SPF Lumber Facts, Grades, Uses & Industry Insights

industry news

For over 50 years, American International Forest Products has been trading building materials like lumber, steel, and other industrial products for construction and manufacturing projects across the country. In today’s blog, our Canadian Department discusses everything you need to know about Eastern and Western spruce-pine-fir (SPF) lumber.

What is SPF Lumber?

SPF is an acronym for spruce, pine, and fir. SPF lumber typically refers to dimensional lumber or engineered wood derived from coniferous trees in North America. While most SPF lumber comes from Canada, SPF lumber can also come from trees in the northern United States. SPF lumber is further divided into two categories: Eastern and Western species.

SPF Lumber: Eastern Species vs. Western Species

Western species SPF lumber comes from White spruce, Engelmann spruce, Lodgepole pine, and Alpine fir trees and tends to be available in larger sizes because of the general climate and the size of the logs. Eastern species SPF lumber comes from Black spruce, Red spruce, White spruce, Jack pine, and Balsam fir trees and tends to grow slower and produce wood with outstanding strength properties.

SPF Wood Properties

SPF wood tends to have a high strength-to-weight ratio with relatively small, sound tight knots. SPF wood also features dimensional stability and superior gluing properties. Not only does it take paint easily, but it also holds nails well and meets building code requirements for fire safety, strength, and sound transmission.

What is SPF Lumber Used For?

SPF lumber tends to be used for single and multi-family home construction, commercial construction, crating and packaging, and furniture framing. Because of its strength-to-weight ratio and its competitive pricing, SPF lumber is often used in wood framing for furniture, houses, apartments, trusses, and commercial buildings.

SPF Lumber Grades

Canadian SPF lumber is graded according to the rules of the National Lumber Grades Authority. #2 SPF is the most common grade for framing and dimensional lumber, and it’s used in home and commercial construction, along with #3 SPF and stud grade lumber. Most manufacturing projects use SPF #2, #3, economy, and stud grade lumber. SPF MSR (Machine Stress Rated) lumber is used for trusses and other structural engineering.

Understanding the SPF Lumber Industry

The SPF lumber market is always changing, and AIFP works hard to shoulder that change and plan for the future. While the supply out of Canada has reduced drastically due to wildfires, beetle kill, log costs, and tariffs implied on the Canadian producers, our traders speak with our mill partners day-in and day-out to best match demand with production.

In the past few years, SPF lumber buying tendencies have changed as well. Rather than buying months of inventory at a time, buyers seem to be managing their inventory much thinner and leaning on ‘just in time’ style deliveries. As a volume purchaser of lumber, we provide liquidity and market direction to both our suppliers and customers, and we do whatever we can to add greater value to our customer base.

If you’re in the market for SPF lumber or other building materials for a construction or manufacturing project, AIFP has got you covered. Contact us today to learn more about our product solutions and how we can help you meet your diverse needs. In the meantime, check out our wood blog, where we cover other lumber products we trade, including cedar wood and southern yellow pine.

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