and Buying Lumber*
Some Common Grades
Clear: has no knots
Select or Select Structural: Very high-quality
wood. Broken down into Nos. 1-3 or grades A-D; the lower grades will have
No. 2 Common: Has tight knots, no major blemishes;
good for shelving.
No. 3 Common: Some knots may be loose, often
blemished or damaged.
Construction or Standard Good Strength: Used
for general framing.
Utility Economy grade used for rough framing.
and Common Uses
Cedar, Cypress: Similar to redwood-only the
darker wood is rot-resistant. Weak, brittle; resists warping; pleasant
aroma; easy to cut Siding, paneling, rough trim, roof shingles, shakes,
Fir: Larch heavy, very strong, hard; holds
nails well; good resistance to warping and shrinkage; somewhat difficult
to cut. Framing, exterior fascia, flooring, subflooring, trim.
"Hem / fir": A general classification
that takes in a variety of species. Lightweight, soft, fairly strong;
warps easily; may shrink; easy to cut. Framing, exterior fascia, flooring,
Pine: From eastern,
northern, and western trees. Very light, soft, fairly weak; good resistance
to warping, but with a tendency to shrink; easy to cut. Paneling, trim
(molding), flooring, cabinets.
Redwood: Durable and resistant to rot and
insects if you get the darker-colored heartwood. Light, soft, not as strong
as fir or Southern pine; tendency to split; easy to cut. Exterior posts
and beams, siding, paneling, decks, fences.
Southern pine: Very hard, stiff, excellent
strength; holds nails well; has a tendency to crack, splinter, warp; cuts
with average ease. Framing, subflooring.
Spruce: Lightweight, soft, fairly strong;
resistant to splitting and warping; easy to work. Framing, subflooring.
Treated lumber: Several species can be treated-most
often, fir, "hem/fir", and Southern pine are used. Green or
brown color will fade in time, leaving the wood a dirty gray; extremely
resistant to rot and insects. Bottom framing plates that rest on concrete;
other framing that might come into contact with water, decks, and fences.
and Common Uses:
Birch: Hard, strong; fine-grained; resists
shrinking and warping. Similar in color to maple-sometimes used as a cheaper
replacement. Finishes fairly well; hard to cut. Paintable cabinets, paneling,
Mahogany: Durable; fine-grained; resistant to shrinking, warping,
and swelling. Finishes well; easy to cut. (Not to be confused with lauan
mahogany, a much cheaper material that is used for veneers and plywoods
Fine furniture, cabinets, millwork, veneers.
Maple: Extremely hard, strong; pieces with
bird's eye or wavy grains are highly prized. Color ranges from reddish
to nearly white in color. Finishes well; difficult to cut. Flooring (basketball
and bowling alley floors are made of maple), butcher blocks, veneers,
millwork, and molding.
Poplar: Lightweight, soft for a hardwood;
fine-grained. White to yellow-brown, in color. Paints well; easy to cut.
Paintable furniture, cabinets, trim, places where a less-expensive hardwood
Red Oak: Hard, strong, rigid; pronounced
open grain; resists warping, but may shrink if not well dried. Reddish
color. Finishes well; moderately hard to cut. Flooring, furniture, cabinets,
molding, stair rails.
heavy, extra strong; fairly pronounced, straight grain; resists warping
and shrinking. Light to dark brown in color. Finishes well; cuts fairly
easily. Fine furniture and cabinets, millwork, paneling, inlays, veneers.
White Oak: Hard, strong; open-grained, but not as pronounced as
red oak; resists shrinking and warping. Golden color. Finishes well; moderately
hard to cut. Better than red oak for flooring-less variation color. Millwork,
molding, furniture, cabinets, stair rails, balusters.
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