Rot Resistance of White Pine Versus White Spruce

      Unless it's old-growth heartwood, neither species is particularly durable in outdoor exposures. March 28, 2010

We are putting an outdoor staircase on a barn and I have a bunch of eastern white pine that is dry ready to build it with. The client has a bunch of white spruce logs that he thinks would be better to use than the white pine. I realize neither species is really suited for the application, but which will last longer, spruce or pine?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor Y:
Hoadley lists EW pine as moderately resistant to decay and spruce as slightly or nonresistant. My shop door is made from untreated and unfinished EW Pine, and although it's only about 4" off the ground, it is just starting to rot at the bottom after 30 years. From personal experience, I'd say use the pine if it's all heartwood. The NW cedar shingles that were next to the door actually rotted before EWP door.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Please note that the US Forest Service (which is what Hoadley based his work on) only lists the natural decay resistance of heartwood. In pine, that would be the reddish colored wood. However, most of the time we use the white colored sapwood on pine and the decay resistance is minimal. Further, today's heartwood is much less resistant that the virgin pine that was evaluated by the US Forest Service. So, unless you use pine heartwood, you will not see an appreciable difference between E. white pine or spruce.

Both will last a bit longer if they are protected from direct wetting and also can dry out after any wetting. Many pieces may last for a long time, but it only takes one failure for a serious accident to happen. You would probably best avoid providing any wood for such a risky project and also avoid giving oral advice that is not accompanied by a written document acknowledging the risk and the professional advice you give to avoid using either species.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork

  • KnowledgeBase: Architectural Millwork: Stairs

  • KnowledgeBase: Wood Engineering

  • KnowledgeBase: Wood Engineering: Wood Properties

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2021 -
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.
    865 Troxel Road
    Lansdale, PA 19446

    Contact Us

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article