What Is a Cord of Firewood and How Do I Store It?

What Is a Cord of Firewood and How Do I Store It?

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If you’ve recently purchased a home with a wood heating system, or plan to install one in your home, understanding what a cord of firewood is and how to store it is crucial. Read on for all the pertinent info: what a cord of firewood is, including size, cost, weight, how long it lasts, and how to keep it dry and pest-free.

What Is a Cord of Firewood?

A cord of wood typically measures 4ft in width, 4ft in height, and 8ft in length. That means that it fills up a space of approximately 128 cubic feet. However, depending on the method of stacking that you use, a full cord of wood can measure as little as 90 cubic feet.

Stacking wood in a parallel manner, with as few air pockets between pieces of firewood as possible, is best practice.

firewood stacked tightly closeup from front

Full Cord vs Face Cord

One aspect of firewood measurements that confuses those new to using fire-fed heat sources is the difference between a full cord of firewood vs a face cord of firewood. The two terms don’t sound very different, but In reality, the difference is pretty significant.

As stated above, a full cord of wood measures 90 to 128 cubic feet while a face cord measures much less. A full cord is often broken down into 3 stacks of wood 4ft high and 8ft long. A face cord on the other hand makes up only one stack of wood 4ft high and 8ft long.

Depending on where you buy your firewood, you may have the additional options of a quarter, third, and half face cords as well. A quarter-cord is roughly 32 cubic feet of wood, a third-cord is approximately 43 cubic feet, and a half cord is about 64 cubic feet.

a man cutting firewood into smaller kindling

Additionally, many firewood dealers sell what is known as a “rick” of wood. The term isn’t an official measurement and has various definitions depending on location. Some folks consider a rick the same as a face cord, whereas the majority of sellers see a rick as a pickup truck load full.

How Much Does a Full Cord of Firewood Cost?

The cost of a full cord of firewood varies from state to state. With that in mind, common prices for a full cord of wood generally fall somewhere between $100 and $200.

Depending on the variety of wood, whether it’s seasoned or not, and if it’s pre-split, are a few of the most significant factors that affect the price of a full cord of wood.

Prices for full cords of wood may however be much higher In areas where wood is more sparse as well as during seasons such as mid-winter. Under these conditions, you may expect to pay as much as $250 to $400 for a full cord.

Other factors that may affect the cost of a full cord of wood include:

  • Delivery
  • Stacking
  • Uniform cuts
  • Wood that is dry
  • Wood that is cleaned

a man carrying firewood in the snow wearing a plaid jacket

How Much Does Firewood Weigh?

A full cord of firewood weighs between 2,5000lbs to 5,000lbs depending on whether it is softwood or hardwood.

Hardwoods typically weigh as much as 4,000lbs or more. Seasoned hardwood weighs even more.

Softwood of course weighs much less than hardwood, even if seasoned. A full cord of softwood (seasoned or not) generally weighs around 3,000lbs.

If you’re dealing with mixed wood, you can expect at least 3,500lbs of weight per full cord.

How Long Will a Cord of Firewood Last?

A full cord of firewood can last as little as 5 or 6 weeks or as much as 10 or 12 weeks.

wall of firewood stacked tightly and neatly full cord

If wood is the sole fuel-type you’re using to heat your house in the wintertime (no gas or electric heaters helping reduce wood usage), you can expect a full cord of wood to last no more than six weeks.

If you happen to use alternative heating sources, in addition to wood, a full cord of firewood can last up to three months.

All things considered, you should always purchase, stack, and keep on hand more wood than you expect to need. It is much better to have extra wood than to run out in the middle or end of the winter when the price for a full cord of firewood is likely higher than normal.

How Do I Store a Cord of Firewood?

Storing a cord of firewood is straight forward, though there are several options to explore. If you are stacking it yourself, the easiest route is to build a basic firewood stack 4ft high and 8ft long by laying a layer of wood on the ground and stacking additional pieces parallel as you stack.

The easiest route, period, is to pay an extra fee for delivery and stacking. That way, you just tell the seller where you want the wood stacked and how you want it stacked. This approach saves time and energy but does normally cost more.

There are also several types of firewood sheds and firewood racks that are available for purchase in nearly any budget-range. Most of these units take less than 15 minutes to erect with the correct tools and a bit of effort.

In addition, there’s an unlimited amount of other versatile firewood storage ideas available online as well.

What Sort of Wood is Best?

If you’re new to using a wood stove for your main heating source, be aware that all wood is far from the same. There are several specific species of wood that are much better for firewood than others. Based on this factor, some wood costs more than others.

The best types of firewood are typically slow-burning hardwoods. They tend to put off more heat and less smoke than other types of wood.

A few of the best types of firewood are:

  • Oak
  • Ash
  • Maple
  • Walnut
  • Black birch

Splitting firewood with an axe

Do keep these types of wood in mind while pricing and purchasing firewood for this winter. You don’t want to end up overpaying for softwood.

A Final Word About Cords of Firewood

Take care to shop around as much as possible before committing to buying firewood from any one particular seller. Make sure to find out as much information as possible from each seller you contact. If at all feasible, getting a look at the wood first-hand (before buying) is highly suggested as well.

If you’re the hands-on type, firewood is even cheaper if you split the wood yourself with a log splitter.

Also, be sure to stock up a full winter’s worth of firewood during the late summer or early fall. This will allow you to better organize your wood as well as help you avoid paying higher prices during the colder seasons when the costs per cord go up.

Hopefully, we answered your questions about cords of firewood and how to store it. If not, let us know in the comments section and we’ll do our best to get you an answer. Looking for a new chainsaw to help cut up your firewood nice and neat this year? If so, check out our latest best chainsaws review. Thanks for reading, good luck with your firewood!

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