Stop the presses! It turns out that 2x4s aren't actually 2 inches thick by 4 inches wide. In some face-palm inducing news, a California Superior Court judge ordered big-box retailer Lowe's to pay $1.6 million as part of a civil consumer protection action settlement. The order, handed down on Aug. 27, came as a response to a case involving claims by the Marin County, Calif., district attorney's office that the retailer "unlawfully advertised structural dimensional building products for sale." Read the breaking story here.

In a follow-up, REMODELING magazine explains the new labeling and advertising rules the judge has outlined for retailers of lumber and other dimensional building products. Among these rules is the requirement that "common descriptions" must be followed by actual dimensions and labeled as such.  Read more about the rules here.

UPDATE, 9/11/2014: In a followup interview by Tim Regan of REMODELING with the Marin County District Attorney, it turns out that if a lumberyard sells products that conform with standard nominal dimensions as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) -  that is, if they sell a 2x4 that measures 1.5 inches by 3.5 inches - a lumberyard doesn't need to include special labeling. The problem arose, Regan reported, when California inspectors found that Lowe's advertised dimensional building products that were under nominal dimensions. The 2x4s Lowe's was selling did not fit the standards set forth by the NIST.  Read more.