Home » How Heavy Is A Cord Of Wood: Here’s The Answer

How Heavy Is A Cord Of Wood: Here’s The Answer

It’s surprising how heavy wood really is and how easily you can overload your vehicle without knowing it.  I’ve seen my fair share of vehicles packed to the hilt with wood cruising down the highway.  Not only is hauling too much wood in one load hard on your truck, it’s also dangerous for everyone involved.

That’s why it’s important to know how much a cord of wood weighs.  Having that information will help you estimate the total weight of wood you plan to transport and will prevent you from exceeding the towing capabilities of your vehicle.

On average, a cord of fresh cut, unseasoned firewood weighs 3,800 to 4,500 pounds depending on the type of wood.  When seasoned and dry, a neatly stacked cord of wood weighs 3,000 pounds or 1.5 tons.  

However, there are still a few things to know before you start hauling firewood around, so keep reading to learn more.

How much firewood is in a cord

A standard full cord of firewood measures 4’ wide x 4’ tall x 8’ long.  Therefore, when stacked properly to eliminate as much air space as possible, a cord of wood is 128 cubic feet in volume.  

Until you’ve seen a full cord stacked up, it’s hard to envision how much wood that really is.  Whether you plan to cut and split your own wood or buy a pre-cut cord, it’s important to get familiar with what a cord looks like.  

A randomly stacked pile of wood will obviously contain more air space and less wood for the same volume.  Therefore, the only way to get a more precise estimate of volume and weight is to neatly stack the wood.

If you plan to buy firewood, ask the seller how they stack and measure the load they are selling.  While the official definition of a full cord is universal in the US and Canada, other types of cord definitions exist.  

Often, wood is sold by the face cord which measures 4’ tall x 8’ long and only as wide as the pieces are long.  A face cord generally contains about 40 cubic feet of volume or roughly 1/3 the amount of a full cord.  

Wood is sold by the pickup load as well.  There is a lot of variability when buying wood by the pickup load.  The size of the truck bed and the way it’s stacked means you may get less wood than you paid for.  Most pickups with an 8’ bed hold 60 cubic feet of wood when stacked to the top of the bed.

You can estimate how much wood is in a pickup load that’s not neatly stacked by measuring the volume in feet using length x width x height.  Then, unlike a properly stacked cord that’s 128 cubic feet, divide the pickup load volume by 170 cubic feet.  This accounts for extra air space and gives you a decent idea of how close you are to a full cord.

As you cut and stack more wood yourself, you’ll get better at judging the true volume of wood.  

Seasoned vs. unseasoned wood

One of the biggest factors in determining the weight of a cord of firewood is its moisture content.  For instance, a freshly fallen tree that still has green leaves or needles contains significant amounts of water.  Wood cut from a live tree is considered wet and unseasoned.  It’s also very heavy and depending on the time of year and type of wood, a full cord may weigh as much as 5,000 pounds. 

Wood that has had time to dry out (season) looses 20 percent or more of its original weight just from water loss.  It takes roughly 6 months to be fully seasoned and dry. 

Keep in mind that you won’t be able to transport the same volume of wood when wet as you can when it’s dry.  

If you’re buying wood from a dealer, be sure to ask if the wood is fully seasoned and dry before agreeing to buy and haul it home.  Unseasoned wood will take a couple trips in a small pickup unless you have a trailer.

You can easily tell seasoned wood.  Take a look at the ends of the logs.  Ends dark in color and cracked indicate dry wood.  The wood should also feel relatively light and make a sharp hollow noise when two pieces are hit together.  Any green tint means the wood is still fresh and unseasoned.

Firewood weight by type

Like all natural material, there is a great diversity of wood types available.  Trees cover huge swaths of land across the country and many species are commonly sought after for firewood.  Some are better for burning than others and some weigh more too.

Here is a simple chart to help you estimate the weight of the most popular types of firewood.

Wood TypeWeight (lbs/cord)
unseasoned, wet
Weight (lbs/cord)
seasoned, dry
Douglas fir33192970

The weights provided in this table are a fairly accurate estimate based on research done by the Forestry Department at the University of Utah.  Many more types of wood are around so check out a more comprehensive list of wood types and their weights here

How much firewood fits in a truck bed

When people ask how much a cord of wood weighs, it’s usually because they want to know if their vehicle can haul it, either in the truck bed or in a trailer.  

For most trucks, the amount of wood you can haul is determined by the size of the bed and the towing specs of the vehicle.  

Bed size

In general, there are 3 different bed sizes available on trucks today: short, standard or long.  Short beds measure about 5’8”, standard beds are around 6’5” and long beds push 8’ in length.  The width and depth of the bed varies by make and model but in general, a full size pickup can fit a 4 foot sheet of plywood between the wheel wells and it’s 18 to 22 inches deep.

A quick run down of the math shows that a short bed can haul about 32 cubic feet of wood stacked to the top of the bed.  A standard bed holds 40 cubic feet and a long bed can hold around 65 cubic feet, which is half a cord.

Of course, you can increase the volume by adding wood racks to contain pieces that are stacked above the top of the bed.  However, be careful not to exceed the weight limits of your vehicle.

Whatever you do, never overload a pick-up with too much wood. It’s not only dangerous but also hard on the truck.

Towing capacity 

With a wood rack or canopy on your truck, volume may not be an issue but now is the time to consider the weight.  

By convention, full size trucks are rated as 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton and 1 ton.  Unlike the rating system suggests, these designations are not the actual payload capacities.  

A 1/2 ton pickup like the F-150, Ram 1500 or Chevy Silverado can handle a payload of 1,900 to 3,000 pounds depending on the model.

Heavy duty, 3/4 ton, trucks have a stouter frame and suspension system that will handle 3,500 to 4,500 pounds.  The even larger, 1 ton trucks haul an impressive 5,000 to 6,000 pounds.  That’s more than enough to haul a cord of split hardwood assuming you can safely secure the load.

Remember, total weight includes passengers, fuel, equipment and the tongue weight of any attached trailers.  

How long will a cord of wood last

Now that you went through all the trouble of cutting a cord of wood and hauling it home, then next question is how long will it heat your home?

A lot goes into determining how much burning you get out of a cord of wood.  In general, you can expect a cord of wood to last 1 to 3 months.

Here are the basic variables to consider when estimating your burn rate:

  • Type of wood
  • Fireplace or wood stove efficiency
  • Size of heated area
  • Outside temperature
  • Desired inside temperature
  • Home insulation

Not all wood is created equal.  The amount of energy given off in the form of heat when something burns is called a BTU.  Some hard woods, like oak, locust and maple, generate more heat than soft woods, like pine or fir, for the same volume logs.  In some cases, you can get twice the heat using one wood over the other.

You’ll also get more efficient heating from a catalytic wood stove than an open fireplace.  It all has to do with air flow control.  Modern wood stoves can generate huge amounts of heat burning low and slow while reducing the amount of smoke output.  

The type of fire place has a huge impact on how much wood you’ll burn during a winter season.  Where an open fire place may burn a cord in 2 weeks, a catalytic stove could make one cord last the whole winter.

Outside and desired inside temperatures obviously determine how much you need to burn to be comfortable.  Places with winter temperatures below zero usually require constant wood heat to stay comfortable.  More mild climates may only need a small fire for a short portion of the year.  A well insulated house definitely helps as well.

Final thoughts

The weight of a cord of firewood may seem like a trivial question but you’ll find it’s more important than most people think.  Everything from cutting, hauling and stacking wood is affected by its weight.  Knowing how to estimate weight and volume will help you safely transport and handle firewood from its source to your home.