Dimensional Lumber Explained: What You Need to Know

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AIFP has spent the last 50+ years trading lumber, steel, and other industrial products for commercial construction and manufacturing projects across the country. In today’s blog, our experts discuss everything you need to know about dimensional lumber.

What is Dimensional Lumber?

Dimensional lumber is wood fiber that is cut to a specific size (thickness/width/length) based on pre-defined, standardized sizes. Common examples of dimensional lumber sizes include two-by-fours (2x4s) and four-by-fours (4x4s). In order to best facilitate a wide range of applications, dimensional lumber is sawn, planed, and sometimes further manufactured , and it can be produced from many types of wood, including southern yellow pine, spruce-pine-fir, Douglas fir, and Hem fir.

What is the Actual Size of Dimensional Lumber?

Dimensional lumber sizing can be somewhat confusing, as there is a difference between the nominal and actual dimensions of the lumber. The nominal dimensions exist in name only. The actual size of dimensional lumber is determined by using a tape measure or straight edge to measure the dimensions of the wood. A 2x4, for example, is an example of a nominal size. You can think of it as a nickname used to categorize the lumber. The actual size of a 2x4 is 1 ½ inches by 3 ½ inches.

How to Determine the Actual Dimensions of Dimensional Lumber

While measuring dimensional lumber or using a reference table is the best way to determine the actual dimensions of your lumber, there is a simple rule you can use to figure it out for yourself.

  • For lumber with a nominal size smaller than 1”: Subtract ¼”
  • For lumber with a nominal size larger than 2” but smaller than 8”: Subtract ½”
  • For lumber with a nominal size of 8” or larger: Subtract ¾”

Dimensional Lumber Uses

Dimensional lumber can be used for a wide range of construction, manufacturing, and industrial applications. Not only is it used in single-family and multi-family home construction, but it can also be used in crating and packaging, trusses, and concrete forms.

Where to Buy Dimensional Lumber?

It depends on the size of the project. If you’re an individual working on a DIY home renovation or woodworking project or a contractor looking for larger quantities of lumber for a big project, you can likely find dimensional lumber at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or a local lumber yard. If you’re a lumber supplier or manufacturer who needs a larger shipment of lumber, you can work with a lumber trader like AIFP who can leverage their relationship with mills to get you better prices and facilitate the delivery of the lumber.

Buying Dimensional Lumber at AIFP

Looking to buy dimensional lumber for a large construction, manufacturing, or industrial project? AIFP can help! We sell a wide range of dimensional lumber types and sizes to use across applications. Below are some of the most common dimensional lumbers types and sizes you’ll find at AIFP.

Dimensional Lumber Types We Trade

The type of project determines the type of lumber you’ll need. Here are some of the dimensional lumber types we trade at AIFP.

  • Southern yellow pine dimensional lumber
  • Spruce-pine-fir dimensional lumber
  • Douglas fir dimensional lumber (GDF & KDDF)
  • White fir dimensional lumber
  • Hem fir dimensional lumber
  • Pine ESLP dimensional lumber
  • Eastern spruce dimensional lumber
  • Western spruce dimensional lumber

Dimensional Lumber Sizes We Trade

While different types of dimensional lumber come in different sizes, here are the most common sizes we offer at AIFP.

  • 1x4
  • 1x6
  • 1x8
  • 1x10
  • 1x12
  • 2x3
  • 2x4
  • 2x6
  • 2x8
  • 2x10
  • 2x12
  • Studs
  • Timbers

Need to purchase dimensional lumber for your next big project? AIFP has got you covered! Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you meet your diverse construction, manufacturing, and industrial needs. In the meantime, check out our lumber blog, where we cover other building materials we trade, including cedar, plywood and OSB.

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