When you visit a lumberyard or any home improvement store, all those boards and beams may look very similar to you, but there are reasons why they're priced so differently and have so many different categories. Knowing a little bit about timber and its different types and the lingo used when buying can help you make the best choice for any home project.
1. Hardwood and softwood
A softwood doesn't actually mean that it's soft or not strong enough for a home project; hardwoods and softwoods are categorized by different tree types, not the actual density of wood. Hardwoods shed leaves and softwoods grow cones. Hardwoods are usually more difficult to grow so they may be more expensive, but many softwoods are just as strong and resilient and can be used indoors and outdoors. Pine, cedar, and Douglas fir are all technically softwoods, but they are some of the most commonly used materials for decking, cabinets, flooring, and the like.
2. Treated wood
Treated wood has been given a type of preservative that can make it a better choice for any project where the wood will need to bear weight, such as for building studs and beams. Treated wood is also needed for outdoors projects such as for decks and stairs, as the preservative will give it added protection against the elements and keep it from absorbing moisture. Finished carpentry such as baseboards doesn't typically require treated wood.
Wood doesn't actually bleed, and this term doesn't refer to it dripping sap but is used to describe the look of a deep knot or other defect showing through paint. Wood that has knots and other visual defects might work well for beams and jobs where the wood won't show, but for any project where you expect to paint over the wood, note if there are knots, holes, and the like. You can treat these areas with a knotting solution that covers over the knot, but it can be best to avoid the problem by choosing wood without a bleeding risk.
4. Quoted size
Rough sawn wood is just cut to a certain size, and this is the actual or quoted size of the piece. However, wood that has been planed has been shaved or sanded on all four sides so that it looks better, but the wood is not measured again after this process. Note that the quoted size for wood is measured when it's rough sawn; if you're choosing planed lumber, you may want to actually measure it yourself before you make a purchase so you know its actual size versus its quoted size.
For more information about finding the timber products you need for your project, visit a local supplier.