Redwood lumber is lumber cut from redwood — trees in the cypress family primarily found in the Pacific Northwest. Redwood has a number of characteristics that make it popular with builders and furniture makers. Lumber products made with redwood are typically available at lumber yards and home improvement stores, and can be ordered by special request if products of a particular type or quality are needed.
As the name implies, redwood lumber has a naturally reddish color, which can be very bright when fresh. Over time, it will darken to a rich brown. Redwood tends to be close grained, and while it is a soft timber, it is also highly resistant to insects, mold, and mildew. The distinctive color and pest resistance make redwood lumber a popular construction material for decks, trim, and furniture. It can also be used to make structural supports and other components of a structure.
Like other wood products, redwood lumber is graded by quality before sale. The very best redwood has a close, even grain and no flaws like knots and holes. Lesser grades may have small flaws, proceeding to very large knots in wood of the worst quality. Redwood lumber can also be salvaged, both from existing redwood structures and from trees damaged by storms and fires. Trees struck by lightening, felled in poor weather, or partially burned in a fire can still yield usable lumber.
Some of the most prized redwood lumber is old growth redwood, known as such because its extreme age. In some cases, old growth can be hundreds of years old and it is felled in areas where logging has not previously occurred. The wood tends to be very strong and dense because of the age of the tree and in addition, because the trees are extremely large, it is possible to make very big cuts of lumber. Old growth is commonly used for beams, where solid pieces of timber are desirable, and it can also be used to make large redwood panels.
When selecting redwood lumber, people should look for straight boards without any signs of warping or twisting. If they are buying green lumber, it needs to be cured before use, and it may need to be weighted to prevent warping. The lumber should have an even grain, and depending on the grade being purchased, people should look for flaws. This lumber product is often sold untreated because of the natural pest resistance. For people who intend to varnish or stain, using a test patch before covering the lumber is advisable, to confirm that that treatment works as desired.