Douglas fir C & Better grade
C & Better grade is the best Douglas fir grade available. But Doug fir buyers and browsers take note: C & Better grade can be many things to many people. So, here’s the lowdown on Douglas fir C & Better grade or C & BTR for short.
Wait… what’s a ‘grade’ again?
You may already be in-the-know about how the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) sets the standards for and accredits wood grading systems in the US. You may also know that these standards are carried out by lumber agencies that inspect and grademark different wood species, creating a matrix of standards and grades and finishes that can confuse the heck out of people who just want good quality, good-looking wood.
What does Douglas fir C & Better grade mean?
Douglas fir with a C & Better grade has no visible wood-knots and has an even-complexion. Clear vertical grain (CVG) Douglas fir carries a C & Better grade because it is cut to accentuate the light and dark straight grain pattern of the wood fiber. In addition to wood grain clarity, C & Better Douglas fir is less likely to change (warp) – a straight grain stays straight even when its environment doesn’t. So, C & Better grade is your best bet when durability and appearance are important.
Is Douglas fir C & Better grade the same everywhere?
No, it’s not. Although the ALSC accredits wood-grading systems for lumber agencies, there is room for interpretation when it comes down to different lumber agencies writing their own set of rules (based on ALSC criteria) and inspecting their own stock of lumber.
For example, the Western Wood Products Association is just one lumber agency in the US specializing in softwood lumber on the West Coast. The Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association or NELMA writes rules for wood-grading systems for softwoods on the East Coast. Essentially, wood-grading systems vary from coast to coast.
But did you know that there is further variation with how wood can be sold? When it comes to Douglas fir wood grades, there are structural grades and appearance grades and within these two end-use categories, there are further delineations. For instance, Douglas fir appearance grades can be called Select, Finish, Common, and Alternate.
So why isn’t Douglas fir C & Better grade the same everywhere?
According to the WWPA, “color, grain pattern, texture, knot type and size are the factors that influence the grade. For this reason Douglas fir [is] marketed as a distinct species to allow for a larger range of visual choices.” So with the wide range of visual choices comes a wide range of visual appearances.
There’s Douglas fir C & Better grade with a loose-looking grain or standard grain. There’s Douglas fir C & Better grade with a tighter grain or CVG grain. And then there’s Douglas fir C & Better grade with grain patterns somewhere in between.
All in all, Douglas fir C & Better grade is more than skin…er, wood-deep. It’s a ‘grade’ that accounts for both durability and appearance.
- Nicole Morales
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