White Pine for Stick Framing

A few facts about the standards relating to the use of White Pine as house framing lumber. November 3, 2010

I would like to use white pine for framing lumber for a house. Are there any available lumber strength tables to determine maximum span for studs, joists, and rafters? I know white pine is not a preferred species for stick framing, but I have an abundance of good quality white pine and it is easy to work with.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor F:
Where are you located? In Ontario white pine is not accepted for framing. If you are in an unorganized township then I can send you the specs for northern species which may be overkill for the snow loads in your area. White pine is still selling for $1-2 per board foot, at the big orange graded framing lumber is selling for 0.40 to 0.70 dressed, kiln dried, and graded. I know I like to use my own material but white pine up here is coveted a lot of our big stands have been cut. I think trading for the framing material you need might be easier and faster.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the response. The local pine mill sells D4S white pine for less than $1.00 per B.F. so there really does not seem to be a big difference in the price of pine logs vs spruce or fir, especially considering that I can drop my pines and drag them 100-200 feet right to the mill. While I realize white pine is not the best species for stick framing I have built 15-20 buildings over the last 30 years framed mostly with white pine, including three complete houses.

I have always used full-cut rough sawn lumber that is a minimum of 1/4" thicker and wider; and oversize joists, studs and rafters by one size and framed 16" O.C. I will also be tying knee-walls and collar beams structurally into the rafters, and using a load-bearing ridgepole to further strengthen the structure. I am not worried about strength, and my area has no building inspector' but I still would like the run the numbers.

From contributor F:
We have been dressing and grading our framing lumber with a square edge which is unlike most in the big stores. I was told by an old timer in the lumber business that the rounded edge is preferred. His reason was that the studs could twist in the wall with a rounded edge and not move the drywall and screws. Have you had any problems with that in the houses you have built with rough cut? Drying is a big factor with SPF. A lot of framers prefer to work with it in the 16% range as it nails easier. This is an advantage you would have with white pine I would think due to the lower moisture content. The electrician and plumber would like it a lot better to drill.

From the original questioner:
The white pine I was talking about is dressed four sides, v-groove, novelty siding, double clapboards, etc and is around 80-90 cents/bf. The rough cut is considerably less. I guess my point is that my pine logs are really not worth much more than spruce or fir logs.

Contributor F - I air dry my pine but have never checked the moisture content, however it sure seems real dry. Plus, I am building this house solo, so the framing lumber has even more time to dry out because I won't be putting up sheet rock until several months after the framing is done. Don't know about the radius edge stuff. I get a few screw pops in the sheet rock but that's probably just me. Or course, I will also be sending out my rough cut pine to be dressed for trim, siding, interior paneling, v-groove, wide pine flooring and duplex clapboards. They charge $0.15/BF for this which seems like a bargain.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Contributor F - when you say that Eastern white pine is not accepted for framing in Ontario, I assume you mean that it is not accepted by itself. But it is ok to use when mixed with various other species, such as spruce and fir, and then graded with the species mix of SPF.

From contributor D:
Gene I stand corrected I understand that white pine is accepted by NLGA and therefore would be accepted as northern species. Northern Species as the Ontario Building Code defines as any Canadian species covered by NLGA Standard Grading Rules. Ontario Lumber Manufactures does not include it in Northern Species or in SPF. SPF as defined by the code is spruce all species (except Coast Stika spruce) jack pine, lodgepole pine, balsam fir and alpine fir. Thank you for the correction.