Gum Pole vs. Pine Pole: A comprehensive comparison

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Gum Pole

Should you use a pine or gum pole for your project? What are the specific differences between these two building materials? We delve into the world of timber origins, types, pricing and, sizing to help you make the right decision when you purchase your timber.

In short: Gum Poles should always be used for Construction and building purposes. Pine poles are mostly used to cut planks and other timber moldings to be used in homes and buildings.

Eucalyptus (Gum) and Pine trees are not indigenous to South Africa. Eucalyptus trees originate from Australia, and have been imported and cultivated in South Africa since the 1800s. Additionally, Pine trees originated in Europe and Meditteranean areas and have been around for over 370 years.

Both of these species (Pinus pinaster and Eucalyptus globulus) are farmed in South Africa. However, they have very different properties and end-uses. Therefore, we are looking to compare the two to give you a better idea of what you need.

Wood type: Hardwood vs. Softwood

Firstly, it is important that you know that Gum trees are hardwood trees, while Pine is softwood trees. What does this mean? Let’s break it down for you.

Quick Facts and Comparison:

Hardwood (Eucalyptus Pole)

  • Comes from angiosperm trees that are not monocots. (Flowering trees)
  • Trees are most commonly broad-leaved.
  • Majority of hardwoods have a higher density than most softwoods.
  • Hardwoods shed their leaves over autumn and winter.
  • Hardwood has a slower growth rate
  • Prominent grain due to vessel elements (Resembles pores under microscope) that transport water throughout tree.

Softwood (Pine Pole)

  • Comes from gymnosperm trees. (Flowerless trees))
  • Usually have needles and cones.
  • Lower density than most hardwoods.
  • Evergreen (Does not loose it’s leaves or needles over specific seasons.)
  • Faster growth rate when compared to hardwoods.
  • Lighter grain due to lack of “pores”. (In softwoods, medullary rays and tracheids transport water and produce sap.)
Hardwood Timber Flooring
Softwood Timber Flooring

As a result of the above-mentioned differences between softwoods and hardwoods, the pricing, sizes and all other related factors varies greatly between a gum pole and a pine poles. Let’s look at how it is influenced:

Timber Pricing Comparison

As can be expected, pricing differs significantly between the two materials. Generally speaking, hardwoods tends to be more pricey than common softwoods. This is due to the fact that hardwoods last longer and are higher quality for long-term projects when compared to softwoods.

This holds true for all timber products like Decking, Flooring, Fencing and other hardwood products.

Gum Pole Pricing

Gum Pole’s pricing heavily depends on the specs of the products you are buying, the quantity you are buying and the delivery.

In this post, we will mainly focus on retail pricing (not wholesale pricing) for standard gum pole sizes, excluding delivery.

Gum Pole PriceEucalyptus Pole Sizes (mm)
R99.50 – R191.00Bundle of 10 Lathes (3.6m – 4.5m)
R5.50 – R22.5032-49 diameter
R12.50 – R250.5050-75 diameter
R25.00 – R412.5075-99 diameter
R40.00 – R1386.50100 – 124 diameter
R55.00 – R1840.00125 – 149 diameter
R77.00 – R2358.00150 – 174 diameter
R102.00 – R2939.50175 – 199 diameter
R130.00 – R3585200 – 224 diameter
Note that this is general pricing guidelines. Prices are subject to change without prior notice.

Pine Pole Pricing

Pine poles are not as common as Eucalyptus poles due to their limited end-use applications. Pine Poles are most often sold “raw” and need to be processed to be able to use it for anything. Additionally, the poles are not suitable for any type of construction unless specified by the manufacturer. These poles are mainly used to create planks, moldings, and other timber products to be used in buildings. Pricing displayed below is an average market standard at the time of writing articles. Please note that Sabie Poles do not manufacture or supply Pine Poles.

Pine Pole Price Pine Poles Sizes (mm)
R51.00 – R84.0050 diameter
R80.00 – R162.0075 diameter
R92.00 – R186.5090 diameter
R111.00 – R443.00100 diameter
R168.00 – R675.00125 diameter
R243.00 – R971.00150 diameter
R374.00 – R1707.00180 diameter
R64.00 – R126.00100 diameter (Split)
Note that this is general pricing in Southern Africa at the time of writing article (May 2020)

Timber Sizes and Lengths Comparison

Timber sizes and lengths greatly depend on the type of wood and the supplier or manufacturer that you are buying from. Let’s look at some of the sizing and length comparisons for these two types of timber poles:

Size (Diameter) Length (m)Different Cuts
Gum Poles20mm – 224mm1.2m – 14m Round
Square-Cut
Half-Cut & Quarter Rounds (Split)
Custom Cuts available @ Sabie Poles
Pine Poles50mm – 180mm1.5m – 6m Round
Half Cut (Split)
Note: Custom cuts can be requested from selected manufacturers and suppliers. Information in the table above regarding poles size and cuts reflect readily available timber products sold by various timber merchants in South Africa.
Gum Pole

As can be seen above, Gum Poles are more diverse. Different cuts and sizes are more readily available in the South African marketplace. Eucalyptus or Gum Poles are stronger and more resistant to rotting and decay. Therefore, they are more versatile and the go-to for many construction and agricultural projects.

End-Use purposes comparison (Gum Poles vs. Pine Pole)

Eucalyptus PolesConstruction Uses
– Support Beams
– Decking & Flooring
– Log Homes and more
Agricultural Uses
– Fencing
– Building Enclosures
Domestic Uses
– Gardening (Raised beds etc)
– Jungle Gyms and Swings
Miscellaneous
– Raised walkways, piers and jetties
– Transmission Poles
– Retaining walls

and more…
Pine Poles– Not Suitable for Construction Purposes
– Fencing
– Transmission Poles (If heavily treated)
– Flooring (Internal)
– Gardening
– Creating Timber Moldings

and more…

While Pine Poles can be used for many of the same purposes, the majority of people and companies prefer using Gum Poles. This is due to the fact that Gum Poles naturally last longer, are sturdier and more weather-resistant than pine.

CCA Tanalised Pressure Treatment for Timber

Whether you are deciding to go with Pine or Eucalyptus (Gum) for your project, it is of the utmost importance that yoou get CCA Tanalised Treated Timber. CCA helps to protect the timber against natural deteriorating factors like:

  • Weathering
  • Insect Attacks
  • Rot
  • Decay

Hardwoods are naturally more resistant to these deteriorating factors (generally), therefore, having hardwood that is treated with premium quality CCA can offer a minimum guarantee of 25 years of use for your purpose.

Furthermore, CCA is specifically formulated to allow treatment of wood for it’s intended purpose. Therefore, you can rest assured that your timber has the best protection on the market.

Environmental Impact of using different wood types

At Sabie Poles, we are passionate about sustainable forestry. Therefore, we highly encourage the use of properly treated CCA Gum Poles. Gum poles have been proven to last at least 25 years, however, many poles and structures have been intact and used for well over the guaranteed 25 years.

Why does this matter? It is simple. When you build a structure that lasts and has minimal upkeep, you will not have to keep buying additional timber to fix-up and replace rotting or degrading timber in the existing frame. Therefore, the upkeep of the home wil not require additional trees to be cut down.

The longer your completed building/project can stand without needing upgrades, the less trees need to be cut down. As simple as that.

At Sabie Poles, we are so passionate about the subject that we have pledged to plant one tree for every pole sold from our pole yard.

We encourage every person to think about the environment and long-term goals when making these decisions. Contact us for any additional information on our timber products.

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