Timber & board buying guide

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.


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Construction timber

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.

1. Studwork

Ideal to use indoors for stud wall partitioning and general construction.

Top tip...

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.

Top tip...

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.

Top tip...

For faster and more effective working, measure your treated studwork twice and cut it once.

4. Treated sawn kiln-dried timber

Perfect for non-structural indoor and outdoor projects like sheds, boxing in, framing and battening.

Top tip...

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.

Top tip...

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 blue roof battens when your roofing materials have to meet BS5534 and on all NHBC houses, and green ones when you can grade on site.

Finishing timber

Use finishing timber when the visual appearance matters.

7. 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.

Top tip...

For faster and more effective working, measure your whitewood spruce timber twice and cut it once.

8. 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

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.

Top tip...

If your walls are uneven, use decorator's caulk to fill any gap between the top of the moulding and the wall.

Heavyweight mouldings

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.

Top tip...

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 and window boards.

Top tip...

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.


MDF

Medium-density-fibreboard (usually called MDF) is the most well-known type of fibreboard. It's made from wood fibres that are compressed and bonded together with an adhesive 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

Plywood consists of thin wooden veneers bonded with an adhesive 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.

Hardboard

Hardboard is made from compressed softwood pulp without added adhesive. 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. Please note: hardboard relies on the naturally occurring adhesive from the wood that held the fibres together in the original tree. Consequently, hardboard will absorb moisture readily from the atmosphere and may swell in the process. We recommend that every board be conditioned with a pint of water (spread evenly over the textured face) and left to condition for 24 hours prior to fixing. Alternatively, the boards should be left for at least three days in the area of their final fixing to condition naturally.

HDF

High Density Fibreboard (HDF) is an engineered board produced from resin bonded wood fibres under high pressure and heat. HDF is a non load-bearing product for interior use in dry conditions. HDF, due to its very fine surface, is suitable for different coatings, veneering, laminating, painting and varnishing.

OSB

A strong versatile board, ideal for flooring, roofing and walls. Structural fully engineered board. Can be used in humid conditions


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

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.

Thermal-check plasterboard

This has a bonded layer on the reverse side which boosts thermal insulation.

Vapour-check plasterboard

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

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.

Cement board

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.

Acoustic-check plasterboard

This high-density plasterboard is designed for use in wall linings and partitions where sound insulation is important.

Fire-check plasterboard

As this plasterboard has glass fibre and other additives added to it during the manufacturing process, it's great for fireproofing.