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Lumber
The Traditional House-building Material


LumberMost North American homes today, as in the past, are constructed with wood framing using dimensional lumber.

What is Dimensional Lumber?

Dimensional lumber is the product of the sawmill where it is mechanically shaped to industry standard dimensions - width, thickness and length. Fig. 1 illustrates most standard dimensions of lumber used in home construction.

How is Lumber Manufactured?

Sawmill operations are varied as they are numerous. Typically, logs are transported to the mill by truck where they are graded for size and suitability for different uses. Various types of saws may be employed to cut the logs into rough lumber of different lengths, widths and thicknesses. The boards are then stacked and placed in drying kilns. Once dry, the boards are planed to final dimensions and to provide a smooth finish before being shipped.

The sawmill process creates a lot of waste material that in many modern mills is used as an energy source. Waste wood is also used in the manufacture of structural panels, Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF), in particular.

Fig.1
STANDARD LUMBER DIMENSIONS
AND QUANTITY DATA
Nominal size
(inches)
Typical size
(inches)
Board feet
per foot
of length
Linear feet
per 1,000
bd. ft.
1 x 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 1/6 6,000
1 x 3 3/4 x 2 1/2 1/4 4,000
1 x 4 3/4 x 3 1/2 1/3 3,000
1 x 6 3/4 x 5 1/2 1/2 2,000
1 x 8 3/4 x 7 1/4 2/3 1,500
1 x 10 3/4 x 9 1/4 5/6 1,200
1 x 12 3/4 x 11 1/4 1 1,000
2 x 2 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 1/3 3,000
2 x 3 1 1/2 x 2 1/2 1/2 2,000
2 x 4 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 2/3 1,500
2 x 6 1 1/2 x 5 1/2 1 1,000
2 x 8 1 1/2 x 7 1/4 1 1/3 750
2 x 10 1 1/2 x 9 1/4 1 2/3 600
2 x 12 1 1/2 x 11 1/4 2 500
4 x 4 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 1 1/3 750
4 x 6 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 2 500
6 x 6 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 3 333

Please Note: This chart applies only to framing and ordinary board lumber. Special lumber for other specific purpose, such as decking, flooring and siding will most likely have different dimensions.

What are the Benefits of Dimensional Lumber?

Construction Compared to other building materials and systems, wood framing is by far the most cost effective method of home construction. Wood is light and strong for its weight. It's a good insulator and warm to the touch and springy to the step. Moderately long spans are easily provided and extremely long spans are practical with the aid of trussing and bracing.

Dimensional wood is also used in combination with other wood-based materials to construct strong, light-weight engineered roof trusses and floor beams. It can also be pressure-treated with rot-inhibiting chemicals for damp applications, such as posts and decking.

What Types of Wood are Used for Building Lumber?

Window Because of its physical qualities and abundance, softwood lumber (pine, spruce and fir) makes up by far the greatest part of our framing lumber.

Hardwood FloorsOn the other hand, hardwoods (birch, oak and maple), with their noticable grain and colour characteristics, are used in millwork (doors, windows and frames), all kinds of moldings, interior wall paneling, flooring, cabinetry and furniture.

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