Each NHLA grade has its own clear set of standards. In this article we’ll lay out the grading standards for Firsts and Seconds, FAS One Face, Select, and #1 and #2 Common grades. (If you haven’t already read Part 1, please refer to that article for the beginning of this four part series.)
We’ll start out at the top with the Firsts and Seconds Grade. FAS is universally recognized as the top-notch NHLA grade for the domestic hardwood lumber industry.
FAS Grading Standard Guidelines
In order for a board to be considered FAS (Firsts & Seconds) NHLA grade quality lumber, it must meet the following requirements on both of its faces. It has to have a minimum yield of 83.33%, a minimum board size of six inches by eight feet, and a minimum cutting size of four inches by five feet or three inches by seven feet. Anything not meeting these specifications won’t make the grade.
FAS One Grading Standards
Sometime after the FAS Category was established, the NHLA came up with the FAS One grade for lumber with only one of the two faces meeting FAS quality standards. In order to qualify as a FAS One grade, a board must meet the FAS requirements on one face and meet no lower than a #1 Common grade standard on the other face. For the applications where only one face of lumber will show, you can usually get away with a lower grade standard than applications where both faces of the lumber will be clearly visible.
Select Grading Standards
Select is the same as FAS One when it comes to the minimum yield percentage and minimum cutting size, but the minimum board size is lowered down to four inches by six feet.
Common Grading Standards
For a lumber board to be considered NHLA #1 Common grade, it must have a minimum yield of 66.66%, a minimum cutting size of four inches by two feet or three inches by three feet and a minimum board size of three inches by four feet.
Common Grading Standards
The #2 Common Grading Standard is normally the lowest that most purchasers will consider. It’s actually considered quite desirable for certain applications, such as hardwood flooring. The reason it works well for flooring is that one face is never seen, so it doesn’t matter if that face has imperfections on it. #2 Common grading standards consist of the minimum yield of 50%, a minimum board size of three inches by four feet, and a minimum cutting size of three inches by two feet.
Once you have the basic requirements for these grading standards in mind, you’ll be equipped to understand what your lumber dealer is talking about when you seek to purchase boards for your next lumber project. The NHLA grade of lumber you’ll want to purchase will vary based on what use you have in mind for the wood. Be sure to find out which grade is recommended for different applications before making your lumber purchase.
In our third article in this four part series, we’ll discuss the criteria for recognizing a defect in your lumber. We’ll also take a look at some characteristics that wouldn’t qualify as defects.