A Quick Guide to Lumber Dimensions

If you find reading plans and wood board sizes confusing or have trouble identifying the exact dimensions of wood at a lumberyard, read on.

Lumber dimensions- an explanation of nominal versus actual dimensions

Understanding lumber dimensions

Most lumber is sold in “nominal” (in name only) sizes such as 1×3, 2×4, 4×4 and2x2 lumber. But these sizes are not the actual 1×3 dimensions, 2×4 dimensions, 2×6 dimensions, 2×8 dimensions and 4×4 dimensions of the wood. The chart above shows the actual dimensions of lumber when it is dry (when wet, it will be slightly larger). This handy chart will help you translate the nominal into the actual (dry). After a while, you’ll get the hang of dimensional lumber sizes what 2 by 4 actual dimensions means, and it will help for projects like building a deck.

Next, read through this guide to buying rough sawn lumber.