Here are four questions to ask your supplier before buying your next load of hardwood lumber.

1. What region is the lumber from? Hardwood trees grow all across North America. The majority of the hardwood forests are found across the eastern United States and are in three primary growing regions. They are referred to as the Northern, Appalachian, and Southern regions.  Lumber from one region is not necessarily better than the other but depending on the region the tree was grown in, the lumber could have different characteristics, so it is important to understand the region the lumber was harvested from.

2. How is the lumber tallied? Since hardwood lumber invoices are based on measured board footage it is important to know if the price you are being quoted and paying is based on a gross (green lumber/before kiln drying), or net (after kiln drying) tally. Since lumber shrinks in the kiln drying process, getting an accurate measure of footage for pricing is important.

3. What special services do you offer? Hardwood lumber suppliers offer several different services when it comes to preparing a load of lumber. The lumber can be surfaced to a specific thickness such as 15/16 inch for 4/4” boards, it can be straightline ripped on one edge, (SLR1E), or it can be ripped to an exact width such as 2.78 inches by ripping both edges, (SLR2E). These types of services could be valuable and help a manufacturer save time and money in the production process, but they come at a cost so identifying this up front is important.

4. Is the lumber sorted a certain way?  Typically, hardwood lumber is packaged in random width and length bundles 48 inches wide and 48 inches tall. However, suppliers regularly sort lumber into special products for customers.  Special width sorts, length sorts, color sorts and even feature or character sorts, (think rustic, wormy, or heartwood), can be provided by suppliers, so discussing this ahead of time is a good idea.

Source: American Lumber. For information call 888-438-7888 or visit ALumber.com.