Lowe’s ordered to pay 2x4 settlement

A Marin County California judge ordered Mooresville, North Carolina-based Lowe’s to pay a $1.6 million settlement over a lawsuit alleging the inaccurate description of structural dimensional building products.

One upshot of the settlement is the intention of Lowe’s to include the actual product dimensions of 2x4 lumber (1.5 inches by 3.5 inches) along with the description of the product as a “2x4.”

The suit arose from a civil enforcement action filed by district attorneys of several California counties. 

"Consumers should expect when making product purchases that retailers are providing accurate information especially when misinformation could adversely affect building projects that more often than not rely on precise measurements," said District Attorney Ed Berberian.

Lowe’s spokeswoman Karen Cobb told HCN by e-mail that there are about 100 stores affected by the settlement. "Enhanced product signage and labeling is now on Lowes.com and in Lowe's advertising," she said. "And work is underway to update signage in California stores."

In a statement, Cobb added: "Periodically, representatives of local Weights and Measures departments visit retailers, and they expressed concerns about common product measurements, such as a 2x4 piece of lumber.

"These visits were initiated as a result of standards set by California's Division of Measurement Standards, which relies upon guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology concerning the sale of certain commodity products. 

"Historically, Lowe's provided information about product dimensions received from vendors. Moving forward, customers will now be able to locate product by actual and common dimensions as provided by vendors for certain building products. For example, for a piece of lumber commonly known as a 2X4, customers will see both the common name (2x4) and the actual product dimensions (1.5 x 3.5 inches).

"Both Lowe's and the California DAs agreed that a settlement is in the best interest of all parties. It allows us to continue moving forward with our program to provide both actual and common product dimensions and meet our shared goals."

The settlement was ordered by Marin Superior Court Judge Paul Haakenson. 


- 3:26 PM
rlatham@tsfpi.com says

I’m in complete disbelieve about this article. Every single mill that produces 2x lumber sells this way and every distributor, retailer, builder, architect knows exactly what a 2x is. I’m disappointed that Lowes allowed something so well known to go unchallenged, I think it’s sad today when companies or people in spite of the facts settle to avoid further loss. 2x lumber has been sold this way since the beginning and it’s sold this way in both the United States and Canada. Shame on California for stooping this low. It’s a sad day when something so ingrained into the fabric of the way we do business can be challenged and further result in a monetary penalty, I’d love to know who Lowes actually hurt in this case. This ruling has zero benefit to anyone who would buy these products, our country is out of control

- 5:41 PM
mflaherty says

I agree 100%. This decision should be used as a "poster child" for the argument for tort reform. I cannot believe that this judge was convinced that anyone was hurt by this loose nomenclature that we use every day in this industry. This is another sad testament to the depths that our country has fallen, and the lack of common sense in our society that is becoming epidemic.

- 12:24 AM
scluff960 says

District Attorney Ed Berberian has proven that the movie Idiocracy was actually a documentary. I am sure that reading the stipulations of this lawsuit lowered the IQ of the room. Wood is actually sold as board feet but mentioning it may cause someone to have a stroke. As we say goodbye to the 2x4, hands, and fathoms all while California lawyers convince the world that Brawndo's got what plants crave. It's got electrolytes....

- 11:48 AM
VikingWolf says

Any man who hires a builder or architect who is so stupid as to not know the size of a 2 x 4 deserves to have his roof fall on head.

- 12:04 PM
kbryant@webice.net says

I agree if you don't know a 2x4 is 1 1/2" x 3 1/2" should you be building anyway? Would 38.1mm X 88.9mm be better?

- 12:28 PM
Isaac1200 says

Yeah I actually agree with this ruling. Heres exactly why! I go to purchase lumber all the time and I need 2x10s for example. They always measure 1.5" thickness but The width is always off. Sometime a 2x10 will literally be 7.5 inches or 8.5 inches when I'm expecting it to be 9.5 inches. I guess it really can be summed up by quality control regulations. A cheap board makes a cheap house but a quality worker will make the bad proffesional.

- 5:21 PM
Trodwell says

Well if sawn lumber isn't correctly defined as 4" by 2" then you are numpties. What do you expect for planed all round timber 3x1???? Ridiculous that the entire world understands 4x 2 yet the lumber industry can have its head in the sand. In the uk ex4x2 defines the material sizes planed down from 4x2 You are even cheapskates on your gallons

- 6:05 PM
llandosolo says

how about making a ruling on something REALLY IMPORTANT ? like making a judge's email address public AND forcing judges to read ALL daily public emails ? The judge serves the people ? Am I wrong ? Its time that ALL politicians/goverment officaials take into account the feedback from the people that elect them. And if politicians are found to being "wined and dined" by lobbyist then that information should be disclosed OR AT LEAST POSTED on a public website. All lobbyist must be registered and their DAILY GPS coordinates and time stamp are recorded and posted the DAY AFTER(not in real time). All politicians and public servants daily GPS coordinates and time stamp are recorded as well. and posted the DAY AFTER(not in real time). That way, the public can see exactly what type of person they elected. OF course anyone falsifying their GPS data and time stamps can never hold office on any level(local, city, state, national or federal levels). Am I wrong ? I betcha this would clear up 90% of under the table or "good old boy" deals.

- 6:11 PM
llandosolo says

@Isaac1200 - you of course realize that this "change" will cause prices to jump as well ? if your a person who is going to spend 100+ bucks in lumber, you need to check the lumber dimensions your self. if they are not up to you specs, then find another. OR plane the wood yourself according to your specs. lumber is already freaking expensive. all this crying about ACTUAL sizes can be found on google ? America is NOT gonna be great again, its gonna get stupid-er.

- 2:24 PM
anybodybuttrump says

There may be an upside: The ruling may serve to encourage product developers of all kinds to publish explicit specifications for their products, allowing users to see if products are compatible.

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