7th Dec 2022 -

3x2 timber can be used for a variety of applications within construction, and are a very popular choice for stud walls. In this guide from Building Materials Nationwide, we’ll examine the actual sizings of 3x2 timber beams, the finishes they can be sold in, and their many popular applications.

What Size Is 3x2 Timber in the UK?

According to UK law, products must be sold in metric measurements rather than imperial. Within much of the UK informally, and in other parts of the world officially, imperial measurements such as inches continue to be used within the building industry. This means that when looking for a 3x2 timber beam within the UK, you will actually be looking for a 75mm x 50mm beam. In terms of exact measurements, 75mm x 50mm is not quite the same as 3x2 (it’s about 2.95 inches by 1.97 inches), but this will be the closest size available. When buying timber it’s important to keep in mind the difference between the nominal and actual size.

The Difference Between Nominal and Actual Sizes

Timber is sold in nominal sizes, meaning that the size of a timber beam for sale will be lower than the size listed. The nominal size is the size that the beams were originally cut to when the tree was felled. This is rough sawn and known as “green oak” due to its high water content. While there are some specific uses for green oak, its high moisture levels and natural shrinking over time make it unsuited for much construction. Most timber sold in the UK will be kiln-dried, which will take the moisture level below 20%. This process will cause the timber to shrink in size. Another factor in actual sizing is planing, a sanding process that makes rough sawn timber beams levelled and smooth. This will also reduce the size of a timber beam. The actual, accurate size in mm for 3x2 timber in the UK will be about 64mm x 38mm.

What Lengths Are 3x2 Timber Beams Sold in?

There are no standardised sizes for 3x2 timber beams in the UK, though they tend to be sold in 30cm or 60cm increments. Building Materials Nationwide stocks 3x2 beams in a range of lengths, such as 2.4m, 3m, 3.6m, 4.2m, and 4.8m.

What Types of 3x2 Timber Are Available?

When buying 3x2 timber within the UK, it is unlikely that it will simply be sold as rough sawn timber. There are a range of finishing options available that can be beneficial for specific uses, such as visible installations, exterior usage, and structural usage.

CLS 3x2 Timber

CLS stands for Canadian Lumber Standard, though most contemporary CLS timber will be from Scandinavia rather than Canada. It is a softwood that has been both strength graded and planed. In the UK CLS timber will typically be rated as either C16 or C24. It will be planed (essentially sanded and levelled) on all facings, with rounded corners.

Treated 3x2 Timber

Pressure treated timber is essential for external use, offering resistance to both moisture and wood-burrowing insects. Untreated softwood timber is prone to degradation and decay when exposed to water. Pressure treatment involves forcing preservatives into a piece of timber, giving it resistance to the effects of water and a variety of insects that can cause aesthetic and structural damage to timber. Treated timber, sometimes called tanalised timber, will be needed for external construction work and decorative work. For decorative work, a C16 graded treated timber can offer both strength and water protection.

PSE 3x2 Timber

For timber that will be visible within a construction or furniture project, using a planed timber is a necessity. PSE timber, or planed square edge, will have each edge planed to give a smooth, attractive face that can be used within the visual elements of a building. Unlike CLS, PSE timber will not necessarily be strength graded, and it possesses square edges instead of rounded ones. Another benefit of PSE 3x2 timber is that it will avoid giving splinters to those who touch it. Scant timber is a product sold in certain parts of the country, made from thick branches or smaller trees. This product will have planed square edges and will be suitable for non-structural work. Depending on where you are within the country you may need to explain specifically what you are looking for rather than just asking for scant.

What Are the Common Uses of 3x2 Timber?

3x2 timber can serve a variety of general uses within a building, from construction to decoration. While 3x2 timber is unlikely to be large enough to be load-bearing, it can serve a variety of purposes:

Wall Studs

3x2 timber can make an excellent choice for wall studs, with the studs, the base plate, and the noggins all possible with a 3x2 beam. A stud wall can then be insulated and faced with plasterboards. This can be used for two purposes: making dividing walls inside buildings, or building a flat surface against a solid wall. The decent levels of strength offered by a 3x2 timber stud will support the weight of plasterboards and whatever decorations you choose.

External Use

3x2 timber can be used for external decorative purposes, such as fences, shed panelling, or handrails. When opting for external use ensure you purchase 3x2 pressure treated timber, which will be tanalised to resist moisture damage. 


A planed 3x2 timber beam can be used for the construction of fetching furniture. The planed look will give it an attractive finish and ensure that it does not cause splinters to those using it.

Explore Our Range of 3x2 Timber Products Today

Building Materials Nationwide sells a variety of 3x2 timber across the UK. We stock PSE timber, pressure treated timber, and CLS timber in 3x2 sizes, which are perfect for interior and exterior work. We work with builders and contractors across the UK, offering a huge range of building supplies at competitive prices. For customers in the trades, we also offer trade accounts. Our trade account holders gain access to their own dedicated account manager, who they can speak to over the phone or email, and who will help them to source whatever they need from our network of suppliers. Trade account holders also gain access to our express delivery options and the ability to apply for up to 30 days interest-free credit. Sign up for a trade account through our website today.