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Aspen vs Poplar Wood: 8 Facts You Should Consider

Coming from the same tree, Aspen and Poplar woods have different characteristics. So to choose one, you should learn about all their characteristics.

So, how can you choose from Aspen vs Poplar wood?

Well, to start, Aspen is a type of softwood or lightwood. Where Poplar woods are hardwoods. Aspen woods can last twice as much as Poplar woods. But the cost of Aspen is also a lot more than Poplar woods. However, Poplar woods can bear more strength. Where Aspen woods have a greater aesthetic value.

Does this seem like you’re expecting to know? I can guarantee you that this article will tell you everything that you need to know about these two kinds of wood.

So what are you waiting for? Dive in!

Aspen vs Poplar Wood: Quick Comparison

Before you get into the main discussion, I want you to take a quick look at these factors. This will fetch you some brief insight about these two wood types:

FeatureAspen WoodPoplar Wood
Wood TypeSoftwoodHardwood
SmellMasculine ScentCedar smell
Expansion FactorCan expand 1/4 inch per cubic footCan expand 1/16 inch per cubic foot
Cracking PossibilityMore likely to crackLess likely to crack
CostComparatively expensiveComparatively cheaper
StrengthCan take comparatively less strengthCan take more strength
AestheticGives golden brown tonesUtility wood
Durability100+ yearsAround 50 years

I hope that this can give you a short idea about these two wood types. But as I’ve said before, let’s learn about these facts as detailed as possible. 

Aspen vs Poplar Wood: Detailed Analysis

Now let’s get into the core of this discussion. Here, I will explain each and every feature of these two wood types. And also provide you with their advantage over the other. 

Expansion Factor

The wood of an aspen tree will expand in dry conditions without warping or cracking. That’s about up to 1/4 inch per cubic foot in length by volume. Which is one-third its original size but the same thickness it started out with. The dry Aspen Planks are more susceptible to cracking than the wet ones. Which makes the use of Aspen woods more suitable for building furniture.

Poplar woods expand in dry conditions about 1/16 inch per cubic foot in length by volume. Which is a quarter of what an aspen tree expands. However this expansion doesn’t happen in all Poplar trees. Some will expand almost no lengthwise in dry conditions.

Poplar is less likely to warp or crack than Aspen. But they are more susceptible to it when they do. This is because the ends of poplar tend to be harder and can crack after drying out. This also causes the wood to split at those points first. Which then leads to splitting further up with time and use.


For a 1x2x8 size aspen wood, you’ll have to pay $3.97 – $4.12 per board. Similarly, for a 1x4x8 size aspen wood, you’ll have to pay around $9.76 -$10.05 per board.

For a 1x2x8 size poplar wood, you’ll have to pay $2.37 – $2.57 per board. And for a 1x4x8 size poplar wood, you’ll have to pay $5.21-5.

Aspen trees are more expensive to plant and tend to live for about 50 years. This is why many companies use only aspen wood in their buildings. The expansion factor of Aspen makes it cost a little more per board foot. But the length-wise expansion of the Poplar wood makes it worth the extra cost.

Poplar wood is cheaper to purchase because it’s not as long-term expensive to keep. It also doesn’t expand as much lengthwise because of the expansion factor.

On the other hand, Aspen wood is hard and needs more maintenance. But it resists splitting from splitting on its own.


The Poplar does a great job of keeping its color without bending and warping like the Aspen one. It would also hold up to harsh climate conditions better than the Aspen wood.

Poplar Wood is less durable than Aspen Wood. But this depends on which Poplar species you use. In general, Poplar woods can last for around 50 years. Aspen wood can last for up to 100+ years.

When dealing with Poplar wood, try to get ones with uniform color and few knots. Since they can cause some cracks later on.

A rule of thumb to apply when it comes to working with Poplar wood. It is that the lighter the wood’s color, the less durable it is. For that, if you want something durable, go for darker colors like gray or purple. You can also treat the wood before you use it. It’s to increase its durability but this will also make it harder for you to work on it.

The Aspen wood is harder, that’s why it won’t crack or split. If you’re looking for an aspen wood slice then have a look at the products below:

Set of 50 3.5″-4″ Aspen Wood SlicesCheck Current Price
Set of 25 4.5″- 5″ Large Aspen Wood SlicesCheck Current Price

Now move onto the next segment.


Aspen Wood has a pleasant smell. You can just close your eyes and stick your nose in an aspen log. You would get a nice clean scent. The scent is actually very masculine.

When you first cut poplar wood, it smells like almonds. But over time, it starts to smell more like cedar than anything else. This can be quite unpleasant because cedar isn’t the nicest smelling wood. Pollution does cause this type of wood to have a bad odor as well. But if kept outside the house for long periods of time, the smell changes. It will return to its cinnamon smell.

Poplar smells more like a cedar smell. Many people claim this is more pleasant than the Aspen Wood smell. But pollution can cause the smell to deteriorate.


Aspen wood uses less resources in production, It grows in dry places. Poplar wood uses water and resources but grows in moist places. Aspen wood has the least amount of negative impact on the environment. Since it doesn’t use as many resources and energy to grow as Poplar wood. 


Poplar wood is more resistant to chemicals and fungi, which makes it stronger than Aspen wood.

Aspen is a soft lightweight wood that includes thin pieces of aspen. It is a high-quality wood, which makes it an ideal candidate for construction projects.

Poplar is one of the most inexpensive types of materials sold in stores or online. This means consumers can afford to use it in almost all kinds of projects. And without worrying about how much it will cost them. 

Poplar is also one of the densest woods available, which gives it a lot of strength. While Aspen wood has been said to be less sturdy than many other types. But, its light weight makes up for that shortcoming in other ways like forming and designing applications.


Aspen wood is a type of tree that grows in the alpine mountain climate. The poplar wood is an abundant and fast-growing tree, with nutritive properties. It makes it suitable for planning, carving, and painting.

Poplar wood is more of a utility wood. For example, you can use this wood for your stair risers. And its aesthetic value is not as appealing as Aspen wood.

But which wood should you use? The real difference between these two woods comes down to what type of aesthetic you are looking for. The golden brown tones of aspen will match well with the colors you find in nature. And give your home a warm feeling for the winter months.

Ease of Use

Aspen wood is also less flexible than Poplar wood. This can make it more difficult to use in projects. It’s better to use Aspen for furniture and other home items such as cabinets and doors. Because its beauty will last for years without any need for painting or varnishing.

Poplar wood can be cut with nails, screws or even a saw in some cases. That’s because of the softer top layer. It can also absorb the paint better. If you want to color the wood of your basement stairs, Poplar is your pick.

The Aspen wood has a harder surface. Which makes it harder for the screws or nails to sink into and stay there. Aspen is also more elastic and tends to warp or bend very easily if not installed straight.

Final Verdict

You’ve read all the facts between Aspen wood and Poplar wood. Your decision will be based on your preference. Aspen gives you a natural aesthetic value. Poplar wood is more resistant to chemicals and fungi. 

Aspen woods are also more expensive than Poplar woods. But then again, Aspen woods last a lot more than Poplar woods. 

You can also decide which smell you prefer for your furniture to have. Also, because of the expansion factor, Poplar woods tend to crack more than Aspen woods. 

Since Poplar is a hardwood, you can use it for installing floors. And as Aspen woods are lightwoods, you can use them to build furniture. But stay concerned about the cost of installing a floor.

Now that all the facts are laid down before you, you can choose the best one for you. Some people will choose Poplar only because it’s cheaper. But if you really want to choose one, it’s best to keep all the facts into consideration.


What is the difference between aspen and poplar wood?

Poplar is one of the names that are used to describe aspen trees. Aspen is softwood and Poplar is hardwood. For that, although they both come from the same tree, the wood quality is different.

Is aspen good wood?

Yes, aspen wood is very good wood. It is one of the best quality softwood available in the market. Due to its low density, it makes good furniture and cabinetry. It also has great resistance to heat and water making it a great choice for firewood.

Is a poplar tree an aspen?

Yes, both trees come from the same family (populus). However, there are ten different types of poplar trees (aspen is one) and each type has different characteristics. 

Is aspen a soft or hardwood?

Aspen wood is somewhat difficult to describe as soft or hardwood. Softwoods are softer and lighter than hardwoods. Aspen wood is just slightly softer than yew wood, but just slightly less dense than oak wood.

Summing Up

I hope that now you can easily choose from Aspen vs Poplar wood. Both of the woods are very popular in the market. That’s why you need to figure out what particular characteristics you want and select accordingly.

Again, you need to take care of the material you make using the wood. Otherwise, the woods can deteriorate before its tentative lifetime.

Till then, all the best!