Though there are several differences between lumber and timber, many will use the words interchangeably. When we evaluate these differences, it’s clear to see how they vary from one another and how each meaning serves a purpose. Let’s review the breakdown between the two and see how they differ.
What Is Timber?
Most often, timber is the wood that remains erect in the forest and is set to become building material at some point. This wood can be the trees still in the ground or the trees that were cut and haven’t received milling or planking yet.
On a broader spectrum, timber can also refer to a collection of live trees or a wooded area; this is typically regardless of the wood’s status for harvesting. Timberland refers to any designated land or woods where logging is the primary operation occupying that space.
Where Does Timber Come From?
While any wooded area contains timber, the most used variations typically come from the rain forest. It’s critical to understand where timber comes from and how sustainability plays a role. Harvesting wood with a limited disturbance to that specific habitat is vital to the creatures that occupy that space.
Additionally, a small portion of the revenue of timber must be funneled back to indigenous communities of that forest. The growth of the logging industry simply modernized the retrieval of wood but did not negate the importance of ethical logging.
What Is Lumber?
After the wood undergoes processing for building materials, it becomes lumber. A lumbermill refines the timber through milling and cuts the wood into planks or boards. Once processed, it’s purchasable at a lumberyard.
A fun way to remember the differences between lumber and timber is thinking about a lumberjack in the woods yelling “Timber!” before or during the fall of a tree. The falling tree would be the timber, while the processed timber would become lumber.