Wood is used in many building projects due to several factors including:
- Ease of use
- Renewable resource
- Cost effective
Lumber refers to wood that has been sized to be used in building projects. Lumber comes in many sizes including, but not limited to:
Common lengths are 8’-20’ in even increments. Longer lengths can be sourced but lead times can be longer as the mill may have to find a log that works and then run a special cut.
Lumber is cut from a variety of trees. And typically aligns with species that are common to a geographic area. In the Pacific Northwest, Douglas Fir/Larch and Hemlock are common species for typical framing type lumber. The characteristics of each are outlined below:
Douglas Fir/Larch- Excellent load bearing capacity coupled with light weight. Noted for its uniformly fine, straight grain; works well with machine or hand tools. Sapwood is white in color; heartwood is reddish brown.
Hemlock- Strong and workable, it nails and saws easily without splintering. It is generally pitch free. Typically off white in color, can be a reddish brown also. Can have an odd smell when wet, that goes away when dry. Stiffness and strength make is suitable for most framing applications. Tends to not be quite as stable as Doug Fir Larch in warm climates.
Southern Pine- Strongest and heaviest of all softwoods due to year-round growth. Properly seasoned it will work without splitting and warping when nailed. Holds paints well, accepts stains (sometimes unevenly).
Western Red Cedar- Completely non- resinous wood, it is one of the most decay resistant species available. It resists rot and decay in outdoor applications without additional preservatives. Narrow sapwood is white, Heartwood varies from dark red to yellow. Dimensionally stable and easily worked with hand tools.
Ponderosa Pine- Soft, even grade texture gives wood a smooth surface. Wood is creamy white to straw with reddish knots. Comparatively pitch free and has minimal tendency to warp or split. Easily painted, stained or varnished.
Lumber quality is designated by grades that are assigned at the mill during the manufacturing process. Certified graders look at each piece of lumber and assign a grade based on the criteria they have learned and are certified to assign. New technology is available that enables computer managed scanner to assign grades. Typical lumber grades are as follows:
Select Structural- This is the highest grade of framing lumber. Select Struc will have the least amount of imperfections, The knots will be small, tight and well spaced throughout the board.
1 & Btr- Similar to Select Struc, a few more imperfections are allowed.
2& Btr- Most common grade of lumber, typically used for home framing. Imperfections are allowed. Knot’s of any condition are acceptable as long as they are well spaced.
2& Btr Premium- Same as above, but also graded for appearance. Typically will have 4 square edges.
Standard & Btr- Similar to 2&btr but only used in narrows (2×4, 2×6)
Stud Grade- Specifically graded for vertical/downward strength. There are varying levels of appearance within the grade.
MSR- Machine Stress Rated lumber- is stress rated at the mill to varying PSI (pound per square inch). This type of lumber is typically used in truss manufacturing
Utility- Utility grade lumber is the lowest grade. Suitable for light framing and temporary bracing.
As technology evolves it impacts lumber. Many of the larger sizes of solid sawn 2”, 4” and 6” beams are now most commonly made from manufacturing processes where smaller lumber is cut and glued to form larger sizes. This is a more efficient use of the logs. Commonly manufactured substitute products include glulam beams, I joists, and engineered lumber (LSL, LVL).
In our stores you will typically find the following lumber items in stock.
Wood is also treated with preservatives to give it more resistance to decay and bug damage. There are many different types of treatment. The most common for residential applications are Borate, LP -2 and LP-22.
Borate- Borate is used to treat wood that is not exposed to the elements. In the Pacific Northwest this is generally limited to sill plate. Borate should be stored out of the weather until installed and is not acceptable for ground contact applications.
LP-2 is pressure treated with waterborne preservatives, usually copper and are treated for above ground use. Meaning they are not acceptable to be used in applications where they are touching the ground
LP-22 is pressure treated with waterborne preservatives, usually copper and are treated for ground contact use. Meaning they are acceptable to be used in applications where they are touching the ground. The main difference between LP-2 and LP-22 is the amount of time the material is left in the pressurization chamber. LP-22 is left in longer and therefore the preservative penetrates farther.
Specialty Wood Products
While we have an extensive inventory of common lumber items, we also work with mills and remanufacturers to provide hard to find sizes, species, and finishes. Let us know if you have a hard to find or unusual product chances are our experts can find it.
Panels typically refers to sheets of veneers glued together or strands/chips of wood oriented and glued together (OSB). Panels are used in many areas of construction including subfloor and wall and roof sheathing.
Panels are made in a variety of thicknesses and sizes to include the following:
Typical Residential Construction Panels
OSB panels are typically made from fast growing aspen poplar trees, although other fiber mixtures may be used. The fibres are oriented in the manufacturing process and waxes and glues are added to provide strength and shear value.
Plywood is manufactured from veneers. The veneers are peeled from the log, graded and then glued up layer upon layer to the desired thickness. In the Pacific Northwest we tend to see Douglas Fir and Hemlock veneers although some imported veneers are also used.
Plywood veneers are graded and are reflected I the naming convention of the product. Examples are listed below:
- Smooth, paintable, No more than 18 neatly made repairs made parallel to the grain are permitted.
- Solid Surface. Shims Circular repair plugs and tight knots to 1” cross grain are permitted. Some minor splits also permitted.
- Tight knots to 1 ½”. Knot holes to 1” across grain and some 1 ½”. Synthetic or wood repairs ok.
- Knots and knot holes to 2 ½” width across grain, limited splits are ok. Limited to exposure 1 or interior panels.
X- Exterior Glue
From the above general grading guidelines you can determine the characteristics of the plywood panels you are deciding between.
ACX- 1 A face, 1 C Face, with exterior glue
CDX- 1 C face, 1 D Face, with exterior glue
There are many other types of panels available for both exterior and interior use.
Siding is available in many panel sizes and raw materials, to include:
Fir T1-11 OSB LP Smart Side Panels Cement Hardie Panels
These are available in 4×8, 4×9 and 4×10 sizes.
Interior panels are commonly available in Oak, Birch, and Poplar. Custom panels can be made from most species including rarer hardwoods in limited production runs. Please let us know if you are looking for a specialty panel.