Is There Something Special About SPF Lumber?

Working with SPF Lumber

If you walk through the lumber section of your local home center and take a look at most of the construction-grade lumber found therein, you're likely looking at various types of SPF Lumber.

SPF is an acronym, which stands for spruce, pine and fir and it's a combination of those Canadian trees grown in various regions of the country. All produce high-grade timber with relatively small, sound tight knots and the color of ranges from white to pale yellow.

Lumber produced from these species is marketed together as SPF. The lumber you see could be any one of the three types of trees, and possibly contain one or more species within the type (for example, more species of spruce).

SPF Species

Eastern species

  • Black spruce (Picea mariana)
  • Red spruce (Picea rubens)
  • White spruce (Picea glauca)
  • Jack pine (Pinus banksiana)
  • Balsam fir (Abies balsamea)

Western species

  • White spruce (Picea glauca)
  • Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmanni)
  • Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)
  • Alpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa)

Western SPF lumber is usually available in larger sizes than eastern SPF given the climate and size of logs. Eastern SPF trees grow slowly and have superior strength.

What Is SPF Lumber Used for?

SPF is perfect for residential and commercial construction because of its reasonable price and high strength to weight ratio. It can also be used for industrial production of:

  • Furniture framing
  • Engineered wood products
  • Concrete formworks
  • Packaging
  • Other re-manufactured products

SPF is used widely in North America for wood-frame construction. Countries in Europe and Asia are also looking to use SPF to replace old and damages housing, given that it's durable and economical.

Construction with wood frames is a quick, light and proven to be a great option for building houses, apartments and commercial buildings.

Research and testing also demonstrates that it stands up to tough climates and conditions. The benefits of wood-frame construction include:

Grading system: SPF Lumber is graded identically throughout Canada, according to the rules of the National Lumber Grades Authority (NLGA). Agencies inspect the products from all mills regularly to ensure that the grades are accurate.

Durability: Wood-frame construction is equipped to last as long as a building's occupants need, and many have stood for hundreds of years.

Quick construction: Wood-frame construction is speedy– a crew of three can frame one floor per day per unit. SPF also take paint easily and holds nails well.

Affordability: Wood-frame construction is so successful in North America partially because it's so cost effective.

Meeting or exceeding building codes: Research and testing has shown that wood-frame construction meets or surpasses building code requirements for fire safety, strength and sound transmission.

SPF and Woodworking Projects

While SPF is typically used in construction, can it be used for building fine woodworking projects? Sure --with certain caveats. In this article, learn whether you should use SPF Lumber in your fine woodworking projects, and tips for getting the best results.