Nominal generally refers to pressure treated wood.
4x4 Nominal fits 3.5" x 3.5" Post Size
5x5 Nominal fits a 4.5" x 4.5" Post Size
6x6 Nominal fits 5.5" x 5.5"
8x8 Nominal fits 7.25" x 7.25"
Actual general refers to rough lumber (not surfaced on 4 sides) or vinyl or composite posts.
Some of these post may still measure between 'Nominal' and 'Actual' sizes, particularly in Cedar material.
High quality Hemlock spindles for any deck, patio or porch are available. 2.375″ x 2.375″ in thickness. Hemlock does not have a natural resistance to rot and decay.