Poplar Wood vs Pine

Poplar Wood vs Pine

Poplar and pine are two common woods used in woodworking. While the two have similar properties that can make choosing between them for your next woodworking project difficult, they are not the same.

Pine is a softwood, while poplar is a tropical hardwood. So, if you’re trying to figure out which wood is superior, you’ll probably ask: poplar vs pine—is poplar stronger than pine?

This question does not have a simple answer. The best way is to look at each wood’s distinct attributes and discover which one has the best combination of characteristics for your needs.

Poplar Wood vs Pine

brown parquet floor
Pine wood

Is Poplar More Durable Than Pine?

Poplar is a tougher wood than pine, while being a soft tropical hardwood. White pine wood has a Janka hardness value of 420 pound-force (lbf), while it has a Janka hardness value of 540 pound-force (lbf). Pine wood, on the other hand, comes in a variety of varieties. Some are more durable than poplar. Poplar, for example, with a pound-force count of 80 lbf, is regarded softer and weaker than southern yellow pine.

What exactly is Poplar Wood?

Poplar is a tropical hardwood with creamy, white-colored lumber with red-brown to gray streaks running through it. The forests are made mostly of deciduous trees, which lose their leaves in the winter.

Because of the light cream to yellow-brown tint associated with that species, the wood is frequently referred to as yellow poplar.

Is poplar considered a hardwood?

Poplar is a hardwood with a lower Janka hardness value, which means it is on the softer side of the hardness scale. Despite being a soft hardwood, poplar ranks higher than most softwoods, such as white pine, but lower than traditional hardwoods, such as oak.

Advantages and disadvantages of poplar wood

Solid, Hardwood Poplar Lumber Board (S4S), 12 in x 11.25 in x 0.75 in (Actual Size) – Finished on Four Sides – USA Source – Ideal for Small Home Projects and Renovations

POPLAR || A four-sided section of poplar wood measuring 12″ x 11.25″ x 0.75″ (actual dimension) – nominal size is 12″ x 12″ x 1″

BLOCK || A versatile wood section that can be used for a variety of crafts, as well as pallet and crate construction, home renovation, furniture frame construction, and utility tasks.

FEATURES || A popular species – Recommended for painting tasks – Easy to work with in every way – Moderately rot resistant – No distinctive odor – Can be dyed – Low density can occasionally produce fuzzy surfaces and edges when worked – Sanding may be required

APPEARANCE || Light cream to yellowish brown – Occasional gray or green streaks – Typically straight, consistent grain with a medium texture – Low natural sheen – Usually knot-free


  • Because of its robustness and inexpensive cost, poplar wood is chosen for industrial usage such as packing crates and pallets.
  • It has outstanding workability, making cutting dovetails a breeze.
  • It’s a low-cost hardwood.
  • Despite being stronger, poplar is lighter than pine.
  • It has a consistent texture, unlike knotty pine.
  • The wood is sturdy, not warping or shrinking.
  • Fungi, flies, and other disease-causing pests aren’t a problem for poplar.


  • Some individuals believe that the many color variations of poplar make staining difficult.
  • To stain or paint the wood correctly, it needs to be primed.
  • Because it necessitates extensive sanding, it can be time-consuming to treat.

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brown wood log lot in close up photography
Poplar logs

Regarding Pine Wood

The pine tree is a coniferous tree that stays green all year. Pine, like all coniferous trees, is a softwood. Pine wood is known for having apparent faults such as knots and knot holes, which are distinguishing qualities for identifying it.

Pinewood is primarily white or reddish-brown in color. There are, however, a variety of pines with other colors than these common types, such as light brown and pale yellow pines. True pine, whatever of hue, darkens with age.

Advantages and disadvantages of pine wood

  • 10 x 10cm Rectangle Natural Pine Wood Boards for Arts and Crafts DIY
  • The face veneer has a light, uniform tint and a smooth surface.
  • You can have whatever size or form you want sawn to fit your needs.
  • Ideal for boosting the quality of work and crafting products.
  • Natural pine wood board, suitable for weddings, parties, and home decor.
  • Ideal material for creative projects and for modeling DIY crafts.


  • Pine is a relatively affordable wood.
  • Because of its structural strength, the wood is a popular choice for indoor rustic furniture and other applications.
  • Pine is environmentally friendly because it is a renewable resource.
  • Pine has a wide variety of grain patterns to choose from.
  • The wood is very easy to deal with.


  • If left untreated, pine is prone to swelling and shrinkage.
  • The wood has characteristic knots and other flaws.
  • To endure the elements, it needs to be treated and cared for on a regular basis.

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brown wood logs on snow covered ground during daytime

Which is Better for Woodworking: Pine or Poplar?

While pine is the most cost-effective wood for furniture production, poplar is easier to deal with. It’s lighter, with less sap and knots to cope with while dealing with wood.

Poplar is a preferable wood choice in most woodworking applications because of these factors. Despite this, pine is still widely used in wooden rustic furniture, construction, fencing, and a variety of other purposes.

Side by side comparison of Poplar and Pinewood

Knowing the traits that distinguish pine and poplar should make it easier to choose between the two. This section delves into the primary distinguishing elements that are likely to affect your decision.

  1. Common uses of poplar vs. pine wood

Poplar is mostly utilized in the production of paper and crafts. Due to its inexpensive cost, it is often used to produce packaging boxes and matchboxes. Furthermore, the tree grows very quickly for a hardwood, ensuring an adequate supply for papermaking.

Because of its flexibility, poplar is widely utilized to create electric guitar bodies. It’s also a popular choice for making decorative objects like pocket clocks and photo frames because of its outstanding workability and clean, consistent appearance.

Due to its fragility to the outdoors and low resistance to insect damage, pine wood is primarily utilized in inside applications such as indoor furniture, paneling, window frames, roofs, and floors.

Pressure-treated pine, on the other hand, is widely used in deck construction, fencing, and other exterior applications.

Many pinewood species are also used to create beautiful park decorative plantings.

The result is a draw.

  1. Cost of poplar vs. pine

Pine grows faster than poplar, which helps to explain why it is less expensive than hardwood.

Pinewood is less expensive than poplar, despite the fact that both are inexpensive and popular for that reason. Pine trees have a straight grain, which means less millwork is required.

Even while poplar is still quite inexpensive, it is often more expensive than pine. The increased price could be attributable to its slower growth rate or the fact that it is a hardwood.

Poplar wood is also free of flaws such as knots, which are frequent in pine. This feature could be another reason for its higher price than pinewood. The fact that poplar is easier to work with than pine could be another explanation.

Despite the fact that the two wood species’ prices are remarkably similar, pine would be an excellent choice for any project where cost is a major consideration.

Conclusion: pine is less expensive.

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  1. Workability of poplar vs. pine wood

Both poplar and pine are very workable, however when the two are compared, poplar comes out on top. Because of its low density, it’s quite simple to work with using machines or manual tools. To add nails or screws, you don’t need to drill the wood first.

Because of its high moisture content, poplar is also relatively easy to carve and trim. Because it will shrink as it loses moisture after drying, you should let it dry completely before using it for the best results.

When you use sharp cuts on this wood, you often get cleaner, fuzzier surfaces.

Pine wood has a medium density and is quite soft. It’s easy to work with, whether with hand tools or machines. It’s also simple to screw, glue, nail, or finish, much like poplar. Despite their close resemblance, poplar is more easier to work with and machine than pine.

Poplar becomes victorious.

  1. Weight of poplar vs. pine

Poplar has a lower moisture content and is often lighter than pine, as you may have noted in previous sections.

Because of its low density, poplar is a much better choice if you’re working on a project where weight is a factor. Poplar tables, chairs, drawers, chests, and other furniture are much easier to lift than pine furniture.

Poplar becomes victorious.

  1. Poplar vs. Pine: Which is Stronger?

Despite being a tropical hardwood, poplar is a weak wood. Pine, on the other hand, is a softwood, albeit certain types are more harder than poplar.

Pine is more prone to dent on average than poplar, but neither is a viable choice for any project that requires hardwood. Both wood species are soft by Janka standards, which are used to determine the hardness of wood.

Which is harder, poplar or pine? The choice here is based on the specific wood kinds in question. White poplar has a Janka hardness value of 410 lbf, while yellow poplar has a Janka hardness rating of 540 lbf. With a 300 lbf rating, Balsam Poplar is the softest.

Pine varieties follow a similar pattern, with various hardness levels for different types. Longleaf and heart pine are the hardest, with Janka scales of 870 lbf and 710 lbf, respectively. Radiata pine is the softest, with a Janka scale of 710 lbf. Scots wood, with a 540 lbf rating, is likewise rather hard, while Eastern white pine, with a 380 lbf rating, is the softest.

If you compare species by species, you’ll find that some pine species outperform poplar. Standard poplar, on the other hand, has a higher hardness rating than standard pine, making it the winner.

Poplar becomes victorious.

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  1. Which is more durable, poplar wood or pine wood?

Pine outlasts poplar in terms of wood durability. The latter is scratch and dent resistant to a lesser extent. As a result, poplar is frequently advised solely for interior construction and not for heavy-duty exterior use.

Pine isn’t the most long-lasting tree, but it is, in many circumstances, more durable than poplar. However, because naked pine wood is extremely fragile outside, it must be treated with either copper azole or chromate copper arsenate to increase its endurance.

Conclusion: Pine comes out on top.

  1. Staining poplar vs. pine—staining poplar vs. pine

Wood stains do not take well to poplar or pine. If you want better results, use a pre-stain wood conditioner before applying the stain. Otherwise, the project as a whole will fail. Attempting to apply wood stain directly to the surface of either wood produces only a negative outcome.

Pine wood has an irregular grain, which causes stain penetration to be uneven. As a result, if pine is stained, it is prone to become blotchy.

Poplar, on the other hand, is a paint-grade wood because it takes paint well. Unlike paint, which mostly sits on the surface of the wood, stain must soak into the wood. When you stain poplar, it absorbs the stain unevenly, leaving a drab, splotchy finish.

In the end, neither wood stains well, so it’s a tie.

  1. Density of pine vs. poplar

Hardwoods are generally denser than softwoods. Poplar, on the other hand, is not one of these hardwoods. It’s less dense and lighter than traditional hardwoods. Poplars all have wood with a diffuse-porous structure and a low density.

Poplar is lighter than pine on average. As a result, poplar furniture is lighter and easier to move about, making it simpler and less stressful to reorganize your house.

Pine is more durable and heavier than poplar, but it is significantly less dense than traditional hardwoods such as oak and walnut.

  1. For outdoor use, poplar or pine

Without prior surface treatment, both pine and poplar have a low natural resistance to decay and are not suitable for outdoor use.

Outdoors, untreated poplar wood will only last three to four years. Untreated pine will not fare well in the outdoors. In the outside environment, it is projected to endure for roughly five years or somewhat longer.

Untreated pine is marginally more durable outside than untreated poplar. Both types of wood, however, will last much longer outside if treated.

Pressure-treated pine or poplar is more resistant to moisture and water damage, and can be utilized outdoors for several years. Because pressure-treating infuses the wood with preservatives that make it more resistant to rot, insects, and even fire, the wood becomes more resilient.

Pressure-treated wood is a popular choice for decking, outdoor furniture, and fences because it can withstand the harsh weather conditions outside.

When comparing the two types of lumber for outdoor furniture, pine is the preferable option. Pine also makes superior construction-grade lumber than poplar when pressure-treated.

Conclusion: Pine comes out on top.

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Is Poplar Wood a Durable Material?

Poplar is one of the softer hardwoods in the group, despite being a hardwood. Although it is a deciduous tree like oak and walnut, poplar is one of the softer hardwoods, unlike oak, which is one of the hardest. On the Janka scale, red oak, for example, is more than twice as strong as poplar.

What is the Purpose of Poplar?

Poplar is a great wood to use for indoor furniture, wooden toys, cabinets, plywood, drawers, frames, and other projects. It’s also used in industrial settings, where it’s used to make crates, boxes, and pallets.

Poplar’s vast range of uses is attributable to its relative ease of use, which is similar to that of pinewood or other similarly workable softwoods.

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FAQs on Poplar Wood vs Pine

Is poplar a tougher tree than pine?

Yes, standard poplar has a better Janka test result than normal pinewood, indicating that it is a more durable wood. Poplar, for example, has a Janka hardness of 540 lbf, while white pine has a Janka hardness of 420 lbf. However, on a larger scale, certain pine woods are more resilient than polar, having a higher Janka grade. With 80 lbf, the southern yellow pine, for example, is harder than poplar.

Is poplar a decent wood to use for furniture?

Poplar isn’t thought to be the most attractive wood. As a result, it’s not a popular material for exquisite furniture. When it is used to make furniture, it is frequently painted. Poplar, on the other hand, is a popular choice for drawers and other inconspicuous fittings due to its low cost and stability.

What is the strength of poplar wood?

Poplar scores 540 pounds per foot in Janka’s test, which involves squeezing a 1/2-inch steel ball into a wood sample (lb-ft). This grade is greater than some softwoods but lower than most hardwoods and softwoods like cedar and fir.

Is it possible to use poplar wood outside?

Yes, pressure-treated poplar wood can be used outside. Untreated poplar, on the other hand, has a low natural resistance to weathering and should not be utilized outside. Any outdoor application where the possibility of dampening and deterioration is present is necessarily at a disadvantage.

What is the hardness of poplar wood?

Poplar has a 540 lbf hardness rating. The Janka scale, which includes squeezing a 1/2-inch steel ball into a wood sample, is used to determine the hardness of poplar wood. This hardness rating is higher than some softwoods like white pine, but lower than others like fir and cedar. Poplar is a soft wood that ranks below most other hardwoods, despite being a deciduous hardwood.

Strength of poplar vs. oak

Although yellow gold and white poplar are both hardwoods, they are among the softest in the family. As a result, their hardness score of 540 pound-feet is relatively low (lb-ft). Various oak species, on the other hand, score significantly higher on the hardness scale. On the Janka wood hardness scale, red oak, for example, scores a stunning 1290 pound-feet (lbf).

What is the use of poplar wood?

Poplar is suitable for a wide range of industrial uses, including crates, boxes, pallets, and inexpensive plywood, thanks to its outstanding workability. It’s also a popular wood for indoor poplar furniture, wooden toys, cabinets, drawers, frames, and other projects.

Conclusion: Poplar vs. Pine

Is Poplar More Durable Than Pine? Although both pine and poplar are very inexpensive, each wood has its own inherent charm that makes it better suited to one purpose over the other.

Knowing how pine and poplar compare can help you narrow down your options and ensure you get the right wood for your next project. Whether you’re working on an interior or outdoor project, we hope this extensive comparison of poplar vs pine can help you make a wiser decision.

Shirley B. Leavitt

Shirley graduated with a Carpentry Technology Certificate Program at Northwestern Michigan College. Her study focuses on art criticism in its various forms, the history of Canadian and American art after 1940, and the psychology of creative thought. Sixty of her pieces have been published in periodicals such as Art International, Arts, Vie des arts, Studio International, The Canadian Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Art. The Caro Connection: Sculpture by Sir Anthony Caro from Toronto Collections, The Heritage of Jack Bush, A Tribute (Robert McLaughlin Gallery), and Caricature and Conscience: The Sculpture of Dora Wechsler (with Carolyn Robinson) are among the exhibitions she has produced. Shirley has served as a guest critic and speaker at various universities in Canada and the United States, including the Emma Lake Artists' Workshop and the University of Toronto. The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations honored her with their award for teaching excellence.

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