The question invokes arguments in any gathering—frustration and anger sets in when a discussion on wood properties arises. Between Cedar, Oak, Black Walnut, and Birch, which is the hardest? The correct answer is discussed below as we differentiate between various woods and offer their strengths and weaknesses to help ease choosing what will suit a person’s needs best.
Oak is one of the strongest, heaviest, and most durable woods in the world. Its strength-to-weight ratio is higher than many other types of wood, and it has an excellent resistance to rot and fungal decay. With a density of 447 lb/ft3, Oak ranks among the hardest woods on this list.
Cedar is known for its resistance to rotting and pests, making it an ideal choice for homes in regions that experience rain and moisture. Lumber can be cut into ties or posts which will not decompose easily. Natural cedar contains oils that make it waterproof, which makes it a great option for outdoor furniture. While naturally resistant to termites, cedar still holds second place on the list as the hardest wood with an average density of 490 lb/ft3.
Birch comes in two varieties, hardwood and softwood. Hardwood birch trees are known for their toughness, while softwood birch trees are known for their flexibility. Softwood is much more pliable, making it ideal for weaker applications. It features an average density of 624 lb/ft3.
The black walnut tree produces hard, heavy timber, making it one of the strongest woods available. With an average density of 716 lb/ft3, black walnut makes it onto our list as the fourth hardest wood. Black walnuts are generally rot-resistant with minimal vulnerability to decay caused by insects or weather conditions.
All of the woods on our list have exceptional strength qualities; that is why they are used to make such a wide variety of products. While some may be more suited for specific applications, all are exceptional choices for strength.