Southern yellow pine is not a single species. Instead it refers to several species of pine which are native to the southeastern United States. These include loblolly, longleaf, shortleaf and slash pines, as well as a few other species. It is harder than most pine wood, and reliably inexpensively because of its abundance. It is approximately 40% less expensive than Douglas fir. In the nineteenth century it was widely used and remains so today. Southern yellow pine is the state tree for North Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas. Because of it combination of durability, hardness and low cost, it is an excellent choice for flooring, especially in high traffic areas.
Southern yellow pine is reliably easy to work with hand and machine tools, although the resin can cause some difficulty by gumming up blades and sandpaper. The resin can also cause some challenges when gluing. It holds nails and screws very rarely well. It experiences higher than average shrinkage when it dries, therefore it needs to be thoroughly dry before usage. Southern yellow pine is easy to stain, varnish or paint. A wood sealer is highly recommended when staining.
Wood hardness is measured on the Janka hardness scale. This test measurements the force required to imbed a 0.444 “diameter steel ball halfway into the wood On this scale, longleaf southern yellow pine is rated at 870, while the loblolly and shortleaf varieties are rated at 690. By comparison, black walnut gets a 1010 rating while white pine comes in at only 420.
Southern yellow pine is an excellent wood for pressure treating. The structure of its cells allows preservatives to penetrate deeply and evenly into the wood. This lets the conservative do its job of keeping out mold, fungi and insects such as termites.
A great way to add warmth and charm to your home is to use southern yellow pine for flooring, molding and trim. With its distinctive grain and natural light gold color, it adds beauty to any room. To add that old time feel to your rooms, try random width flooring. In the old days, it took a lot of work to chop down a tree, so they used as much of it as possible. From the center of the logs they would cut wide planks to use for flooring. As they cut planks from the sides, they got narrower. They used all of these for their floors.