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Glossary of Construction Terms

Glossary of Terms

ACQ Treatment: (ACQ)

ACQ is a water-based wood preservative that prevents decay from fungi and insects (i.e., it is a fungicide and insecticide). It is generally considered the replacement for CCA treatment for exterior use such as in Fence posts, pilings, shingles etc.There are currently four AWPA standardized ACQ formulations, ACQ Types A, B, C, and D. ACQ-B is the one primarily seen in the western states.


Air dried lumber: (AD)

Lumber which has been dried generally outside in the open air to an equilibrium moisture content with the surrounding environment.


Better: (BTR)

Indicates that a lumber shipment that contains a percentage of pieces that are of a higher grade than the lowest grade stated. Therefore a No. 2 & Btr grade would contain primarily lumber of a No. 2 grade and some that are of a higher grade such as No. 1 and Select Structural.


Board: (BD)

A term generally applied to lumber where the nominal size is 1 inch thick and 2 or more inches wide.


Board foot: (BD FT)

Measure of lumber equal to one foot long, one foot wide, and one inch thick. Board Footage of a piece of lumber is calculated by multiplying the thickness in inches by the width in inches times the length in feet divided by 12. A 2x10x18 feet = 2x10x18/12= 30 board feet per piece. Calculating board feet is the method used in the United States for pricing lumber


Board measure: (BM)

Indicates that a "board foot" is the unit of measure used.


Bow:

A bend along the widest side of a piece of lumber from end to end.


Checks:

A separation of the wood normally occurring lengthwise on the widest part of a piece of lumber. This is typically caused by the exterior fibers drying faster than the interior one. Not generally a structural issue but not suitable for appearance lumber.


Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA):

Copper Chromium Arsenate, a wood preservative recently banned by the EPA except for limited use due to it’s toxicity. Replaced primatily with Timbor or in Hawaii Hibor an excellent preservative made up of borates which are relatively harmless to people and

animals but very effective against termites.


Crown:

A bend along the narrowest side of a piece of lumber from end to end.


Cup:

A bend in the widest side of a piece of lumber from side edge to side edge where the face of the board warps up like the letter U.


Clear: (CLR)

A term for the higher grades of lumber, relatively free of knots and imperfections. There a varying grades of clears as well based on the allowable degrees of imperfections.


Crook:

A distance measured edgewise from a straight line drawn from end to end of a piece and measured at the point of greatest distance from the straight line to the edge of the lumber. Same as crown but far more severe.


Decay:

Disintegration of wood from wood-destroying fungus. Also called Rot


Decking: (DKG)

Lumber widely used for roofing and flooring. Sometimes in a Tongue and Groove pattern


Dimension lumber:

lumber where the nominal size is 2 inches thick and 2 or more inches wide. The National Grading Rule for Softwood Dimension Lumber defines "dimension" as lumber from 2 through 4 inches thick and 2 inches and wider. Size in between boards and timbers.


Discoloration:

Changes in the color of wood which affect only its appearance.


Double end trimmed: (DET)

Both ends of a piece of lumber cut fairly square by a saw.


Douglas Fir: (DF)

Species of lumber known for it’s strength and stability used for framing in the western United States. Botanical name is Pseudotsuga Menziesii.. Douglas fir frequently grows in pure stands, but it is often intermingled with other species.


Douglas Fir-Larch: (DF-L)

Douglas fir and larch are often marketed together under this nomenclature because of similar performance properties allowing interchangeable use in construction.


Dressed:

Same as “surfaced” Lumber that has been trimmed and planed at the sawmill.


Dry kiln:

Temperature and humidity controlled chamber for the purpose of drying lumber.


Dry rot:

Refers to many any type of decay which, when in an advanced stage, permits the wood to be easily crushed to a dry powder: the term is actually a misnomer as all fungi require considerable moisture for growth.


Dunnage:

Generally a low grade of lumber not suitable for construction.


Eased edges: (EE)

Slightly rounding of lumber edges to remove sharp corners.


Edge grain:
(EG)

Lumber sawed parallel with the pith of the log so the growth rings form an angle of 45° or more with the wide face of the lumber.


End-match:

To tongue and groove the ends of matched lumber opposed to the edge.


End-split:

A lengthwise separation of the wood at the end of a piece of lumber.


Engineered Wood Products: (EWP)

A wood product created by using glued wood chips or strands, laminated lumber or laminated wood veneers designed to meet specific strength criteria. These products include laminated lumber (Glulams), laminated veneer lumber (LVL), parallel strand lumber (PSL), laminated strand lumber (LSL) and I-Joists (TJI). Engineered wood products allow the ability to make large-sized members from small diameter trees.


Face:

The widest surface of a piece of lumber; the wide surface showing the better quality or appearance from which a piece is graded.


Finger-joint: (FJ)

Pieces of lumber machined on the ends and bonded together with glue. The joint is similar to slipping the fingers of two hands together.


Finish Lumber:

A term indicating the higher grades of lumber, relatively free of blemishes.


Finished size:

The net dimensions after surfacing.


Flat grain: (FG)

Lumber sawed parallel with the pith of the log so the growth rings angle of less than 45 degrees with the surface of the piece.


Flooring: (FLG)

A lumber pattern with smooth face and tongue and groove edges.


Foot:
(FT)

A unit of lineal measurement usually used to indicate the length of lumber.


Framing lumber:

Generally any lumber whose nominal size is 2 through 4 inches thick and 2 inches and wider suitable for framing buildings.


Free of heart center: (FOHC)

Lumber sawn to exclude the heart center or pith of the log.


Free on board: (FOB)

Refers to the destination named where the seller will deliver and load lumber on board transportation equipment at no additional charge to the buyer.


Full sawn lumber:

Green lumber, cut full to a specified size.

Glue laminated Beam: (GLB)

Beams made of lumber glued together. Replacements for solid wood timbers and steel beams.


Grade:

The designated of the quality of wood; applied to lumber, plywood, logs, etc.


Grade-stamped:

Grade indicated with official stamp.


Grain:

The direction, size, arrangement or appearance of the fibers in wood.


Green wood:

Unseasoned wood, neither air or kiln dried.


Hardwoods:

Botanical groups of trees that have broad leaves in contrast to the conifers or softwoods. The term has no reference to the actual hardness of wood. Balsa for instance is a hardwood.


Heart, heartwood: (HRT)

The no longer live area of a tree extending from the pith to the sapwood(Live, growing wood). Heartwood typically is heavier in gums, resins, and other materials which make it darker and more resistant to decay than sapwood.


Hemlock: (HEM)

Species of lumber, botanical name Tsuga heterophylla, Hemlock grows either in pure stands or in mixed stands with Douglas fir, western red cedar and Sitka spruce. Not known for its strength or stability it is usually sold as an inexpensive alternative to Douglas Fir and often Kiln dried to keep from warping


Hibor:

Hi-bor® brand borate pressure treated wood was developed to meet the special durability and termite protection needs of Hawaii. Introduced in 1992, Hi-bor products have become Hawaii’s building material of choice. Replaced CCA which was outlawed by the EPA for most residential use due to it’s toxicity to people and animals. The Ideal replacement for framing where not exposed to the weather unless painted or encapsulated by other means. Not for use for fence posts or other products in ground contact see ACQ for these.


Hit and miss:

In surfaced lumber, hit and miss is a result of skips by planer blades when surfacing.


I-joists:

Manufactured joists made of two pieces of LVL held together with a web of OSB or plywood.


Kiln:

Temperature and humidity controlled chamber for the purpose of drying lumber.


Kiln dried: (KD)

Lumber which has been dried under conditions of controlled temperatures and humidities in a dry kiln or kiln.


Knot:

A portion of a branch or limb incorporated in a piece of lumber.Knots naturally reduce the strength of a piece of lumber and affect the grade due to size, shape, displacement and proximity. Knots are classified according to size, quality and occurrence. In lumber, the size classifications are: Pin knot, one not over 1/2-inch in diameter; Small, a knot larger than 1/2-inch but not over 3/4-inch; Medium, larger than 3/4-inch but not over 1 1/2-inches; Large, over 1 1/2-inches in diameter.


Laminated veneer lumber (LVL):

A structural lumber manufactured from veneers laminated into a panel and ripped to common lumber widths of 1-1/2 to 11-1/2 inches, or wider.


Laminated wood:

A piece of wood built up of plies or laminations of wood not veneers that have been joined with glue or mechanical fastenings


Larch:

Species of lumber (Western Larch) botanical name Larix occidentalis. Western larch is unique among conifers as it is not an evergreen since it drops its needles every fall like broadleaf hardwood trees. Similar structural properties with Douglas Fir.


Lineal:

Refers to length; lineal footage is the total length in feet of a piece or of all pieces of the same width.


Lumber: (LBR)

A manufactured product derived from a log through sawing or planing.


Machine stress-rated:

Lumber that has been graded by mechanical stress rating equipment.

Each piece is tested and marked to indicate the modulus of elasticity.


Matched:

Lumber that has been machined with a tongue on one edge of each piece and a groove on the opposite edge to provide a close joint by fitting two pieces together. When the tongue and groove are in the ends it is called an end-match.


Millwork:

Generally wood remanufactured into such items as interior and exterior doors, windows and door frames, mantels, panel work, stairways, moldings, and interior trim; but not flooring, ceiling, or siding.


Mixed grain: (MG)

Lumber that may have both vertical and flat grain.


Modulus of elasticity: (MOE)

The relationship between the amount a piece deflects and the load causing the deflection determines its stiffness. (See Machine stress rated).


Moisture content: (MC)

The moisture content of wood is the weight of the water in wood expressed as a percentage of the weight of the wood from which all water has been removed.


Molding :

Shaped lengths of wood used for both interior and exterior decorative trim.


Nominal measure or Nominal size:

The size by which a piece of lumber is commonly known and sold. Often this differs from the actual size. A 2”x4” piece of lumber actually measures 1-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches in its finished surfaced state.


Oriented Strand Board: (OSB)

Structural panel composed of wafer like flakes engineered in directions which make a panel stronger, stiffer, and with improved dimensional properties in the aligned directions than a panel with random flake orientation. Often substituted for plywood in construction.


Parallam: (PSL)

See Parallel strand lumber below.


Parallel strand lumber (PSL):

A structural wood product made by gluing together long strands of wood that have been cut from softwood veneer.


Particle Board: (PB)

A generic term for a material manufactured from wood particles and a synthetic resin or suitable binder.


Patterned Lumber:

Lumber shaped to a pattern or to a molded form, in addition to being

dressed, matched, T & G or ship-lapped, or any combination of these workings.


Pin knot:

A knot less than or equal to 1/2" in diameter.

Pitch:

Resin found in trees.

Pitch pocket:

An opening in wood extending parallel to the annual rings of growth containing, or having contained either solid or liquid pitch.


Pith:

The small soft core occurring in the structural center of a log.


Plywood:

A piece of wood made of three or more layers of veneer joined with glue and usually laid with the grain of adjoining plies at right angles. Almost always an odd number of plies are used to secure balanced construction.


Plywood Interior:

A general term for plywood manufactured for indoor use or in construction subjected to only temporary moisture. The adhesive used may be interior, or exterior.


Plywood Exterior:

A general term for plywood bonded with an exterior adhesive that by systematic tests and service records has proven highly effective in this use. Use of exterior glue alone does not qualify a panel as exterior. Veneers also play a part. To qualify as exterior a panel must have exterior glue and a minimum grade C veneer on the face and back. Typically CCX, BCX, ACX etc meet this qualification, CDX one of the most common plywood grades found does not due to it D grade back veneer. This product is usually used as roof sheathing where it is covered by roofing(CCX on the underside exposed eaves if not soffited) or shear panel on walls where it will be covered by siding.


Plywood Marine:

Plywood panels manufactured with the same glueline durability requirements as other exterior-type panels but with more restrictive veneer quality requirements. The grade of all plies of veneer is B or better. B-grade veneer may have knots but no knotholes. A-grade veneer has no knots or knotholes. Both A and B grade may contain wood or synthetic patches.


Ponderosa Pine:

Species of lumber botanical name Pinus Ponderosa; Because of its soft-texture it is widely used in the woodworking field for fabricating into architectural woodwork, furniture, toys and other specialty products, not typically used for structural framing.


Posts:

Generally large pieces of lumber (nominal dimensions, 5" by 5" and larger. Typically square but does allow for a width up to 2" greater than its thickness. Primarily graded for use as posts or columns.


Preservative:

Any product that when properly applied to wood will prevent the action of wood-destroying fungi, borers of various kinds, and similar destructive life.


Precision end trimmed: (PET)

Lumber trimmed smooth on both ends and varying no more than 1/16" in no more than 20% of the pieces. Typically a requirement of precut studs.


Pressure Treated: (PT)

A process of impregnating lumber or other wood products with various chemicals, such as preservatives and fire retardants, by forcing the chemicals into the structure of the wood using high pressure..


Quartersawn:

Lumber sawn so that the annual rings form angles of 45 to 90 degrees with the surface of the piece.


Random lengths: (RL)

Random lengths (mixture from 6' through 20') Lumber offered as random length will contain a variety of lengths which can vary greatly between manufacturers and species. A random length loading is presumed to contain a fair representation of the lengths being produced by a specific manufacturer.


Resawn: (RES)

A piece of lumber textured on one side as a result of sawing a larger piece in two lengthwise, parallel to the wide face. It is usually, though not always, done through the middle of the board, producing two equal sized boards, each approximately half the thickness of the original. Resawing changes the thickness of the lumber but not its width.


Rough-sawn: (RGH)

Wood as it was originally cut prior to any surfacing to a finished size.


Sapwood:

The outer layers of a tree trunk that contain living cells. The sapwood is typically lighter than the heartwood it encloses.


Saw-sized:

Lumber uniformly sawn to the dressed size for surfaced lumber, and

not planed on the faces, for uses requiring a rough texture.


Seasoning:

Drying lumber to a moisture content appropriate to the conditions and purposes for which it is to be used.


Select tight knot: (STK)

A grade term, not an actual grade, frequently used for cedar lumber. Lumber designated STK is selected from mill run for the tight knots in each piece, as differentiated from lumber which may contain loose knots or knotholes.


Sheathing:

The structural covering, usually boards, OSB, or plywood, placed over exterior studding or rafters of a structure.


Ship-lap: (S/L)

Lumber rabbeted on both edges over on one edge and under on the other to provide a close-lapped joint by fitting two pieces together.


Siding: (SDG)

The finish covering of an exterior wall of a building. Siding can be horizontal boards, vertical boards with battens, panels, shingles, or other protective material.


Softwoods:

Botanical groups of trees that in most cases have needlelike or scale-like leaves, the conifers, also the wood produced by such trees. The term has no reference to the actual hardness of the wood.


Southern Yellow Pine: (SYP)

Species of lumber composed mainly of Loblolly, Longleaf, Shortleaf, and Slash Pines. Highly regarded for its strength and an open cell structure which makes it ideal for treating. Used primarily in the southern United States and parts of the mid-west for framing and decking as well as plywood sheathings and plywood sidings.


Species:

Type of wood: Douglas Fir, Spruce, Pine, Oak, Cedar, etc.


Spruce-Pine-Fir: (SPF)

Canadian woods with similar properties that are grouped as one lumber type for production and marketing purposes. Kiln-dried SPF lumber is used as a structural framing material in all types of residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural building applications primarily throughout the midwest. It is also cut into boards for exterior trim and Fascia material throughout the other states.


Square: (SQ)

A measure typically in roofing shingles of the amount of material required to cover a surface area of 100 square feet.


Stud:

One of a series of vertical load bearing members used as supporting elements in walls and partitions. Typically they are pre-cut and precision-end-trimmed to a uniform length allowing for top and bottom plates to create a wall of a specified length


Surfaced:

Lumber that has gone through a planer so that its sides and edges are smooth and uniform in size.


Thousand Board Feet: (MBF)

Calculating board feet is the method used in the United States for pricing lumber at the Mill, Wholesale level and most contractor lumber yards. The advantage to suppliers is that only one price has to be given for each grade and species of material since length and width are covered in the volume calculation. It is typically priced per thousand board feet a measure of volume. This allows suppliers to quote multiple lengths at the same price. If for example 2x4’s 8’ to 14’ are priced at $750 per MBF and you needed 10/10’ here is how you would calculate the total price. See board foot for calculation explanation. 10x2x4x10/12= 66.66 BF x 750/1000= $50 plus your tax if applicable.(You can also eliminate dividing by 1000 by slipping the decimal over 3 spaces to get the price per board foot of .750)


Timbers:

Lumber that is nominally 5 inches or more in its least dimension. Timbers may be used as beams, stringers, posts, caps, sills, girders, purlins, and so forth.


Tongue & Groove: (T&G)

Lumber worked with a tongue on one edge of each piece and a groove on the opposite

edge to provide a close joint by fitting two pieces together.


Twist:

Warping in a piece of lumber where the ends twist in opposite directions.


Veneer:

A thin layer or thin sheet of wood.


Vertical Grain: (VG)

Lumber that is sawn at approximately right angles to the annual growth rings so that the rings form an angle of 45 degrees or more with the surface of the piece.


Wane:

The presence of bark or missing wood at the edge of a piece of lumber.


Warp:

Any deviation from a true or plane surface is warp. Types of warp include: bow, crook, cup and twist.


Western Red Cedar: (WRC)

Species of lumber botanical name Thuja Plicata principally found in Washington, Oregon and western British Columbia. The wood is soft, straight-grained, and extremely resistant to decay and insect damage. It is used primarily for roof coverings, exterior sidings, fences, decks, and other outdoor applications.