A.Paul Fisette, director of Building Materials and Wood Technology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a JLC contributing editor, responds: Besides being resource-efficient, the use of finger-jointed wall framing provides straighter, better walls — but if your studs are rated "for vertical use only," then the short answer is no.

While the IRC (2006, R602.1.1) allows graded finger-jointed lumber to be used interchangeably with solid-sawn members of the same species and grade, "for vertical use only" means this engineered product is equivalent to "stud"-grade lumber (the grade stamp should also indicate "stud"). Stud-grade lumber can have...

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