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Engineered vs. Dimensional Lumber

What is Dimensional Lumber?

Dimensional lumber is the typical 2x4s or 2x6s you’ll find at a lumberyard or home center. These are most commonly used for building the basic skeleton of a home.

Dimensional lumber is most commonly milled from softwoods such as pine, spruce and fir. Although there is nothing wrong with using dimensional lumber, it does have some drawbacks. Dimensional lumber is susceptible to bowing, warping and twisting, which can affect your final product.

Stairwell built using engineered and dimensional lumber

What is Engineered Lumber?

Engineered lumber is manufactured from wood veneers or particles, which are compressed with glues and resins into structural elements.

The forms most commonly used are:

 

  • Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVLs)

 

  • Laminated Strand Lumber (LSLs)

 

The manufacturing processes makes engineered lumber stronger than traditional. It also makes structural elements that are more consistent and stable. This keeps them perfectly straight over time, so you do not have to worry about picking through the pile to find the best ones.

An exterior door opening framed with engineered lumber.

Homeowner Benefits

  • Consistent and stable
  • Stronger, flatter, straighter walls
  • Minimize settling cracks over time
  • More sustainable option than traditional dimensional lumber
  • Less waste
  • Protects your investment

Best Applications

Since the cost of engineered lumber can be more than double that of dimensional lumber, it may not make sense to use them everywhere. Depending on your budget, engineered studs are great for the following:

  • Bathrooms behind tiled surfaces
  • Kitchens behind cabinets
  • Walls where large spans are needed
  • Stairwells and stair stringers

An exterior wall built using engineered studs.

ABOUT THE SERIES

The TEKRA Homeowner education series consists of 1-3 minute videos, published on instagram, Facebook and Youtube aimed at simplifying the construction process so you can make more educated choices and feel more confident during your next project. A more in depth article of each topic can be found right here at tekrabuilders.com/blog.

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