What Is The Difference Between Rough And Planed Lumber?

The difference between rough and planed lumber is the same whether you’re a professional or a home-grown DIYer.

However, many DIYers can find the technical terms and acronyms used in lumber descriptions confusing and are wary of buying the wrong materials. As timber can be an expensive material, buying the wrong type can be a costly mistake.

1. What is the meaning of rough sawn?

This is the most basic form of wood preparation after the felling of the tree. The timber has been cut to size with a circular saw and received no further treatment.

This will leave the sides and edges of the timber with a rough, unfinished surface where the saw cut through the wood.

Due to the simplicity of preparation, rough sawn timber is always cheaper than planed. As a result, it is the best choice for jobs where the finish of the wood is either not important, or requires a rough look.

Rough sawn timber is usually used for pieces such as internal frames where it will be concealed by a neat outer layer. It is also used for beams beneath flooring or in attics where it will not be visible.

2. How does planed timber differ from rough sawn?

After sawing to size, the timber can then be passed through a planer, which pares away the rough outer layer. Traditionally this would have been done by hand, an extremely time consuming and labour intensive process.

This gives a smooth, splinter free finish to the surface and can be applied to one or more faces. The grain and other details of the wood is more visible, giving a neater, more pleasing appearance.

The planed surfaces will have a perfectly flat and level surface. This can be particularly important if the timber is being used for pieces such as shelves or kitchen work surfaces.

Planed surfaces also allow for flush joints between separate pieces of wood. This saves the user the job of sanding and planning themselves, a very time consuming task!

3. What is the difference between PAR and PSE?

What does PAR mean?

PAR is a trade acronym that stands for Planed All Round. After sawing, the timber is passed through the planer to smooth all four surfaces. This gives a level, uniform surface to all edges and sides. This is ideal for features where all four sides of the timber will be visible.

What does PSE stand for?

PSE is used interchangeably to stand for Planed Single Edge or Planed Square Edge. PSE timber has only been planed on one side. This is perfect for jobs where only one smooth side will be visible, for safety or aesthetic reasons. For this reason, it’s most often used for flooring or external cladding.

In the case of floorboards, the visible side must be splinter-free to protect users, but the remaining sides can remain rough without affecting construction.

Similarly, for external cladding the planed outer surface gives a neat finish to the building for a lower cost than PAR. As the other sides are not visible, this would be a needless expense.

4. What is PAR timber used for?

PAR is used for feature pieces where all four sides of the timber will be proudly on display.

For example, outdoor structures such as gazebos or summerhouses where the entire frame is visible. It is also the only safe choice for pieces that bare skin will be in contact with regularly. That’s why PAR timber is most commonly used in furniture, hand-rails, and any multi-use surface.

Using wax, stains, or varnish is ideal with planed timber and is much easier to dust and clean. Overall, it’s favourite choice for most DIYers in order to get working on their projects as soon as it’s delivered.

Hardwoods Group are specialist suppliers of Wholesale Oak. We can supply rough sawn timber to all specifications and specialise in oak machining and moulding. Contact us today to get started on your next project.