Not everyone is fortunate enough to have easy access to an abundant wood supply that, with the help of a chainsaw, can be turned into firewood. For many people who need firewood for their log burner, there is only one option: to find a local supplier.
Now, not everyone needs a whole cord of wood, as it may be too much. A face cord may be enough. But before you make that purchase, you may be wondering:
How much does a face cord of wood cost?
A face cord of firewood costs between $40 and $150, with an average of $50. As a face cord of wood is a fraction of a cord, its price depends upon the cord’s price. Several other factors affect the price of a face cord of wood depending on where you live.
It seems ridiculous that we see firewood for sale with such a huge price difference (up to four times). With such a range it is difficult to be certain that you’re getting value for money.
We have all been in that annoying situation of buying something in a store to find the same product in a store down the road at a cheaper price.
This is not illegal or necessarily wrong; many suppliers sell the same products at different prices, the buyer just needs to decide where to get it from.
The trouble starts when we try to compare prices. When buying apples, we see that they are priced according to weight.
When buying 5 pounds of apples, the price will be five times the pound weight. This pricing model allows the buyer to check the pound weight in various stores.
That’s not always the case with firewood. Although some states don’t regulate how firewood can be sold, others have tried to create a standardized measure that should help quantify it.
In regulated states, the terms “cord” and “face cord” are the standardized measures you can (and should) use when buying firewood.
Let’s take a closer look…
A cord and a face cord are the standard measures in regulated states…
How Much Wood is a Face Cord of Wood?
To understand how much wood is in a face cord, we must first figure out the amount of wood contained within a full cord of firewood.
A cord of wood is specified as the wood that fits into a space of 128 cubic feet (3.62 cubic meters). This volume is made up of a standard measure of 4ft x 4ft x 8ft (1.2m x 1.2m x 2.4m).
The dimensions of the wood in a cord can cause problems as they may prevent some from considering buying wood by the cord.
The standard length of the wood is 4 ft, or 1.2 meters. This is too large for the majority of log burners and even open fires.
Yes, it is possible to cut the wood into a more convenient dimension, but that is extra work. Convenience is an important factor for many.
Things get more complex when we realize that wood is not square and won’t fit neatly into a specific volume. Wood is round and even when stacked spaces are left between them.
It is, therefore, possible that 128 cubic feet might only contain 90 cubic feet of actual wood…
Even one cord of wood is often far too much to consider buying for those that use it mainly to create that cozy atmosphere in the home and not to heat the entire house. The cord contains more wood than is required and is expensive.
The perfect solution for these people both in financial and logistic terms is to buy a face cord of wood.
How Many Pieces of Wood Are in a Face Cord?
We now know the dimensions of a cord of wood, and that the amount of wood that it contains varies according to the shape of the wood and how it is stacked.
A face cord is a fraction of a cord. Three fractions or face cords are available:
- 12″ lengths create a 1/4 cord = a volume of 32 cubic feet
- 16″ lengths create a 1/3 cord = a volume of 42.7 cubic feet
- 24″ lengths create a 1/2 cord = a volume of 64 cubic feet
However, we must remember that as with a cord the wood that is stacked into this space won’t match the volume.
The size of the wood in these fractions makes it much more convenient to handle and should provide a more affordable solution for many, however, that does depend upon the price.
Factors that Affect the Price of Firewood
It should be obvious that there’s a difference in price according to which fraction of a cord is being sold.
We can see from the list below that the range is pretty wide:
- 1/2 Cord. Prices range between $75 – $150
- 1/4 Cord. Prices range between $38 – $75
- 1/3 Cord. Prices range between $50 – $100
The situation becomes more complex when we investigate other factors that affect how much wood is sold.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that all wood is not created equal. Different types of wood have different burning properties that affect the heat that they produce when burned.
Wood is classified as either hard or soft. Both types have different properties that affect the efficiency of its burning.
Most wood is good to burn, however, some wood is better than others. In saying that some wood is better we are saying that a particular wood burns to produce more heat over a longer period of time and not leave too much ash or creosote behind.
This can dirty the chimney and make it more likely that an innocent spark will turn into a full-fledged fire.
Hardwood like hickory normally attracts a premium rate for several reasons…
Hardwood, when burned, produces higher levels of heat for longer periods of time. This type of wood also produces less ash and smoke, so it is a cleaner burn.
Many hardwoods grow in abundance in large areas across the country. Maple, ash, and oak are all popular woods for burning. Although there is a good supply of this type of wood, it does take a long time for it to grow to a useful size.
Hardwood is a renewable energy source, but only over a long period. As trees are felled, more trees should be planted at that time.
Many areas of the U. S. have a plentiful supply of softwood such as larch, pine, and cedar. This type of wood is popular in many areas since it is normally cheaper.
However, more of this type of wood is needed to create the same heat levels because it burns at a faster rate.
The premium price is definitely worth paying to have a more effective product. That is unless you are in the fortunate situation of having a free supply of wood.
I’m fortunate enough to have an abundant supply of oak and almond wood. These both burn to produce excellent quantities of heat, and best of all it is free.
Surely there are large quantities of free wood that can be collected in many areas of the country. It can often be seen lying on the ground. However, some states don’t allow firewood to be collected from certain areas.
Transporting free wood is also discouraged since it can cause the migration of pests and diseases from one area to another.
Remember, free is not always free. My wood is free, but it takes many hours to collect and cut the wood, as well as fuel and other maintenance items for the chainsaw.
Condition of the Wood
Dry Seasoned Wood is High on the Demand List
Dry seasoned wood burns more effectively. Trees that have recently fallen do not provide good quality firewood. Fresh-cut wood contains approximately 50% moisture.
To create good burning wood from a fresh-cut tree, the wood should be left to dry, preferably in a sunny position for at least one season.
Seasoned wood should only have a moisture content of around 15%. Seasoned wood costs more than fresh-cut wood.
Every seller will most likely declare his wood to be seasoned, and while that’s certainly not always the case, the untrained eye may not be able to spot the difference.
A moisture meter is a handy tool to check that the wood is reasonably dry and that you aren’t being charged a premium price for an inferior product.
It is always a good idea to actually see the wood before buying it.
Clean Wood is a Preference
Clean wood is easier to burn. Muddy, dirty wood can sometimes create problems as the dirt can restrict the fire and leave more mess. We don’t want to create more work for us than necessary. If you’re buying wood, you want the wood, not anything else.
Clean can also refer to the condition of the logs. Remnants of branches and other debris are often found on wood when initially cut. If the logs are trimmed and cut to remove any protruding items or debris, they fit easier into the volume.
However, this cleaning takes many man-hours, and these hours will be reflected in the price. More wood per volume, but at a higher price.
Size and Shape
Uniform mid-sized logs are easier to handle. Logs that are the correct size for the burning environment are always easier to handle. Trying to squeeze larger logs into a specific space can be time-consuming and can produce an uneven burn.
These logs are more likely to stack into the face cord volume without leaving too much space between them. More wood, less space. No one wants to buy open space.
Other Factors Influencing the Price
Location is an important factor that affects the price of a face cord of firewood. Supply and demand affect most things, firewood is no exception.
For those living in areas where firewood is in demand, the price is likely to be higher compared to areas where it does not sell in such high volumes.
The differing climatic conditions that exist in different areas of the country have an enormous effect on the demand for firewood.
States experiencing predominantly warm dry conditions have low demand for wood. Those places that are predominantly cold experience higher demand.
As you might expect, the prices will be higher in places where wood is in high demand.
The location of the supplier also affects the price since transportation takes time and more fuel. Many suppliers offer free delivery within a certain radius, and charge a delivery fee for deliveries outside of that radius.
This extra charge may not always be made clear when comparing suppliers’ prices. It’s always a good idea to ask if there is any extra delivery charge. Some companies charge in the region of $100 to deliver. This certainly increases the total price you have to pay.
Other Uses for Wood
The construction industry in the United States builds 90% of traditional homes using large quantities of wood. Other industries also use large quantities in other forms of construction and industrial processes.
There are huge resources available in many parts of the United States, more than enough for everyone. Companies that sell wood for other uses can ask for higher prices.
The best wood is obviously sold to these companies, leaving inferior quality material for firewood.
Here Comes Winter
When winter is on its way and the cold nights start to become longer, our thoughts turn to light a fire.
Unfortunately, it is not just you having this thought. As it gets colder, there are enormous numbers of people that suddenly want to buy firewood.
Any business does exactly the same thing. When demand is high, the prices are also high.
Every year, many folks wonder why they do not buy wood during the summer when it can be significantly cheaper – a good plan if you have the time to achieve this goal.
The seasons are, thus, a very important factor that has an effect on the price of firewood. And this is a great reason to consider buying your firewood early!
How to Save Money When Filling Your Fireplace or Wood Stove
As the temperatures start to dip, now is the time to think about how you will stay warm this winter. For many people, that means stocking up on firewood. But did you know that there are ways to save money on firewood?
Ask for Discounts
Look for sales and discounts. Some retailers offer discounts on firewood if you buy in bulk or during a certain time period. Some people who sell firewood may be willing to offload large amounts of unsold firewood in the spring or they might offer a sale on firewood in the fall.
Transport it Yourself
Do you have a pickup truck or trailer to move a load of firewood? If so, you may want to ask if you can get a discount for buying a full cord of wood and transporting it yourself. This is one of the most common ways to save money on firewood.
Use Your Fireplace Wisely
Did you know that leaving the damper open when you’re not using the fireplace can cause heat to escape from your home? That’s wasted heat—and wasted money. So be sure to close the damper when the fireplace is not in use.
Switch to a Wood Stove
A wood stove is more efficient than a fireplace because it uses less wood and produces more heat. And that means it will save you money in the long run.
Get Creative With Your Firewood Piles
If you have some extra space in your backyard, consider building a woodpile enclosure. This will protect your wood from moisture, which can make it difficult to ignite and also causes it to decay over time.
Buy Early and Let the Wood Season
Home heating might not be the top thing on your mind in June. However, if you can buy your firewood, whether it’s by the bundle, full cord, or half cords, know that you’ll save a ton of money by buying in the off-season. Again, supply and demand.
Firewood dealers will sell more firewood in the fall and winter and less throughout the rest of the year. Stock up early!
Buying early will also give you more time to season the wood. No matter how much firewood you need, buying it ahead of time will give you a few months to get it even drier before it goes into your fireplace or wood stove.
Historically, wood was the main source of heating and cooking. Most colonial homes required approximately 40 cords of wood every year.
Nowadays, there are many homesteads and folks living off-grid who still use wood as their primary fuel source, however many have their own source of wood.
For many others, wood is only used during the cold months for log burners. Even then it’s mostly only used as a secondary heat source.
As a secondary heating source that will only be used for part of the year, a cord of firewood contains far more wood than is typically needed. For these people, a face cord of wood is a far better option.
I quantified a face cord of wood as being a fraction of a cord, however, the fraction can be different. It could be 1/2, 1/4, or even 1/3. I must admit it would make perfect sense to name each fraction something different. This helps to make the price easier to compare.
We saw that the average price that we would expect to see a face cord of wood would be $50. With the price of a face cord of wood being between $40 and $150, we found that several factors affect the price of firewood in general.
The investigation has shown that the major factors affecting the price and creating a huge range are:
- The type of wood
- How clean the wood is
- How the wood is cut
- Other demands on the supply of wood
The price of firewood can be affected by at least one, if not all of the above factors.
Three years ago, I bought an off-grid Cortijo in a small valley in the Andalucian mountains. Although, perhaps the lifestyle is in my genes as my grandfather and his four brothers were Homesteaders in Alberta Canada in the 1900s.
The mountains of Spain are a difficult place to grow many of the flowers that I was used to in the UK. However, veggies grow well year-round. Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, cucumber, melons and chard all fare well in the Mediterranean climate. Almond trees provide me with a cash crop of around 1 ton while still retaining some to make almond milk and flour.