How Much Is a Cord of Wood?

When it comes to heating your home, there’s nothing quite like the warmth and ambiance of a crackling fire in your fireplace or wood stove. But before you stack up those logs, it’s crucial to understand how much wood you’re really getting. That’s where the concept of a cord of wood comes into play. In this article, we’ll delve into what a cord of wood is, why it matters, and everything you need to know about measuring and purchasing firewood.

What is a Cord of Wood?

A cord of wood is a standardized unit of measurement for firewood. Historically, a cord referred to a tightly stacked pile of wood that measured 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long, resulting in 128 cubic feet of wood. This definition remains the standard in many places, but variations exist. For example, in some regions, you might encounter a “face cord,” which is a stack of wood that’s 4 feet high and 8 feet long but only as wide as the individual logs, making it less than a full cord in terms of volume.

What Is a Cord of Wood?

Why Knowing the Cord Measurement Matters

Understanding cord measurements is essential for various reasons:

  1. Heating and Cooking: Accurate measurements help you estimate how long your firewood supply will last, ensuring your home stays warm and cozy during the cold months. It’s also crucial for calculating cooking times when using wood-burning stoves or outdoor ovens.
  2. Purchasing Firewood: When buying firewood, knowing how much wood you’re getting per cord ensures you’re getting your money’s worth. It helps you avoid being shortchanged or overcharged by firewood suppliers.
  3. Legal and Trade Considerations: Many jurisdictions have regulations and guidelines that govern the sale and transport of firewood, often based on cord measurements. Complying with these laws is vital to avoid legal issues.

Standard Cord Measurements in Different Regions

Cord measurements can vary by country and region. In the United States, the traditional cord is 128 cubic feet, but in Canada, it’s often 128 cubic meters, which is significantly larger. Local regulations and trade standards may further complicate matters, so it’s essential to be aware of these differences when buying or selling firewood.

How to Measure a Cord of Wood

Measuring a cord of wood accurately requires some simple tools and a step-by-step approach:

  1. Tools: You’ll need a tape measure, a level, and a piece of string.
  2. Step-by-Step Guide: Begin by creating a stack of firewood in the shape of a rectangle, ensuring it’s as neatly packed as possible. Use the tape measure to check the dimensions: 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long. Adjust the stack as needed to meet these measurements.
  3. Tips for Precision: To ensure precision, use the level to make sure the top of the stack is flat and even. You can also use the string to measure the length and width accurately.

Calculating the Volume of a Cord

The formula to calculate the volume of a cord of wood is straightforward:

Volume (cubic feet) = Height (feet) x Width (feet) x Length (feet)

By using this formula, you can easily determine the volume of your stacked firewood.

Pricing and Costs of a Cord of Wood

The cost of a cord of wood can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of wood, your location, and whether the wood is seasoned or green. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $300 per cord for hardwoods, with softwoods being somewhat cheaper. Prices may also fluctuate seasonally, so it’s a good idea to plan your purchases accordingly.

Don’t Get Ripped Off When Buying a Cord of Wood

Purchasing and Storing Firewood

When purchasing firewood, consider the following tips:

  • Buy from reputable suppliers who provide accurate cord measurements.
  • Ask about the wood’s moisture content and whether it’s been properly seasoned.
  • Store your firewood in a dry, well-ventilated area to prevent mold and decay.

Face Cord vs. Full Cord vs. Stove Cord

Understanding the differences between face cords, full cords, and stove cords is essential:

  • A full cord is the standard unit of measurement we discussed earlier.
  • A face cord is typically a stack of firewood that’s 4 feet high and 8 feet long but can vary in width.
  • A stove cord is often used to refer to a stack of wood designed for use in a wood-burning stove.

Knowing which measurement you’re dealing with is crucial to accurately assess your firewood supply.

Legal and Environmental Considerations

Be aware of local regulations regarding the sale and transport of firewood. Additionally, consider sustainable harvesting practices to ensure you’re not contributing to deforestation or ecological harm.

FAQs About Cord Measurements

Let’s address some common questions:

  1. Can I stack firewood in a different shape and still call it a cord?: No, a cord has specific dimensions (4x4x8 feet) that must be met for it to be considered a cord.
  2. What’s the difference between seasoned and green wood?: Seasoned wood has been dried to reduce its moisture content, making it burn more efficiently and produce less smoke.


Understanding the concept of a cord of wood is vital for anyone who relies on firewood for heating, cooking, or ambiance. It ensures that you get what you pay for when purchasing firewood and helps you make informed decisions about your wood-burning needs. So, the next time you’re planning to stock up on firewood, remember the importance of cord measurements and make sure you’re getting the warmth and comfort you expect.