Is Poplar Wood Strong? (In-depth Discussion)

There are a variety of hardwoods out there. Poplar wood is one of the most used and famous wood types. However, there are many dilemmas about poplar wood strength.

Many confusions might strike you about poplar wood and getting concerned about its strength is natural.

So in reality, is poplar wood strong?

Yes, poplar wood is pretty strong. The density, hardness, bending strength, and compressive strength of poplar wood are decent. It can withstand a lot of weight and force. Similarly, it takes a lot of power to penetrate the wood. There are also a variety of smart uses available for poplar wood.

This is merely a summary of the whole article. You’ll have to read through the article to know these things in depth.

Let’s get to reading the article!

Is Poplar Wood Strong?

is poplar wood strong

Yes, Poplar wood is very strong. There are several reasons behind poplar wood being strong. We can measure wood strength based on a few factors. For example, the bending potential, density, stiffness, hardness, etc.

Some of the key factors which make poplar wood strong are-

  • Density
  • Hardness
  • Bending strength
  • Compressive strength

These are the key factors when rating the strength of wood. Below, I’ve elaborated on these factors regarding poplar wood. 

Let’s take a look.

Density

There are two types of wood; softwood and hardwood. In both cases, the higher the density, the more dense the wood is. Low density indicates the wood is vulnerable and thin.
There are a lot of methods out there to compute the density of the wood. The basic approach is to compute the ratio of dry weight: green volume. This is also known as the basic density. 

The simple way of weighing wood is to take it in your hand, then weigh yourself. By subtracting the weight of your body, you can know the weight of the wood. Although, you can find a variety of scales to weigh wood on. 

I’ve listed some of the best scales for you to weigh wood on-

You can get the precise weights of wood by using any of the scales mentioned above. These are multipurpose as well!

Also, the density of any wood can be estimated as specific gravity. For poplar wood, the gravity count is 0.42. This is more than almost all of the softwoods in the market. On top of that, some hardwoods also have a lower gravity count than poplar wood. 

Since it has an above-average gravity count; we can mark poplar as strong wood.

The density is so high, regularly using a lathe for poplar can wear it off. A lathe motor replacement may be needed after a while!

Hardness

It is possible to measure the poplar wood using the Janka wood hardness scale. This global system is used to find the hardness of a wood type. It’s used by many professional hardwood/software retailers. Wood manufacturers also use this. 

The hardness rating basically indicates how hard the surface of the wood is. The surface of the wood represents the wood itself. If the hardness is high, the wood is hard. On the contrary, a low hardness level can indicate weak woods. 

We can assess the hardness of wood by only a 0.444 diameter steel ball. An amount of force is needed to drive it 0.222 inches deep. That is exactly half the diameter of the steel ball. The amount of force is the hardness rating of that specific wood.

In the case of poplar, 540lb of force needs to be applied to the steel ball. This means the hardness rating of the poplar wood is 540lb (pounds). It is not very high when considering hardwoods, but it’s not a low hardness rating. 

To put it into contrast, the white pine wood has a hardness rating of 450lb. Also, hemlock wood has a hardness rating of 500. These two are very strong woods on their own. The poplar wood has a higher rating than these (540lb). 

If you want to climb a poplar tree someday; you’ll need high-quality gear. Consider using the best tree climbing spikes for climbing poplar trees. You will need very sharp blades to penetrate through the poplar wood! That way the climbing spikes won’t slip.

To help you, I’ve gathered some of the best band saws out there-

Cutting poplar wood and other hardwoods can be an easy task by using these bandsaws.

Bending Strength

The bending strength is also the modulus of rupture. In other words, it can also be thought of as the elasticity of wood. The amount of force the wood can reflect is the bending strength. That is if we consider that some sort of force is being applied.

When an amount of load is applied, a wood deflects a portion of it. The force should be applied perpendicular to the grain. 

For example, we can consider spring and a piece of metal. Bending a spring with force bends it, but it will return to its original state. However, bending a piece of metal will stay like that. It won’t return to its original state.

The poplar wood has a bending strength of 10,100 psi. To be honest, it isn’t too high of bending strength. However, it’s still higher than most softwoods and some of the hardwoods.

It is lower than oak woods (14-15,000 psi) and ashwood (15,000 psi). Although, it is higher than redwood (7,900 psi), and basswood (8,700 psi). These are just some examples. Poplar is stronger than most of the woods out there. 

Compressive Strength

Compressive strength is an essential part of any wood strength test. This basically is the maximum load a wood can take before breaking. The amount of force you can apply before permanently deforming is its bending strength.

The percentage of the force the wood can retain is a part of compressive strength. For instance, let’s say you’re bending a piece of wood. When you’re applying force to it, the wood is retaining a portion of it. 

The retaining actually causes it not to break instantly. The force spreads throughout the pressure point. The longer the wood takes to break applying force, the more compressive strength it has. 

The compressive strength of poplar wood is 5,540 psi. Which means it needs a total of 5,540 psi of pressure to break. We can compare it with other woods to prove that poplar wood is strong. 

As an example, we can consider redwood (5,220 psi) and pinewood (4,800 psi). These are some of the most famous woods. They have lower compressive strength than poplar wood. This shows how strong poplar wood is!

When doing woodwork with poplar wood, you can always choose bandsaws. Effective and efficient bandsaws will be needed to penetrate the hardness of poplar wood. You can choose between laguna 14bx and 18bx, whichever suits you!

So far, we have known the numbers behind the factors of the poplar wood. Here’s a quick recap:

PropertiesApproximate Values
Density0.42
Hardness540 (lb)
Bending strength10,100 (psi)
Compressive strength5,540 (psi)

Now, a question might arise. What are the uses of strong wood like poplar wood? To answer that, let’s take at some of the uses of poplar wood.

Top 4 Applications of Poplar Wood

You may have known poplar wood as the best material for porch columns

However, poplar wood has many other uses since it’s a strong wood. Many applications of poplar wood are seen universally. Poplar wood is known for structural integrity rather than aesthetic contributions.

Let’s see the top 5 uses for poplar wood.

Furniture

Making furniture with poplar wood can be a great decision. Since poplar wood is cheap and durable, it is a wise choice. 

Note that, poplar wood doesn’t give out the “rich look” like other woods.

For instance, oak wood and maple wood give out a really fine look! Poplar wood doesn’t have the designs and patterns like other woods. But it is really strong and can be a good contribution to the furniture.

You can make different tables, chairs, even beds from poplar wood. The bed frame can be made with poplar wood since it needs a strong base. Also, interior cabinets and drawers can be made out of poplar wood.

If you’re thinking about painting furniture, you can use poplar wood to build that. Since it’ll have a coating of paint, the surface cannot be seen. Which is the perfect scenario for poplar wood! 

Here is a list of high-quality paints that are compatible with poplar woods-

These paints also provide extra protection. If you use these paints, you can stay tension-free about the protection of poplar wood.

Flooring and Fencing

You can use poplar wood freely for flooring and also for fences. Although the poplar wood is very dense, it gets dented pretty easily. If you’re alright with that, go for it!

Flooring with poplar wood can be a great option when considering bathrooms. Poplar wood has a water-resisting nature. So any humidity or water-related usage can be handled easily by poplar wood.

Frames

Any kind of frame can be built with poplar wood. Starting from small photo frames to windows frames. Since it won’t wear off, it’s a great use of the poplar wood. The poplar wood frame will also prevent breakage since it’s such hardwood.

If you want to change the appearance of the poplar wood, you can stain it. A wide range of stains can be applied to poplar wood. By staining, you can apply your favorite color choice and appearance to the poplar wood. 

The surface of the wood will also be water-resistant and it’ll catch fewer scratches. So, the interior of your house will stay beautiful!

Wood Carving

Poplar wood is inexpensive and that’s exactly why it’s a great option for wood carving. If you know how to carve wood, poplar wood will be easy to carve. You can bring out large batches of poplar wood and get creative with it!

Remember that the poplar wood has a green hue to it. So the carved-out poplar wood won’t always match your expectations, color grading-wise. 

You can easily fix this by applying an opaque finish to the wood. It’ll eliminate the greenish color and look gorgeous!

FAQs

Does poplar burn well?

Poplar wood burns well but it doesn’t go for a long time. It is not the most ideal wood to set fire on. The British thermal unit rating of poplar wood is from 13.7-14.7. So generally, poplar wood isn’t recommended for burning. Even though poplar wood burns hot, it has a very low BTU.

Can poplar wood get wet?

Yes, poplar wood can get wet like any other wood. However, the water resistance of this wood beats other woods in the industry. Since the poplar wood is highly dense, it takes time to soak water. With enough time and liquid substance, it’s possible for the poplar wood to get wet.

Which is stronger aspen or poplar?

Between aspen wood and poplar wood, poplar wood is stronger. The only advantage the aspen wood has over poplar wood is higher shock resistance. Other than that, aspen has lower compressive strength (200 vs 5,540 psi). Also, the hardness rating of aspen is lower than poplar wood (420 vs 540lb).

Is poplar hard to cut?

Poplar is not hard to cut. If you have a hacksaw or cutter, you can cut and chop the poplar wood. The poplar wood is very dense but it’s possible to cut it. However, the tool you’re cutting the poplar with should be sharp. Dull blades won’t go through the poplar wood. Cut it at a slow pace.

Does poplar warp easily?

Warping in poplar wood is very rarely seen. When wood gets deformed because of moisture changes, it is called warping. The poplar wood has tannins in it, it prevents decay. For siding, poplar wood can be a great choice for these reasons. Since it doesn’t warp easily, poplar wood is famous.

Conclusion

I’m hoping that now you know the answer to the question; is poplar wood strong?

Despite being very strong; poplar wood is not an all-purpose wood. Try to acknowledge the usage of poplar wood before working with it. There could be better wood options!

All the best!

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