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If you’ve ever found yourself shopping in the market for lumber, then you’ve likely encountered the terms “S2S” and “S4S.” And unless you are already a carpenter or wood working expert, then it is much less likely that you will understand what these terms actually mean.

An SxS designation refers to how many sides of a lumber slab have been pre-surfaced. The logic is simple: an S2S (Surfaced 2 Sides) board is one that has been surfaced on two sides, while an S4S (Surfaced 4 Sides) board is one that is surfaced on four sides. S3S boards are also available, meaning boards surfaced on three sides, but are generally less common than S2S and S4S. For any SxS lumber board, any edges that are not finished are left raw and rough.

It’s important to note that lumber is always priced before it is surfaced, and the price always includes any waste that has been removed during the process. Waste for S2S lumber is typically estimated to be around 10-20% of the original slab, while waste for S4S lumber will be even higher. Essentially, if you pay the same price for a piece of S2S lumber as you do for a piece of S4S lumber, you will get more for your money with the S2S board, making it the more economical option.

While getting the most product for the money spent may be why some choose S2S lumber over the more expensive alternatives, this isn’t always the most important factor for some people. For some, buying a lumber product that is ready to use as soon as its purchased may be most important. For those, S4S lumber may be ideal, despite the higher price tag. For those who don’t mind a little extra work and prefer to smooth out their own edges after purchase, S2S lumber is the better option. This is especially the case for those who have access to their own milling tools and would prefer to do it themselves rather than pay someone else to do it for them.

When choosing the lumber for your project you must also consider availability. Some types of lumber are only available in S2S or S4S, and this availability often changes depending on which store you happen to be shopping in. What’s important to note is that you should never choose your lumber based entirely on its finish, unless price is a factor and you must remain within a strict budget. Typically, you would choose the type of lumber first and the finish second, as an additional finished side can often be added easily for an additional cost.

If you are in the Miami area and are looking for an abundance of S2S and S4S lumber to choose from, look no further than Shell Lumber & Hardware. Not only do we offer the largest selection of lumber that can be found virtually anywhere, but we also have our very own onsite mill shop and will deliver as far as Key West or Naples. For more information on our lumber selection and custom cutting services, visit us in person at our convenient Miami location or call us today at (305) 856-6401.


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