Real Issues. Real Answers. Lumber Quality

Answers from manufactures and wholesale/distributors

“This deal cites ‘premium’ lumber, but is it grade-stamped by one of the Rules or Non-Rules writing agencies certified by the American Lumber Standards Committee (ALSC)? There are grades like ‘Prime’ that minimize wane, but these are not ALSC-certified grades…they are mill grades and subject to change. But, for Dimension Lumber (2-4″ thick), grades are standardized for every commercial species in the U.S. (and Canada under the CLSC, or Canadian Lumber Standards Committee). These standards are set up by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce Voluntary Product Standard PS-20-70 (accepted originally by govt., industry and consumer groups in 1970.)”


“I would suggest keeping units of lumber banded as long as possible to prevent the twisting and warping that can occur once the bands are cut or pieces are placed into bins. Keeping units covered and out of direct weather conditions also serves to limit exposure that results in warping.”


“Educate customers on the state of lumber today. What we have now is not what we had available then. Some lowering of expectations is in order.”

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“It’s time to face the fact that auto-graders are doing a larger percentage of the grading in modern mills. The producers can set the auto-grader to be as close to the maximum acceptable flaws (knots, slope of grain, wane, etc.) as they want. Just because it meets grade doesn’t mean it meets the standards that those of us older folks are used to. Times change, and unfortunately so has the quality of the lumber we are receiving. Call for an inspection and I’ll bet dollars to moldy donuts that the mill wins and the lumberyard loses.”


“I would search out new vendors that are quality conscious and not just volume production oriented. They are out there. We found them.”


“Stick with mills/wholesalers that are more consistent and market quality, and that also back up their quality with credits and assistance. There are mills out there that do that.”

“First, buy mill-direct so you can control not only what mill you buy from, but if they operate more than one mill, you know which mill it is coming from. Research both the species mix and log size the mill is running. Buying lumber is more than just listening to your favorite wholesale salesman’s lines.”

“1) Discuss the supply situation with your builders and solicit their input. You may be surprised by what they tell you. Don’t assume. 2) Explain the situation to your current suppliers and solicit their input. 3) Look for a long-term solution with higher quality suppliers.”

“We stock only premium studs and select structural 2×4 thru 2×12. It’s harder and harder to come by, and we had to step down to a #2 no prior select on studs to be able to have stock. We are a small yard, so we try and be creative, but it is super tough. We cull out a lot more than we did before. Bundle up and sell at about 1/2 price or less. We write off the fall down and sell the bundles at 100% profit to regain a bit.”

“We do go back to the mills and get some retribution. Also, we will boycott certain mills we consistently have problems with.”

“This issue is a real moving target. We strive to source from mills that do ‘no prior selects’ in SYP and premium or hi-line in SPF. The roster of the better mills changes, so we depend on receiving supervisors to be on the same page as buyers to insure we are getting what we ordered. Also, we’re careful to keep our inventory under cover.”

“We buy premium Douglas fir lumber and charge accordingly. We strive to have the open units flat stacked daily, but the outside boards are often culled, the price of doing business with perishable products. We sell the cull units or sell them to a company that makes pallets.”

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