What is the Cheapest Hardwood Lumber?

What is the Cheapest Hardwood Lumber to Buy?

Hardwoods have long been the standard of excellence for cabinetmakers, furniture makers, and all woodworkers. Hardwood furniture and finishes are unique becauseWhat Is The Cheapest Hardwood Lumber to Buy they’re hard, stable and come in a variety of beautiful colors and grain patterns.

Hardwood lumber isn’t cheap. Hardwood lumber is expensive, with prices easily exceeding $20 per foot.

This guide will help you find the best hardwoods for your budget.

We will also cover the most important factors to take into consideration when buying hardwood lumber, and some of the higher-priced options that are worth the money.

Cheap wood for woodworking

  • Maple
  • Poplar
  • Alder
  • White Oak
  • Beech
  • Ash
  • Walnut
  • Koa

What is the cheapest hardwood lumber to buy?

Maple is the most affordable wood. Also, poplar, Alder and white oak are quite affordable.

Because of its availability and affordability, maple is a popular wood among woodworkers who are just starting out and for general woodworking. Poplar is a close second.

What is Hardwood Lumber?

You need to know a bit more about hardwoods in order to appreciate why maple, alder, and poplar woods are cheaper than other hardwoods.

Hardwood lumber is made from dicot trees. Dicot trees have broad leaves and are found in temperate and tropical climates.

In boreal and tropical climates, forests are deciduous. Tropical hardwoods lack the annual rings that distinguish deciduous species.

Hardwoods are made from angiosperm plants that reproduce by means of flowers. They take a long time to reach maturity.

Read about: The Woodworking Symbol of Feet and Inches

Cheap Hardwood Lumber vs Softwood Lumber

You may be able to better understand hardwoods by comparing them with softwoods. Here are some of the major differences:

  1. Definition Hardwoods are made from angiosperm dicot trees. Hardwoods are trees with broad leaves and visible pores (under a microscopy) that carry water through the wood. Softwoods are made from gymnosperms, which have needle-like cones and needle-like leaves. Water is transported by rays, tracheid pathways and other mechanisms. They have no visible pores when viewed under a microscopy.
  2. Density Hardwoods have a higher density than softwoods. It also means that they are more durable, as density is directly related to durability. Alder, which is one of the softer softwoods, can have a density as low as 26lb/ft-3. Teak, one the hardest hardwoods has a densities of up to 61lb/ft-3.
  3. Composition Hardwoods have more xylenes and glucomannans than softwoods. Xylenes, a type of hemicellulose, form a structure that looks like twill. This makes plants dense. Glucomannans, on the other hand, are polysaccharides that are waterproof.
  4. uses: Both hardwoods and softwoods can be used for similar applications. Softwoods are more common because they’re easier to work. Softwoods make up about 80% of the wood that is shipped in today’s world. Softwoods are used for general furniture, paper production, and MDF. Hardwoods are used in furniture, decks, decking, and construction.
  5. Examples Some of the best hardwood trees include alder, beech hickory maple oak mahogany maple walnut. Cedar, Douglas Firs, Redwood, Spruce, Pine, and Juniper are some of the most common Softwood Trees. See more about softness or hardness of redwood.

Hardwood Lumber: Good And Not So Good

Hardwood lumber has many advantages over its softwood counterparts.Cheapest Hardwood Lumber to Buy


  • Extremely durable
  • Density increases, resulting in greater strength
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Fire resistance is exceptional

Not So Good

  • These hardwoods are usually more expensive than softwoods
  • The high density makes it more difficult to work.
  • When you walk on hardwood floors, they can make noise.

What is the most common hardwood lumber to buy?

Oak. Oak is the most common hardwood in the US. Oak is therefore the most common choice of flooring in the United States. Red oak is the most popular of all oak species.

Oak is a popular domestic wood because it is readily available and inexpensive. As more people have adopted the “buy locally, build locally” campaign, domestic hardwoods are generally performing well.

Recent polling shows that 45% prefer oak because it is readily available and has a long history, while 14% and 15% prefer walnut or hickory.

Hardwood Lumber Pricing: Board-Foot Pricing

We now know a lot about hardwoods including their differences from softwoods. Let’s learn how timber prices work.

Hardwoods can be purchased by the Board Foot (BF), which is a calculation based on the volume of wood in the board. One board foot is the volume of a board measuring 12 x12 x1.0 inches. This is one-twelfth a cubic foot.

Are you feeling a bit lost? We should start by describing the wood thickness offered by retailers. Hardwood boards typically come in quarter-inch increments. The measurements are 1/4-inch, 3/4-I, 4/4-inch etc.

Calculate board feet using the formula:

(Length, Width, Thickness)/144

All measurements are given in inches.

If you want to order 96 inches of a board that is 10 inches wide and three quarters inch thick, the calculation will be as follows:

(96 x 10 * 0.75 = BF.

Once you know how many board feet you’ll need, it is easy to calculate the budget. If you want to use oakwood which is priced at around $20 per board-foot in the example above, then you will need:

5BF x 20/foot = 100.

Important Considerations

You should keep a few points in mind. You may have some problems if you buy hardwood lumber.

  1. Rounding: Many retailers round off numbers to “simplify transactions”. If you purchase 7.83 BF from a retailer, they may round off the figure to 7.9 or 8.0 BF. When buying multiple pieces of lumber, this can add a significant amount to the price. Bring a calculator with you and work out the numbers together with the seller.
  2. Even though two boards look similar, they may have different board foot volumes. For example, a board measuring 5BF but 10 x 6 inches by 1 inch is different than a board measuring 2.5 x 4 inches by 3 inches. It’s important to measure each board before you pay.

What is the cheapest hardwood by price?

We can now look at the most affordable hardwoods. We have covered the eight best hardwoods to buy.

Please feel free to continue exploring. Note that these prices are a ballpark value for 4×4, which is one-inch rough wood boards, when purchased in bulk.

Maple is a strong, cheap wood

Depending on the type of maple, it can cost anywhere from $5.20/BF up to $9.60/BF when purchased in bulk. Soft maple is most affordable. Curly soft maple lumber, for example, costs $5.25/BF.

Ambrosia Maple is priced around the same. Hard maples are priced at least $6.00/BF. The curly hard maple, for example, costs $8.25/BF.

It’s easy to use, comes in vibrant colors, and is readily available. You can also choose any Maple stain and get the color you like.

Hard vs soft maple Here is a comparison between these two types with distinct differences in characteristics and uses.


Poplar can be even cheaper than maple. Poplar is the cheapest hardwood, with prices as low as $3.75/BF at many local lumber shops. It’s also just as easy as maple to work with.

Most woodworkers do not like the greenish-white color. Poplar can dent if you don’t use the finish. However, using the correct poplar finishing, such as polyurethane or a protective coating, will help to minimize this vulnerability.


Alderwood has a rustic look and is softer than Poplar. It’s the best wood type for furniture, cabinets and doors.

Many woodworkers love the timber’s uniform texture and straight grain.

The material is not water-resistant. Prices start around $7.6/BF.

White Oak

The white oak is a common wood. The wood is highly attractive due to its durability, strength and beautiful grain pattern.

It is well-suited for flooring, furniture, and paneling.

It is heavier and less workable. The cost of white oak is around $7/BF.


The wood is dense, but it is easy to work. It has a creamy color and straight grain with a uniform surface.

Hard maple has the same characteristics. The only downside to this wood is that it does not stain well. You need a finish that is clear. Prices for Select & Best start at around $3.90/BF.


Ashwood is a common hardwood with its straight grain and uniform texture. The color can range from light cream or light yellow. It is also notable for its hardness. This wood type is easy to stain and can be easily nailed, screwed, or glued.

Prices can vary greatly depending on where and how you buy. Most retailers sell ash starting at $3.00/BF. The cheapest variety is white ash. You can find wood for woodworking here.


Walnut is also known as Juglans and is popular among woodworkers, customers who are looking for high-quality products. Walnut furniture can easily last up to 400+ years.

Walnut has a high level of mold and moisture resistance. However, walnut doesn’t come cheap. Prices start at $16.20/BF


If you have ever seen wooden wedding rings, they are probably made of Koa. Due to its unmatched aesthetic qualities, Koa is used for making light and practical phone covers.

It’s not suitable for outdoor furniture due to its susceptibility to denting. Prices start at around $20/BF, if that’s what you are looking for.

The Key Factors in Lumber Selection

The price is not the only factor to consider when selecting timber. Here are four more factors to consider.

  • Types of Wood Although a cheaper price may be appealing, the type is more important for woodworking. The wrong type of wood can result in low-quality products. Ask the seller/supplier to guide you in making the right decision.
  • Grade of Timber (4 Grades). Timber can be classified into various classes. The US quality grading system is notable for its three primary grades (1-3), with a fourth (grade-4) grade that’s usually avoided because of the inherent bad qualities. The best grade is 1, followed by two and three grades in that order.
  • Dry or not? The quality of wood is affected by the dryness. Dried timber is more expensive. There are two ways of drying timber: air-drying and kiln-drying. Kiln-dried wood is superior in quality.
  • Measurements When buying hardwood lumber, you should also consider the dimensions. The dimensions of your project, including the length, width and thickness, are crucial. To avoid having to join multiple pieces, you need to use the right size lumber.

What is the easiest hardwood to work?

It is the easiest to nail and slice balsa wood. It’s very rare because it is a wood that has been used for model planes. Alder and poplar are two of the most common woods, which are also easy to work with.

Hardwood Lumber for DIY Projects

Soft maple and poplar are the best hardwoods for DIY projects. These two wood types can be found easily and are very affordable. These two wood types are very common at local lumber yards.

You won’t lose much money if your DIY project fails. Both are also highly usable.

The Best Hardwood Flooring

In the US , oak is the preferred wood for hard-wood flooring. The availability of the wood and its affordability make it easy to install.

It is also much easier to replace damaged sections of the flooring. Oak is also very durable and hard. Oak is also highly resistant to rot and water and available in many different options. You can refinish oak engineered wood flooring to give your home a fresh look.

The cheapest type of wood

Types of Wood Cost
Maple $3 – $7 /Board-foot
Poplar $2 – $5 /Board-foot
Alder $6 – $8 / Board-foot
White Oak $6 – $8 / Board-foot
Beech $6 – $8 / Board-foot
Ash $3 – $5 /Board-foot
Walnut $10 – $14 / Board-foot
Koa $40 – $60. / Board-foot

What is the cheapest dark hardwood available?

Hickory is the best choice. Hickory is available in light to medium brown with a reddish blue hue. The sapwood, however, is a lighter yellowish-brown. It has a striking contrast between light and dark tones.

What is the most expensive hardwood available?

African Blackwood is the rarest hardwood in the world. It is one the world’s hardest and densest hardwoods and is used primarily for musical instruments. A log can sell for $9,000+ while African Blackwood processed costs $13,000+/cubic square meter.

What is the best wood to use for cheap furniture?

  • Soft Maple
  • Poplar is the cheapest wood
  • Beech.
  • Knotty Alder
  • White Oak.


What should I be looking for when purchasing timber?

You need to take into consideration several factors when buying timber. These include the type of timber you are looking for, the amount you require, the quality, and the aesthetic qualities.

What does 44 refer to when purchasing lumber?

wood term is 44 or 4-4, which means one inch or four quarters of a timber. You can also have 8-4 which is eight quarters thick, or 10-4 which is ten quarters thick. The quarters are quarters of an inch. The 10-4 wood thickness is 2 1/2 inches.

What wood is less expensive than oak?

Many wood types are cheaper than oak. Pine is one of today’s most affordable wood types and is less expensive than oak. If you are wondering, maple, poplar and alder are hardwoods that cost less than oak.

What is the cheapest dark hardwood available?

Hickory is the best choice. Hickory is available in light to medium brown with a reddish blue hue. The sapwood, however, is a lighter yellowish brown. It has a striking contrast between light and dark tones.

What is the most expensive hardwood available?

African Blackwood is the rarest hardwood in the world. It is one the world’s hardest and densest hardwoods and is used primarily for musical instruments. A log can sell for $9,000+ while African Blackwood processed costs $13,000+ a cubic meter.

What is the best wood to use for cheap furniture?

  • Soft Maple
  • Poplar is the cheapest wood
  • Beech.
  • Knotty Alder
  • White Oak.

Last Thoughts about the Cheapest Hardwood

What is the best hardwood lumber for sale? Here is a list with some of the most affordable hardwoods to buy. Remember that “cheapness” is relative. What is cheap for one person may be costly for another.

It’s important to not go over budget, but rather get the quality and quantity you desire.

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