Is Aspen A Hardwood Or Softwood (Hardness Explained)

Haven’t you been concerned about the type of wood materials while building structures? Well, Aspen wood is the type that is suitable for these along with stuffing, packing, etc. 

With abundant, sandy, and sliver-less characteristics, aspen comes into the picture. We will explore every aspect here!

So, is Aspen a hardwood?

Aspen wood comes as soft hardwood. However, not the highest robustness you will experience here. But having stability in various woodworking makes this light wood supreme. Meanwhile, 420 pounds-force (lbf) or 1868 N is its hardness rating.

Well, a lot more things remain to discuss! In this article, we will be reviewing the hardness level and other aspects of Aspen. 

How Much Hardness Does Aspen Wood Bring?

Have you ever worked using oaks, maples, or cherry woods? If yes, Aspen will initially give you comparatively ‘softy’ vibes.

You will also get to know soon how good its stiffness is. Basically, containing no resin has brought exceptional stiffness along with toughness. 

As a result, very few cases may arise regarding the split of woods. Aspin can tolerate a higher level not to get shattered while screwing or even nailing. 

Meanwhile, carrying enough softness makes the user’s activities easier. So, using hand tools or glue is not even an issue here. 

Aspen wood brings an interesting blend of softwood and hardwood. Despite having a soft aspect, it allows multiple woodworking to be done comfortably. 

Scientific Aspect

Aspen wood often diffuses permeable structure so that ring structure gets harder to identify. Meanwhile, the diameter of permeability is quite tiny and evenly dispersed. 

As it carries a tinier permeable format, you will find both- hardness and density higher! The increment of hardness also depends on the fiber numbers. 

However, aspen has got straightforward grains. Also, a uniform texture exists where the fibers are connected more closely. 

As a result, the number of fibers per volume is higher comparatively here. Eventually, you will barely find aspen prone to temperature and moisture differences. 

That’s how we say this much more stable wood. However, its higher density backs the overall stability up. 

Still, thinking why aspen is soft hardwood? Well, everything but the uniform texture of it keeps it softer. It makes it shift from high-grade hardwoods to soft ones!

Janka Hardness Scale

From the perspective of other traditional and popular woods, aspen comes lighter. The Janka hardness scale shows Aspen’s rating as 420 lbf. 

Meanwhile, this scale measures the relative hardness that domestic or exotic wood species bring. Getting confused after knowing the rate mentioned here? 

Worry not, we will show you the hardness comparison between various woods later. However, getting a rate of 420 lbf is quite low to remark the wood as hardwood! 

Whereas, maple wood carries 1450 lbf in the hardness rating. Along with that, cherry and oak wood stand at 950 and 1290 lbf respectively. 

You can go through the Janka hardness chart for a better understanding.

Now, you get some factors to measure, don’t you? So, very few issues are there for removing the softwood tag from Aspen! 

Then, is aspen a hardwood? Actually, no!

More specifically, soft hardwood can be the ideal word for this wood indeed. Though it belongs to the hardwood category, its softness stays parallel too.

Now, it’s time to explore physical properties a bit more with comparisons. Here are the various types of woods having different rates at each aspect!

Utilizing hardwoods flexibly requires heavy tools like saws and bandsaws. You can explore the comparison between two bandsaws: Laguna 14bx and 18bx!

It’s time to look up the physical properties of various woods.

Comparison Of Physical Properties

Wood Type Specific Gravity Hardness (in Newton) Stiffness (MP)
Aspen 0.38 1560-1870 1180
Soft Maple 0.55 4380 11100
Hard Maple 0.66 7290 14100
Ash 0.60 7050 12800
Beech 0.67 6490 14000
Red Oak 0.61 6170 11900
Bashwood 0.37 2140 9450
Yellow Birch 0.42 5930 14100

Have you got some gist of these woods from the table? Now, we may interpret how harder these woods are, right? 

But a particular thing we must focus on is the varieties of aspen. 

Well, aspen comes in three major types as follows:

  • Big Tooth Aspen
  • European Aspen (Mostly Common)
  • Quaking Aspen

Relevantly, each of these types brings slightly different specifications. Let’s have a quick look at it now:

Big Tooth Aspen 420 lbf 1,870 N
European Aspen 380 lbf 1,650 N
Quaking Aspen 350 lbf 1,560 N

Usually, these types of aspen come from the same origin. Meanwhile, coming with a medium texture including natural luster, each aspen shines light brown. 

However, geographical locations make them evolve in particular ways. Also, the average height of the trees along with the leaf’s shape are the active factors. 

That’s how the slightest differences appear to us. This table also shows how unbelievably softer the aspen species are!

You can also explore the Yellow Pine Vs Douglas Fir

Plenty of discussions we have regarding its hardness issues. But that’s not the end of the whole part. 

Wanna get all of its characteristics? Let’s dive in! 

Characteristics of Aspen Wood

Let’s take a closer look at its characteristics below:

Wood Type North American Soft Hardwood.
Color Light brown or even white color.
Density 420 kg per cubic meter.
Hardness 420 lbf or 1870 N.
Stiffness 18000 PSI.
Applications Furniture building, flooring, packing, paneling, and stuffing.

We bet you don’t want to miss out on finding the details mentioned above! Worry not, we will get the cat out of the bag now! 

Aspen Hardwood Flooring

Among its versatility in different usages, we pick flooring as the greater usefulness. However, this activity is largely common in terms of using aspen. 

Providing better dimensional stability helps Aspen to nail this particular work. Along with that, fewer cases regarding humidity or temperature differences may occur. 

As a result, you will not find any contraction or even expansion in aspen. Meanwhile, warping, crowning, and cupping may get you interrupted. 

Now, let’s dig deeper into the pros and cons of this most common activity.


  • Higher stability
  • Tolerates stain and paint nicely
  • Easy workability
  • Nicer wood grain
  • Barely get split
  • Barely having shrinkage
  • Lightweight


  • No guarantee of durability
  • Less resistant to rot, scratch, and dent
  • Higher price
  • Barely available
  • Moisture resistance is absent


If we talk about durability, you may get disappointed. In spite of its hardwood traits, durability is quite lesser. 

As a result, a lack of proper finishing may rot your structure faster. Also, insect attacks you can not avoid. These inconveniences may occur in no time.

Scratch And Dent Resistance

Aspen is also unable to resist scratches or even dents. What can be the final output due to this act? 

Well, water may penetrate the whole inside of it if you get scratching. As a result, rotting frequently is the worst consequence. 

So, using this type of wood for nearby water zones is not advisable. Except for areas like bathrooms, kitchens, etc., building furniture may fit it. 

Relevantly, Aspen is highly recommended to utilize in making furniture. 

Overall Woodworking Experience

Covering all of its utilization is tough to spell out in a single article. But we don’t want to miss sharing an interesting fact! 

As it provides much softness, pet beddings are highly dependent on these types of woods.

In terms of general woodworking activities, aspen is highly suited. Traits like lightweight, soft, exceptional stability, etc., are the key impactor. 

Meanwhile, don’t forget its easy cutting and top-notch finishing capabilities. Along with that, great machinability puts it top. 

However, rot resistance may not work so well. In terms of picturizing the whole, aspen makes users quite flexible and comfortable.

For Which Applications Are Aspen Woods Famous?

Picked the key advantages that aspen woods hold? Well, there’s a large misconception that softwood or having lesser hardness is challenging. 

Not at all! Getting to the right move of utilizing woods? Then, nothing will bother you.  

However, Aspen comes with extensive popularity in some specific applications. Such as:

  • Flooring
  • Packaging
  • Plywood 
  • Molding
  • Dimensional stability
  • Creating boxes and crates
  • Building furniture parts
  • Kitchen utensils

But keep in mind, its water resistance is not that good! Working on a project such as utensils, bathroom, etc., will find only you responsible!

Generally, aspen wood highly pleases users in completing simple wood projects. As long as you do proper maintenance and finishing, it’s the best!

Being a soft hardwood, particularly some benefits it offers. Usually, stains along with the pigments easily lance to the aspen. 

As a result, it gets spread proportionately all over the wood. This action helps aspen wood to prevent having a mottled surface. 

Besides, you will have the woodworking quite aesthetic and unique. Streaks along with the overall color blending are the key reasons behind it.

Purple heart wood also comes with aesthetic beauty. You can explore if purple heart wood is toxic or not.

Comparison Between Hardwood And Softwood

Nothing we want to leave unexplained here! Let’s get some ideas for hardwoods and softwoods:

Aspects Hardwood Softwood
Origin Coming from an angiosperm tree having no monocots Coming from a gymnosperm tree containing cones and needles
Used in High-quality furniture, floorings, decks, packaging, bigger constructions, etc. Windows, doors, fire boards having mid-level density, etc.
Density Higher Lower
Type Names Alder, beech, hickory, maple, oak, teak, balsa, mahogany, walnut, etc. Juniper, pine, cedar, spruce, douglas fir, yew, etc.
Cost More expensive Cost-effective
Fire Resistance More Lesser
Growth Rate Slower Faster
Shedding of Leaves Shed leaves in winter or even autumn Don’t shed, keep the leaves all over the year

With this comparison, we have come across reviewing several aspects. We bet, you got these quite interesting and relatable, don’t you?


How Robust Is Aspen?

Aspen does not show the strongest characteristics among woods. However, Red Oak carries much more robustness than aspen. But building your home, or any other structure, etc., can easily be done via aspen. Meanwhile, its bending strength stays up to 8400 PSI. Also, 1.2 million PSI is its elasticity.

Is Drying Aspen Wood Suitable?

Yes, Aspen is considered one of the most straightforward woods for drying purposes. Though it is infected with bacteria, the drying rate is quite impressive. A 4/4 aspen lumber is possibly dried to 20% moisture content under advantageous conditions. And this process may take less than a month.

Is Aspen Fine For Furniture?

Aspen comes with a  pastoral look to the furniture. Fewer issues you will find while having it on your furniture. Having a good degree of longevity makes it better at furnishings. Also, paint, stain, sands, etc., are nicely accepted from this wood. Easier workability keeps this light wood ahead.

Is Aspen Weather And Rot Resistant?

Yes, this light wood highly resists rot, decay, water, and even insects. And interestingly, it moderately resists weather. Also, it manages to hold moderated shine. Aspen’s heartwood and sapwood- both keep partial rot resistance. So, you can utilize aspen where conditions are exalted to decay.

Should I Pick Aspen To Build With?

This wood is suitable for air seasoning. Even it appears as kiln-dry woods which are formed through drying in an oven. However, you might experience some loss due to the failure in kiln drying. So, focusing on some particular areas like discolored or brown woods won’t cause collapses further. 

Final Word

So, is Aspen a hardwood? Hopefully, you caught the answers mentioned here. We intend to show you an in-depth overview of Aspen. 

Also, some comparisons among other woods show the real image of hardness level indeed. 

Anything we missed that you feel? Let us know! 

Kevin Smith

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *