We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Tension Wood?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Tension wood is a type of wood which forms in angiosperms in response to environmental stresses. For the tree, the purpose of tension wood is to help the tree stay stable, and to keep the tree upright. This type of wood is not useful for people who work with wood to make flooring, furniture, and other products, because it has an irregular texture. Tension wood can, however, be pulped to make products such as paper and cardboard, in which the structure of the wood is not as critical.

Tension wood is a form of reaction wood. As the name implies, reaction wood forms in reaction to something. Common stresses to trees can include persistent high winds, accumulations of snow, changes in terrain which cause a tree to list, and any kind of stress which puts pressure on the tree. The tree responds by producing reaction wood to stabilize itself.

In angiosperms, the reaction wood forms above the area of the stress. It is rich in cellulose, and helps to pull the tree into position. Tension wood is especially common around branches, as branches require extra support to stay in position. In conifers, reaction wood forms below the area of the stress, pushing the tree up from below with wood which is rich in lignin. The reaction wood is called compression wood in conifers.

There are a number of characteristics which set tension wood apart from the rest of the wood in the tree. One of the key features is that the texture is different, and highly irregular. It tends to be denser, and it creates thicker growth rings. One of the problems with tension wood is that it can be hard to spot casually, and may make a board behave strangely in a saw or during planing. Reaction wood can buckle, split, and fracture apparently at random, making it very frustrating for woodworkers.

This wood also does not absorb paint, stain, and other treatments in the same way that regular wood does. When tension wood is accidentally included in something which is going to be treated, it can look different from the surrounding wood after treatment, being lighter or darker as a result of its slightly different composition.

Mills try to process wood which is obviously reaction wood separately, to avoid releasing it to woodworkers and others who do not like to work with tension wood. However, because it is tricky to spot, it sometimes ends up in a batch of lumber sold for use by people who may puzzle over a randomly capricious board or two: the tension wood will cause the board to warp, absorb moisture differently, and splinter or crack when cut.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.