Heart pine Vs. Yellow pine wood

When it comes to softwood, pine is the most affordable, readily available, durable, and preferred wood out there. Despite falling under the softwood classification, it still possesses some characteristics of hardwood which can be seen in its strength, hardness, and impact resistance properties, making it a versatile wood for various uses. 

Heart pine wood, also known as longleaf heart pine, is a species of pine and one of the most favored because of its abundance of heartwood which is also a reason for its name. It is preferred by woodworkers because of its beauty and strength.

Yellow pine wood, also known as southern yellow pine, on the other hand, is the main source of softwood. It is typically referred to as the hardwood species of southern pine because of its straight grain, size, and high density.

Highlighting their differences, genuine heart pine is more difficult to obtain, but yellow pine is readily available. However, they are both durable softwoods.  

Comparison chart between heart pine and yellow pine

FeaturesHeart pineYellow pine
Common nameLongleaf heart pineSouthern yellow pine
ColorGolden red colorSoft yellow or tan
Height100 to 150ft tall and 2 to 4 feet trunk diameter100-115ft and  2-3ft trunk diameter
TextureStraight grained, curlyStraight grain
WorkabilityNot easyEasy to work
AvailabilityNot readily availableReadily available
DurabilityVery durableVery  durable
OriginSouthern AmericaSouthern America

Differences between heart pine and yellow pine wood

To better understand these woods and how they compare to each other, we need to consider their differences, some of which can be seen in their uses, appearance, workability, cost, and resale value.

  • Uses 

When choosing between longleaf heart pine and yellow pine, you should consider what they can be used for to know if it is suitable for your project. Though they are very much alike, there are some specific details for their uses. Some examples can be seen in their uses for construction. 

  1. Interior construction

Heart pine is the heartwood of the longleaf pine tree; therefore, it has excellent structural strength, a hardness that can be compared to red oak hardwood, and a beautiful golden red color as well. For this reason, it can be used for furniture, cabinetry, framing, and flooring in private homes and public buildings like schools and churches.

While the yellow pine, it is not as beautiful as the heart pine. It is quite strong and hard, but when used for interior construction and décor, it will not provide the same antique beauty posed by the heart pine.

  • Deck construction, roof trusses, and construction of bridges  

Longleaf heart pine and yellow pine would have ranked equal here because they both have the strength and the hardness needed for these kinds of construction, but yellow pine has the edge over heart pine because of its better performance in moisture and outdoor weather. Outdoor constructions like decks, roofs, bridges, etc., need wood that has very good resistance to natural elements in other to last and yellow pine is better suited for that. Another reason why yellow pine is more preferred is its ability to pair well with other building components. For instance, it is better than heart pine at holding nails and fasteners, which is a very important issue, especially for roof trusses.

  • Appearance 

It is important to know what longleaf heart pine and yellow pine look like so that you can be able to easily identify them at the lumberyard. 

Looking at the longleaf heart pine, you will see a nice-looking golden color wood with a straight grain and a fine texture. Sometimes the grains appear curly, and when the heartwood is cut across the sapwood, you will see a heart pine wood with a mixture of golden red and yellowish color and a mixture of straight and curly grains. 

Yellow pine has a soft yellow or tan color with a straight and uneven grain, and it has a uniform medium texture. Also, at the end of its cone scales, you will see prickles. If it is cut across its sapwood, it will have a yellowish-white color.

  • Workability 

You need to know what you are getting into when buying any of these woods; while one is easy to work with, the other isn’t. If you have decided to buy heart pine, you should know that it does not behave like softwood. It is dense and heavy with tight straight grains, so it is not easy to cut and scrape with hand tools. Also, when hand nailed, it is susceptible to splitting, and pilot holes are needed for screws. Always look out for pockets of resins when working with reclaimed heart pines to avoid gumming up your planers and jointers.

In contrast, yellow pine wood is easier to work with. It works well with hand tools and machines. Its resin can also clog sandpaper or gum up tools, but finishes and glue are okay. Ensure that the wood is dry before working for better finishing. 

  • Cost

The outrageous prices of lumber might further prove that, indeed, money does grow on trees. Longleaf heart pine can be purchased for around $4 to $18 per square foot. While yellow pine can sell for $9.40 per cubic foot. Note that these prices are just estimates and are subject to change caused by price influencing factors.

  • Resale value

Longleaf heart pine has a higher resale value. This is because it is no longer harvested commercially, making it to be scarce. What you see around today is the highly desired reclaimed heart pine that is more valuable than the yellow pine, which can be easily found.

Similarities between heart pine and yellow pine wood 

Some of the features shared by both kinds of wood can be seen in their type, durability, and origin 

  • Type

Both the longleaf heart pine and the yellow pine are classified as softwoods despite possessing some hardwood characteristics.

  • Durability 

If well treated and maintained, both of them will last for a very long time. They both show significant resistance to decay, insect, and other natural elements.

  • Origin 

Longleaf heart pine and yellow pine wood both draw their origin from the United States of America. 


It is amazing how heart pine and yellow pine wood can be so different from each other despite being classified as softwoods. Luckily, this article has compared them in detail, so choosing which one to buy won’t be a hassle. Heart pine is strong, hard, and beautiful. Good for internal constructions. While yellow pine is best suited for external construction, it works well with other building materials and has good impact resistance.

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