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Lumber Dimensions
Unit of Measurement
Price per lineal foot
Number of lineal feet
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This free lumber estimator gives you a tool to calculate how much lumber you need for your project. Find out what a board foot is, how to measure it and estimate how much wood you need for your deck, flooring or framing project.

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Board Feet vs. Linear Feet

Lumberyards normally deal in board feet, particularly on large orders, but they work in linear feet equally well. Here’s a breakdown of each type of lumber measurement.

How to Use Board Feet:

A single board foot is one square foot of wood that is one inch thick. You can measure board feet by multiplying length x width x thickness in inches, and then dividing by 144. If ordering a large amount by board feet, just multiply the total board feet needed by the price per board foot for the total cost.

How to Use Linear Feet:

A linear foot describes a 12-inch long piece of lumber. For many homeowner projects, linear feet are the easiest way to calculate your needs.

For instance, if building a deck out of 2-by-6 lumber, you would use your plans to first measure the total length of decking boards you need. Then, call a lumberyard and ask the price per foot on that size and species of lumber, such as 2-by-6 construction heart redwood. When the lumberyard gives you the price, multiply it by the linear feet you want, and you’ll find your decking price.

Nominal vs. Actual Size

If you are not experienced in buying lumber, remember that all lumber is identified by its nominal size, which is different than the actual size. As an example, a 2-by-4 is actually 1 1/2 inches thick by 3 1/2 inches wide. A 2-by-8 is actually 1 1/2 inches thick by 7 1/4 inches wide.

Kinds of Wood

There are several different kinds of wood available for various home projects. Here are a few of the most popular.

  • Oak: Less expensive than some options. Graining often helps hide scratches and dents.
  • Maple: Slightly harder than oak and lighter in color.
  • Pine: Dents easily. Softer wood.
  • Hickory: Much harder than oak. A bit pricier than other options.
  • Ash: Hardwood. Lighter in color.
  • Brazilian Walnut: Much more expensive than oak. Much harder than other woods.
  • Bamboo: Eco-friendly. Can cost less than hardwood. Some kinds are very strong.

Synthetic vs. Regular Wood

  • Laminate: Cheaper than hardwood. Resistant to scratches. Cannot be refinished. Easier to install than hardwood. Does well with varying humidity and weather.
  • Vinyl: Waterproof, unlike laminate. More prone to fading.
  • Natural wood: More expensive. Can be refinished if scratched or damaged. More difficult to install.

FAQ

How is lumber measured?

Timber is measured in board feet and linear feet. You can find the board foot measurement by multiplying length x width x thickness in inches, and then dividing by 144. Calculate linear feet by simply measuring the length of the board.

How do you read lumber sizes?

Lumber sizes like 2-by-4, 4-by-6 or 6-by-8 represent the thickness in inches by the width in inches of the timber. These sizes do not include the length of the board.

What is the actual length of an 8 foot 2×4?

The actual length of an 8 foot 2-by-4 is 8 feet. However, the actual thickness and width of a 2-by-4 is 1.5-by-3.5 inches.

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3 Comments

  1. KEITH, January 11:

    How many 2×4 to use to build a 24×18 frame a wood shed

  2. Eileen DeJoe, January 19:

    How many 1/2″ x 4″ x 4′ do I need weathered hard wood to cover 9′ x 9′ area

  3. Raul Alcaraz, November 21:

    How much wood, would I need to build a new home of 2000 SQ ?
    I’ll appreciate your information

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