Spruce and Pine - The prime Nordic conifers

Timber Tales : Spruce and Pine – The Prime Nordic Conifers

Finland – the most forested country in Europe is one of the prime sources for sawn timber. Finnish sawmills are central players in a global timber trade. Wood from Finland – the national promotion programme for Finnish sawn timber presents a special article on the wood species mainly used by the sawmill industry.

Softwood grown in the northern climate is a strong, dense and beautiful, but also ecologically sustainable choice for many different uses. The wood species mainly used by the sawmill industry are pine and spruce. Half of Finland’s forests are pine forests and about a third are spruce forests. The characteristics of the trunk are affected by the age of the tree, the place of growth, the growth rate, and the climate. The tree’s distinct annual rings tell of its growth. The lighter, sparse annual ring is spring wood, dark summer wood.

Spruce, Picea abies, thrives on shady, nutritious lands and can grow up to 40 meters in length. Spruce is straight, lightweight and withstands moisture fluctuations well. Its heart and surface wood are light in colour. Spruce is a popular wood in interior and exterior structures as well as in various panelling and boarding.

The pine, Pinus sylvestris, grows in bright, dry, even barren places. Like a spruce, it can grow up to 40 meters in length. Pine wood is hard and rigid and withstands moderate humidity fluctuations. In pine, the heartwood is dark, the surface wood is light in colour. Pine is used in the construction and carpentry industries, among others.

Visual and technical differences between the species
Pine and spruce are the most common coniferous tree species used in construction.
There are both visual and technical differences between tree species, which also make their uses different.

Trunk parts and applications

Properties of Spruce:

  • Large proportion of heartwood, surface wood penetrates little water
  • Straight grains
  • Few resin cavities, usually less than 40 mm in size
  • Long part of healthy branches in the trunk
  • Short dry-branched section, dry branches are small in size
  • Healthy branches of the same colour as other wood

Effects in use

  • Does not twist easily, withstands moisture in facades
  • The grains do not arise during the treatment
  • Good adhesive and surface treatment properties
  • Knots in the timber are usually healthy
  • Little edging in the lumber, planable
  • The surface of the lumber is evenly light in colour

Trunk parts and applications

Properties of Pine:

  • The heartwood is impermeable to water
  • The surface wood is very permeable to water
  • Resin evenly in the wood
  • Long branchless part in the trunk
  • The dry-branched trunk also contains healthy branches
  • The basal tree is denser than the top tree
  • The wood density of the branch is low, the branch grows at right angles to the core of the trunk

Effects in use:

  • Inherent rot and insect resistance
  • Good saturation ability, suitable for outdoor use
  • Protects wood from moisture and heat
  • Surface and side boards low-branched / branchless
  • The inner inserts of medium goods are usually healthy
  • The sawn timber from the base is strong
  • Easy planing


Wood from Finland
Finland Trade Center, Embassy of Finland,
Gate C, Chandragupta Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110 021 – India