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Buying Lumber for a Home Project - Updated with photos. Helping with projects for the novice's home repairs.

Updated on June 19, 2017

State of Confusion


Comparison shopping

It all started when i decided to do some landscaping and build an organic garden for my veggies.

This simple project started out by trying to compare prices of lumber to build a walkway and a frame for a garden area where i could grow some organic vegetable.

It turned out to be an eye opening experience that led me down a path of total confusion and self doubt.

I have always considered myself of average intelligence (sometimes above average in my mind) until today. When i realized the truth of the saying: "the more i learn, the more i realize how much i don't know" (anon).

"Retention in lbs. per sq.ft." --

My first lesson in humility.

What the heck does this term even mean?

The remaining story gives me a great respect for people in the building supplies and gardening professions. God bless them all.

Do we need a college degree these days just for simple home projects?

Some of us certainly do.

My first step was to look up the meaning of "retention in pounds per square inch". I can't say it left me any wiser. But it did leave me more dependent on, and more appreciative of, the experts in these matters.

That led me to the site of the University of Minnesota.

I just wanted to buy some lumber for a simple project.

A degree at the University of Minnesota?

Really - I just want to buy some wood for building a walkway, repairing front and rear steps, and a garden plot for vegetables. Everything becomes a major project for me.

Why "treat" wood anyway?

What i learned from Lowes Home Improvement and the University of Minnesota site was astonishing.

Using "treated" wood preserves the life of the lumber - that sounds simple enough doesn't it?
Then i learned about the types of preservatives they use in treating wood to preserve its life.

Commonly used preservatives: Compositions of the three types of CCA and their trade names.

Components used in preserving wood products: Chromium, Copper, Arsenic (CCA)
Trade names:
Chromium: Greensalt, Langwood, Edalith, Tanalith
Copper: Boliden CCA, Koppers CCA-B, Osmose k-33, Koppers CCA-C
Arsenic: Wolman CCA, Wolmanac CCA, Chrom-ar-cu

{Like any of this information actually meant anything to me. I am a retired nurse for god sake}.

Choosing a type of wood

Pix from my back yard
Pix from my back yard | Source

Trivia information FYI

Durability by species:
Life expectancy of 'untreated' heartwood in human years.

Very durable:
>Eastern red cedar-------------------30+
> Redwood-----------------------------10-30*
>Western red cedar-------------------10-25

>White and burr oak------------------10-15
>Northern white cedar-----------------5-15

Moderately durable:
>Red oak----------------------------------6-8
>Douglas fir-------------------------------4-6

Non durable:
>Red and jack pine------------------------2-6
>Aspen (poplar) and cottonwood------3-4
>Ponderosa pine---------------------------3-4
>White birch--------------------------------3-4
>Spruce and balsam fir--------------------3-4
>Basswood----------------------------------< 5
>Ash------------------------------------------< 5
>Willow--------------------------------------< 5

When to NOT use treated wood

Building a walkway certainly requires using treated wood and painting it to extend its life.
Building the garden plot - not so much.
These harsh chemicals can leech into the vegetables we intended to grow for our own consumption and canning (another lesson in humility) or so i thought.

Also untreated wood is used in building houses - which confuses me even more since it is a deterrent to termites.

According to the video selected the newer type of pressure treated wood is OK for organic gardens.

Choosing the soil for the organic garden took some investigating, and another major eye opener.

Re-examining my ambitions

I must add that after all this exhausting research i am wondering if i actually have the ambition to undertake any of these projects. I will take pause and reconsider them after resting my brain for a day or two. If i manage to find the ambition to complete any of these projects i will add photos as i finish them.

by d.william

Two projects finished. Horaay.

Back door steps
Back door steps | Source
Front door steps left view
Front door steps left view | Source
Front door stops right view. If you look closely at the door you can see the two inspectors who watched the project being done
Front door stops right view. If you look closely at the door you can see the two inspectors who watched the project being done
Front door stops front view.
Front door stops front view.

© 2015 d.william


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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      Working with wood is so rewarding.

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 2 years ago from Somewhere in the south


      Thanks for reading and leaving your comments. So far i have rebuilt my entrance porch and stairs and the walkway. Working on the back porch. The vegetable garden will wait til spring.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 2 years ago from California

      Splendid hub! I have so been there. Best of luck on your project.