If you’re looking to buy firewood to keep your home warm it’s important to get the right amount. Too much can be a nuisance to store, too little and you may be in for a cold winter!

Thankfully, firewood sellers can use a standard cord for measuring their offers. In this guide, we’ll explain what a cord of firewood is so that you understand exactly what you’re getting.

What’s a cord of wood?  

A cord is a standardized unit for measuring the dry volume of pulpwood or firewood. One full cord of wood is 128 cubic feet (3.62m³). To get this volume, firewood is often stacked 4′ high x 8′ long x 4′ deep, but it can be a combination of any measurements that provide the same result.

Here are some examples of one firewood cord:

  • 2 rows of 24” long firewood, stacked 16 feet long and 2 feet high.
  • 4 rows of 12” long firewood, stacked 8 feet long and 4 feet high.
  • 3 rows of 16” long firewood, stacked 8 feet long and 4 feet high.

Pieces of firewood have varying shapes and sizes so a cord of wood must be packed tightly together. Most of the volumetric area within the stack should be wood, with a few small air gaps making up the remainder. 

Measurements of a full cord of firewood

What is a face cord?

A face cord is also known as a rick of wood. This stack of firewood measures 8 feet wide by 4 feet high. While its depth can vary, it is typically 16 inches. At this length, its volume is exactly one-third of a full cord.

Some firewood sellers cut their wood to 18” or even a little longer. If the logs are 24” long, then you’ll get half a full cord.

It’s important to understand that firewood may be advertised as a cord when it’s actually a face cord. If you visit the seller before buying, a quick check with a measuring tape is one way to confirm you’re getting what you pay for. You can also do a visual check. Logs are often cut to 16”, so if you see three rows then it’s probably a full cord if the stack is 8’ long and 4’ high. 

Here are some common face cord volumes:

Amount of cordVolumeMeasurements
⅔ cord85 cubic feet4’ x 8’ x 32”
½ cord64 cubic feet4’ x 8’ x 24”
⅓ cord43 cubic feet4’ x 8’ x 16”
¼ cord32 cubic feet4’ x 8’ x 12”

Firewood cord calculator

Do you have a space for your firewood but don’t know how much you need to fill it? Use the calculator below to make life easy.

Simply measure the length, width, and height of the space and you’ll get the number or cords or face cords it will house.

If you know the local price for a cord of wood, add that too and you’ll discover the total price.

What is a green cord of wood?

Green firewood contains moisture as it has only recently been felled. Depending on the variety of wood, it will have 6-8% more volume than seasoned wood.

A cord of green wood is 128 cubic feet, the same as dried wood. If you pay the same price for green firewood, then the deal isn’t as good. That’s because you can expect the cord to shrink over the next year as it sheds moisture. 

A large pile of unseasoned firewood ready to be stacked

How long will a cord of firewood last?

If a fire is your only source of heat, then expect a cord to last less than 6 weeks in cold climates. If you also have gas or electric heating to supplement the firewood, you may stretch the life of a cord to 3 months.

Other factors like the quality of insulation in your home and whether you use softwood or hardwood will also come into play. The best option is to buy more than you think is needed. Anything leftover will be nicely seasoned for the following winter.  

What does a cord of firewood cost?

The average price for a cord of firewood is around $300 in the United States. In states like Michigan and Delaware, prices may be as low as $120 while the starting price in Florida and California is around $350.

Other factors affecting firewood pricing are seasoning method and duration, wood variety, wood quality, and whether it’s been cleaned. A top-quality, seasoned cord of fragrant hickory and mesquite or slow-burning oak could fetch as much as $800-900 in winter.

When getting quotes, be sure to factor in additional costs like delivery and whether they’ll stack it for you.

Wood stacked in storage frames ready for sale

Commonly asked questions

What’s a bush cord?

A bush cord is another name for a full cord of wood. Its volume is 128 cubic feet and will typically have dimensions of 4ft high, 8ft wide, and 4ft deep.

How much firewood will a pickup truck hold?

A pickup truck with a 6-foot bed holds roughly one-third of a cord of firewood while larger 8-foot beds fit half a cord. If you’re picking up a full cord, then it’ll take 2-3 trips to get all the wood home.

A black pickup truck filled with firewood

How much space do I need for half a cord?

A half cord of firewood is 64 cubic feet meaning you’ll need a storage area that can fit a wood stack that’s four feet wide, high, and deep.

How much does a cord of firewood weigh?

A full cord of softwood like spruce or fir weighs around 2000-3000 pounds. Cords of hardwood typically weigh 4000-5000 pounds. Firewood weight is affected by its moisture content, tightness of stacking, and wood variety. 

How many pieces of firewood are in a cord?

Full cords of wood will typically contain 600-800 pieces of split firewood. A rick, or face cord, usually has between 200-270 pieces. Factors like the type of wood, age of tree, and species all play a role in the number of pieces you’ll get. 

Firewood stacked in criss-cross formation

How many ricks in a cord of wood?

Although the number can vary, there are typically three ricks of wood in a cord.

Why do they call it a cord of firewood?

The term “cord” derives from back in the early 1600s when wood was bundled together and tied up using a cord or string.

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