Hardwood - Stair Construction Materials
There's two kinds of wood used to build stairs, one of them is hard and the other is soft. There are more hardwoods than there are soft woods and the difference between the two should make a lot of sense. Hardwoods are hard and softwoods are softer.
I wouldn't even dream of saying that softwoods are
soft, because I consider the pillow on my bed to be soft and if someone
threw that particular pillow at me, it probably wouldn't bother me.
However, if someone threw a piece of softwood at me, that isn't really
soft, I could get upset, angry and seriously consider throwing the piece
of softwood back at them.
Softwoods are normally easier to work with. They're usually easier to sand, cut and nail. Because they're softer than most hardwoods, they might not last as long, either. I've seen plenty of stairways made from soft woods like pine with high traffic patterns worn into their stair treads.
Hardwoods on the other hand aren't going to be as easy to sand, cut or nail. Some hardwoods actually require you to pre-drill a hole, before you can drive any nails into them. However, they are going to last longer, most of the time.
You're definitely going to find more stair treads, balusters, banisters, spindles, rosettes and other stair building parts available in hardwoods, than you would in softwoods. As a matter of fact, it's difficult to find handrailing parts made from softwood.
Stair Building Observation Test
The next time you run across a stairway that looks like it's damaged or worn, try to find out if it was built out of the softwood or hardwood.
Stairs / Stair Glossary
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