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Industry Terms and Definitions

Below you can find a glossary of terms related to the

log home, lumber and timber industry.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J

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Actual size – The true exact measured width or length of a piece of timber or lumber. In the case of flooring, Vintage Lumber manufacturers based on actual size meaning the width of each piece of flooring is exact to the width specified (ie, 4” = 4”, not 3.5”)

Air dried - Seasoned by exposure to the atmosphere, in the open or under cover, without artificial heat.

Annual growth ring - The layer of growth added to the circumference of a tree in one year, including both spring wood and summer wood.


Bark - The outermost covering of a tree.

Beaded - A piece of lumber decorated with a raised half?circle bead along its length.

Beam - A structural member, usually larger than five inches in width and thickness, used horizontally to support a load.

Bevel siding - A board that has been resawn diagonally to be used to clad the exterior of a building.

Bluestain - A discoloration of wood caused by a fungus; usually occurring in the sapwood. It is particularly troublesome in Southern Yellow Pine logs during the summer months.

Board foot - The basic unit of measurement for lumber. One board foot is equal to a one?inch board, twelve inches in width and one foot in length. Thus, a ten foot long, twelve inch wide, and one inch thick piece would contain ten board feet. When calculating board feet, nominal sizes are assumed.

Board - A piece of lumber less than two inches in nominal thickness and one inch or more in width.

Bow - The distortion of lumber in which there is a deviation, in a direction perpendicular to the flat face, from a straight line from end to end of the piece.

Brand - An identifying mark on the end of a log indicating the owner of a log. The brand is made on the log by hitting the end with a hammer-like device that bears the design of the brand. Also, paint sprayed on logs to indicate to the mill deck scaler which area the logs were from.


Cambium Layer - A cell layer in the outer part of the tree that produces new wood for the growth of the tree. The cambium encloses the other living parts of the tree. Cambial cells divide to produce wood cells on the inside of the cambium layer and phloam, or bark cells on the outer side of the cambium.

CCA - (Chromium Copper Arsenate) Chemical preservative used when pressure treating Southern Yellow Pine.

Center matched - Lumber that has been worked to contain a tongue in the center of one edge of each piece and groove in the center of the opposite edge, to provide a close, tongue?and?groove, joint by fitting the two pieces together.

Certificate of inspection -A document issued by a grading agency that assures the buyer that the shipment of lumber has been examined by a qualified inspector and that the lumber in the shipment is of the grade indicated. Often used for selects and timbers where a grade mark would not show, or where one would affect the use of the piece.

Check - A lengthwise separation of the wood that usually extends across the rings of annual growth and commonly
results from stress set up in wood during air drying or kiln drying.

Clear - 1. Free or practically free of all blemishes, characteristics, or defects. 2. A select grade of lumber. 3. A member in good standing of the International Workers of the World.

Common - 1. A term applied to the board sizes. 2. Lumber that is suitable for general construction and utility purposes. 3. Equal or shared characteristics, such as a common joist, the joists in a single floor.

Creosote - A wood preservative consisting mainly of aromatic hydrocarbons obtained by distillation of coal tar. Used to preserve wood products such as utility poles, fence posts, and the like that come into contact with the ground.

Crowning - A "convex" or "crowned" condition or appearance of individual strips, with the center of the strip higher than the edges. (Opposite of cupping.)

Cupping - A "concave" or "dished" appearance of individual strips, with the edges raised above the center. (Opposite of crowning.)

Cure - To change the properties of an adhesive by chemical reaction and thereby develop maximum strength. Term applies to glue-down applications of flooring.

Cut to length - Lumber, plywood or particle board sawn to a specific size, usually designated by the buyer. Most often seen in items destined for remanufacture.


D.B.H. - Diameter at Breast Height

Decking - Lumber used primarily and roofing and flooring applications. Most common sizes of decking are: 5/4 X 6, 2 X 6, 2 X 8, 3 X 6, and 4 X 6. Decking is often sawn with tongues and grooves and in various patterns (double tongue?and?groove and single tongue?and?groove). Patterns are sometimes sawn on the face to be exposed. These patterns are often grooves or various shapes, depths and sizes.

Delamination - The separation of layers in an engineered product, through failure within the adhesive, or at the bond between adhesive, wear layer and substructure.

Dense - A reference to the specific gravity of wood. Lumber classified as "dense" has six or more annual rings per inch, plus one third or more summer wood, measured at either end. Pieces averaging less than six rings per inch also qualify if the rings average one half or more summer wood.

Design value - A measurement of strength in lumber involving the basic properties of wood. These are: fiber stress and bending (Fb), tension parallel to grain (Ft), horizontal shear (Fv), compression perpendicular to grain (Fcl), and modulus of elasticity (E).

Dimensional Stability - The ability to maintain the original intended dimensions when influenced by a foreign substance. Wood is hygroscopic, and is not dimensionally stable with changes in moisture content below the fiber saturation point.

Dunnage - Low grade lumber or panels used to separate and bind ship cargos, stakes, strips or other pieces used to hold and protect merchandise during truck shipment. Southern yellow pine lumber that is below number two grade but not lower than number four.


End Matched - In both solid and engineered flooring, the ends of individual planks have a tongue milled on one end and a groove milled on the opposite end, so that when the planks are butted together, the tongue of one piece engages the groove of the next piece.

Equal Linear Pattern – Also commonly referred to as a repeating pattern. For installation purposes where more than one width of flooring is used, a specific pattern for.

Equilibrium Moisture Content - The moisture content at which wood neither gains nor loses moisture when surrounded by air at a given relative humidity and temperature.

Expansion Space - The necessary gap that separates a hardwood floor from any fixed objects like walls, door jambs, kitchen islands and exposed pipes. Vintage Lumber recommends and expansion space must be at least 1/4” in normal sized rooms.


F.O.B.- Freight On Board.

Field treatment - The application of wood preservative "in the field," as opposed to at a treating plant. Such treatment is applied without pressure to cut ends, bored holes, and other newly?exposed surfaces of treated wood.

Filler - Any substance used to fill character markings and irregularities in sanded flooring before applying finish coatings.

Framing - Lumber used for structural members in a house or other building. A skeleton to which roofs, floors and sides are attached.

Freight rate - The charge assesed by a freight carrier for moving a commodity from one point to another. Rates vary by distance and the types of commodity and the methods of calculating rates differ among rail, truck, and ship carriers.

Freight forwarder - One who accepts small lot shipments from shippers and combines them for forwarding in large lots. If international shipments are involved, a forwarder will attend to customs procedure and documents.

Full cell process - A process for impregnating wood with preservatives or other chemicals in which a vacuum is created to draw air from the wood before admitting the chemical.


Gluelam - Shorthand version of "Glue Laminated."

Grade - To examine lumber or timbers for strength, defects, appearance, etc. according to an established set of rules.

Grademark - A stamp or symbol indicating the grade, quality and or intended use of a piece of lumber, plywood, or other wood product. To be recognized as "grademarked," the product must bear an official stamp issued by a grading agency and applied by a qualified grader, or it must be accompanied by a certificate attesting to the grade.

Grader - A worker who examines lumber, plywood, or other wood products and assigns it a grade according to an established set of rules. The grader is usually an employee of the mill, but sometimes is employed by a grading agency which charges the mill for his services.

Grading agency - An organization that provides grading rules, gradestamps and supervisory services to member producers. The agency is financed by assessing users of the service a rate based on their production.

Grading rules - A set of criteria by which to judge various pieces of lumber or plywood in terms of strength, appearance, and suitability for various uses. Regional grading agencies draw up rules for grading based on the voluntary product standards issued by the U.S. Bureau of Standards.

Grain - A general term referring to the arrangement, appearance, and direction of wood fibers. Among the many types of grain are fine, coarse, straight, curly, open, flat, vertical, and spiral. In paper making, the predominant direction in which the fibers are aligned.

Green - Unseasoned; not dry, lumber.


Hammermark - (Hammerbrand) A mark on a log or timber that identifies the owner; a brand.

Hardwood - Deciduous trees that have broad leaves in contrast to the conifers or softwoods. The term has no reference to the actual hardness of the wood.

Hardness -A rating used to describe the density and strength of a particular species of wood.

Heartwood - The portion of the tree contained within the sapwood; this term is sometimes used to mean the pith. The heartwood is dormant and unnecessary for the tree's continued life; the living part of the tree is contained in its outer parts.

Heavy timber - Rough or surfaced pieces having a smallest dimension of at least 5 inches.

Heavy dimension - A term sometimes used to describe squares and timbers four inches in thickness, such as 4 X 4, 4 X 6.

High temperature drying - A method of drying lumber using a dry bulb temperature in excess of 212 degrees F.

Hygroscopic - A substance that can absorb and retain moisture, or lose or throw off moisture. Wood and Wood Products are hygroscopic. They expand with absorption of moisture, and dimensions become smaller when moisture is lost or thrown off.


Incising - Cutting slits into the surfaces of a piece of wood prior to preservative treatment to improve absorption.

Indigenous - A species of wood native to a particular area or region.


Joist - One of a series of parallel beams used to support floor or ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.


Kiln dried - Lumber that has been seasoned in a kiln to a predetermined moisture content.

Kiln stick - A 1 X 1 1/4 piece used between layers of wood to improve air circulation within the bundle.

Kiln - A chamber in which wood products are seasoned by applying heat and withdawing air.

KDAT - Kiln dried after treatment. Treated lumber that has been seasoned in a kiln to a predetermined moisture content following the treating process.

Kiln charge - One full load for a kiln; the amount of lumber processed in a kiln.

Knot - A branch or limb embedded in a tree and cut through in the process of manufacturing. Knots are classified according to size, quality, and occurrence.


Laminated Wood - An assembly made by bonding layers of veneer to a substructure with an adhesive. This process refers to the manufacturing of engineered products where sawn plys made from both character grade and reclaimed solid wood are adhered to two layers of solid wood, machine milled (all four sides), sanded and prefinished.

Loblolly pine - Pinus Taeda. One of the southern yellow pines, this species takes its name from the fact that it often grows in moist depressions called loblollies. It is the fastest growing and most plentiful of the southern pines. The species is found in a range from Texas to Delaware.

Longleaf pine - Pinus Palustris. This species is native to the southeast and Gulf Coast. Commercially, it is grouped with other species as "southern yellow pine." It is an important commercial species for lumber and plywood as well as for naval stores (turpentine, resins, etc.). It closely resembles slash pine.

Longs - Long lengths.

Low temperature drying - A process of drying by dehumidification by condensing the moisture removed from the lumber and recirculating the heated air.

Lumber yard - A retail outlet selling lumber and, usually, other building materials. A storage area at a saw mill.

Lumber - 1. A wood product manufactured from logs by sawing, resawing, and, usually, planing, with all four sides sawn. ("Timber" is used in place of "lumber" in many countries.) 2. To log or to manufacture lumber.


MBF - The standard abbreviation for 1000 board feet of standing timber, logs or lumber.

Millwright - The person in a sawmill or plywood plant who maintains and repairs machinery and other equipment.

MMBF - One million board feet.

Moisture meter - A device used to measure moisture content.

Moisture content - The weight of the water in wood, expressed as the percentage of the weight of the wood.


Nominal size - The size designation for most lumber, plywood and other panel products, used for convenience. In lumber, the nominal size usually is greater than the actual dimension; thus, a kiln dried 2 x 4 ordinarily is surfaced to 1.5 to 3.5 inches. In panel products, the size is generally stated in square feet for the surface dimension in increments of 1/ 8 inch for thickness.

Non-dense - A reference to the specific gravity of wood. Lumber classified as "non?dense" has five or fewer annual rings per inch, and/or less than 1/3 summerwood, measured at either end.

Novelty siding - Siding with a lower edge intended to be decorative.


Old Growth – A term biologists use to describe trees which have been growing for approximately 200 years or longer. The lumber and flooring industry defines trees by lumber grades or characteristics, not age.


Pentachlorophenol - A chemical used in wood preserving; it is usually applied under pressure so that it will penetrate the wood.

Piling - Round timbers or poles that are driven into the ground to support a load, as a foundation for a structure, or as part of a dock or moorage.

Pith - The small, soft core in the structural center of a log.

Planer - A machine used to surface rough lumber or timber.

Plank – Flooring, either solid or engineered, that is manufactured to be installed in either a sole width, random width or equal linear pattern.

Planing mill - An installation where lumber is surfaced. Also refers to mills where lumber is remanufactured to a customer's specfications.

Plywood - A flat panel made up of a number of thin sheets, or veneers, of wood in which the grain direction of each ply, or layer, is at right angles to the one adjacent to it. The veneer sheets are united, under pressure, using a bonding agent.

Pole - A long, usually round, piece of wood, often a small diameter log with the bark removed, used to carry utility wires or for other purposes; often treated with a preservative.

PET - Precision end trimmed. Lumber trimmed square and smooth on both ends, to a uniform length with a manufacturing tolerance of 1/16 inch over or under length in a maximum of 20% of the pieces.

Precut - A lumber item that is cut to a precise length at the time of manufacture so that it may be used in construction at the jobsite without further trimming.

Predrilled - Lumber that has been drilled at the mill to accommodate bolts or other hardware.

Pre-finished - A completely finished flooring that requires installation only.

Preservative - Any substance applied to wood that helps it resist decay, rotting or harmful insects.

Pressure treating - A process of impregnating lumber or other wood products with various chemicals, such as preservatives fire retardants, by forcing the chemicals into the structure of the wood using high pressure.

Prime - A grade of finished lumber, ranking below superior, the highest grade, and above E, the lowest grade of finished. Finished graded prime must present a fine appearance and is designed for application where finishing requirements are less exacting.

Pulpwood - Wood used to produce pulp used in the manufacture of paper products; pulpwood is usually wood that is too small, of inferior quality, or the wrong species to be used in the manufacture of lumber or plywood.



Radius edge decking - A board of nominal 5/4 thickness with rounded edges the length of one surface. Most frequently manufactured from southern pine or cedar, it is used primarily for construction of exterior decks on residential homes.

Random length - A designation that indicates that lumber so labeled contains an assortment of widths and lengths. Although all types of lumber may be packaged and sold in this manner, it is more common in the marketing of boards than in dimension or other lumber items. It is particularly common in the marketing of Idaho white pine, and shop of various species.

Random width - 1. Wood products of various widths. 2. Veneer clipped in various non-standard widths, usually less than two feet wide. 3. Shingles or shakes that are manufactured and sold in various widths within a certain length, thickness and grade. 4 Lumber, usually for factory or industrial uses, that is sold in random widths.

Regeneration - The regrowth of plants and trees in an area that has been logged or burned.

Resaw - 1. To saw a piece of lumber along its horizontal axis. 2. A band saw that performs such an operation.

Rough lumber - Lumber which has not been dressed or surfaced but has been sawn, edged, and trimmed.


S1S1E - Surfaced one side and one edge.

S1S2E - Surfaced one side and two edges.

S2E - Surfaced two edges.

S2S1E - Surfaced two sides and one edge.

S2S - Surfaced two sides.

S4S - Surfaced four sides.

Sapwood - The outer layers of growth between the bark and the heartwood that contain the sap.

Sawdust - Small particles of wood removed by the saw in cutting.

Sawmill - A manufacturing plant in which logs are converted to lumber by running them through a series of saws.

Seasoning - The process of evaporation and extraction of moisture from green or partially dried wood.

Select - 1. A high quality piece of lumber graded for appearance. Select lumber is used in interior and exterior trim, and cabinetry. It is most often sold S4S in a 4/4 thickness but may also be produced S2S in a variety of thicknesses usually for remanufacturing. 2. A grade of Canadian exterior plywood.

Shake - 1. A lengthwise grain separation between growth rings, or a break through the rings (radial shake), usually the result of high winds. Among the recognized types and degrees of shake are: fine, slight, medium, open, cup, round, ring, shell, through, and pith. 2. Roofing material produced from wood (most often a Cedar). Shakes have at least one surface with a natural grain textured split surface.

Shavings - A very thin slice of wood that is produced when planing lumber and timbers.

Shiplap - 1. Lumber that has been worked to make a lapped, or rabbeted joint on each edge so that pieces may be fitted together snugly for increased strength and stability. 2. A similar pattern cut into plywood or other wood panels used as siding, to assure a tight joint.

Slab - The exterior portion of a log removed by the saw, having one flat and one curved surface.

Slash pine - Pinus Elliottii . One of several pine species grouped under the designation of southern yellow pine. Slash pine is native to the southeastern and Gulf coast states. It is fast growing and matures early. Its wood closely resembles that of the longleaf pine a member of the SYP group.

Softwood - General term used to describe lumber produced from needle and/or cone bearing trees (Conifers)

Southern yellow pine - A species group composed primarily loblolly, longleaf, shortleaf and slash pines. Various subspecies also are included in the group. The southern yellow pine region refers to the southeastern United States, from Texas to Virginia.

Square Footage – A unit of measurement to determine that total amount of flooring required for a given area. In practice, calculate by multiplying the length times the width of the space. For the purpose of determining the amount of square footage per width in a given flooring bundle, calculate by dividing the width of the flooring by 12 and then multiplying be the total linear footage (length of layers x number of layers).

Stain - A discoloration occurring in or on flooring of any color other than the natural color of the species. For instance, blue stain, brown stain.

Stand - An identifiable group of trees or section of timber occurring in a particular area.

Stock - 1. Material carried in inventory for resale. 2. To purchase materials for inventory; to stock up. 3. The main stem of a tree.

Stringer - A horizontal timber used to support floor joists or other cross members.

Surfaced - Refers to lumber that has been dressed by a planing machine for the purpose of attaining smoothness of surface and uniformity of size. Surfacing may be done on one side or edge, or all sides.


Timber - 1. Standing trees, stumpage. 2. A size classification of lumber that includes pieces that are at least five inches in their smallest dimension; also classified as beams, stringers, girders, etc. 3. In the British and Australian trades, this term is used to describe all sizes of lumber.

Tip - The top of a pole or piling.

Tongue & groove - Lumber machined to have a groove on one side and a protruding tongue on the other so that pieces will fit snugly together, with the tongue of one fitting into the groove of the other.

TSO - Treating service only. A company that treats wood products for others for a fee.

Treating plant - An operation where wood products are treated with preservative or fire retardant.


Unfinished - A product which must be sanded and have stain and/or a finish applied after installation.


Vapor Barrier - A material with a high resistance to vapor movement, such as foil, plastic film, or specially coated paper, that is used to control condensation or prevent migration of moisture.

V-joint - (V-groove) A pattern applied to tongue and groove lumber in which the edges of the pieces are clamped so that a v-shaped groove is formed on the surface where the 2 pieces meet.

Veneer log - A log used in the manufacture of veneer "a peeler." (plywood)


Wane - Bark, or the lack of wood from any cause, on the edge or corner of a piece of lumber. In plywood, thin to open areas in veneer sheets that result from outer log surface irregularities.

Waterborne preservative - Preservative salts in a water solution that are transferred to the wood during the treating process.

Wides - The wider widths of dimension lumber or timber usually ten or twelve inch widths. A speciality mill may produce it up to 20" wide.



Yield - The amount of product recovered from a given quantity of raw material.



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