Tag Archives: framing lumber

Final Inspection, Framing Lumber, and Trusses

This Friday’s blog include some extra Pole Barn Guru reader’s questions about a final inspection, materials needs for a building, and the quantity of trusses for another.

Pole Building ShopDEAR POLE BARN GURU: In a pole barn the inspector will not pass final inspection with a crushed concrete floor for storage of any kind of vehicle inside without a signed affidavit of no-storage of vehicles inside.

Basically no solid concrete floor, no storage of vehicles inside. Is this correct for Michigan? DAN in WILLIAMSTON

DEAR DAN: Many jurisdictions all across America have enacted similar ordinances, most often in an effort to prevent petroleum based chemicals from potentially seeping into underground natural drinking water supplies and tainting them. When you do pour your concrete slab on grade, make sure to place a well-sealed vapor barrier underneath to prevent moisture from passing through. While Building Code minimum requirement is 6mil, we recommend 15mil to avoid punctures during placement of concrete.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Trying to figure out how many 2×4’s, 2×6’s and 2×10’s we will need for our 40x56x12 pole building with a 10×56 lean to attached. How do I figure board footage or how many of each I will need? RACHEL in LEONARD

Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR RACHEL: Your question leads me to believe you do not have structural plans for your building. Said structural plans should be prepared by a Registered Design Professional (RDP – architect or engineer) who can expertly determine structural adequacy of all building components, as well as proper connections.

There is an easy fix to your situation – order a fully engineered post frame building kit, custom designed to meet your every want and need. With a www.HansenPoleBuildings.com building, you will receive full sized (24″ x 36″) blueprints detailing every member and every connection. You will have an itemized material takeoff list to work from, a 500 page fully illustrated Construction Manual to guide you step-by-step through assembly and unlimited free Technical Support from people who have actually built post frame buildings.

A new post frame building is a major investment, please avoid making costly errors in an effort to save money. You get only a single chance to do it right or wrong – right is so much easier and more rewarding.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: How many 2×4 trusses do I need for a 20ft x 30ft roof with only steel ruffing. DOUGLAS in PINCONNING

DEAR DOUGLAS: Your trusses should be shown on your building’s engineer sealed plans. You can provide these to any prefabricated wood roof truss manufacturer (or the ProDesk at your nearby The Home Depot) to get a quote delivered to your building site. If it was my own personal building, it would have a single truss on each endwall, and a double truss every 10 feet bearing directly upon wall columns. I would place 2x purlins on edge between truss top chords, using engineered steel joist hangers to support each end.




Eased Edge Lumber

¼” EE

In my exploration of lumber grade stamps, 1/4″ EE was one which I was familiar with, but had no idea what the history was behind it.

When I remodeled my 1909 home 24 years ago – it was for the most part down to the bare studs and floor joists. The lumber, having obviously been milled in 1909 or earlier, was all full sawn (the 2x4s were actually two inches by four inches) and all had square edges. As in totally square edges, not just free of wane.

According to the Western Wood Products Association (www.wwpa.org):

Framing lumber in 2″ thickness is typically produced with a 1/8″ eased edge. However, some mills produce lumber with a 1/4″ eased edge to assist in handling. These products are identified on the grademark as “1/4″ EE.”

Me, being the curious sort, wanted to know more – so I spent way too much time researching trying to find out the history of eased edge lumber. So far, it wasn’t going well.

I did find out lumber of less than four inches in thickness is usually made with eased edges. My own experience with having worked with lumber as a builder, prefabricated wood truss manufacturer and lumber yard owner confirms this. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a 2x anything with squared edges from a lumber mill.

An exception would be lumber which has been re-manufactured. An example of this would be when a low grade wide piece of lumber (say 2×12) is split lengthwise into two smaller dimensions, one of which could meet the quality specifications of a higher grade (say a 2×4 and a 2×8). Re-manufactured lumber will often have a square edge on the side which has been split.

I did find some suppositions floating around on the ‘net about eased edges. One of the most prevalent is to help reduce the incidence of slivers. I have to say, I’ve acquired far more slivers from timbers with square edges, than from smaller dimension lumber with curved edges.

One interesting theory, which I could buy into, would be because drywall installs better over the rounded corners in cases where studs twist a little and push a corner out slightly.

A second theory is it could be a “knife-check” for the blades which are used to plane lumber to S4S (surfaced four sides). My example is when the finished product starts to show square edges, it is time for new knives to be installed in the planer.

This column has thousands upon thousands of loyal readers. I am hopeful one or more of you knows more about the history and reasoning behind eased edges and will add your comments.

Framing Lumber Sizes: Why Isn’t a 2×4 Truly 2″ by 4″?

Why isn’t a 2×4 truly 2” x 4”?

When Hansen Pole Buildings first began in 2002, owner J.A. Hansen did all of the drafting. As a lifetime Registered Nurse, Judy had the attention to detail it took to be an excellent drafter. In her “nursing world” everything was measured in exact numbers. If a patient needed 10 milligrams of a drug, they were administered exactly 10 milligrams. No more, no less, and right on schedule.  You didn’t give the patient between 5 and 20 milligrams, somewhere between 8AM and noon!

This is where the challenge came in for Judy learning to draft…a 2 x 4 did not measure 2 inches by 4 inches!  Not only that, once I patiently explained framing lumber and sizes, a 2×4 was not even held to an exact 1-1/2” by 3-1/2”, but had an “acceptable range” for size, I was afraid she’d walk right out the door and never come back!

Back in the olden days of cutting trees into framing lumber, a 2×4 did actually measure more or less two inches by four inches.

Eventually evolution created high production building and high production sawmills. High production builders demanded smooth surfaced lumber to work with, rather than the rough sawn lumber primitive mills had been cranking out. About the same time, dried lumber became popular for its dimensional stability and resistance to mold.

Running the formerly rough cut 2×4 through a planer (to create smooth surfaces) and the drying process created a finished piece of lumber which measured 1-5/8” x 3-5/8”.

In the late 1970’s today’s standard sized 1-1/2” x 3-1/2” dry 2×4 was created. Besides ½ inch being easier to measure than 5/8 inch, we can only assume some brilliant bean counter in a sawmill office determined this would allow the recovery of one extra 2×4 board out of every log!

There are those naysayers who would attribute this “smaller” piece of framing lumber to less longevity in modern structures. However, all engineering calculations are based upon the actual dry size of the material being utilized.  Yes, the sizes are somewhat confusing, but they do work.

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Water Your Lawn, Not Your Lumber

Lumber is considered to be dry when it reaches a moisture content of 19% or less. When below this threshold, it becomes relatively dimensionally stable.  More importantly, it is naturally resistant to mold and other fungi which will attack wood. When lumber is rained upon, or allowed to sit in mud or puddles, it can gain moisture to above the “dry” point. In as little as 48 hours after getting wet, mold can begin to form on lumber. While a small amount of mold will not usually have an effect on the strength of the lumber, the stains are unsightly.

Green Lumber

Green lumber ready to be dried

Ideally lumber is used promptly after delivery. Otherwise, store in a cool, dry location, avoiding direct sunlight and preferably indoors where humidity variations will be minimal.

Unlike green lumber, keep kiln or air-dried lumber away from moisture, or product may lose the value added by careful seasoning. Dry lumber which becomes saturated with water, such as from rain, melting snow or contact with wet ground, can lose dimensional stability, warp and otherwise deteriorate. Lumber exposed to alternate wetting and drying will check, split, warp and discolor.

If stored outdoors, keep dried lumber off the ground and protected by paper, wrapping, tarpaulins, or canvas. Paper wrapping offers short-term protection.  If it gets torn, repair immediately. Dilapidated wrapping which holds rainwater may increase moisture regain more than if the lumber had no protection.

Air flow is the most important factor in outside lumber storage. Allow large volumes air to circulate freely around stacked lumber in order to evaporate moisture from the lumber. Provide an open storage area with no trees or buildings blocking air flow. Remove weeds, grasses and other vegetation around lumber as they harbor insects and fungal spores.

Good water drainage in storage area is important. Standing water adds to humidity which increases mold and stain possibility on lumber.

When lumber is stacked on stickers (also known as dunnage), place stickers in perfect vertical alignment with one another. Otherwise, sagging will occur. Solid stacked lumber is often stored in packaged units bound with tie straps (or banding) for easier handling. Separate stacked units by spacers, usually at least 4”, and aligned with lower stickers to prevent sagging.

Storing lumber under a roof offers better protection by keeping material dry and bright.

Mold growth on framing lumber is common. To retard or eliminate growth, spray with a borate solution, which is nontoxic to mammals, but highly toxic to most wood fungi. Termites also have a distaste of borate treated lumber.

Following these simple steps can greatly reduce problems caused by allowing moisture to infiltrate and ruin what once was, beautiful lumber.