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DaphneT's avatar

How long does pine last?

Asked by DaphneT (5659 points ) January 7th, 2012

I want to build some shelves and want to spend the least amount of money possible. So why is pine a good choice? How long has pine been known to last? What are the best conditions for pine wood to make it last as long as possible? What else makes it a good choice?

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11 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Pine is a soft wood making it not the first choice for shelves that will hold anything heavy.

thorninmud's avatar

You’re talking about indoor shelving, right? Pine will last as long as you will, and then some, if it’s not exposed to the weather.

One problem with making shelves out of wide pine planks is that pine warps easily. You can go to the lumber yard, pick out a fairly flat plank, bring it home, and the lower humidity in your house will cause the plank to “cup” (curve perpendicular to the grain). There’s nothing you can do to correct that. Depending on the intended use of the shelf, that may be tolerable. Some stores sell planks glued up from narrower strips of pine. These tend to warp less because the grain direction of the strips is alternated in the plank.

Poplar is a little more expensive, but it’s also easily available in wide planks and is more dimensionally stable (resistant to warping).

CWOTUS's avatar

The only thing that makes pine at all suitable for your application is low price. “How long it lasts” is more a function of how the piece is designed, used and maintained over time. If you leave it outside, overload it and don’t finish the hell out of it, then it probably won’t last more than a few months. If you keep it inside, finish it well and don’t overload it, then it can last indefinitely.

Personally, the next time I want another bookcase (could be any day) I’ll get an oak kit from Home Depot. Those kits are well designed, the pieces are cut to size better than I can do, and the kit includes all of the fasteners needed and complete instructions to make a fully functional, durable and attractive piece of furniture. All I have to do is assemble and and finish. (Actually, I finish the pieces first, and then assemble.)

YARNLADY's avatar

As with every product, there is cheap (no good) and good quality. I suggest you buy the much less expensive, longer lasting plastic. If you are concerned with the fumes you could always coat it with a layer of natural shellac.

john65pennington's avatar

At first, I though your question was about PineSol, or pineapple. Now, I understand your question is about pine wood.

I can only tell you this. My house was built in 1957. Its as solid as a rock. Made out of only the good stuff and best materials available in 1957.

My den is made completely with pine and it looks as good today as the day it was installed. Pine is a soft wood and very acceptable, when used indoors on the walls.

Other applications for pine is unknown.

YARNLADY's avatar

@john65pennington I lived in a house with a pine wood den as well, and it required regular (every three years or so) oiling and maintenance.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My dad built homes back in the 80’s and said even then that the quality of pine available for building & finishing was so poor compared to decades previous. For shelves, I’d go with pressboard as far as strength, versatility and price.

downtide's avatar

I have pine bookshelves in my bedroom, that have been up there for 20 years, and they’re just as sturdy and straight as they were when first put up. But they are thick shelves. I guess that makes a difference.

CWOTUS's avatar

This isn’t the same style that I’ve built before, but except for the trim, it’s about equivalent to what I have. At $300 it’s not “cheap”, but when you figure the cost of materials and the time to build from scratch (and the fact that I don’t have the tools or the room to build this from scratch in the first place), it’s a good value for me.

judochop's avatar

Wood only becomes rock if left untouched for too long. It will most likely outlive you and the rest of everyone you know.

augustlan's avatar

It will last a long time, but, as others have said, I wouldn’t use it for shelving. You want a hardwood or an engineered product for that.

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