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Douglas Fir Facts

  • Replacing Douglas Fir Floorboards

    Posted on July 21, 2011 by Ian

    No matter how hard we try to protect our Douglas fir floors, accidents inevitably happen. Over the years, spills, dents, and other types of damage necessitate removing and replacing floorboards. The process involves a few advanced techniques, as well as some power tools. But, if you’re willing to work carefully, you can do it yourself. And on top of saving yourself the price of hiring a carpenter, you’ll find the satisfaction of a working relationship with your home. Follow these steps:

    1) Removing a board. You’ll be using a power saw for this step (preferably a circular saw), so this is the part of the process where you should be most careful so as not to damage your floor. To ensure precision, outline the board accurately with painter’s tape. Next, make a series of long parallel cuts into the board, as well as one diagonal cut in the center. You should set the depth of your cuts to ¾” (or the depth of the wood), to ensure you only cut through the floorboard. If you cut too deep, you could slice up either or both of the protective mat underneath the board and the subfloor. After you’ve made your cuts, use a hammer and chisel to remove the broken pieces of the board. Be careful not to damage neighboring boards, especially the tongue and grooves that meet the board you’re trying to replace.

    replace wood floorboard

    You better replace your wood floorboard if it looks like this!

    2) Finding a replacement board. The hallmark of a good fix is that you can’t tell it was broken in the first place. Therefore you’ll want to replace your broken board with close match, to leave your floor looking like it did the day it was installed. Luckily, Douglas fir, like any wood, is a natural product that has natural color and pattern variation making the search for an exact match unnecessary. For common woods and finishes, bring a piece of the broken board to your lumber supplier and ask them to find a match for you. If you do have Douglas fir, we hope you’ll turn to us to replace those historic 3 ¼” flooring boards. Keep in mind you’ll also have to match the stain, finish, and level of sanding. You may already have wood in your own home that will serve as a good replacement. Find a rarely seen or used part of your floor – in a closet or utility room, for a example – and extract a board to use as a replacement. Then, you can replace the wood you took out of the closet with a less-than-perfect match.

    3) Replacing the board. First, you’ll have to saw off the lower end of the groove so that you can slip the board in on top of its neighbors. Next, the board should be fastened with glue and flooring nails. After face-nailing, use wood putty to fill in the holes. You may need to do some additional sanding, if the replacement board seems out of place with its neighbors.

    These steps should help you to keep your Douglas fir floor, or any wood floor, looking good and built to last.

    - Ian Friedman

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, fir flooring, maintaining wood floors, replace floor boards, replacing floor boards

  • Finish that Douglas Fir II

    Posted on July 14, 2011 by Nicole

    As we mentioned in our last post about finishing Douglas fir, the finish itself can take much of the credit for protecting wood from the elements. And, in this post, when we say elements we mean those found indoors: shoes, toys, pets, spilled drinks, and other pesky household mini-storms. What are the things you should consider before finishing your Douglas fir? Read on, friends.

    Indoor Finishing Projects
    Interior projects, though sheltered from the forces of nature, still need to be protected from life’s hustle and bustle. Unprotected Douglas fir flooring can't compete with feet, furniture, and falling objects. Unfinished paneling in a bathroom would warp from all that hot shower steam. But, also know that you too play a part in prolonging your indoor wood – we’ll talk about some preventative measures to follow after finishing.

    finish wood floor

    Ahh, the gleam of a finished wood floor.

    Choose a finish with interior on the label. You’ll find both water-based and oil-based products. And really, either will do the job – it comes down to your personal preference and what you want your Douglas fir to look like. Water-based finishes dry faster, are less odorous and leave your fir with a more natural-looking finish. Oil-based products give you more time to get a smoother finish because they take longer to dry, but they’re smellier and leave your wood with an amber-like tone. When it comes to cost, water-based finishes tend to be more expensive.

    Should you go with a penetrating finish or surface finish? Again, this comes down to preference. Keep in mind that a penetrating finish soaks into the wood and helps bring out the wood’s natural beauty because they’re oil-based. A surface or topcoat finish forms a layer around the wood so nothing can get in. There are two schools of thought on the merits of each: 1) Wood needs to breathe and benefits from a penetrating finish; or, 2) Wood needs to be shielded which is what a surface finish does best.

    If you see polyurethane on the label know that the product is essentially made from plastic. Hence its shiny appearance. Polyurethanes do a darn good job at protecting against wear and tear, but come with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which affect indoor air quality. Polyurethanes work best on harder-wearing surfaces like flooring.

    Moist conditions + preventative measures
    Keep wood away from water. If little hands drop a juice cup, be quick to wipe it up and air it dry. And, keep your wood clean, especially your floors. Sweep, vacuum, and dust regularly because dirt and grit is wood’s number one enemy.

    Dry conditions + preventative measures
    We also suggest keeping wood away from direct heat and sunlight. Excessive exposure to either will break down the finish and yellow the wood. And if you're seriously dedicated, during very dry conditions, use a home humidifier to keep moisture in the air to keep wood from losing its own natural moisture.

    No matter what your wood, or where it is located, a wood finish will help it last. Keep in mind the tips above, and talk to the expert at your local DIY store before you embark on finishing your Douglas fir.

    - Nicole Morales

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring, Douglas Fir Trim, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas-fir, Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, fir flooring, flooring finishes, finishes, maintaining wood floors, maintaining fir floors, douglas fir trim, wood trim, finished doug fir flooring, douglas fir paneling

  • Moisture Meters & Douglas Fir: Common questions about moisture meters for wood

    Posted on July 12, 2011 by Nicole

    What’s a moisture meter? When should I use one? And, Do I really have to use a moisture meter on my new Douglas fir floors? These questions might pop up as you’re starting a home project or major renovation. What follows is some moisture meter Q & A, starting with the basics, that should help you decide if using one is right for your current project.

    Q: What’s a moisture meter?

    A moisture meter measures the percentage of moisture in something. There are moisture meters for ceramics, concrete, soil, and most commonly, wood. It comes in handy during a renovation or building project, usually before a material is installed, like wood flooring.

    In this post, we’ll be referring to moisture meters used specifically on wood.

    Q: Why should I use a moisture meter?

    A moisture meter is a prevention tool. Taking a moisture reading of your floor boards before installation tells you how much water or moisture is in the wood – too much or too little at time of installation can cause big problems later. It’s sort of like taking the temp of a turkey in the oven – too hot and you’re left with a brittle bird; not hot enough and you might find yourself leaving the dinner table repeatedly throughout the meal. In cases like this, prevention is the best medicine.

    moisture meter

    A pin meter can be used to measure the moisture in Douglas fir.

    Q: What types of moisture meters are there?

    Pin and pinless models are two of the most common types of wood moisture meters. The latest models have an LCD screen. Wood moisture meters should also have settings specific to ‘wood species’. On these, the user can adjust the meter to the species being read, such as Douglas fir or Cedar. Different species have different characteristics, so they all give different readings even when the moisture content is the same.

    Q: How does a moisture meter work?

    Pin moisture meters commonly have two pins – Pin A + Pin B – that are inserted into the wood. Once the pins are in, a current passes from Pin A to Pin B. Since moisture conducts electricity, a strong current indicates high moisture content. A low current means low moisture.

    A pinless or surface moisture meter sends electric wave signals into the wood. These signals create a field. The level of moisture – high or low – affects this field.

    Q: Is one type of meter better than the other?

    A pin moisture meter is the most accurate. But, if the material will be featured in highly visible areas, the pin-holes can be an eyesore for the homeowner. And, the pin detectors may be more challenging to operate; some have tiny cables that tangle easily.

    Pinless moisture meters are easier to use, but also more likely to give a faulty reading if there is moisture on the surface of the wood. However, there’s no piercing involved.

    Q: When do I use a moisture meter?

    You can use a moisture meter before, during, and after any wood installation project -- for products like flooring, decking, paneling, and trim. Tracking readings is important throughout the project. Why? You’ll learn that in the answer to the final question.

    Q: What’s a good moisture-reading?

    A good reading is one that is compatible with its working or end-use environment. It is referred to as the equilibrium moisture content (EMC), when the wood’s moisture is in sync with its surroundings. Because environments, seasons, and climates change, so does the EMC. That’s where the average moisture content figures into “a good moisture-reading.”

    Builders and contractors tend to rely on an average moisture content of 8% which is common in most of the US, even in the rainy Northwest. Hot ‘n’ humid places along the central and southern coast of California and the South have an average moisture content of 11%. In desertscapes like Arizona and Nevada, the average moisture content is close to 6%. Knowing the average moisture content of where you live (and where the wood will be), helps you achieve EMC, creating wood + environmental harmony.

    Q: Do I really need a moisture meter?

    The quick answer is, “That depends on the homeowner.” Most contractors, builders, and wood-working shop owners rely on moisture meters – it’s a tool of the trade. This is why proper acclimatization is an essential step for homeowners who don’t have or use a wood moisture meter. Installing Douglas fir flooring right after it lands on your doorstep is bad practice and not recommended. Wood needs time to adjust to its new home, whether that is your living room, the attic, or even the deck. If the moisture content is too high, way above the EMC, the floor boards will shrink and gap along between the seams. If the content is way below the EMC, you’ll end up with floor boards too big for their own britches: replacing cracked and split floor boards isn’t fun for anyone.

    However, if you want to take the guesswork out of knowing when your new Douglas fir (or any wood) is ready to be installed, use a moisture meter. Using one may help to prevent warping, shrinking, or splitting problems later on, giving you piece of mind now.

    And if you do go the moisture-meter route, be sure to read the instruction manual.

    - Nicole Morales

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, douglas fir trim, warping floors, douglas fir paneling, douglas fir decking, wood moisture meter

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