Home improvement

The Best Guide to Buying Lumber 

Buying lumber is complex because there are many choices that can have you wandering the lumber section at your favourite home improvement store for several minutes trying to determine which pieces of wood to get. Will you choose pressure-treated or C or D grade plywood? Before you start shopping for lumber, you must know the different kinds of lumber. And to make sure to cross-check to know you are getting the right thing. This guide will help you when buying lumber:

Choosing Between Softwood vs. Hardwood

In general, wood is classified into softwood and hardwood. Softwood lumber comes from conifer trees such as pine, cedar, spruce, and fir. It can easily be dented with only a fingernail. Also, it absorbs and loses moisture easier than hardwood. Thus, it requires extra care to keep its stability. Compared to hardwood, softwood is cheaper is conifer trees tend to grow faster than hardwood trees.

Meanwhile, hardwood lumber comes from deciduous trees with broad leaves. Walnut, oak, maple, and mahogany are the most common sources of hardwood lumber. Hardwood is harder than softwood and it is not easily dented. 

Moisture Content

In the world of lumber, wood sellers may refer to wood as green. Green wood means that the wood has just been cut. Often, this wood has high moisture content. And while it works perfectly well on some projects, it doesn’t for most projects. Because of this, you might want to avoid it as it easily warps and splits. Instead, try to browse through options for Hardwood cut stock as the cuts have been allowed to dry for a while, making them more durable than green wood. 

Surface versus Unsurfaced

This refers to lumber being smoothened or not S4S is the common kind, which has been surfaced on all its four sides. Meanwhile, unsurfaced lumber is referred to as rough. Although the majority of people love surfaced lumber, others choose unsurfaced. The choice depends on your preference and the task at hand. 


Lumber grades are more about quality and look. They are also stamped on the lumber, along with moisture ratings. Often, the grades in the form of A, B, C, and D, with A being the highest grade. The A grade has the least number of knots or imperfections while D has the least quality with the greatest number of imperfections. Talk to the dealer to know the best grade for your project. 

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