When planning a building project and choosing the right wood, you want to ensure you’re getting the best quality for your money. One factor you’ll consider is the grade of the lumber, but that’s far from an end-all definition for the quality of wood.
But, you say, “Grade A” always guarantees the best possible wood, right? Unfortunately, what a builder may mean by “Grade A” lumber often varies from what a particular lumber supplier may mean. The builder may define grade by the cut of the wood, while the lumber supplier may look at patterns showing how the board was cut for consistency of grain.
In addition, the builder’s customer may have further requirements for the wood that may not have been initially considered, such as colors matching up at obvious points of construction. In the end, wood is often received that is not ideal for the building project underway.
The lumber supplier, builder and customer can work together to ensure that the right wood is given for the right project. As in most areas of life, clear communication from all ends leads to satisfaction all around.
First of all, the lumber supplier can start by asking the right questions. Find out what sort of project the customer needs the wood for, since the type of wood for a project like the body of a yacht, exposed to water and outside elements, will differ from the wood needed for an interior room in a house. Determine lengths and widths for boards to minimize waste from cutting down the wood. Find out if the customer plans to do planing, moulding, or treatments on the boards after receiving them.
These questions could be handled with a worksheet that’s sent to a customer online or directly via a phone conversation. Either way, providing customer service staff with specific questions to narrow down the customer’s needs will ensure that the proper wood is selected, the right treatment is done on the boards before sending out, and the customer is happy with the final product.
Second, the customer should come into a project with as much planning done in advance of ordering lumber. Determine the size of the structure, how much coverage will be needed with wood, and ideal lengths and widths of boards. Understand if you need wood that works well for outdoor applications in rough weather versus wood for indoor applications. Instead of just asking for “Grade A” wood, determine what you mean by top grade to ensure the lumber supplier understands what you’re looking for.
Also think about what portions of your project will be clearly visible. Note that some types of wood, like Teak, can vary widely in coloration after being milled. The lumber supplier can take extra care to match colors for applications where the wood needs to appear the same color.
When the lumber supplier asks the right questions, and the customer comes with a full understanding of wood characteristics needed, all parties can be happy with the end purchase.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling (800) 638-9100.
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