NHLA Grading Rules

The Authority on Grading Hardwood Lumber

It's difficult to imagine a world without industry standards. Standards are published documents that establish specifications and procedures designed to ensure the reliability of the materials, products, methods, and services people use every day. Industry standards for the hardwood lumber industry were created in 1898 by the establishment of the National Hardwood Lumber Association and its subsequent "Rules for the Measurement & Inspection of Hardwood & Cypress."

The Rules for the inspections of hardwood lumber are uniform in construction and application but also carry with them the element of stability. The NHLA Hardwood Lumber Grading Rules are the products of the process of evolutionary development, and that process is still in operation. It is a process of growth and expansion to meet the necessities of varying conditions and markets and will continue as long as the trade endures.

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Understanding The Rules

Attending the NHLA Inspector Training School is the first step to becoming an NHLA-trained Lumber Inspector and to understanding the NHLA Hardwood Lumber Grading Rules. In an effort to help spread the skills and understanding, the NHLA Chief Inspector contributes a monthly column in Hardwood Matters magazine. These articles contain answers to common questions and can be a wealth of valuable insights and information. View the latest Rules Corner article below. 

The 2023 NHLA Rules Book is available to download for free in English, Vietnamese, Spanish, and Bahasa in the NHLA Online Store. More languages will be available soon, so be sure to stop by and check in if you’re searching for the NHLA Rules Book in other formats.

 The NHLA Rules Book is also now accessible in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

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Attending the NHLA Inspector Training School is the first step to becoming an NHLA-trained Lumber Inspector and to understanding the NHLA Hardwood Lumber Grading Rules. In an effort to help spread the skills and understanding regarding the Rules, the NHLA Chief Inspector contributes a monthly column in “Hardwood Matters” magazine. These articles contain answers to common questions and can be a wealth of valuable insights and information.

View the latest Rules Corner article below.

January 9, 2024

The National Hardwood Lumber Association created the Rules for Inspection of Hardwood Lumber in 1898; since then, the[…]
Rules Corner monthly with Chief inspector Dana Spessert breaking down different NHLA Grading Rule definitions and terms

Rules Change Process

Every four years, NHLA reviews the hardwood lumber grading rules and accepts rules change proposals for consideration.

In the final step of the process, ballots containing new rules change proposals are sent to all Active Members. Each Active Member may vote for or against the proposed rules change provided such ballot is returned to and received by NHLA within 30 days from the date on the ballot. Rules change proposals that receive a favorable vote on a two-thirds majority of the votes properly cast by the Active Members will be adopted and become effective January 1 of the proceeding year.

An Explanation of the American Hardwood Lumber Grades by NHLA

This video workshop provides a simplified but informative explanation of the grading rules for American hardwood lumber. Presented by Dana Spessert, Chief Inspector of the NHLA, the rules were established over 125 years ago by the, then newly formed, National Lumber Association (NHLA).

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