Four Important Factors to Consider when Buying Hardwood Lumber



Buying lumber is more than just picking up some pieces of wood. You will have to choose between hardwood and softwood. Softwood lumber comes from conifer trees including spruce, cedar, and pine while hardwood comes from deciduous trees like oak, maple, walnut, and mahogany trees. Hardwood is used for many reasons. Because of the value of this resource, hardwood forests in Canada and the United States have increased and are properly managed. If you are on the market for hardwood, below are the factors you must consider:


Lumber thickness is marked in quarters instead of inches. For instance, a one-inch thick board is often written as 4/4. It is important to remember that lumber is sawn and dried so the board that started out 4/4 inches will be closer to 7/8 inches. This thickness is before any kind of surfacing is performed. 

Lumber Grade

Lumber grade can easily overwhelm you if you are getting hardwood for the first time. The majority of lumber supplies use the generally-accepted grading rules the National Hardwood Lumber Association sets. Lumber grades are based on the amount of usable clear material in a board. Boards with the highest grades are FAS and Select. These grades are followed by #1 Common and #2 Common. The grade of the hardwood cut stock you pick depends on your project. Projects like high-quality furniture and tabletops may require the highest grade available. A lot of other projects such as kitchen cabinet doors and smaller projects are as easily adaptable to #1 Common.


Usually, lumber is measured in board feet, one of which is equivalent to a piece of wood that is twelve inches long, twelve inches wide, and one inch thick or 144 cubic inches. You can get the board measurement by multiplying the three measurements and dividing the product by 144. It is important to find the exact measurement you need to minimise wastage and costs. 

As hardwood lumber invoices are based on measured board footage, you must know if the price you are being quoted and paying is based on a gross or net tally. Keep in mind that some lumber may shrink in the kiln drying process, so you must get an accurate measure of footage for pricing. 

How the Lumber is Sorted

Usually, hardwood lumber is packaged in random length and width bundles of 48 inches wide and 48 inches tall. But, suppliers sort lumber into special products for customers. They can offer special width sorts, colour sorts, length sorts, and even character or feature sorts.