2×8 Actual Size: Is 2×8 Lumber 2 Inches Deep & 8 Inches Wide?
Do you have a DIY project or a home improvement plan that involves buying lumber?
If you’re new to purchasing hardwood or softwood, you should know a few important things. The dimensions of the wood, such as 2×8 lumber size, are important.
You will find that the measurements given by the salesman in the hardware store do not match up with the ones you have taken.
This will also add to the confusion, as hardwood and softwood have different standardizations. You may be confused by the different dimensions and standardizations of timber. Read on to clarify your doubts.
|Nominal size (inches)
|Actual size (inches)
|25/8 or 7/2
|41/8 or 11/2
What is 2×8 actual size?
It is also used in advertising and sales. The commercial dimension is used throughout the country. The size that is actually measured after sawing, finishing, and polishing.
It is possible that you noticed the lumber yard, or hardware store from which you purchased your framing softwood or framing lumber advertised different sizes but provided you with a smaller board.
The nominal dimensions of the board, which are used for advertising and sales purposes, are larger than their actual dimensions. Dimensional lumber is cut according to a specified length, width, and depth but only slightly differs from its actual size.
Lumber Dimensions and Actual Size of 2×8
The actual dimensions and sizes of a lumber refer to the final dimensions after sawing and processing. The finished product’s actual size is a little smaller than its nominal size.
Most likely, you will receive dimensional lumber when you purchase softwood lumber at a lumber yard. Dimensional lumber is used in most construction and framing jobs.
Lumber that has been milled and dried to standard dimensions. The lumber is sold by businesses using the nominal dimensions rather than its actual size.
The board was originally milled and dried to these dimensions. As we have already established, the board’s size is slightly smaller than stated. A 2×8 board is approximately 1 1/2 by 7 1/4 inches, a 2-by-4 is about 1 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches, etc.
Read about: Woodworking Symbol of Feet and Inches explained
Dimensions of Basic Lumber
Dimension does not refer to length as shrinkage is more pronounced along the longitudinal axis. A 2-by-8 that is 10 feet long will be close to being 10 feet.
The structural element of nearly all residential homes is dimensional lumber. The consistent size of the lumber allows builders to use it interchangeably in all parts of a house.
To make it usable, dimensional lumber is sawed and smoothed. It is then standardized across the country.
It means that all DIYers and builders use the same dimensions, even after they have been reduced. A 2×8 that is actually 1 1/2 x 7.25 will be the exact same size across the country.
Lumber Dimensions: Nominal and Actual Size
All dimensional lumber is nominal dimensions. The nominal dimensions of dimensional lumber are used to sell the lumber.
The dimensions are not the real dimensions of the lumber. The actual dimensions of dimensional lumber are the finished dimensions after the lumber is processed.
You can get these dimensions by measuring the lumber that you purchased at the market using a measuring tape. The actual size of lumber is smaller than its nominal size due to additional processing such as milling.
A 2×4 does not measure 2 inches deep by 4 inches wide. The processing will shrink the lumber to 1 1/2 x 3-1/2.
A simple rule of thumb can be used to determine the dimension reduction. This rule can be used to calculate the actual size of lumber when you know its nominal size.
- To get the actual size, subtract 1/4 inch from nominal sizes that are less than 1 inch.
- Reduce 1/2 inch for nominal sizes greater than 2 inches but less than 8 inches.
- To determine the actual size of nominal sizes 8 inches or more, subtract 3/4 inch.
Nominal Lumber Dimensions
The nominal lumber size is what’s marketed. This is an easy-to-remember number. It is not the real size, and only exists as a name.
Even though you may know that 2×8 isn’t the exact dimension, it will still be called two by eight because it is “named” or “nicknamed” for the board.
Actual Lumber Sizes
The reading that you get when you measure a board with a measuring tape is its actual size. Usually, it is 1/4 to 3/4 inch smaller than the nominal dimensions.
Rare Case: Actual and Nominal Dimensions Match
It is rare to find lumber that has the same nominal and actual measurements. All lumber in the U.S. has been standardized. Each lumber piece is given a standard nominal size and corresponding actual dimension.
You may find that when you demolish an old house you only come across lumber of the same nominal dimensions and real dimensions. You will notice that the wood feels thicker and when you measure it, your suspicions are confirmed. A 2×8 is a true 2 by 8
The standardization of wood has changed with time. If you want to reuse old wood in another house, this will be difficult unless the other parts of the house are also made from the same type.
The old lumber will stick out if you reuse it on a wall built to the current standard. You can either mill the wood down to the current size or reuse it in places that have older lumber.
Dimensions of 2×8 Lumber: Depending on Material
Imagine you have ever brought measuring tape into a hardware store or lumberyard. You may have noticed that the nominal and actual sizes are not the same.
Stores measure and measure softwoods like fir, pine, spruce and cherry differently. They also sell hardwoods by board foot instead of board dimensions.
Plywood and Sheet Goods
The most common plywood sheet size is 4×8. The nominal thickness of plywood sheets is usually between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inches. Like other woods, however, the actual dimensions of these boards may differ from their nominal measurements.
A 1/2-inch plywood sheet measures 15/32 inch, whereas a 3/4-inch plywood sheet measures 23/32 inch. Each face of plywood is also graded.
The plywood is graded according to the quality of the finish. A is the best, having the smoothest and most sanded surface. Both sides of A.A. Plywood will be A-graded, while B.D. The plywood will be graded B on one side, and D on the other.
Hardwood Lumber Lengths
Hardwood lumber comes in 8 foot, 10 foot, 12 foot, 14-foot, and 24-foot lengths. A hardwood 8 feet long will be only 1/4 inch shorter because the length is limited to that amount.
Consider the dimensions of hardwood lumber when purchasing it. The nominal and actual sizes of width and thickness may differ significantly, but the length is almost the same.
Hardwood Lumber Dimensions
Furniture and cabinetry are made primarily from hardwood lumber that is polished. These surfaces may be polished on one or both sides.
The final product size will be determined by the number of polished surface and the measurement system used for hardwood lumber, either the quarter system or board foot.
The sizing standards for hardwood lumber are quite confusing. Polishing removes any saw marks and smooths out the surface. Stocks can be polished on both sides (S2S) or just one side.
Here are some measurements that are standard:
|Nominal thickness (in inches)
|S1S (in inches)
|S2S (in inches)
Every quarter is 1/4 inch thick, so 7/4 boards are around 1 3/4 inches thick.
If you want a board that is 1 inch thick, then you would need to get a board of 5/4 or 1 1/4 (actual size), in order to account for the extra 1/4 milled off.
When sold by board foot, a unit of volume is 1 board foot. This is equal to 144 cubic inch. A 1 board foot measurement is equivalent to 144 cubic inches when sold by the board foot.
You’ll have to cut hardwood to fit your project. You must therefore consult with the lumber supplier before making a final decision.
Dimensions of Glue-Laminated Timber
The Glue-Laminated Timber Dimensions come in a variety of widths and lengths, and can be further customized. The nominal size and the actual dimension are slightly different.
Standard Specification for Structural Glued Laminated Timber of Hardwood Species specifies standard widths, lengths.
Glue-laminated wood is available in many different widths and lengths. However, they can be customized to meet your specific needs. The length of each piece can also be customized. The depth ranges between 6 inches and 30 inches.
Below are some nominal and actual widths.
|Nominal width (in inches)
|Actual width (in inches)
|25/8 or 7/2
|41/8 or 11/2
2×8 real size: Softwood Lumber Lengths
The nominal and actual lengths of softwood lumber are very similar. Processing has little effect on length. It is virtually unchanged before and after processing.
Softwood lumber is available in nominal lengths between 6 feet and 24 feet. Standard lengths are 6 feet to 24 feet, in increments of 2 feet (6 ft., 8 ft., 10 ft., etc., up to 24 ft).
Softwood Lumber Dimensions
Dimension lumber is softwood lumber with a width of 4 to 12 inches (10.2- 30.5 centimeters), and a thickness between 2 and 5 inches (or 12.7 to 12.7 centimeters).
The Voluntary Product Standard (PS 20-20 American Softwood Lumber) Document specifies the nominal and standard dimensions of lumber.
Use the rule-of-thumb mentioned earlier in this article to determine the actual width and length of softwood lumber.
2×8 Size FAQs
Why is dimensional lumber smaller than nominal dimensions?
The nominal dimensions of dimensional lumber are smaller than the actual dimensions. This is because after cutting to their nominal size, the lumber goes through processing. The size of lumber is reduced by milling, sawing, and other processes.
How far can a 2×8 span?
A 2×8’s actual measurements are 1 1/2 x 7.25 or 38 x 184 mm. A 2×8 spans up to 1.5 x 8, or 12 feet.
How wide is a 2×8 board in reality?
A 2 by 8 board is actually 1 1/2 inches wide and 7 1/4 inches long. Actual 2×8 nominal sizes may vary.
What is the symbol for Feet and Inches?
for inches and feet is an abbreviation. The IEEE standard symbol is “ft.” So 8′ means right feet. Inches can be abbreviated as “in.” or “ins.” and symbolized by a double prime (“).
2×6 Actual size
The size of the 2×6 lumbar measures 1 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches.
You may want to know the weight of a cord.
Actual 2×8 Dimensions Overview
The lumber boards are then cut to nominal dimensions. The boards are then subjected to additional processing. The size of the product is reduced by these processes, such as sawing, polishing and milling.
The final product received by the customer is therefore smaller than nominal size.
What are the actual measurements of a two-by-eight? After all of the necessary processing, a 2×8 has a length of 1 1/2 by 7 1/4 inches or 38 x 182 mm.