You needn’t be a professional tradesman to be supplied with the best quality wood for any home improvement project. It is perfectly easy to get yourself the best materials, highest quality, and that which is suitable for your job. You just need to know where to look, and what to look for.

Lumber or Timber?

Firstly, wood for construction or building work is known as lumber, or timber. Typically, the two terms are interchangeable with each other, but lumber is usually reserved for pieces of pre-cut wood that have been sawn-to-fit and machine-planed, ready for use. However, referring to any kind of sawn wood planks as timber is fine, and you can always ask any timber merchant to cut your wood to desired size.

Types of Wood

Wood is usually classified into two categories: Hardwood or softwood. As the names suggest, softwood is typically lighter and more malleable, which is why it is reserved for making fittings such as doors, window frames, and furniture. This kind of wood comes from trees that bear cones, or pines. Hardwood is not as versatile, and is a stronger and denser kind of wood. For this reason it is reserved for construction projects of walls, floors, and ceilings. Hardwood is a lot heavier than softwood and so is not useful for making smaller things, but becomes extremely useful when needing long, strong, and heavy pieces of wood. Hardwood usually comes from large trees that bear leaves, but the confusing thing is that some leaf-bearing trees can also be considered as softwood, and some cone-bearing trees can be considered as hardwood.

  • Typical hardwoods include oak, mahogany, and teak
  • Some examples of softwoods include beach, birch, and cedar.

The Right Cut

After you know what kind of wood is best for your project, you’ll need to know the size. You can take measurements yourself, and then give these to the timber supplier to cut to size. There is a thing or two to know about the quality of wood before buying, also known as wood grades, so check the following specifications:

  • Hardwoods:
  1. First and Seconds – This is the highest grade possible for hardwood lumber, and is mainly suited for high-quality furnishings. 83% usable material;
  2. Select – 83% usable material, but for a smaller minimum board size.
  3. #1 Common – 66% usable material on a 3″ x 4″ board face.
  4. #2 Common – 50% usable material on a 3″ x 4″ board face.
  • Softwoods:
  1. C Select – Almost completely free of all defects

  1. D Select – May contain small knots
  2. #1 Common – Contains small, tight knots that won’t fall out
  3. #2 Common – slightly larger knots
  4. #3 Common – Larger knots

Where to Buy Wood

Just look for your nearest timber merchants, and there is bound to be one close to where you live. So for example, if you search in the directory for ‘timber’ in Essex, you’ll see over 100 suppliers. You’ll see there are timber merchants all over Essex. There are places for hardwood supplies in Basildon, Chelmsford, and Southend, with ten different merchants to choose from. Just go along and tell them what you need, and they’ll cut your wood to size.

As you can see, there are several varieties and choices of wood to use for your home improvement project. This will depend on whether you need hardwood or softwood, and then select the correct cuts and sizes of wood. You can ask your local timber merchant to assist you.