What to Expect When Buying from a Lumber Yard in Houston

Excited to start your first woodworking project, you leave home early Saturday morning and head to the lumber yard. With a list of wood types and measurements that you worked out ahead of time, you feel pretty confident that you are well on your way to becoming a master woodworker. As you walk through the front entrance, however, you realize two things at the same time: there’s a lot of wood in here, and you have no idea where to even start.

If you’re new to woodworking or construction, or if you are doing a DIY project, buying from a lumber yard in Houston for the first time may seem a bit overwhelming. It’s not unusual to feel lost and out of place among the towers of wood, especially if it’s your first time in here. So to help you get started, here are a few things you should know about buying from a lumber yard in Houston.

Categories and classifications

Most lumber is broken down into two categories and, from there, separated into classifications. The two categories are common yard lumber and select yard lumber. Common lumber is suitable for construction type purposes and is classified by using a number system as follows:

  • Common lumber 1: This is the highest quality of common yard lumber and has a few small knots.
  • Common lumber 2: This is the mid-quality lumber. It has slightly more and larger knots.
  • Common lumber 3: This lumber typically has large knots or other blemishes, and is sometimes damaged.

Select lumber has a finer appearance and less knots than common lumber and is classified by letter:

  • C select: This lumber is high quality and almost clear of any knots.
  • D Select: A fine quality lumber that is nearly blemish-free.

Board feet

When you are browsing the lumber yard, one term you may see is “board foot.” A board foot is a unit of measure used to express quantity in terms of volume when talking about lumber. Since lumber can be purchased in a wide variety of lengths, widths and thicknesses, it is much easier to express measurements (and determine pricing) when speaking in terms of volume. To calculate board feet, simply multiply length by width by thickness, and then divide that number by 144 (12 in. x 12 in.). This simple calculation will help you determine the proper measurements and cost for your project.

Thickness measurements

The thickness of lumber is not marked in inches. Instead, a system of quarters is used. For example, a one-inch board will be marked as 4/4, or four quarters, which is one full inch. A two-inch board then is marked as 8/4, or eight quarters, which is two full inches. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that most lumber is sold pre-surfaced, so a 4/4 board will actually be closer to 3/4.

With some basic lumber knowledge and a few common terms under your belt, you can shop at the lumber yard with confidence and walk out of there knowing you got exactly what you needed.

When you’re ready to visit a lumber yard in Houston, the team at Houston Hardwoods Inc. looks forward to assisting you!