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What You Need to Know When You Buy Firewood

Updated on May 8, 2012

Who to contact for firewood

If you have just moved into a home that has a fireplace, you may be in the need of some wood. Asking some questions when you're calling around can eliminate any headache from getting a "bad batch" of wood.

What kind of wood should we get?

Birch, cherry, oak, and poplar are all hardwoods. These are good choices for long-burning fires. Fir, pine, and cedar are softwoods, and have a shorter burn time. Different woods also have different smells when they are burning, so if there is a smell that you are sensitive to, try small pieces before buying loads of woods.

Typically hardwoods will cost more than the softwoods. Don't let this deter you - you will get twice as much burn time from the hardwoods.

What is a cord and a face cord?

I remember my first time buying wood, and the places I was calling was quoting me by the "cord" and by the "face cord." I was clueless. And searching the internet was frustrating, because I found so much conflicting information,

A cord of wood is a stack that is 4'x4'x8'. It can also be measured as 128 cubic feet, which typically fits into a dump truck load. If you call and they talk about a cord or a dump truck load, this is how much wood they are talking about.

A face cord is 1/3 this size. It is 4'x8'x16". It is typically the size of a full-bed pickup truck full. They will call it either a face cord or a pickup truck load.

Who should I call?

If you do not see firewood distributors in the phone book or online, find tree care services. They typically charge people to get rid of their trees, then charge people for the wood! Can't get much more American than that! Also check the classifieds in the fall. That is when the little independent dealers will usually put ads in the paper.

Questions to ask when we call:

When you call, ask the following questions. That way you will know exactly what you're paying for.

  • What type of wood do you have?

Remember the stuff about the hard woods? This is when you should ask. Don't forget that the softwood will be cheaper but will not burn as long.

  • How seasoned is it?

It is ideal for your wood to be seasoned at least a year. Sometimes you will get a discount if it is not. Good for end of season, which is usually when you run into problems of finding seasoned wood. The longer it has sat around for the vendor, though, the more expensive it will probably be.

  • Do you deliver?

This is important if you don't have a truck! Make sure that the price includes delivery. Some people break it up and charge the delivery fee separately. As you're calling, make sure you write down the totals for the wood including any delivery fees.

  • Do you stack?

Stacking wood is a bear. The first time we ordered a cord, they dumped the truck right into our driveway. It took hours to stack and left a huge mess. If money is tight and there is an extra charge, by all means - get those kids out there to stack the wood. But if it's included, or you can talk them into doing it, it's a good idea.

  • What size load?

Don't forget to ask this. And when they're through stacking, do not hesitate to measure it. Who knows - one place may be quoting you $100 per face cord, and another place $200 per cord. If you don't realize they are two different sizes, you may not be getting the best deal.

  • How much does it cost?

The money question! How much is your wood?


I take notes from year to year. It helps me to keep things straight when I am calling around for their services.

Phone number
Mixed hardwoods
Cherry/Oak only
Size? C or FC


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