What Is Whitewood Used For?

Welcome to my article about what Whitewood is, where it comes from and it’s pros and cons!

When selecting wood for your next project, there are many things to consider. The wood’s hardness, durability and appearance are all things to think about.

If you are set on a light color wood, whitewood is a terrific choice.

Whitewood can refer to any light-colored wood, but it is most commonly used to describe the wood that comes from the tulip tree. It also goes by the name of tulip poplar and yellow poplar.

This article will talk more about whitewood so you can decide if it’s right for your project. Let’s dive in!

The Confusion Regarding Whitewood

While whitewood often refers to the wood of the tulip tree, it can also be used to describe white pine, Douglas Fir, Spruce, generic Fir or a Southern Yellow Pine.

The abbreviation SPF means it is from a White Pine, Douglas Fir or Spruce. SYP denotes a regular Fir tree while SYP stands for Southern Yellow Pine.

For this article, I will be discussing the wood that comes from the tulip tree only.

What is Whitewood?

what is whitewood
Example of Whitewood

Whitewood is a very high-quality lumber, derived from the fast-growing tulip tree which can reach heights of 160 feet or more.

The tree usually grows in New York and Connecticut, but it can also be found in Southern Florida.

The tree’s fast-growing attribute makes it a good choice for lumber. It grows quickly so it takes less time to harvest. That makes it a sustainable option.

But what really makes it special is its creamy white color. This is accompanied by a straight grain that provides a smooth, aesthetically pleasing experience.

It is also relatively soft while makes it easy to shape.


Properties of Whitewood

Here are some properties of whitewood that you may not already know about:

  • Whitewood has a white creamy color that makes it stand out from other light-colored trees.
  • Whitewood is naturally fire and termite resistant which makes it a great choice for furniture.
  • One downside is that the wood is porous, so it absorbs moisture quickly and easily. This makes it prone to warping.

What is Whitewood Used For?

Whitewood can come in handy in many applications. These include the following:


Whitewood’s beautiful color and easy workability makes it perfect for furniture making.

It is termite and fire resistant, so you won’t need to keep spraying it with chemicals to keep it safe. Just apply varnish every so often and it will stay in good shape.


Whitewood is also great for floors. It provides a light color that makes rooms look spacious.

But the color won’t be totally white, so you don’t have to worry too much about dirt showing up. It will go well with modern décor.

Whitewood Oil

Whitewood can also be used to make an essential oil that’s known to provide several medical benefits.

It can relieve nausea, lower fever and promote blood circulation. It also has antibacterial properties.

Whitewood Vs. Pine

flower from whitewood tree
A flower from the Tulip Tree, where Whitewood comes from

Whitewood and pine can easily be confused, especially when pine is sold as a lighter wood.

Both are softwoods that are easy to shape. They are also both affordable, sustainable options.

However, there are key differences between pine and whitewood. Here are some to consider.

Knots: Both whitewood and pine have knots but if you lay the two side by side, you will see that whitewood has more knots than pine.

Weight: Whitewood is slightly lighter than pine. This is due to its density which can be measured on the Janka scale. Whitewood has a Janka of 540 whereas yellow pine has a rating of 690.

Color: Both whitewood and pine have a very similar color and a straight grain texture. They are so much alike in appearance that even an expert will have a hard time telling the difference.

Waterproofness: Neither wood is very waterproof. They are both prone to absorbing water and will warp easily if exposed to moisture.

Price: Pine tends to be more expensive than whitewood. This is because it is more versatile.

Whereas whitewood is typically used for making furniture, cabinetry, and occasionally, flooring, pinewood can be used in flooring, furniture, building materials and more.

Durability: Whitewood is a long-lasting wood. When maintained properly and treated with preservatives, it can last 15 to 20 years.

Pine is also long lasting, but it is more prone to rot and decay. It’s especially vulnerable during weather changes. It typically lasts 10 to 15 years.

Whitewood Pros and Cons

Whitewood comes with its share of pros and cons. Here are some to consider.


Easy to Work with: Whitewood is soft. This makes it easy to cut, shape, drill and sand. It also means it is gentler on tools and abrasives and it is less likely to cause injury to the person working with it.

Light Color: The light color makes it an unusual yet aesthetically pleasing choice for flooring and furniture.

It also means it will stain very well allowing the stain to penetrate deeply into the wood providing a richness and depth. Once the wood is stained, it will not fade easily.

Accepts Finishes: The loose fibers in whitewood allow it to accept varnish and other finishes well. The finish will soak deep into the wood helping to protect it.

It also means the finish will last longer and it will have a smooth, vibrant appearance.

Good for Outdoor Use: With the right maintenance, whitewood can be used in outdoor applications.

Affordable: Whitewood is sourced from a fast-growing tree which makes it plentiful. This contributes to its low price.

Sustainable: The tree grows quickly so it is easy to harvest. This makes it a sustainable choice for woodworking use.


The Different Types are Confusing: Whitewood comes in a variety of types and classifications. It can be difficult for consumers to tell the difference so they may be unsure of what they are getting.

Many Knots: Whitewood has a lot of knots. While some find them to be aesthetically pleasing, they are weak points in the wood which can make it difficult to work with.

It also makes it more prone to damage.

Absorbent: The wood is soft and therefore absorbent. While this is great in regard to its ability to absorb stains, it also means it will absorb water which can lead to warping and rotting.

Treating it properly with sealants and finishes will reduce the risk of warping and damage.

What Is Whitewood: Conclusion

Now that you have reached the end of the article, you should not only know what Whitewood is, but be familiar with it’s uses, properties, pros and cons.

As you can see, it’s a great and affordable option for a number of DIY projects around the home.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article! Here are some similar articles you may also be interested in:

Mango Wood: What Is It and How To Use It
MDF vs Plywood