Is Wood Porous or Non-Porous? | Comprehensive Guide in 2023

is wood porous

Is Wood Porous or Non-Porous – Wood is a natural and versatile material, that has been used for centuries in the creation of buildings, furniture, musical instruments, and more. One frequently asked question about wood: is wood porous or non-porous? The truth is that wood can be both porous and non-porous. It all depends on the type of wood one is referring to.

Is Wood Porous or Non-Porous?

Understanding whether is wood porous or non-porous requires a broad perspective. Wood comes in a multitude of types, some of which are porous and some non-porous. Generally speaking, hardwoods are porous whereas softwoods are non-porous. However, to fully comprehend this, continue reading to delve more profoundly into the concept.

Understanding Porous Surface

A porous surface, as the name suggests, is filled with tiny holes or pores. These pores allow for the passage and absorption of fluids. Materials such as wood, rock, and stone exhibit porous surfaces visible to the naked eye. Wood, in particular, has pores that allow it to absorb fluids, which is why some types of wood are classified as porous.

Grasping Non-Porous Surface

Contrary to porous surfaces, non-porous surfaces lack the presence of pores. These surfaces can be polished or sanded to achieve a non-porous finish. Essentially, non-porous materials do not absorb substances but allow them to pass over the surface. Examples of non-porous materials include glass, metal, and certain types of wood.

Is Wood a Porous or Non-Porous Surface?

The ambiguity surrounding whether wood is a porous or non-porous surface stems from the fact that the answer is not binary—it cannot be simply yes or no. Some wood surfaces contain pores, while others do not. For instance, wood types like maple, oak, and mahogany feature pores and do not necessitate polishing or sanding to get rid of pore surfaces. Conversely, non-porous woods like cedar, pine, and spruce do not contain pores, thereby eliminating the need for polishing or sanding.

Is Wood a Porous or Non-Porous Material?

Similar to the previous scenario, wood can be both porous and non-porous, contingent on the quality of the wood in question. As a natural material, the wood undergoes a transformation as it ages, which can influence its porousness.

Understanding Types of Porous Wood

Porous wood can be primarily classified into two types: ring-porous and diffuse-porous. Ring-porous wood has small, scattered pores that imbue the wood with strength and durability against water. On the other end of the spectrum, diffuse-porous wood features large, less dense pores that absorb more water, making the wood prone to warping. Owing to their larger pores, diffuse-porous woods absorb more liquids and expand rapidly when exposed.

Identifying the Most Porous Wood

The most porous wood is diffuse-porous due to its less dense structure. An example of this type of wood is Cedar.

Plywood: A Porous Surface?

Indeed, plywood is also a porous surface. It comprises multiple layers that are glued together to form the final product. These layers contain pores that allow fluids to penetrate each layer individually, especially noticeable in the furniture you use.

Is Lumber Porous?

Lumber also possesses a porous surface, characterized by pores that allow for easy passage of liquids. This is why lumber quickly absorbs water and swells when exposed to any liquid for extended periods, potentially causing damage to your home.

Is Painted Wood Porous?

Painted wood deviates from the norm by being a non-porous surface. It does not contain pores and although the paint on the wood allows liquids to pass through, the liquid gets trapped underneath, preventing damage to your wooden items, making it ideal for furniture and decorative purposes.

Is Rough Cut Wood More Porous?

Contrary to popular belief, rough-cut wood is not more porous than its smooth-cut counterpart. The pores or holes in both types of wood are not visible to the naked eye, but they exist nonetheless. Rough-cut wood has been sanded and smoothed, resulting in minimal gaps where water can seep through, making it absorb less water.

Is Untreated Wood Porous?

Untreated wood is indeed porous. It contains spaces or gaps that permit it to absorb more water than it should. These gaps allow liquids to penetrate easily through each layer until the entire piece of lumber is soaked. Hence, it is crucial to treat these woods before using them.

Is Treated Wood Porous?

Treated woods are not porous because they have undergone chemical treatments that seal the gaps between each layer of wood, preventing liquid penetration. While they may appear smooth, they are not completely sealed—just enough to let liquids pass without causing any structural damage.

Other Types of Wood: Are they Porous or Non-Porous?

In general, most hardwoods like oak, maple, and mahogany are considered porous whereas softwoods like cedar, pine, and spruce are non-porous. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, balsa wood is a hardwood but is considered non-porous due to its tightly packed cell structure that does not allow for liquid absorption.


In summary, wood can be both porous and non-porous, depending on the type and quality of the wood. It is important to understand this concept to make informed decisions about which types of wood are suitable for certain applications. Whether it’s for furniture making or construction purposes.

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