You take your wood projects seriously. You’re a craftsman or craftswoman. You take your time, measure twice and cut once, and carefully design and execute your plan to achieve spectacular results. With all that care and preparation, the wood you choose should get the same consideration, if not more.

Let’s look at some of the properties that make southern yellow pine (SYP) a good fit for just about any project you can throw at it.

Natural Beauty

Southern Yellow Pine deck

The first thing you want when making a quality piece of furniture or a deck, for example, is a gorgeous grain that takes well to stains and other finishes. That’s what you’ll get with SYP. The grain is often irregular, which makes for interesting details in your projects. This is something you won’t find in composite wood products for sure, even ones with a veneer for the outer layer are typically uniform in their grain, making them look artificial.

Hardness and Strength

Many varieties of SYP rival oak in their hardness factors. This makes them ideal for construction projects as well as furniture items. Several varieties of Southern Yellow Pine have a density of 36 to 42 pounds per cubic foot. This is comparable to several hardwoods, even though it’s considered a softwood product.

When using it for structural applications, look for boards with a straight grain and ones that don’t come from the center of the log. These can twist more when they dry. Large knots should also be avoided.

For large construction projects – like, seriously big commercial projects – SYP can even be made into CLT(cross-laminated timber), NLT(nail-laminated timber) or DLT(dowel-laminated timber). It’s formed by overlapping layers of wood across the grains of the layer before, like plywood on steroids. This can be used for flooring, decking, roofing and more. It can even be used to construct tall buildings up to seven stories or more. The tallest building built with mass timber (so far) is Brock Commons at the University of British Columbia…it’s 18 stories tall.


Southern Yellow Pine deck

Built by SLMA member Christopher Kollwitz-Former Business Development and Marketing Manager for Viance

With a high density yet still being soft, SYP makes a great choice if you are doing any kind of curving or bending of the wood. Decorative pieces made with SYP can be stained or painted to match your project scope or your decor. As a softwood, it will absorb stain at a faster rate than hardwood and allow you to get a nice deep color.

Sustainability and Environmentally Friendly

SYP is grown all over the south from Texas to Florida up to Maryland. It grows fast and is harvested from responsible growers who replenish the trees they cut down. It’s also a good carbon sink, meaning it absorbs and stores carbon dioxide. Composite wood is created using fibers and other scraps of wood mixed with plastics and binders to hold it together, making the environmental cost to produce higher than natural woods like SYP.

The Bottom Line

Whether you need wood for professional construction projects or DIY home improvements and decor projects, SYP is a solid choice. It’s beautiful, strong, flexible and good for the environment. It takes well to finishes and can be shaped and molded to your requirements. When you compare it to composite wood products, you’ll easily see, there really is no comparison.