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Douglas Fir Facts

Douglas-fir to Douglas fir flooring

January 27, 2011 by | nell | There have been 0 comments

Clearly, we love Douglas fir flooring, and the tree that yields such a beautiful product. In the Pacific Northwest where we live, it makes sense that where fir floors are abundant, so are the trees that make them. The tall beauties dominate the hillsides of our hometown of Portland. And we are compelled to post a little something about the Douglas-fir tree.

Photographer, Walter Siegmund

First, it’s not a fir. It’s a pine, which is why its name is hyphenated. It’s named after Scottish botanist and explorer David Douglas, who brought it and other North American plants back to Great Britain in the 1820’s, where it grows to this day. In Oregon, it was made the state tree in 1939.

Of course, the Douglas-fir thrived in the Pacific Northwest long before Europeans first set eyes on it, and before people started making Douglas fir flooring. The trees can live over 1,000 years. Native American nations in the Northwest used the wood for fuel and fish hooks, among other things. A Native American legend ascribes the 3-pointed leaf-like bracts that poke out of a Doug fir cone to the back legs and tail of a mouse which sought refuge there for reasons that vary depending on the version of the tale you hear.

Doug-firs also grow in parts of the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico, but those that grew in the Pacific Northwest captured the imagination of American emigrants, and immigrants from Europe and Asia. As the area was settled, they became a natural choice for building material and decor, not least of all Douglas fir flooring. They were abundant, and most of them boasted a ridiculous girth -- few species grow larger. Back then, it was hard to imagine human ingenuity would nearly wipe them out.

The olden days

It didn’t take long for Doug fir lumber to become big business. Lumber was one of the major factors in the growth of Oregon and the rest of the Pacific Northwest. A versatile wood, Douglas fir is used for the aforementioned flooring, as well as windows and doors, porch decking, framing lumber, and cabinetry. Its popularity was cemented in the early 1900’s, when it became a wood of choice in Sears & Roebuck catalog homes built across the U.S. This fact, incidentally, brings a lot of customers to our site looking for material to restore their original Douglas fir floors.

Douglas fir does well in an industry that has been required to source product more sustainably since the end of the last century. Its growth rate of up to 4 feet a year makes it a popular and widely grown source of Christmas trees. While 4 feet a year means a longer wait for useable lumber, the industry is now set-up to deal with the wait. After all, the longer it grows, the tighter the grain, and the better the product.


This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, History and Interest and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring

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