Choosing Quality Lumber for Home Projects

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated March 18, 2022)

If there is one thing that can make or break a home improvement project, then it has got to be the lumber. With the right lumber in place, your project can last for years to come. However, if you choose the wrong lumber, you can easily find yourself needing to repeat the project in just a few months. Choosing quality lumber for home projects is something that anyone can do, as long as you are willing to follow a few simple guidelines.

  • Look at the wood. As you are looking through your choices, actually look the lumber itself. Make sure that the wood is free from any splits, warps, bends, arching, bowing, or other possible problems. You don't really need to worry about knots so much, since they are typically only considered a cosmetic issue. However if the knot is particularly large, or looks like it is about to fall out, then you will want to go with some other kind of wood.
  • Know your sizes. When wood is cut at the sawmill it is typically cut into standard sizes. These sizes are not usually the "finished" sizes, but are called the rough cut of the wood. Once you have chosen the wood you want, and you have it finished, planed, and sanded you can expect to lose at least 1/8 inch on the dimensions. For example, a rough cut two by four is actually 1.5 by 3.5 after it is planed and sanded.
  • Hard or soft wood? Depending on the project, you will want to use different types of woods. For example, if you are doing a construction project you will typically want a soft wood. However, hardwood is typically used for things like furniture or other kinds of woodworking.
  • Know the grade. Grade is usually a little different between hard and soft wood, but for both types of wood grade typically refers to how the wood looks. Typically select or clear grade wood is the kind that looks the best, and should be used for any exposed work. Common grade refers to the least expensive, and has more visible defects. As such this type of wood should be used more for projects where you won't see the wood itself.

There are many other options that your lumber can come in, but most of those are only good for specific projects. Ideally you will know what your projects are, and what your project will require, prior to starting. However, if you have any questions about what type of wood you should use for a specific project, you can always ask the lumber clerk at your local home improvement store.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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