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.
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 it suitable for most framing applications. Tends to not be quite as stable as Doug Fir Larch in warm climates.
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).
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:
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 in the naming convention of the product. Examples are listed below:
From the above general grading guidelines you can determine the characteristics of the plywood panels you are deciding between.
Natural wood is a classic choice for a deck or fence. With its warm appearance and varying grains, wood can feel like a natural extension to the outdoors.
Cedar is a popular choice for a wood deck or fence, especially in the Pacific Northwest. It won’t warp with our rainy weather and it’s resistant to temperature, rot, and insects.
Tropical hardwoods such as mahogany, teak, and ipe, make for a very durable and high-quality deck. Check with us to see what specialty lumber we have in our store. If it is not in stock, we are happy to order any materials—including tropical hardwoods— to complete your project.
To maintain wood, you’ll need to seal and stain every few years to protect the deck from moisture damage and help keep its appearance.
Pressure-treated wood is a softwood lumber that has been chemically treated to resist rot, decay and termites. It holds up well in wet grass or soil and it is a less expensive option than cedar. It can be used for decking or fencing.
If you’re looking for a great looking deck or fence that’s easy to maintain and will last for years, composite is a great choice. There are many color options, plus it’s resistant to fades, stains, mold, mildew, and termites. Need to clean it? All you need is soap and water. You can visit our store to touch and feel composite samples—we carry both Trex and Timbertech.