Posted on: 10th March 2017

Blog: timber grading

Bear with us, we know this doesn’t sound the most exciting topic for a blog but actually, it is pretty interesting (well we think so anyway!) and it’s important to know when building your own home or extension about the core structure of the build.

All the oak we use is graded – both by the sawmill and by our carpenters. You may hear us talk about the European specification (actually you’ll probably hear us say Q P A which is the grade of timber we use) timber grading. We use French oak so all our oak is graded using the European system and of Q P A grade. So what does that mean?

Q P A
Q represents the initial of the Latin name for Oak – Quercus The second character indicates the product. P stands for beams (B boules, S selected boards and so on) This relates to the quality grade with A being the highest, exceptional quality. 1.2.3.4 is the decreasing quality

So,  you know what Q P A grading means, now to confuse you further…although the sawmill uses the Q P A system, our carpenters also grade the timber when it arrives at our yards using the ‘Carpenter Oak & Woodland British specification’. The timber grading we have devised is far superior to the Q P A system. Here’s the comparison:

Carpenter Oak  & Woodland European spec Q P A
Live knot size 25% 30%
Dead knots Up to 25mm Up to 25mm
Slope of grain 1:10 1:10
Wane Acceptable if it can be removed by a camfer 15%
Sapwood Acceptable if it can be removed by a camfer 15%
Bow (over 2m) 14mm 16mm
Spring (over 2m) 14mm 16mm
Twist (over 2m) 14mm 1mm per 25mm width

Successful timber frame carpentry is dependent upon the assessment, grading and orientation of each individual timber for its aesthetics and structural properties. The quality and appearance of the timber that we use in our frames will help to determine the structural integrity, durability, longevity and ultimately the value of the structures. This is why we use a more stringent system to Q P A timber grading.

Our carpenters grade all timber when it is delivered to our framing yard and each timber is checked by our carpenters during the framing process. Timbers can be, and are rejected, at any time during the framing. The cost of replacing a timber incorporated into a timber frame building is very high (especially if that building has been completed on site) and we endeavour to remove any such problems at the source.

We hope you understand a little more about timber grading and why we like to use the highest grade of timber possible. We’re always happy to discuss timber grading and specifications so please do contact us if you have any further questions.