How to pick timber for a DIY project

The complete guide to which timber you’ll need for your DIY projects.

If you’ve got a DIY project in mind but aren’t sure which timber you’ll need to get it done, here’s a few pointers to get you on your way.

1. Exterior timber 

Timber used outdoors has to contend with the weather as well as attack by destructive critters such as termites. Treated pine is the perfect material and it comes in a number of grades depending upon how you’re going to use it.

H4 should be used when the timber comes into contact with the ground. Common products of this grade are sleepers and posts.

H3 is for use above ground and comes in a couple of finishes. The unfinished variety, or rougher header, is typically used as framing for structures like decks and pergolas. For outdoor joinery, such as fascias and architraves, H3 timber comes in smooth, pre-primed sections ready for painting.

Hardwood also has durable varieties that can be used outdoors. Ironbark and turpentine are suitable for inground use while species like spotted gum, brushbox and merbau are popular decking timbers.  

Scandi style dining room

2. Interior timber

Since durability isn’t a problem, your main concern is how the finished job will look. If the timber is going to be exposed, hardwoods such as Meranti and Tasmanian oak are popular choices. Pine is an economical choice and when left exposed, adds a Scandinavian vibe to a room.  If you’re painting, a pre-primed pine is a good choice as it’s economical and one step of the paint job has already been done.  

Installing plywood panels

3. Sheet materials

These are products such as plywood, MDF and melamine that come in a variety of thicknesses and finishes to suit your project. Grades of plywood are indicated by a pair of letters showing the quality of finish on each side. For example, CD should be used where appearance doesn’t matter, while AA plywood can be used for furniture projects. MDF is very susceptible to water damage, so should not be used outdoors or internally where moisture is prevalent, such as a bathroom.

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