The Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB) has issued Supplement No.9 to the 2002 Standard Grading Rules for Southern Pine Lumber providing new design values effective June 1, 2012. The only design values that will change on June 1 apply to visually graded Southern Pine and Mixed Southern Pine sized 2” to  4” wide and 2” to 4” thick (2x2s through 4x4s) in No.2 and lower grades (No.2, No.3, Stud, Construction, Standard and Utility). This also includes new design values for No.2 Dense and No.2 NonDense Southern Pine. Design values for all other grades and sizes of visually graded Southern Pine remain the same, pending results of testing scheduled for completion later this year.

The last major change for visually graded dimension lumber occurred in 1991 when design values for Southern Pine and other North American species were published based on In-Grade testing of full-size samples of commercially produced lumber. Since 1994, SPIB has conducted an annual resource monitoring program developed in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory (FPL). SPIB is the first rules-writing agency to publish new design values. Rules-writing agencies responsible for other species are in different stages for evaluating design values.

Design values for structural lumber undergo a rigorous approval process. SPIB partnered with Timber Products Inspection to sample No.2 2×4 test specimens according to a plan approved by the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) Board of Review. SPIB and Timber Products conducted destructive tests in bending and tension, plus gathered stiffness and property data, all in accordance with ASTM International standards. Throughout the process, technical review was performed by FPL. The ALSC Board of Review approved the new design values early in 2012 with a recommended effective date of June 1, 2012.

As June 1 approaches, users should begin using the new design values and revised span tables if they haven’t done so already. The intent of the six-month transition period was to minimize project delays and supply chain disruptions by providing time to begin to use the new design values or switch to other Southern Pine grades or sizes meeting performance requirements. Southern Pine users have many available product options including visually graded dimension lumber and an increasing supply of mechanically graded lumber. Many producers and key customer groups have already successfully transitioned to the new design values with minimal disruption to their businesses.

Building codes reference design values certified by the ALSC Board of Review. The American Wood Council (AWC) publishes these design values in a supplement to the code-referenced National Design Specification® (NDS®) for Wood Construction. Building codes also include span tables and other prescriptive requirements that will need to be amended to reflect the new design values. Visit to download the AWC Addendum to Design Values for Wood Construction, revised prescriptive span tables and other updates to AWC’s standards and design tools. Also to obtain easy-to-use span tables for specific grades and sizes of Southern Pine lumber.

SPIB and Timber Products are currently working to complete the full In-Grade matrix by destructively testing Select Structural 2x4s, No.2 and Select Structural 2x8s, and No.2 and Select Structural 2x10s in bending, tension and compression. Additional design value changes are expected once all the testing is completed later this year. Moving forward, Southern Pine will continue to be monitored with annual destructive testing.

Southern Pine remains strong, dependable
Southern Pine’s strength is comparable to other softwood species used in residential and commercial construction. “Southern Pine remains one of the best construction products on the market today,” said Cathy Kaake, senior director of engineered and framing markets for the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA). “Southern Pine lumber provides a great value in a wide variety of applications. From framing a house to building a deck, Southern Pine continues to be a dependable product for any project,” added Cathy.

Southern Pine forests are some of the most productive and sustainable timberlands in the world, capturing large amounts of carbon from the air and storing it in lumber used every day.

Southern Pine is grown and manufactured in the U.S. South, further improving local economies, reducing transportation costs and minimizing impacts on the environment.

SFPA continues to provide answers to common questions, including impacts on real-world applications. One common question is, “Will new design values affect existing homes?” The short answer: “No. The new design values only apply to new construction, not existing construction.” Southern Pine users can find answers to more than 30 questions and other helpful information by visiting

SFPA does not test lumber or establish design values. SFPA’s primary function is to market lumber products and to help users understand Southern Pine grading rules and design values.

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SFPA is a nonprofit trade association that has represented manufacturers of Southern Pine lumber since 1915. Today, SFPA is the leading source of information about Southern Pine products for design-build professionals and consumers.