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Douglas Fir Facts

Douglas Fir Finishing Touches

February 15, 2012 by | Jennifer | There have been 0 comments

One of the things that we like so much about Douglas Fir is its versatility. It’s the wood version of the little black dress--it’s classy and stylish all by itself, if you like to keep things simple.

If simple’s not your thing, you can add on special effects to make it fancier, or take it down a notch with rustic styling. Light or dark, glossy or distressed, Douglas Fir wears anything well.
First let’s talk about the surface of the wood itself. You have some options here. Douglas Fir can be planed and sanded to a completely smooth finish--this is especially popular for applications like joinery and trim. Or, Douglas Fir lumber can be left rough-sawn, with the marks from the saw still discernible.

Douglas Fir Flooring

Maybe you’ve chosen reclaimed Douglas Fir. This material in particular often comes with its own set of bumps and scrapes, part of the patina that has developed over time. For some people, those aren’t imperfections--they’re a highly desirable way to let the wood tell the story of its former life as a barn, factory, or gymnasium.

In fact, some people like the weathered look so much that they want to create it on new boards. To achieve this effect, new Douglas fir is scraped with hand tools or brushed with a wire brush in an effort to create the perfectly-imperfect look and feel of an aged board.

Now let’s move beyond texture and talk about color. What shade do you want your Douglas Fir to be? Its natural tone is a warm, rosy, golden brown. For many people, that natural beauty is what they want to see. Interviewed in “Veranda” magazine, interior designer John Saladino remarked on the “quietness” of natural Douglas fir. “It acquires a rich hue similar to a cigar box,” Saladino told Veranda.

To achieve that subtle look, you can simply apply a clear or lightly pigmented finish. If you’re not sure what type to select, read our blog for a complete lowdown on stains and finishes for Douglas fir and other woods.

Thicker stains and paints are also available if you want to transform the color of your Douglas fir and hide the grain for a formal, elegant look.

Remember that aging process we talked about for adding texture to wood? You can do that for the wood’s color, too. Douglas fir can be stained with a mixture of silver and brown hues for an aged, weathered look; coated with a semi-solid white stain for what’s called a “pickled” look; or even sand-blasted and bleached, as designer Ron Mann did for this Douglas fir plank chair.

Or, you could just keep it classic. Like that little black dress, people have been appreciating high-quality Douglas fir for a long time--longer even. Take a look at what lumber magazines were saying about Douglas fir a century ago:

“At this time fir is used for all purposes of inside finish in buildings of high class and when properly kiln dried is susceptible to stain of various tones, giving the home-builder opportunity to harmonize tone of finish with the furnishings of the room...The special selected clear stock possesses characteristics of grain in the flat sawed stock that cannot be found in any other wood in such variety, the grain possessing curly, mottled, wavy and variegated effects that are very pleasing.”
--January 1910 issue of the “The Timberman” (emphasis added)

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Keep it classy, Douglas fir lovers.

- Jennifer Rouse

This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring, Douglas Fir Trim, History and Interest, Douglas Fir Paneling and was tagged with douglas fir finish, douglas fir stain

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