Broadly speaking, timber comes in three different types: construction timber, finishing timber and decorative timber. It's generally more expensive than man-made boards, which come in lots of varieties with a whole range of uses.
Always try to choose timber that's been certified by an independent organisation like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as this means the wood has been sourced sustainably. If there is any wood or paper in a B&Q product, we make sure it meets legal, social and environmental standards. Find out more about our Forest Friendly Promise.
You'd normally use construction timber as an initial fix, in circumstances where the visual appearance isn't important. Here are the different types you can choose.
Ideal to use indoors for stud wall partitioning and general construction.
To stop your studwork from splitting when you screw into it, drill a pilot hole first and then counter-sink the screw for a flush fit.
2. Sawn kiln dried timber
Choose this for non-structural internal work where it's fine to have a rough sawn finish, such as boxing in, battening and framing.
You can hide your screws by counter-sinking the screw head, below the surface of the timber, and then use a wood filler to conceal the fixing.
3. Treated studwork
Like untreated studwork, this works well in stud wall partitioning and general construction. But you can use it outdoors as well as inside your home. It's also pressure-treated to protect against fungal and insect attack.
For faster and more effective working, measure your treated studwork twice and cut it once. And to get the perfect finish, sand it, prime it and then paint it.
4. Treated sawn kiln-dried timber
Perfect for non-structural indoor and outdoor projects like sheds, boxing in, framing and battening.
Want a strong joint between two pieces of timber? Try strengthening it with dowels and wood glue.
5. Utility garden timber
Great to use in your garden for raised beds, composters, pergolas and general fencing.
To stop it splitting when you screw into it, drill a pilot hole first and then counter-sink the screw for a flush fit. And re-treat the sawn end to get the maximum amount of protection after cutting.
6. Roofing battens
These give you a good fixing point for your roofing sheet or tiles. Use red roof battens when your roofing materials have to meet BS5534 and on all NHBC houses, and green ones when you can grade on site.
Use finishing timber when the visual appearance matters.
7. Redwood pine
Like whitewood spruce, this is ideal when you want to achieve a smooth finish for a woodworking or joinery job. The difference is that redwood pine has a richer colour finish that makes it look more traditional. It's easier to plane, cut and sand, too.
You can hide your screws by counter-sinking the screw head below the surface of the timber, and then using a wood filler to conceal the fixing.
8. Whitewood spruce
Perfect for a whole range of internal woodworking and joinery uses where you need a smooth finish. Whitewood spruce has a consistent light colour finish that gives it a stylish modern look.
For faster and more effective working, measure your redwood pine timber twice and cut it once.
9. Floor boards
You can get these as decorative boards that you can lay over your existing flooring or as structural boards, laid directly over the joints.
The former are tongue-and-groove planks made from traditional maritime pine, with a high quality lacquered finish. You can apply the latter directly onto your floor joists if they meet the relevant building regulations. They make an ideal base for laying carpet, laminate or decorative timber flooring.
Decorative timber gives your room a stylish, personal touch.
Dado and picture rails
Dado rails protect your walls from being damaged by furniture, while picture rails are a decorative feature which let you hang pictures without having to fix directly into your wall.
If your walls are uneven, use decorator's caulk to fill any gap between the top of the moulding and the wall.
These are ideal for larger-sized skirting and architrave. Because they come in longer lengths, you don't have to join two pieces together so often.
To create a seamless joint between two lengths of moulding, just cut a 45 degree angle into the two ends.
Engineered oak mouldings
These make elegant and strong skirting, architrave, window boards and casings.
If you're creating an external joint on your timber mouldings, use wood glue and pin the joint. When you do this, stagger the mitre by 3-4mm. As you hammer the pins, the joint will pull together to create a perfect corner.
Chipboard is made by bonding small chips of softwood together under pressure. You can buy standard or moisture-resistant versions, with melamine and wood-veneer-coated chipboard popular for shelves and kitchen worktops. There's plenty of different thicknesses (including 9, 12, 15 or 18mm), while a standard sheet measures 2440mm x 1220mm.
Medium-density-fibreboard (usually called MDF) is the most well-known type of fibreboard. It's made from wood fibres that are compressed and stuck together under pressure. MDF comes in a range of thicknesses, in a sheet size of 2440mm x 1220mm. You can paint the cut edges without the need to cover them with veneer or wooden lipping.
Plywood consists of thin wooden sheets bonded on top of each other with the direction of the grain alternating at right angles in each layer. The edges are smooth enough to leave plain, or you can cover them with a thin strip of veneer or wooden lipping. Thicknesses go from 3mm to 18mm, and the standard sheet sizes are 2440mm x 1220mm, 1220mm x 1220mm and 1220mm x 610mm.
Hardboard is made from compressed softwood pulp. The thin sheets are pretty easy to cut, although they're not as rigid or strong as other man-made boards. But hardboard is a cheap alternative that's ideal for drawer bottoms or as underlay for some floor coverings. Standard hardboard is 3.2mm thick, shiny on one side and textured on the other.
Plasterboard is the most common material for covering walls and ceilings as it gives a clean, flat surface that's ideal for painting or papering. It's made by covering gypsum plaster with heavy-duty paper on both sides and comes in a variety of types and sizes.
Standard plasterboard is usually grey on one side and ivory-coloured on the other. You should fit it with the ivory side outwards, and you can decorate straight on to this side or give it a coat of finishing plaster first. You can fix plasterboard to masonry using plasterboard adhesive, timber studs using plasterboard nails, or metal studs using special self-tapping dry-wall screws.
Plasterboard for different uses
Standard plasterboard is ideal for all applications where you need normal structural and insulating levels. You can choose between tapered-edge and square edge boards, depending on how you're finishing your wall. Tapered-edge boards can be finished with jointing tape and compound or a skim coat of plaster, while square-edge boards need to be plastered over for a smooth finish.
This has a bonded layer on the reverse side which boosts thermal insulation.
This plasterboard has a vapour control membrane, and you can use it for wall and ceiling linings where you need vapour control, including ceilings beneath a loft space.
Moisture-resistant plasterboard has water-repellent additives in its core. This makes it a good choice for areas that can get wet (like kitchens or bathrooms), or as a backing for ceramic tiling in a shower cubicle.
Made from cement rather than plaster, this strong, moisture-resistant board won't rot or degrade in damp or wet areas. It's perfect as a backing for wall or floor tiles in your bathroom, shower, kitchen or utility room.
This high-density plasterboard is designed for use in wall linings and partitions where sound insulation is important.
As this plasterboard has glass fibre and other additives added to it during the manufacturing process, it's great for fireproofing.