Can Softwoods be as durable as Hardwoods?
Generally speaking, Softwoods and Hardwoods are classified based on the density of the wood species and the growth of the tree. Slower growth equals a denser species making it a hardwood. But, there are some products in the market that start as a softwood and end with the density of a hardwood. These products are called modified woods because the cellular structure of the wood is being modified to achieve this transformation.
Two examples of modified woods that we like are DassoXTR and Kebony.
DassoXTR starts with Bamboo, which grows so fast it's considered a grass or weed. It's also considered a very green product because it's so sustainable. Dasso takes the Bamboo and heats it in two stages to remove the starches and sugars from the wood while maintaining structural stability. Then, they use a phenolic resin similar to what is used to make bowling balls and fuse the bamboo into decking and siding products. The end result is a highly sustainable softwood transformed into a hardwood with the density of Ipe but less cupping and warping.
The second modified wood that we recommend is Kebony. Kebony is a Norwegian company that uses both heat and chemicals to modify the wood. Kebony has a three-step process. First, they start with an FSC Certified sustainable softwood like Radiata Pine. Then, they soak the wood in an organic compound called furfuryl alcohol. The compound adds stability to the wood, then heat is used to lock the alcohol in the wood creating a thicker cell structure. The final product is permanently modified offering more stability and a similar durability as any other hardwood.
Both of these modified wood products will gray like hardwoods and they both come with 30-year warranties.
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