2×4 Dimensions – What is a 2x4s Actual Size?

actual size of a 2x4 chart

What Is The Actual Size Of A 2×4?

The dimensions of a smooth 2×4 stud are 1.5 inches thick, 3.5 inches wide, and 92 5/8″ long.

However, when the cut is rough the measurements will be 4 inches wide and 2 inches thick.

When shopping for lumber pieces, it can be confusing to find the right size.

This is because everyone makes it in different dimensions and so no two sizes may always be the same.

This is why you must understand the nominal and actual dimensions of lumber to know what you are purchasing.

Actual Vs. Nominal Dimension Lumber

The difference between nominal and actual dimensions all comes down to the practices that are being used in the lumber industry for centuries.

Dimension Lumber is the name given to softwood e.g. pine and fir.

These are used for building many things.

Now, the nominal measurement of the dimension lumber will be bigger than the actual measurements.

At first, a 2×4 stud used to be exactly as the measurement stated.

However, the studs used to go through other processes such as drying and so they would get smaller in size.

This is why the thickness and width are now 1.5 and 3.5 respectively. It is the same for 2×6 and 2×8.

So, you will never see a 2×4 stud that dimensions are actually a 2″x4″ and this is because of the way it is manufactured.

During this process, they are shrunk across the grain instead of with the grain. This is why you will see a change in the dimensions of the lumber.

Size Of Hardwood Lumbers

These include materials such as:

  • Maple
  • Mahogany
  • Oak
  • Birch

These lumber pieces are used to make furniture for residential and commercial properties.

However, their sizing can be even more confusing.

This is because the measurement standards used in this type of production are different and they depend on S1S (where the stock is surfaced on one side) and S2S (where the stock is surfaced on two sides).

So, a 2×4 stud here will not be the same as a 2×4 stud you get in softwood.

This is because hardwood is sold by the board foot (this is a unit of volume).

According to this unit 1 board foot = 144 cubic inches of wood.

In simpler terms, this means it will be 12 inches wide and only 1 inch thick.

It is important to remember these measurements before you on buying a 2×4 stud of hardwood.

Apart from that, hardwood can also be sold in quarters.

According to this measurement, every quarter is ¼ inches thick. This means that a 5/4 board will be 1.25 inches thick.

If you want to purchase a 2×4 stud in hardwood then you will have to buy a piece of board and then bring it down to its actual size yourself.

This can be done through a jointer however, you should involve a professional in this and leave it up to them as they know best how to do it.

Even if you ask yourself what is the actual size of a 2×4 stud, there is no right answer.

It all depends on the material and how it has been manufactured in the lumbering process.

Variety Of 2×4 Studs

A 2×4 stud can be made of any type of wood.

Most people choose these because they love the outdoor look and appeal it adds to the area.

Here are the different varieties of wood that a 2×4 can be made of:


These include pine, fir, and hemlock.

Even under this, there are many varieties you can choose from.

For example, a Southern pine will be more expensive and harder than your other pine varieties.

One of the most widely popular softwoods used as a 2×4 stud is the Douglas fir.

It is strong and durable, and its appearance is remarkable.

So, it is important to understand all the different types within a category before choosing the best 2×4 stud for your project.


These are perhaps the most expensive 2x4s.

They have a deep red color and they are resistant to harsh weather conditions and insects.

This makes them the best material for outdoor areas such as decks, railings, and much more.

However, their availability may be restricted so do check if they are available before you decide to invest in a project.


This is a more affordable option and is extremely durable.

This is because it is resistant to decay.

You will also find this at any store near you and you can use it for both your indoor and outdoor projects.

Making Furniture With 2x4s

Now that you know the dimensions of a 2×4, you can proceed to make use of it in different ways.

There are many ways you can utilize this piece of wood.

They are easy to find and extremely cheap so you will find them everywhere.

You can even cut them to make them smaller if you want a smaller size.

However, do remember to use a jointer or a planer on the board to make it smoother and flat.

This is because the lumber industry uses processes that can twist these studs and they will not be useful in making furniture then.

Here are the many things you can make using just a 2×4:

  • Bench
  • Coffee Table
  • Bar Stools
  • Sawhorses
  • Storage Shelves
  • Floral Centrepieces
  • Plant Walls

Of course, there are many more uses for 2x4s.

However, these are the top things you can make and easily use around the house.

They are easy to make and you only require little knowledge to execute these projects yourself.

Final Words

Now that you know what is a 2x4s real size and the different varieties available, you can choose the best one for your next project.

They are amazing for adding dimension and depth to your area and are used widely by everyone.

So, what are you waiting for? Choose your next project with a 2×4 and get working on it now.

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