Lumber Grading

Southern Pine

Lumber Grading

Lumber grading is the process of categorizing and classifying wood products based on its quality and characteristics. This systematic approach ensures producers and consumers have a standardized way of understanding the attributes and value of the lumber they’re working with or purchasing.

Lumber grading is more than a mere classification system; it serves as the bedrock of quality, worth, and uniformity.

Whether you are in the process of building a house, adding a deck, working on an industrial project, or selecting wood for a do-it-yourself endeavor, understanding the characteristics and typical uses for each grade of lumber is essential to guarantee your materials conform to the benchmarks of safety, visual appeal, and functionality.


Different projects require different types of wood, so how do you know which type of Southern Pine lumber is right for your project? Check out SFPA’s guide to grade descriptions, which lists nearly 95 grades and their corresponding characteristics and typical uses for 19 applications.


Lumber grading requires training, supervision, experience, control, and auditing systems that take years to understand and master. Simply put, do not assume you can simply read grade rules and apply them or grade lumber yourself.

With that said, there are three Southern Pine lumber grading methods for sorting dimension lumber and assigning design values.

Grade and Quality Marks

To protect buyers, the lumber industry developed a system requiring ink-stamped grade marks on each piece of lumber. These marks prove each piece was produced under industry-specified quality control measures to ensure it is the grade specified for its intended use. It also confirms the preservative retention and penetration complies with American Wood Protection Association (AWPA) and/or building code specifications, and the preservative used is EPA-approved and treated in compliance with federal law.