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Douglas Fir Flooring Blog

  • Reclaimed Douglas Fir: Original patina or resawn?

    Posted on November 16, 2011 by Nicole

    Reclaimed Douglas fir is well-seasoned wood recycled for a new purpose. Reclaimed flooring, wall and ceiling accent beams, and mantel pieces are just a few ways to repurpose reclaimed fir.

    Reclaimed fir is sustainable, dense, and boasts a beauty like no other – it’s a good-looking wood.

    So, should you go with original patina or resawn reclaimed Douglas fir? The answer largely depends on its end-use. Read on to learn more.

    Hand Hewn Douglas Fir Beams

    Reclaimed Douglas fir in original patina are hand hewn beams that come as is. These beams are handpicked from hundred-year-old deconstructed sites – think abandoned barns, warehouses, and commercial buildings. Note: AltruFir handpicks its reclaimed fir beams from large scale deconstruction projects in the Northwest.

    Original patina Douglas fir beams are not resawn, meaning their weathered surfaces are not shaved. In fact, bolt holes, nails, and checks are common characteristics of reclaimed fir beams, which may be a small price to pay if you’re looking for original patina.

    Wood patina takes years, decades, or centuries to develop – the richer honey-hued the fir, the older it is. Because reclaimed fir beams are rough to the touch, they’re referred to as rough hewn wood. Sand blasting or professional scraping of the beam’s surface reveals its original patina, increasing its value and enhancing its appearance. Original patina fir beams are a popular choice in antique and old-world inspired designs.

    Reclaimed Douglas fir that is resawn are hand hewn beams that come cleaned-up. These beams are also handpicked from bygone buildings. The difference is that all sides of a resawn beam have been sawn off, producing a look identical to new wood.

    Resawn beams reveal a cleaner surface which is helpful when you need to match timber. Resawing reclaimed beams is also handy when exact timber dimensions are needed for a project or when reclaimed beams will be paired with existing timbers on a site. Resawn beams are a great choice for a contemporary aesthetic too.

    Whether you opt for the original patina or the cleaner resawn reclaimed fir, people value both varieties for their high quality and history, with or without the shave.

    - Nicole Morales

    This post was posted in All Entries, History and Interest and was tagged with reclaimed douglas fir, douglas fir beams, recycled beams, reclaimed beams

  • Turning Reclaimed Beams Into Flooring, Paneling, and Moulding

    Posted on November 9, 2011 by Jennifer

    The life of a Douglas-fir tree starts on a Northwest hillside somewhere, growing tall and straight for hundreds of years.

    When it’s harvested, the Douglas-fir becomes the heart of a building, standing firm as a beam in a factory or warehouse.

    When the building is pulled apart, it’s time for another new life to begin. What will that life will hold? That’s for you to decide.

    When you purchase reclaimed Douglas fir, what you do with the wood is limited only by what your project will entail. AltruFir can mill reclaimed beams into whatever product the customer has in mind.

    Do you want the beam to stay as is, rough and weathered-looking, with nails holes and marks of its former life intact? You can do that.

    Reclaimed Douglas Fir

    Do you want one beam milled from its massive industrial size into several smaller beams, appropriately scaled for your home? That’s a possibility too.

    And who says a beam has to stay a beam? AltruFir can turn reclaimed beams into beautiful wide-plank reclaimed flooring, elegant wall paneling, or eye-catching trim.

    The possibilities don’t end there, either. Once you’ve decided how best to use your recycled Douglas fir, you need to decide what specific final touches you want your finished product to have. In the lumber world, the way a board is shaped--any beveled edges or grooves that are cut into it--is called its profile. Here are just some of the many profile options available.

    For Reclaimed Flooring
    Tongue-and-groove is easy understand: the groove on one side of a board fits smoothly around the protruding piece on the board next it--the tongue. Tongue and groove flooring is one of the standard profiles offered by AltruFir.

    Back relief is another common option. Also called kerfing, it refers to grooves cut along the back side of a board. Back relief can help make wood less prone to warping, makes the board more flexible, and eases installation.

    Beveling refers to diagonal cuts along the edges of a board. Flat-edged boards will fit perfectly together, while two beveled-edge boards will meet up with a v-shaped groove running between them.

    For Reclaimed Paneling
    Many of the same terms you’ll hear in flooring profiles are used in discussing paneling as well. Here, too, you can get tongue-and-groove paneling, paneling with back relief, and paneling with beveling.

    One popular paneling profile is bead board. This profile features a design of vertical grooves in narrow strips down the face of the board. It is a classic design dating back to Victorian times, making it a good fit for both old and new homes.

    For Reclaimed moulding, trim and joinery
    Reclaimed Douglas fir beams don’t have to just be cut into strips for floors and walls. A recycled beam could become the mantelpiece over your fireplace or the banister of your staircase. Quality trim and joinery adds a wonderful touch to a room on its own or coupled with a Douglas fir floor.

    Moulding is a place where craftsmen can really get creative with millwork profiles. Crown moulding, for example, is cut with a decorative, curved angle and installed along the top of the wall, visually easing the transition from ceiling to wall. Cove moulding is milled with a concave shape and is also often used along ceiling edges, or as the transition from a mantel to a shelf, for example. A chair rail is installed partway up the wall--at about the spot where the backs of chairs might scrape against it--and can be relative flat and smooth, or dramatically rounded, depending on the effect you desire. The possibilities are nearly endless--just describe what you’re looking for to someone from the AltruFir team, and we can create a custom profile for you.

    So when you look at that big, rough Douglas fir beam, don’t be limited by what it looks like to start with. That reclaimed beam’s next life can be anything you imagine--go ahead and make it something beautiful.

    - Jennifer Rouse

    This post was posted in All Entries

  • Reclaimed Douglas Fir Flooring

    Posted on November 3, 2011 by Nicole

    Knowing what to expect from your reclaimed Douglas fir is important. Even though the wood is recycled and is a popular species, reclaimed wood varies in quality, characteristic, and appearance. Understanding these types of variations puts you in the informed buyer’s loop. More importantly, it prevents product shock.

    Product shock is the result of expecting your order to be something it’s not. You know how your eyes bug out of your head when you experience sticker shock? Product shock pulls a fast one on you too, especially if you’ve already ordered and paid for the product. Yikes!

    River Reclaimed Douglas Fir Flooring.

    Let’s say Mack and Mary are looking for recycled flooring for their living room. They want reclaimed Douglas fir because it’s durable and stable. The couple decide to order from AltruFir, having just learned that their reclaimed fir flooring is milled from salvaged logs pulled from the Columbia River – Mary thinks that’s pretty neat.

    The happy couple feel good about their purchase until the day their order arrives. To Mack and Mary’s surprise, the reclaimed fir is nothing what they had in mind. The floor planks are weathered and gray. To boot, they’re unfinished. Mack and Mary have just experienced product shock.

    To prevent this from happening to you, read this handy list of things to do when shopping for reclaimed wood:

    • Shop vendors who can tell you where their recycled wood comes from and what it looks like. Vendors who specialize in reclaimed wood should have high quality photos or a portfolio on their website or in their brochures.
    • Ask for samples of reclaimed wood products. Note that many retailers charge for shipping samples, but it’s a small price to pay for a big investment.
    • Ask what widths, lengths, and quantities are in stock or available.
    • Ask about additional reclaimed wood services, such as sandblasting to reveal original patina and resawing for specific timber dimensions. Or find out other unique alterations or finishes the seller might apply to reclaimed material.
    • Ask the wood retailer for a buyer’s guide to their reclaimed wood products and for their product liability and return policy. For a more extensive list of reclaimed wood characteristics, check out our parent company’s Buyer’s Guide to Reclaimed Beams and Timbers on AltruWood.com.
    • Know that reclaimed wood often has a varied or inconsistent look, even when you order the same wood species from the same site or source.

    Educating yourself on the common characteristics of reclaimed fir will prevent product shock. It also helps to be open to surprise and appearance variation. For many reclaimed wood lovers, leaving a bit to the imagination makes their recycled flooring or reclaimed wood renovation project truly one of a kind. The more you know about reclaimed Douglas fir, the happier you and your wood will be.

    - Nicole Morales

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring and was tagged with reclaimed douglas fir, reclaimed flooring, recycled flooring

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