SPF vs SYP vs DF: Which Stud is Best for Framing Garage Walls?

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SPF vs SYP vs DF: Which Stud is Best for Framing Garage Walls?

Are you building a new garage? Once the concrete slab has been poured, you are ready to start framing the garage walls. So which type of stud should you buy? SPF, SYP and DF studs are quite popular. But which stud is best for garage wall framing?

SPF is the best choice for vertical studs and SYP is the best choice for joists when it comes to framing a garage. Of course check the local prices before you make a decision as they can vary a lot based on your location.

Transportation cost is an important part of lumber prices. You are likely to save money by picking the stud type, if the trees are grown in your region.

SPF is an acronym for Spruce-Pine-Fir. SPF is known for its strength, light weight, and straight grain. 

SYP is an acronym for Southern Yellow Pine. SYP is a strong and durable wood species and is known for its resistance to rot and insects.

DF or Douglas Fir is known for its strength, stability, and workability. Apart from framing, it is sometimes used in heavy construction, such as bridges, too.

SPF vs SYP vs DF

SPF vs SYP vs DF: How do they Compare?

I will go into the details of each type of stud further in this article, but here is a quick summary:

PropertySPF
(Spruce-Pine-Fir)
SYP
(Southern Yellow Pine)
DF
(Douglas Fir)
RegionNorthern and Western US
Alberta, BC & Quebec in Canada
Southern USWestern US and Canada
WeightLightweightHeavyHeavy
Strength PropertiesGoodStrongStrong and Durable
Resistance to Rot & DecayGoodExcellentVery Good
WorkabilityEasyChallengingSomewhat Difficult

SPF, SYP and DF are all classified as softwood on the Janka Hardness Scale, which makes them a good choice as studs.

What Is the Difference Between SPF and SYP?

SPF lumber uses wood from tree species within the Spruce, Pine and Fir classification. They are commonly found in the northern and western parts of North America and are known for being lightweight, strong and easy to work with.

SYP or Southern Yellow Pine, as the name suggests is mostly found in the southern United States. SYP is known for being strong, durable, and resistant to decay and insects.

A Comparison of Structural Properties

SYP lumber is stronger, heavier and more stable than SPF lumber. However, it also tends to be more brittle. You need more expertise and care when driving nails into SYP, as compared to SPF.

PropertySPFSYP
Decay ResistanceGoodExcellent
Specific Gravity (lbs / cu, ft.)2534
Bending Strength (psi)8,200 – 10,20014,500
Compression Strength (psi)4,460 – 5,6108,470
Janka Hardness (lbf)380 – 510870

Price Comparison

Generally speaking SYP lumber is more expensive than SPF lumber, but the pricing does vary from region to region. SYP is likely to be cheaper than SPF,  in Texas, for example.

So, Which is Better?

SYP vertical studs have the advantage of higher compression strength. However, this is not a critical factor. SPF studs are better for garage wall framing as they have a high strength-to-weight ratio. SPF is also relatively straight and consistent in density, making it easy to work with.

SYP is preferable as joists because of the higher bending strength. They are a bit heavier than SPF joists and can handle larger spans. You will get stiffer floors and roofs when you use SYP joists.

SYP is also a better choice if you live in coastal or humid areas as it is more resistant to rot, decay and pests.

What Is the Difference Between SPF and DF?

SPF lumber uses wood from tree species within the Spruce, Pine and Fir classification. They are commonly found in the northern and western parts of North America and are known for being lightweight, strong and easy to work with.

DF, Douglas Fir is primarily found in the western United States and Canada. These trees are known for being strong, durable, and resistant to decay and insects. Douglas fir is heavier than SPF. Douglas Fir lumber is more stable and less prone to warping and twisting than SPF lumber.

A Comparison of Structural Properties

PropertySPFDF
Decay ResistanceGoodExcellent
Specific Gravity (lbs / cu, ft.)2533
Bending Strength (psi)8,200 – 10,20012,400
Compression Strength (psi)4,460 – 5,6107,230
Janka Hardness (lbf)380 – 510710

Price Comparison

Douglas Fir is usually more expensive than SPF, no matter where you are located. Simply stated, DF is much stronger & heavier and is great for projects that require heavy loading. 

So, Which is Better?

When it comes to strength, DF is certainly superior to SPF. If the construction is in a region with heavy snowfall or if you are building a two storey house, Douglas Fir is definitely a better choice.

However, it is probably an overkill for a relatively simple structure like a detached garage. Not only is DF more expensive, it is also more difficult to work with. You may need to hire professional builders which will likely push the cost of the garage beyond your budget.

What Is the Difference Between SYP and DF?

SYP or Southern Yellow Pine, as the name suggests is mostly found in the southern United States. SYP is known for being strong, durable, and resistant to decay and insects.

DF, Douglas Fir is primarily found in the western United States and Canada. These trees are known for being strong, durable, and resistant to decay and insects. Douglas fir is heavier than SPF. Douglas Fir lumber is more stable and less prone to warping and twisting than SPF lumber.

A Comparison of Structural Properties

PropertySYPDF
Decay ResistanceExcellentExcellent
Specific Gravity (lbs / cu, ft.)3433
Bending Strength (psi)14,50012,400
Compression Strength (psi)8,4707,230
Janka Hardness (lbf)870710

Price Comparison

Douglas Fir is usually more expensive than SYP, unless you live in the northern states of the US or in Canada.

So, Which is Better?

Both SYP and DF have very similar strength profiles. If you need to choose between the two, just go for the one that is the most economical in your region.

NOTE: The data in this article is sourced from HandToolEssentials

Bottom Line

When faced with SPF vs SYP vs DF studs & joists dilemma, which one should you choose?

SPF is the best choice for vertical studs and SYP is the best choice for joists.

Of course check the local prices before you make a decision as they can vary a lot based on your location.

Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and useful.

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