Aspen wood Properties, Uses, Pros, and Cons

Aspen wood is known for its light color, which ranges from almost white to pale yellow. It has a straight grain and a relatively fine texture. The wood is soft, lightweight, and easy to work with, making it suitable for various lightweight applications.

Aspen wood comes from the medium-sized deciduous tree, which is widely distributed throughout North America. “Aspen” is the name of several species, but they share similar characteristics.

There are six species of aspen which are as follows:

  1. Chinese aspen (China, south of P. tremula)
  2. Korean aspen (Eastern Asia)
  3. Bigtooth aspen (eastern North America, south of P. tremuloides)
  4. Japanese aspen (Japan)
  5. Eurasian aspen (northern Europe and Asia)
  6. Quaking aspen or trembling aspen (northern and western North America)
#Aspen Wood
Scientific namePopulus
Tree Size15–30 m (50–100 ft) tall.
Rot-resistantNot Rot-resistant
Wood TypeHardwood

Aspen wood uses 

Aspen wood is used for boxes/crates, veneer, furniture, plywood, paper production, and various utility purposes. Aspen wood is suitable for all interior applications that will not be exposed to moisture.

Aspen wood is also a great choice for beginners and those just starting wood carving. It is a soft wood easily curved with the right tools.

Is Aspen wood good for outdoor projects?

No, Aspen wood is not recommended for outdoor projects because it is not resistant to moisture and weather. Aspen wood does not contain resin to prevent it from rotting. We cannot make it durable for very long through exterior finish or sealing. 

Aspen Wood Chips Uses

Aspen wood chips are small pieces of aspen wood used as a firewood starter. However, aspen wood is not considered great firewood because it burns quickly. Its chips are used for mushroom cultivation, an excellent drainage material that retains moisture for a long time.


Generally, The heartwood of aspen wood is light brown, and the sapwood is a pale yellow to nearly white. Its light yellow tone is visually appealing, especially for furniture, paneling, or decorative items.

Well, the color of aspen wood depends on many factors, such as the specific species, growing conditions, and age of the tree.

Generally, it has a straight grain with a uniform medium texture. 

Working with Aspen wood

Aspen wood is easy to work with hand and machine tools because it is soft and light. Use the right and sharp tools to avoid fuzzy surfaces during planing or machinery.

Aspen wood has a high moisture content, which can cause the wood to warp as it dries. That’s why I always use well dried aspen wood.

No serious allergy problems have been observed when working with aspen wood but any wood dust can affect an asthmatic patient, so take necessary precautions.

Aspen Wood Janka Hardness

Aspen wood is generally considered a relatively soft and light hardwood. While there are several species of aspen wood whose hardness can range from 350 to 420 lbf (pound-force).

The table below lists the Janka hardness of aspen and other popular woods to give you an idea of how hard Aspen wood is.

Wood speciesJanka Hardness (lbf)
Balsa wood67 lbf (300 N)
Northern white cedar320 lbf (1,420 N)
Black Cottonwood350 lbf (1,560 N)
Quaking Aspen350 lbf (1,560 N)
Sugar Pine380 lbf (1,690 N)
European Aspen380 lbf (1,650 N)
Balsam fir400 lbf (1,780 N)
Basswood410 lbf (1,820 N)
Bigtooth Aspen420 lbf (1,870 N)
Butternut490 lbf (2,180 N)
Bald cypress510 lbf (2,270 N)

Pros and Cons of Aspen Wood

Aspen is a good wood species for woodworking but it has some limitations that should be known before using the Aspen.


  • Attractive Appearance: Aspen wood is light, ranging from almost white to pale yellow. The light tone gives a fresh and bright look to furniture, paneling and other interior applications. It can also be stained or painted to achieve different finishes.
  • Soft and Lightweight: The light weight of aspen wood makes it easy to handle and work with. It is easy to cut and carve, which makes it the perfect choice for carets/boxes and crafts.
  • Wide Availability: Aspen Wood is readily available in many areas. Easy accessibility makes it a cost-effective option compared to some other hardwoods.
  • Low Toxicity: No health reactions have been observed when working with aspen wood. 


  • Not Durable: Aspen wood is a soft and less durable wood that cannot be used outdoors. Even interior use requires more care and maintenance than other woods.
  • Prone to dents: Since the density of aspen wood is very low, it is highly prone to dents and scratches. 
  • Susceptible to rot and insect attack: Aspen wood has no natural rot and insect resistance.
  • Limited strength: Because of its softness, aspen wood does not have good strength. Hence it is not good for heavy load-bearing applications.

Stain Aspen Wood

Aspen wood stains well, and it is a straightforward process that involves several steps. Here’s a general guide on how to stain aspen wood:

Prepare the Wood

Before applying the stain, ensure the wood surface is clean, smooth, and free of dust, dirt, or contaminants. Sand the wood with progressively finer grit sandpaper (starting with coarser to finer grits) to obtain a smooth surface. Remove sanding dust with a clean, dry cloth or vacuum.

Choose and apply the Stain

Select a quality stain that matches your desired finish. First, test the stain on a small area and wait until it dries to get the desired color. Using a clean brush, foam applicator or cloth, apply the stain evenly to the aspen wood in the direction of the wood grain. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the guide.

Remove Excess Stain

After applying the first coat of stain, use a clean cloth or brush to wipe away any excess stain.

Allow Drying Time

Allow the stained wood to dry completely. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for recommended drying times, which can vary based on temperature and humidity.

Generally, water-based stains take 4 to 6 hours to dry completely, while oil-based stains take 12 to 24 hours.

Apply Multiple Coats(Optional):

If you want a deeper color, you can apply additional coats of stain. Keep a proper time gap between both coats.

Seal the Stain (Optional)

After the stain has thoroughly dried, you may apply a protective topcoat or sealer to enhance the appearance and durability of the stained aspen wood. It increases the durability of wood.

Is Aspen Wood Good Flooring?

Aspen wood can be a good choice for light-coloured flooring. It is easy to install and is available at an affordable price. But we must know that Aspen wood is a softwood species prone to dents and scratches. That’s why aspen flooring requires a lot of care.

Is Aspen Wood Good To Burn?

Aspen wood is an excellent fire starter because it splits and burns very easily. But It is not used as a good firewood because it burns quickly and does not produce much heat.

Aspen wood has a BTU value of  14.7 million BTUs per cord (a cord is a unit of measurement for stacked firewood, measuring 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long).

Is Aspen Wood Good For Carving?

Yes, Aspen wood is a good choice for carving. It is relatively soft compared to many other hardwoods. Its softness makes it easy to carve and shape with hand or power tools. Aspen wood has a relatively fine texture, which allows for smooth and detailed carving. 

Aspen wood is perfect for beginners or those who don’t want to work with a harder wood.