Types of Woods Used in Framing


Different areas of a residential construction require different types of wood. Local and regional building codes vary but, loads, vertical strength and spans determine requirements. The particular part of the home also determines the wood type required. Basements are treated differently from bedrooms; roof structures requirements are different from exterior walls.

Floor Framing and Construction

  • The requirements of home construction designate that floor joists should be made from southern yellow pine (SYP). Southern yellow pine is strong, dense and works well for horizontal spans. Two grades of SYP are used in residential construction. Grade No. 2 has more knots and is less expensive. It is the more common type used for home floor joists. Grade No.1 is less knotty and cleaner. Because it has a better strength, this type is used where longer spans are needed. It is more expensive than the lower grade and adds higher costs to a project.

Basements, Decks and Sillplates

  • Anywhere moisture is encountered, treated lumber is used. Treated lumber is also normally made from southern yellow pine. The treatment process gives it moisture, insect and decay resistance. Basements with dividing walls must have treated bottom plates that come in contact with the cement floor. All deck components that are outside the home must also use treated wood. Even though parts of the deck may have a roof, if the deck is not completely enclosed, it is considered an outdoor structure. Sill plates attached to the top of concrete foundations also require treated lumber. Moisture from porous cement blocks can wick up into a sill plate. Treated lumber resists this and withstands attacks from termites.

Interior and Exterior Walls

  • Spruce-pine-fir or SPF is the common lumber for wall construction. It is light, abundant and has excellent vertical support properties when used correctly. Bottom and top horizontal sill plates that vertical members are nailed into are also SPF. Spruce lumber is also used as window framing, door framing and wall bracing material. It is usually kiln-dried to remove moisture and is highly affordable.

Support Beams

  • In areas where long, open horizontal spans are called for or single supports for heavy roof areas are required, Douglas fir is used. Douglas fir timbers have exceptional support properties in both vertical and horizontal applications. The wood is reddish, dense and strong. Exposed beams are often made from Douglas fir. Its coloration and clean beauty give it qualities that make it useful for both exposed and hidden bearing applications.

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