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How much is a cord of wood?
What is a cord of wood anyways?
If you have been buying wood for a while, you may already be able to eyeball a cord of wood from an acre away. However, those brave souls who are just migrating over to renewable heating and cooking fuel may still be in the dark. Even if you’re just looking to be educated on how firewood is measured and sold, this is for you. Whenever you buy a batch of firewood, it’s generally going to be sold by the full cord or a fraction thereof.
We will look at what exactly a cord is and how it’s measured. Then we’re going to take a look at some other methods of measuring and selling firewood. It will help you to get the best deal you can for the exact amount of wood you’re buying, so you aren’t paying more than you need to. Once you’ve got your wood, we’ll cover how to keep it in the best shape until you need it.
A cord of wood is officially measured in its physical dimensions and will be a neatly aligned and compact stack of wood that is 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 8 feet long. The total volume of a cord of wood is 128 cubic feet, which is important to remember since some companies or suppliers will not stack it in the same exact ways. This means you may have to measure your stack and do a little quick math to ensure you got the wood you’re paying for.
You know that an official cord of wood will be a stack that is 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 8 feet long. Sometimes you will see a much better price for someone selling what’s called a “face cord.” While this may sound like and look like a better deal at first glance, there is no guarantee on the actual value since a face cord has no official measurement.
A face cord is the dimensions you would see while looking at a cord’s largest face, so it will be 8 feet wide, 4 feet high, and as deep as the pieces of wood. While in a full cord, the pieces would be about 2 feet long, there is no guarantee in a face cord, and you may commit to buying a face that is only 14″ inches deep, leaving you with much less wood than you probably thought you were getting.
With just the most basic estimate based on the average size of firewood pieces and 30% moisture or less, the average cord of wood will contain about 700 pieces of split wood pieces. This can vary significantly by about 100 pieces in either direction based on the type of wood, how it was split and subsequently stacked, and the moisture content. Wood will shrink a lot by the time it’s lost half or more of its water content.
This will vary a fair amount based on where you live, with more timber-heavy locations generally having better pricing than areas with fewer natural timber resources. In most locations, a full cord of wood will cost $250-$300 for mixed hardwood that has been pre-seasoned. Locations like Arizona, Hawaii, and Florida will have prices per cor that are above $350. Sometimes even close to $500 in some cases for ultra-seasoned hardwood like hickory, black oak, and red oak.
This can sometimes be a challenge, particularly in the age of the internet and social media networks, making it easy for the unscrupulous to scam the unwitting. Not only is there the constant threat of scammers, but you may simply have a challenge in finding quality, dry, seasoned firewood. One of the best ways has always been, and possibly will always be, asking trusted friends and family for sellers that they have used successfully.
Another great resource, especially in rural areas, is community bulletin boards. These are often seen in local gas stations, laundromats, churches, and more and are used for advertising local handyman services, pet sitters, and of course, the selling of local goods like firewood. As an alternative, Craigslist is often a good place to find local suppliers, as well as the Better Business Bureau.
One of the potential dangers of buying your firewood from sources that you may not know or that may be selling you wood from other regions is the danger of possibly importing invasive and destructive species. This is such a danger that the USDA has relatively strict rules regarding the movement of firewood.
This is important if you’re traveling outside your immediate area and see a deal on some firewood that you want to jump on. Be sure that your firewood source isn’t bringing wood from an area in any areas deemed infested. You could end up with new bugs that devastate your local forestry.
So that’s it, you know how to make sure you’re getting a full cord, and you know about what it should cost you. Now, you need to make sure you protect your investment and keep that wood safe and dry until you need it, one chilly evening in the not-too-distant future.
First and foremost, make sure you invest in a firewood rack that keeps your wood at least 6″ off the ground, and be sure it’s split before you stack it. The location that you store it should have relatively constant air circulation, it doesn’t have to circulate a lot. It should be well-ventilated to prevent mold and hasten seasoning.
Finally, cover your firewood with one of the many firewood rack covers that are available. Some will even cover your entire cord and have an access flap, so it’s smooth sailing when you need a piece or two.
On some tips on stacking your firewood, Check out my article on How To Stack Firewood (The Top 3 Methods For You To Try)
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I hope you found all the answers you needed on how much a cord of wood is.