Wyoming boasts more than 6 million acres of nonreserved timberland. Those 6 million acres are separate and apart from designated wilderness areas, national parks, and monuments. As a result, the state abounds in lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, Engelmann and Black Hills spruce, and Douglas fir, as well as larch, limber pine, western white pine, red alder, and aspen. More than half of Wyoming’s timber is harvested in Crook County in the Black Hills, with the remainder coming from the northwestern part of the state in the Wind River and Wyoming Mountain ranges. Interstate highways such as I-25, I-90, and I-80 and US highways such as 20, 26, and 191 are crucial for transporting raw materials to the mills and getting wood products to lumberyards and suppliers.
It can be helpful to understand a little about grades of lumber & engineered wood and how wood products are grouped. A wide variety of labels are sometimes used—light structural timber, heavy timber, finger-jointed timber—but maybe a simpler way of looking at it is function.
Dimensional lumber is what we often think of first when we hear the phrase framing lumber. These are the lengths of lumber planed and cut to standardized widths, depths, and lengths. We most often think of 2x4s, but the category covers everything from 1x1s to 4x16s. Of course, nothing is actually what it’s called. A 1×1 technically measures ¾” by ¾”, for example, while a 2×4 actually measures 1½” by 3½”. In general, for any measurements under 2”, subtract ¼”. From 2” to 8”, subtract ½”. At 8” or greater, subtract ¾“.
Dimensional lumber is strong and able to support compressive loads, but it’s also relatively inexpensive. That’s why it’s so readily used for studs, sole plates, top plates, and between-stud blocking. Most dimensional lumber is made from softwoods, but even within that realm, there are distinctions in grade, type, and grain, depending on the construction application and required weight-load bearing ratings
Heavy timber typically refers to lumber over 4½” and crosses into the realm of post-and-beam construction, but it also brings in heavy-duty engineered wood products such as LVL beams and I-joists.
- Laminated veneer lumber is actually a wood laminate and resin product designed for tensile strength and moisture resistance. These load-carrying products can span long distances yet remain sag-proof.
- I-joists take engineering a step further by combining OSB with perpendicular flanges of either dimensional lumber or LVL to form a strong I shape that’s both lighter and stronger than wood alone.
Other manufactured wood products and engineered sheets that complete basic construction include ⅝“ and ¾“ plywood, MDF (medium-density fiberboard), particle board, and OSB (oriented strand board).
- Plywood uses veneers—thin sheets of wood—that are pressed cross-grain and bonded into a single sheet. Plywood is strong and various thicknesses and grades can be used in everything from subflooring to roofing to cabinet shelving.
- MDF has no woodgrain because it’s made completely of fibers and glue and bonded with heat. Denser and stronger than particle board, MDF is available in moisture-resistant as well as fire-retardant forms.
- Particle board combines chips, flakes, and pieces of wood with resins and other chemicals to make versions that are fire-resistant, water-resistant, or insect-proof. OSB is actually a type of particle board in which all the strands are aligned, layered, and bonded. It’s also a first choice for many roofing and other sheathing applications.
Our Builders FirstSource location in Cody has everything you need. Check out our full inventory of lumber and quality framing and roofing materials. While you’re there, don’t forget the hardware you’ll need such as hangers and connectors to help your whole project come together.