The Best Type of Lumber for Framing

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

All wood isn't created equal. Some wood works best for fires, while others create structures that will stand for generations. Finding the best wood for framing a house is a matter of size, form and type. Understand the best framing lumber species and not only will your structure be sturdy, but your project trouble-free – at least lumber-wise.

The Best Type of Lumber for Framing
Image Credit: bsone/E+/GettyImages

Definitions of Framing Lumber Species

There are a few words to understand that describe framing lumber. This will assist you from the planning stage all the way through to the hard work of the building phase. Density is the strength of the wood and the weight. Denser wood has better structural strength, although it could be softwood, such as pine, spruce or Douglas Fir. Each of these has a flexibility factor that works well for buildings. Texture is the condition of the surface of the wood. It also refers to its overall stability. Texture is often used for a wood that will show on the exterior of a building and affect its final aesthetic finish. Color is the personality of the wood, from the pale hue of white pine to the vibrancy of redwood. The direction that the wood cell fibers grew before the tree was cut determines the wood grain. Every plank will be unique in its wood grain pattern. Finally, hardwoods have interesting grain patterns and a slower growing season than softwoods, making them a denser species. Softwoods, or evergreen trees, have a straighter grain and are better for construction projects due to their flexibility and closed grain structure.

Best Wood for Building

There are a few species of wood that are good for building homes, depending on where you live. Oak, which is rare in certain areas of the lower 48, the hardy Western Red cedar, pine and spruce are all wood species that will build a sturdy home. A stud wood type that is favored is the Douglas Fir, known for its structural strength. The framing lumber species will change for each region, such as Douglas Fir-Larch in the west and Hem-Fir in the east. Some projects require more than one type of wood.

Stamp for Your Approval

Choosing the best wood for a stud wall can be confusing. However, each board you buy has a stamp that reveals its strengths and weaknesses. Select wood that has a superior grade stamp. This includes the manufacturer, moisture content, species and certification mark, as well as the grade. The grade needed for a load-bearing wall is a stud. The highest strength and best-looking grade are select structural. Grade No. 2 tends to be the best bet as it is a solid framing lumber that is also less expensive without looking as rough as a grade. No. 3 lumber.


Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at

View Work