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Types and Grades of Dimensional Lumber

Type and Grade of Dimensional Lumber

Dimensional lumber is typically made from softwood species such as spruce, pine, or fir, although it can also be made from hardwood species such as oak or maple. The type of wood used for dimensional lumber can impact its strength, durability, and appearance.

The grade of dimensional lumber refers to its quality and is based on a set of grading standards established by the National Lumber Grades Authority (NLGA) in Canada and the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) in the United States. The grading system takes into account factors such as knots, cracks, warping, and other defects that can affect the strength and appearance of the lumber.

In North America, there are several different grades of dimensional lumber, including:

  1. Select Structural (SS): This grade of lumber is the strongest and highest quality, with minimal knots, splits, and other defects.

  2. No. 1 and No. 2: These grades are slightly lower in quality than SS and may contain more knots and other defects, but are still suitable for most construction applications.

  3. No. 3 and No. 4: These grades are lower in quality and are typically used for non-structural applications such as temporary structures or packaging material.

In addition to these grades, some suppliers also offer specialty grades of dimensional lumber that are designed for specific applications such as appearance-grade lumber for furniture-making or pressure-treated lumber for outdoor use.

When selecting dimensional lumber for a project, it is important to choose the appropriate type and grade of lumber based on the specific application and the required strength and durability. The NLGA and ALSC grading standards provide a useful guide for selecting high-quality lumber that can safely and effectively support the weight and stresses of the project.

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