Stacked firewood
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If you’re buying a new home with a fireplace or are using home equity to put in a wood stove, you’ll soon be in the market for some firewood.

It’s usually sold by the “cord.” When you don’t understand what that term means and are unsure of what to pay, buying wood can seem more daunting than, say, simply calling your local oil company for a fill-up. Here’s what you need to know to get the best price.

What is a cord?

The standard measurement for firewood, a cord is 128 cubic feet. This means that when it is stacked it measures approximately 4 feet high, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long. However, the amount of wood in a cord can vary from supplier to supplier because wood is usually cut in various lengths, and uneven stacking results in lots of air space. This can be confusing for shoppers, especially if you want to compare cord prices among various suppliers.

To further muddle things, some sellers offer a “face cord” of wood as opposed to a full cord. Typically, a face cord is one-third as deep as a full cord. Despite the difference in volume, a face cord is sometimes casually referred to as a cord. When you’re shopping and comparing prices, confirm that the quotes you receive are for a full cord of wood.

Average cost

Cord costs vary across the country, but in general you can expect to pay between $120 and $180 for a cord of hardwood that is split and seasoned.

While this is the average cost, many consumers can expect to pay more, especially in winter. In some places in the U.S. costs can be as high as $220 to $400 per cord.

Doing some comparison-shopping in your area will give you the best idea of how much you can expect to pay.

Additional cost factors

If you want your wood delivered and stacked, expect to pay an additional fee. Some sellers might charge more for other conveniences, such as:

  • Wood cut in short lengths (more labor and cutting involved).
  • Wood cut to uniform sizes so that it stacks nicely.
  • Wood that is clean.
  • Wood that is dry.

Many people find the convenience services well worth the price.

Types of wood

Not all wood is the same; some types make much better for firewood than others. Be sure you know what you’re buying when comparing prices.

Hardwoods are the best for home burning, because they burn slowly and usually emit little smoke and few sparks. These include:

  • Ash
  • Maple
  • Black birch
  • Oak
  • Walnut

If you find a cord of wood for a price that seems too good to be true, be sure to confirm the type of wood you’re buying so that you don’t end up getting a cord of soft wood.

Conclusion

When comparing prices, find out as much as you can about the wood. If possible, get a look at the firewood beforehand.

Finally, stock up with a winter season’s worth of wood before the cold hits. Preparation ensures you won’t be scrambling and paying top dollar when demand for firewood peaks.