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Dimensional Lumber

DEFINITION
CONSIDERATIONS
COMMERCIAL STATUS
IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES
GUIDELINES

CSI Numbers:

061 100


DEFINITION:

Dimensional lumber refers to the wood used in constructing the wall, floor and roof framing of a house.


CONSIDERATIONS:

Most U.S. homes are constructed with wood framing. Although wood is a renewable resource, the amount of wood required for construction purposes is taxing the regenerative capabilities of this resource, as well as depleting a critical component in ecological balance. Trees affect water quality, rainfall, and air quality, both in the immediate region and on a global scale.

Although the status of the wood resource is hotly debated, it is clear that expanding demand simply due to population growth has or will have an impact on its long term viability. The reduction of primary forest cover has spurred further debate on the management of the forests as balanced ecosystems. Some new management approaches are based upon holistic sustainable principles. The principles of sustainability which underpins the Green Builder Program favors forest management practices that retain natural forest ecosystems.

Some of the options associated with this approach are difficult to implement. There are very few “certified” sustainably managed wood sources and certifying groups are still in the process of determining universal guidelines for certification. The active certifying organizations, listed at the end of this section, have developed strong ecologically based criteria. Wood certified by the groups mentioned in this section meets the criteria of the Green Builder Program.

Wood from old growth forests is not identified in final products, making the option of avoiding it very difficult. Most of the old growth trees are in Redwood and Douglas Fir regions; however, wood of these species exists that is not from old growth areas.

Southern wood species such as Yellow Pine are harvested in Texas. Using a regional species can provide an economic benefit to the state and to our area. The growth/removal rate for Yellow Pine looks positive for the future; although increased demand could cause problems. The increased use of engineered wood from all species reduces waste and is beneficial. Additionally, using smaller dimensional wood (less than 2×10) allows smaller trees to be used which can be helpful in tree farming rotations (common to Yellow Pine).

Commercial
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Southern Softwood Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
Large Dimension Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
Old Growth Unsatisfactory or Difficult Unsatisfactory or Difficult Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
Certified Satisfactory in limited conditions Satisfactory in limited conditions Satisfactory in limited conditions Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
Legend
Satisfactory Satisfactory
Satisfactory in most conditions Satisfactory in most conditions
Satisfactory in limited conditions Satisfactory in Limited Conditions
Unsatisfactory or Difficult Unsatisfactory or Difficult


COMMERCIAL STATUS

TECHNOLOGY:

The ability to identify old growth wood in lumber is not standardized. Certified wood is just beginning to be available on a national basis. The use of southern softwoods and smaller dimensional wood is standard.

SUPPLIERS:

Suppliers of Yellow Pine wood species and smaller dimensioned lumber are common. Suppliers of certified wood are rare on a national basis and not available locally.

COST:

Yellow Pine is competitively priced. Certified wood must be special ordered and shipped from limited out of state sources. Unless ordered in large volume, the costs will be higher than standard lumber.


IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES

FINANCING:

Available, as long as code requirements are met.

PUBLIC ACCEPTANCE:

Wood resource issues are not well known by the general public. Certified wood will appeal to a small number of people.

REGULATORY:

Structural lumber must be graded and applied according to design values established by ASTM standards.


GUIDELINES

The framing materials discussed in this section have standard installation and construction requirements.

“Certified” wood has become more available over time. Certification organizations should indicate an association with the Forest Stewardship Council (an international coalition promoting a common set of principles and guidelines used to evaluate certifying organizations).