Looking for the perfect wood for your upcoming construction? Or perhaps you’re an architect bouncing around ideas with your client, to help them make their choice. The choice made here can make or break your plans, as it affects everything from the aesthetic appeal of structures to be installed, to their durability and longevity, in the face of the tumultuous Irish weather. Plus with so many wood options out there, it can get overwhelming. Let’s break things down:


Hardwood comes from a type of tree known as a dicot. These trees are typically found in forests with broad leaves, stretching across both temperate regions and the tropical belt. In the cooler temperate and boreal areas, these trees are often deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves seasonally. However, in the warmer tropics and subtropics, they tend to be evergreen, keeping their leaves all year round.

These trees are part of the angiosperm family, which means they reproduce through flowers and have broad leaves to catch the sunlight – the likes of oak, teak, mahogany, and maple.  They take longer to grow and mature compared to softwoods – but during this time they build up a more dense and more compact structure. This is why they are heavier, stronger and more resistant to wear and tear. 

Hardwoods are your go-to for things like high-quality furniture, flooring, decking, and architectural details. The complexity seen during their development process also causes them to have unique grain patterns and colours. Perfect for when you want that extra pizzazz to your project. For example:

  • Oak is often used in flooring and kitchen cabinets due to its strength and the beautiful grain patterns it displays. Composite decking, like Timber Ireland’s PURAPRO Oak Decking, combines the beauty of wood with increased durability and low maintenance, ideal for creating inviting outdoor areas that last. You also see this with European Oak Cladding, combining a timeless look with the durability to withstand Ireland’s weather, offering both beauty and longevity to any façade.
  • Teak is usually sought for outdoor furniture and decking because of its natural oils, making it resistant to water, decay, and pests.
  • Mahogany is popular for fine furniture and musical instruments, thanks to its workability and smooth finish.

Granted, hardwoods are more expensive than softwoods. This cost is due to their slower growth rate and the complexity of the harvesting process. They more than make up for this with their durability and aesthetics. External factors also affect prices, such as ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine which has caused shortages of European white oak.


Softwood comes from gymnosperm trees. Many of them are coniferous – think pines, cedars, spruces, firs, you know, the ones with the needles and cones. These trees grow quickly and in large numbers, making their wood softer and less dense. Handling them is a breeze. And yes, that translates to them being more affordable in comparison. 

Whether it’s framing a new house, laying down a roof, or adding some cladding, softwood’s lightweight and easy-to-shape nature comes in handy. For example:

  • Pine is great for window frames and paneling, because of its versatility and availability.
  • Cedar is prized for outdoor applications, like fencing and shingles, due to its natural resistance to moisture, decay, and insect damage. You get this with products like Timber Ireland’s Cedar Battens for the homeowner looking for stylish, durable fences that complement the natural landscape, right through to decking solutions.
  • Spruce is strong and used in building houses and even in making paper because of its straight grain.

Despite the name “softwood,” not all softwoods are actually soft. There can be overlaps when comparing the different types. For example, Balsa wood is categorized as a hardwood but is softer than many softwoods. Meanwhile, softwoods like Douglas Fir, can be harder than several hardwoods.

While not as hardy as hardwoods, treating softwoods with preservatives can boost their lifespan, making them a smart pick for many projects – especially where the superior durability of hardwoods is not necessary.

Going Green With Your Timber Choices

‘Sustainability’ has been infused into every aspect of our lives. Shopping, fashion, packaging people use, even transport choices. No surprise that it made it to the construction business. Consumers are aware of this too, which is why they are all for making eco conscious choices. It’s all about finding that sweet spot between keeping our timber supplies going and making sure we leave healthy, vibrant forests for the next generations.

How do you go about this? Look for certifications from recognized bodies that guarantee that wood has been sourced from responsibly managed forests. Any manufacturer can claim that their products are eco friendly – but you’ll be better placed when you look for proof from an independent body with a verifiable track record.  One popular one is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). It’s a non-profit that’s been around since 1993, certifying wood products from areas where the biodiversity and local communities are properly taken care of.

You also have the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), which started in 1999. They use a system of checks by other companies to confirm everything’s up to scratch with forests’ management practices, adapting to the specific needs of different places while sticking to globally recognised standards. 

Whichever scale of construction you’ve got going on, choosing the right wood and making sure it’s eco-friendly can make all the difference. Need expert help in finding what’s suitable for you? Reach us on +353 1 8427669 or email sales@timberireland.ie.

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