Everything you need to know about lumber
Lumber and plywood is available in many different varieties, each of which has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages, and each of which is particularly well-suited for certain applications. As a do-it-yourselfer, you're certain to face a job that requires the use of wood boards, and knowing the characteristics of different lumber types will only make it easier for you to build an attractive and long-lasting structure.
An Overview of the Different Types of Lumber and Plywood
Broadly speaking, there are three different major types of lumber you'll encounter at the plywood store: Western, redwood and pine. Western lumber is made from over a dozen different species of Western softwood. It offers excellent strength and durability, retains its dimensional stability very well and is easy to shape and nail.
Redwood lumber is available in many different grades, from rough and unfinished grades to finely stained and finished grades. Different grades and types of redwood lumber are better-suited to different applications. Heartwood redwood lumber, for example, has natural termite repellents and decays slowly, making it excellent for applications involving contact with the ground. Sapwood redwood lumber, on the other hand, has streaks which create natural weak spots, and it is better for decorative applications. Architectural redwood and garden redwood are excellent all-purpose varieties of this popular lumber type. The architectural variety in particular makes excellent framing lumber.
Pine lumber is available in four different grades, numbered 1 to 4. All grades are very strong and make excellent frames for home exteriors, though as a general rule, think of number 1 pine as the highest quality and number 4 pine as all-purpose lumber or plywood. Quality descends from number 1 to number 4.
Treated Lumber and Other Specialty Products
If you're going to be building decking or another outdoor structure that will be in constant contact with the elements, treated lumber is an excellent choice. This type of wood is treated with chemical preservatives designed to resist weather, termite infestations and fungal growths.
An engineered wood product that you may also want to consider for certain jobs is particleboard. This type of wood is composed of wood chips, sawmill shavings and sawdust, which are then bound together using resin or another binding agent. Because it is so affordable, it is excellent for indoor applications that do not depend on appearance. However, it is relatively fragile and susceptible to expansion.