Norway Spruce Testing for NELMA

October 2016 Update: Norway Spruce Joins SPFs Grade Grouping

Effective immediately, Norway Spruce will join the spruce-pine-fir south (SPFS) lumber grouping. Norway Spruce is the first new, major US-grown species of softwood to be fully tested for strength values for inclusion in an existing lumber grouping since the initial process for assigning design values by way of lumber testing of wood samples began in the 1920s.

All testing and data analysis (per ASTM D1990) was conducted at the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. The inclusion of Norway Spruce was approved by the American Lumber Standards Committee (ALSC) on October 20, 2016. Complete information on Norway Spruce may be found at

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Project Overview

Researchers at the UMaine Composites Center tested 1,320 boards (in bending and tension) cut from trees harvested in Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin, and four regions of New York state for the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturer’s Association (NELMA).

UMaine evaluated Norway spruce to determine if it met industry standards for inclusion in the SPFS grouping of wood species for construction-grade dimensional lumber.

Inclusion in the SPFS grouping means tens of millions of “new” trees will enter the North American lumber economy for the first time.

Testing Process

During the Norway Spruce testing process, a total of 1,320 full-sized pieces of 2x4s, 2x6s, and 2x8s of both Select Structural and No. 2 grades were tested to failure. Of the 1,320 pieces, 658 were tested for bending, and 662 were tested for tension. The results were used to establish strength values for the species for all 6 major design categories:

  • Modulus of Elasticity
  • Fiber Stress in Bending
  • Tension Parallel to Grain
  • Horizontal Shear
  • Compression Parallel
  • Perpendicular to Grain

What’s Norway Spruce?

Norway spruce trees“In the forest, Norway Spruce is easily recognizable by its large, drooping ‘branchlets.’ Fun fact: the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has been a Norway Spruce the vast majority of times over the last several decades, including the 2015 tree, a 78- footer from Gardiner, New York. Once cut into logs, Norway Spruce is virtually indistinguishable from native eastern spruce species, with even the most experienced of graders not able to discern one species from the other. Grade-wise, approximately 65% of Norway Spruce is expected to be graded at #2 and above, making it a strong, promising addition to the SPFs category. The primary market focus for the lumber will be on home construction applications such as wall studs, floor and ceiling joists, and industrial applications.” – Courtesy of NELMA.

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