Many lumber yards feature the standard assortment of dimensional lumber, like 2 x 4s, as well as plywood, fasteners, some tools and perhaps a selection of pressure-treated lumber. But larger lumber yards in the Houston area will feature a wider selection, including specialty products that are popular in the area, like materials to build sea walls, stilt houses or bulkheads.
Here are a few of the specialty products that you can expect to find in the best lumber yards in the Houston area:
1) Marine Timbers and Pilings
Used to create bulkheads that protect the shoreline from erosion near lakes or the ocean, marine timbers and pilings are available with a 0.60 CCA treatment for freshwater immersion or a 2.5 CCA treatment for saltwater immersion.
CCA stands for “chromated copper arsenate”, and it is a wood preservative designed to prevent water damage, insect damage and fungal decay in pressure-treated wood products. By placing natural wood into a pressurized container with chemical preservatives, the chemicals are driven deep into the grain of the wood, creating pressure treated lumber that lasts far longer than natural wood when exposed to the elements.
In the bulkheading application, marine timbers or pilings are driven vertically into the seafloor or the bottom of the lake at regular intervals along the shoreline. Between the posts, a bulkheading material, such as pressure-treated tongue and groove wood sheeting, metal sheeting or composite sheeting is installed to hold back the soil and to prevent erosion by waves and tidal action. Marine pilings are round and tapered, and they are available in a variety of lengths, from 8 feet to 55 feet in diameter of 8, 10, and 12 inches.
2) “Pilings, Poles, and Piers”
Pilings, poles, and piers are all names for a round pole cut from the trunk of a tree, with a natural taper from the larger diameter near the trunk to the smaller diameter near the branches. When they are driven into the ground with the narrow end pointing down, they are called pilings. They can be used as the main posts for supporting boat docks or piers, for the posts that support bulkheading or sea walls, or as the foundation for a pier and beam home, which is raised above the surface on stilt-like piers to prevent water damage in flood-prone areas.
When they are used with the larger diameter facing down, the products are called poles, and they can be used as the main support posts in pole barns or shade structures, as utility poles or as fence posts. Poles and pilings are available with CCA treatments of 0.15 to 0.25 for above-ground-use, 0.34 to 0.40 for in-ground use, 0.60 for freshwater immersion or salt water spray, and 2.5 for saltwater immersion. They come in lengths from 8 to 55 feet and diameters of 8, 10 and 12 inches.
Timbers are large square or rectangular posts or beams cut from the trunk of a tree and milled to give them a square or rectangular cross-section. Typically, they are NOT pressure-treated and are usually designed for interior applications, such as exposed beams, but they can be optionally pressure-treated for outdoor use. They can be used as posts or beams in a variety of projects, such as decks, gazebos, fences or bridges. They are available in a smooth surfaced finish or as rough-milled timbers, in lengths from 8 to 32 feet long, with cross-sections of 4 to 12 inches in the square cross-sections or from 3 x 8 to 6 x 12 inches in the rectangular cross-sections.
4) Pressure Treated Decking
Designed to build outdoor decks, as well as other outdoor items such as picnic tables, gazebos or benches, pressure-treated decking lumber is preserved with a 0.25 concentration of MCQ or micronized copper quaternary. MCQ is used in residential applications to protect groundwater reserves, and it is less prone to leaching than CCA and safer, in general, around people and pets. Pressure-treated decking lumber is available in normal dimensional sizes, from standard 2 x 4 to 2 x 12 as well as 5 or 4 x 6-inch boards for deck flooring and 2 x 2-inch boards for deck railings. Available lengths range from 8 to 20 feet, depending on cross-sectional size.
In addition to pressure treated pine, many of the better lumber yards in Houston also carry a selection of alternative woods for decks, such as cedar or Brazilian hardwood. They may also carry composite deckings, such as the Fiberon series, which is available in a variety of natural-looking wood or solid-colored finishes.
5) Fire Retardant Lumber
Treated to resist warping, twisting or burning when exposed to flame, fire retardant lumber is a safe alternative to natural lumber anywhere where there is a risk of fire. It is often required wherever wood is used in commercial buildings, instead of standard steel studs. Fire retardant lumber is available in standard dimensional sizes, including 2 x 4s through 2 x 12s, as well as 1 x 4 and 1 x 6-inch boards, with lengths ranging from 8 feet to 20 feet. It is also available as plywood in 4-foot by 8-foot sheets, with thicknesses of 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4 and 1 1/8 inches.
6) Farm and Ranch Timbers
Available in treated or untreated versions, ranch and farm timbers are naturally round poles that are typically stocked in diameters from 2 to 8 inches and lengths from 6 1/2 feet to 30 feet, depending on the diameter. They are often used as the horizontal poles between fence posts, as rafters or studs in pole barns, as vigas or rafters in southwest-style homes, as a component of furniture or as utility posts.
In addition to these specialty products, many of the best lumber yards in the Houston area will also carry a full selection of standard and treated lumber, plywood, fasteners, and other building supplies, making it easy to find everything you need for your project in one location.