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Not Seeing the House for the Trees

The U.S. is blessed with abundant forests and, as a result, many of our homes are made from wood. Houses are typically framed in 2×4s and 2×6s, with 2×8s in the ceilings and plywood on the exterior walls and roof. All together, an average home of 2,600 square feet requires 30,000 board feet of lumber, each the equivalent of a one-foot square piece with a thickness of one inch. How many trees is this?

When a tree is felled for lumber, the branches and crown are removed (‘lops and tops’) and the trunk is squared off. This greatly reduces the amount of each tree that is actually used in the house. It takes an estimated 160 trees each 60 feet tall to produce 30,000 board feet of lumber, which is what you see in the image. Even though the logs and the house are approximately the same height, remember that the inside of a house is mostly open space!

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