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Tag Archives: Douglas fir flooring

  • Kiln Drying Douglas Fir: An Essential Process

    Posted on April 5, 2011 by nell

    One of the greatest concerns in using Douglas fir for construction (and especially flooring) is the moisture content of the lumber. Wood can absorb and secrete moisture depending on its environment. For Douglas fir used in wood flooring, controlling the shrinking and expanding of planks is essential, which is why flooring should always be acclimatized before it is installed. If the planks swell too much, they can push up against each other or the walls, causing damage to the wood and moulding; if the planks shrivel up, the space between boards expands to the point of creating hazardous gaps in the floor.

    Each variety of lumber has a point of moisture equilibrium – the moisture level at which the wood is most stable (when the vapor pressure within the wood is equal to that of the ambient space above). When left to its own devices Douglas fir, or any lumber, will absorb or evaporate moisture until it reaches its equilibrium. To ensure the durability of the wood, planks should be at equilibrium before being installed.

    This can be problematic, however, when you consider that trees – especially Douglas-firs grown in the lush Pacific Northwest – have incredibly high moisture content at the point of being cut down. Something has to be done to the lumber before it is sold to ensure moisture equilibrium in the final product. Drying is an important step in the process of acclimating wood to a new environment (specifically, drier interior spaces). Drying reduces the moisture in lumber to replicate the future conditions to which the lumber will be exposed. This process can take place out in the open; this is known as air drying.

    There is also a faster, more precise alternative: kiln drying. Kilns for wood drying are typically large spaces with heated coils on the ceiling. Nearby fans redirect the flow of warm air evenly around the room. The heat greatly speeds up the drying process, and the stable environment allows for wind control (an important factor in effectively drying wood). Kiln drying can also be carried out in stages through environmental control, which is ideal for drying the wood at an optimal pace.

    There are other factors to consider in terms of kiln drying. One added benefit of the process is, for salvaged products, that the heat kills insects and their eggs. One drawback is the increased price of a product that has been kiln-dried. However, the benefit of kiln-dried wood is typically great enough to warrant the extra charge. The long-lasting effects of kiln drying – and the money you could save on avoiding frequent refurbishing or replacement of your Douglas fir floors – certainly make the process and the cost worth it in the long run. All of AltruFir’s Douglas fir products are kiln dried to ensure that a more stable product is made available to the consumer.

    - Ian Friedman

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Douglas Fir Trim, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, kiln dried lumber, kiln dried flooring, kiln drying

  • Taking Measure of Your Douglas Fir: Knowing how much footage you need

    Posted on March 31, 2011 by nell

    You’ve found the Douglas fir flooring or trim that you love. You can imagine exactly how that amber-hued Douglas fir will look installed in your home. But now the time has come to put a number on your infatuation. Exactly how much of this stuff do you need to get, anyway?

    When it comes to ordering flooring, siding or paneling, you’ll most often hear them measured in one of two ways: lineal feet or square feet.

    Lineal Feet

    Measure before installing Douglas fir flooring and trim.

    A lineal foot is a simple measurement of how long something is. That’s it. The width or the thickness of the product in question doesn’t come into play—a lineal foot just deals with length.

    Say, for instance, that you have a rectangular room: 10' wide and 14' long, and you want molding to trim it at the ceiling. Think back to your days in geometry class—what you’re doing here is finding the perimeter. To determine how many lineal feet to buy, you’d simply add up the lengths of all the walls you want to put molding on: 10’ + 14’ + 10’ + 14’ = 48 lineal feet. But not too fast—when you order, you’ll need to get a little bit extra, just in case of mistakes. Or, you might need extra length for mitering the corners. Give yourself a 10% margin of error and order an extra five lineal feet of trim, for a total of 53 lineal feet for your 10’x14’ room.

    Square Feet

    Square feet are little different. Whereas with lineal feet, you’re just measuring the length of something, square footage gets at the area of the space you are measuring. Let’s step back into our rectangular room and once again recall our geometry basics: to find the area, you need to multiply the length times the width. Ten times fourteen gives you a 140-square foot room. As with any installation, you need to order a little extra to account for possible mishaps. Assume you’ve got 140 square feet of floor space, factor in a 10% overage, and you’ll be all set with 154 square feet of flooring.

    Putting them together

    But what happens when that’s not the case? Sometimes, you need to convert between the two measurements. For example, if a product is sold by lineal feet and you only know the square footage.

    In order to do that, you need to know not just how long a board is, but how wide it is on its face. A board that’s 5 1/8” wide and 12” long, for instance, would be one lineal foot, because lineal footage only takes length into account. But to figure out how many square feet that is, you have to factor in the width, too.

    For the board in question, you’d take 12 (the number of inches in a foot) and divide it by the width, which is 5 1/8, or 5.125. The answer is 2.34. That means that in this scenario, with boards of this width, for every square foot, you have 2.34 lineal feet.

    Let’s go back to our hypothetical 140-square foot room. You’re using the 5 1/8 boards, and you know that 2.34 lineal feet of this stuff equals one square foot. Multiply the total area—140—by 2.34, and you wind up with 327.8. In theory, that’s how many one-foot-long and 5 1/8” wide sections of board it would take, laid out end to end, to cover the room.

    So, just in case you find a product that’s measured only in lineal feet, you can be prepared to order like a pro.

    At AltruFir, we try to make things easy on you. Rather than converting from one measurement to the other, we sell our products in the measurement that makes the most sense for the material you want to order. If you’re installing trim, you don’t really need to know the square footage. You’re only putting it around the perimeter of the room, so we sell trim by the lineal foot. When it comes to flooring, you’re not putting it just around the edges of the room. You need to know how much surface area to cover, so we sell flooring by the square foot.

    And if you really want to satisfy your inner math wiz and work out exactly how many lineal feet are in your shipment of square-foot-measured Douglas fir flooring? Now you know how to do that too.

    - Jennifer Rouse

    Photo from aussiegal's photostream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/14516334@N00/286709039

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Douglas Fir Trim and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, measuring square footage, measuring lineal footage, measure flooring

  • Hot Douglas Fir: Installing Flooring Over Radiant Heated Subfloors

    Posted on March 28, 2011 by nell

    We love our Douglas fir floors. So, we hate to admit to wishing for a little more warmth under our feet when winter hits. During those cold months, we wince when our bare feet freeze from bare floors. So what do you do? Well, you might consider radiant floor heating for toasty toes.

    We’ve enlisted the help of Portland’s Andy Burley of Mr. Sandman Hardwood Floors to talk prep for Douglas fir and other woods prior to installation over radiant heated subfloors. Above all else, Mr. Sandman notes, “Timing is key.” And he’s going to help us go over basics, prep, and the general process for installing wood flooring over radiant heated subfloors.

    radiant heated subfloor

    What radiant heat looks like under your Douglas fir floors.

    What is radiant heat?
    Radiant heat is generated from tubing in concrete-like panels or a tubing network under subfloors allowing heat to rise from the floor, circulate the air, and create warmth throughout a space. Think convection, the natural circulation of heat.

    With radiant heat, no energy is lost through forced-air heating ducts. It’s more efficient and can be divided into three types: air-heated radiant floors, electric radiant floors, and hydronic radiant floors, which are the most cost-effective and commonly used systems in residential settings. Installation and covering materials can be further broken down based on project type.

    What wood works best?
    A wood known for its stability works best with a radiant heating system. Also, narrower boards -- less than 4” wide -- adapt more easily to the gradual temp changes from radiant heating. The narrower width boards expand and contract less. And there are more seams in the flooring which allow for additional movement along the boards.

    Another important factor is having vertical grained wood or “quarter sawn” lumber. Wood cut into the grain – called radial grain – offers better stability. The vertical grain allows the wood to expand vertically rather than across the length of the board. That’s why clear vertical grain Douglas fir flooring is a saving grace in this application.

    Hot floors: CVG Douglas fir, Floating engineered flooring, Laminate flooring, White Oak

    Not-so hot floors: Maple, Pine, Brazilian Cherry

    Mr. Sandman says, “With any type of wood species, be sure to follow the rules and go by the book.” So if your heart’s set on that reclaimed Douglas fir taken from the church where your great-grandparents married, do your research before ordering it. Understand how this vintage Doug fir will react to temperature changes from a heated subfloor. Will you have to deal with more squeaking in the winter months or gaps? If so, it might be best to invest in fresh CVG Douglas fir flooring for superior performance over that heated subfloor.

    What preparation is needed?
    Run your radiant heating system between 65F and 70F degrees a couple of weeks before your wood flooring arrives. If your radiant heating system is new, run it for a minimum of thirty days to two months before ordering your wood and having it installed.

    Running the system ensures that the subfloor and the tubing system is dry. Otherwise, leftover moisture from either will seep into the wood and you and your floors will be uh, well…outta luck. Mr. Sandman says timing and moisture-matching is essential for your wood and radiant heating system to work well together.

    Take it from here, Mr. Sandman:
    After running that radiant system, be sure to test its moisture content. Whatever the moisture content of the subfloor, your wood’s moisture content needs to be a dead-on match, percentage wise. Do this before that wood walks through your door. Once you get a steady moisture-content, have that wood delivered. Acclimate the wood – 3 to 7 days – by leaving it stacked in the room where it’ll be installed. After this period, go ahead and lay it across the floor over the heated subfloor and test its moisture content. Keep on testing the wood’s moisture content until you get a match or at the very most, 1% difference. You may get lucky and have a match or you’ll need to wait a few days. Only then, should you install your wood flooring.

    So site-testing your wood for its moisture content is essential for peak performance. And all this has to happen prior to installation. So, don’t go jet-setting to Jamaica when you’ve got wood to watch over. Remember, as Mr. Sandman says, “Timing is key.”

    Other things to think about
    Know your radiant heating system and how it works from top to bottom and side to side. That way, you’ll know how to best install your wood flooring, including that CVG Douglas fir, understanding how this type of heating will affect your wood flooring.

    Invest in a good set of thermostats. The magic number is three: one for room temperature, another for the tubing network, and a third for outside the house. A thermostat trio is best to moderate floor temperature and prevent flooring damage due to excessive heat or rapid temperature changes (common with “set back” thermostats).

    Gradual heat is best. Anything over 85F degrees is too hot for your wood flooring.

    Have a list of questions ready when you call up contractors. Knowledgeable contractors will be honest with you. And don’t forget to ask about moisture-testing.

    Looks like this one’s a project and half worth of work. But for toasty toes, energy-efficiency, money-saved, and beautiful Douglas fir floors, this is one investment that’ll pay off.

    - Nicole Morales

    Andy Burley – Mr. Sandman Hardwood Floors, Portland, OR
    www.mrsandmanpdx.com, 503-238-1034, mrsandmanpdx@gmail.com

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, radiant heated floors, radiant heated flooring

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