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Tag Archives: Douglas fir flooring

  • Keep it Green: Is Douglas fir flooring eco-friendly?

    Posted on March 9, 2011 by nell

    Dilemma: you love the look of Douglas fir flooring, but you want to be sure you’re picking a product that’s not harmful to the environment. Do Douglas fir floors fit the bill? Isn’t cutting down trees bad for the planet?

    In truth, there are a lot of factors that go into determining how environmentally-friendly any product is. There are a few things to consider regarding flooring. To start, where does the flooring come from? Carpet, vinyl flooring or engineered wood products might be made of components produced in various locations, shipped to China, assembled in a factory, and then shipped back across the ocean to the U.S. There are a lot of miles built into that product.

    Douglas-fir is native to the Pacific Northwest, where it’s the state tree of Oregon. If you’ve hiked a trail anywhere west of the Rockies, chances are you’ve seen Douglas-fir growing in its native environment.

    Douglas fir trees

    Douglas-fir trees in a native forest.

    Knowing where your wood comes from is important—according to the Forestry Stewardship Council, wood that comes from certain regions—especially Eastern Europe, Latin America, China and Southeast Asia—is often logged illegally, then processed and exported to North America as products like plywood and decking.

    Bamboo and cork, often praised as eco-friendly choices because the plants they come from replenish much more quickly than trees used for other wood floors, lose out to Douglas fir flooring when it comes to the energy used to transport them from their tropical origins to the homes of U.S. consumers.

    Douglas fir flooring sold on this site comes from trees grown in the Northwest, then processed and milled near Portland. There’s very little shipping and manufacturing involved in creating Douglas fir floors—during the whole process, from tree to log to plank, the wood stays within the same region where it was grown.

    When you’re weighing out the environmental pros and cons of a purchase, you also need to think about how long what you’re buying is going to last. You don’t have to be an environmental scientist to realize that a floor that endures for a lifetime is a more sustainable choice than one that needs to be replaced every 1 or 2 decades. Every time a floor is replaced, resources are used in manufacturing, shipping and installation. The average synthetic-fiber carpet will last about 15 years, while a higher-quality wool carpet could last 20-30. A vinyl floor, depending on the quality, can last anywhere from 10-30 years. A Douglas fir floor will last up to 100 years, sometimes more.

    When you buy wood flooring, you know you’ve got a product that will most likely last the lifetime of your house. That one-time purchase is a more economical buy, both for your pocketbook and the environment.

    If at some point a homeowner decides to replace their wood flooring, those boards can then be recycled and used again, sold as reclaimed wood flooring, where they’ll find new life in a new home. Reclaimed wood has seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years, both from folks who love the unique patina of aged wood, and for people who enjoy purchasing wood knowing that no new trees were cut down. Reclaimed Douglas fir floors and timbers are available for homeowners looking for that blend of history and green living that comes with reclaimed wood.

    And if, someday, the boards of a wood floor are simply too worn out to serve any more useful purpose, they will break down naturally over time. If stripped of chemical finishes, boards can be turned into wood chips and toss them into your compost pile.

    Indoor Air Quality
    Many household products contain volatile organic compounds, commonly known as VOCs. A VOC is any substance that contains carbon and readily “off-gases”—or turns into a vapor—at room temperature. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs can have both long and short-term health effects, and VOC levels are often two to five times higher indoors than outdoors. Carpets, vinyl flooring, and other building materials are among the many substances that emit VOCs. Carpet fibers are often coated in chemicals to repel stains or moisture, and the carpet pads they rest on and the adhesives used during installation emit VOCs as well.

    While wood does naturally emit small amounts of formaldehyde, it does so at very low levels. Environmentally-friendly, low-VOC stains and finishes are available for your wood floor, to further reduce the amount of indoor air pollution.

    Carpets are also known to trap dust, dirt, and allergens within their fibers—with a wood floor, a quick sweeping and cleaning removes the dust and allergens from the home. For people with allergies or asthma, having a floor that you know isn’t emitting chemicals or storing pollutants is a literal breath of fresh air.

    Wood, by its very nature, is a green material. It’s non-toxic, recyclable, grows naturally, and it doesn’t take any extra energy to manufacture. While illegal logging and deforestation is a concern worldwide, Douglas fir flooring comes from legally-logged forests that are managed for long-term forest renewability.

    So if making the perfect choice for a green home is weighing on your mind, fret no more. You can have beautiful Douglas fir floors and peace of mind too: they are a responsible choice for maintaining a healthy planet.

    - Jennifer Rouse

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, History and Interest and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, fir flooring, eco-friendly flooring

  • Douglas Fir Flooring: Getting acclimated

    Posted on March 5, 2011 by nell

    Installed douglas fir flooring

    Freshly installed and finished Douglas fir flooring.

    Behold the Douglas-fir: A truly magnificent tree that yields stunning and durable vertical-grained wood. It’s our go-to wood in the Pacific Northwest and has been since before English Captain John Meares sailed along the coast looking for the Columbia River. He missed it to his utter disappointment, but noted the region’s wealth in timber back in the 1780’s. Fast forward past an English tiff with the Spaniards, the arrival of the great explorers Lewis & Clark, and the California gold rush. By the mid 1800's the Pacific Northwest had turned into sawmill-country. So, we like to think ourselves acclimated to the wood we produce. And, we’re glad to help you do the same before installing your Douglas fir flooring.

    Douglas-fir, as with other wood species, is a natural material familiar with the earth’s elements. It adjusts to its surroundings regardless of form, whether it be furniture, interior framework, or flooring. It’s important that no matter how the Douglas fir is being used, that it be preconditioned to the temperature and humidity level of the place where it will live. Skipping the preconditioning means poor performance - and a shorter lifespan on your investment. We’ll cover how long you should wait before installing your flooring in the section about acclimatizing. But first, if you’ve got the time, we feel it’s important to tell you about Douglas fir’s stability, especially as compared to other wood species like standard pine.

    The Douglas fir proves to be quite stable in what many see as an unstable world. That’s because it’s refractory – it naturally resists getting soaked compared to other species like pine (Radiata Pine). This resistance or repellency is based on the Douglas-fir’s wood properties. In “wood tests,” the Douglas-fir shows better dimensional stability over pine because it’s more uniform in its makeup and density, making it a more stable wood. In other words, it retains its shape better in wet or dry conditions. Some may say it’s stubborn, but we prefer to say the Douglas-fir is headstrong – its particular stability means it does a darn good job at withstanding decay over time.

    It’s important to not take your wood for granted. What do we mean, exactly? Well, it’s likely your flooring has traveled far and wide to get to your door. It’s common to simply take pleasure in the beauty of wood flooring without thinking about all the steps that occur between felling a tree and flooring delivery. Raw wood picks up moisture in transit and in storage. Remember, wood is porous and contracts and expands, going with the flow of its surroundings. The last thing you want is to install “swollen” Douglas fir flooring, or any kind of flooring that’s been exposed to moisture in transit. Without proper acclimatization, this wood would be “swollen” when installed. Next thing you know, your family is walking on ill-fitted flooring and you’re thinking, it was fine when I installed it.

    Conversely, wood shrinks in drier environments when traveling through regions like the Southwest. Without a period of acclimatization, this “dry” wood would expand, warp, and perhaps buckle from exposure to moisture in a more humid home environment. If it expands after installation, the floor will be uneven and unattractive.

    All in all, your Douglas fir needs time to settle into its surroundings; mainly, your home’s in-use temperature and humidity levels. Here’s what we recommend for proper acclimatization:

    1. Stack wood boards in the same room where they will be installed
    2. Use plastic separators between layers (if possible)
    3. Wait at least a week for the wood to settle before installation
    4. Wood designated for high moisture areas – bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and porches – needs to be treated with a sealer on all sides prior to installation.

    A little patience goes a long way in preventing disappointment. We’d hate for you to pull a Captain Meares and miss out on discovering the working wonders of Douglas fir.

    - Nicole Morales

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, fir flooring, flooring installation

  • The Spic ‘n’ Span of Douglas Fir Floors

    Posted on March 3, 2011 by nell

    They say a messy desk is the sign of a genius, but when it comes to your Douglas fir flooring that thinking will wreak havoc. Follow the conventional wisdom when considering your floors and keep ‘em clean.

    How? We’ll tell you. And with your help, your Douglas fir flooring will last, well, more than your lifetime. Read on for our list of preventative measures for maintaining both new and existing fir floors.

    Dents & Dings

    Though durable, Douglas fir floors are not indestructible. They can dent and ding, especially in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Be careful when moving your sofa or that exquisite clawfoot dining table. We recommend using furniture coasters or moving pads before trading spaces. And taking the time to put felt floor protectors on the ends of furniture legs is well worth it.

    When it comes to the family’s feisty pup, be sure to keep your pooch’s paws clean and nails trimmed – for every one of your legs that walk across the floor, Fido’s got two. And loving dog owners, before you go blaming the dog for every dent and ding, take a look at your own feet – those 3” pencil thin heels are like two tiny daggers repeatedly hammering your fir floors. If you relieve your feet when you walk into the house, you will save your floors in the process. Actually, we recommend that everyone take their shoes off when they enter the house to prevent troublesome street stuff – gum, gunk, goo, and rocks too – from getting anywhere near your floors. Not gonna happen? Then the next best thing is to place a doormat or entry rug to stop the street stuff from coming indoors.

    Sun damage to a wood table.

    Tykes and Toys

    When playtime spills out from the kid’s room into the living room, be ready for dropped toys and rambunctious play. Today’s toys are marvels of invention with their sensors, buttons, and detachable parts. Invest in a large durable rubber-lined play mat, or two, to contain and soften the blows from little Tessa’s make-believe rocket launch and Billy’s block-building.

    Fading and Shading

    You can’t judge a fir by its floor. That’s because no two firs are exactly the same, though there are similarities, such as its rosy hue and exquisite grain pattern. Most notable is the wood’s natural tendency to deepen to a warm orange almost rust-like color over time. But, there’s a difference between natural shading and premature aging from the sun’s rays, causing discoloration and fading. You can help prolong your wood’s youthful glow by closing curtains and blinds on those bright days. Also be sure to periodically rearrange that large area rug. Leaving it in one place too long can cause uneven shading over time. And, don’t forget to place a rubber rug liner underneath to catch fine dirt that falls through the rug.

    Cleaning Dos & Don’ts

    It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. Just make sure that someone knows what they’re doing when it comes to cleaning your fir floors. Although dents and dings do happen, this is one maintenance measure you can control. Here’s what we recommend.

    1. To prevent dirt buildup from scratching and dulling your floors, sweep or vacuum regularly. Once a week should do it. Use a fine bristle broom or a lightweight vacuum. If you do vacuum, check to make sure it’s not scratching your floors.

    2. Quickly wipe up spills to prevent staining. Use a clean towel or rag and allow the area to thoroughly dry. Wet spills and water exposure will damage your floors if left untreated.

    3. To “wash” the wood, use a neutral wood cleaner and a quality mop. Microfiber pads work best because they attract dirt while “washing,” though it’s best to sweep and vacuum just before using the wood cleaner. Your choice of wood cleaners are plenty, but be sure to read the label. Many inexpensive shelf brands are soap or wax-based and leave residue, streaks, and stickiness behind. Bona produces a high-end line of floor care products including a non-toxic cleaner.

    Home-remedies like vinegar and water will leave your floors looking dull over time, even cloudy. And, definitely don’t steam clean. Concentrated heat, steam, and water droplets, not to mention the motion of heavy machinery, all pose a threat to wood.

    We’d like to think this next tip a no-brainer, but never scrub your fir floors with harsh powders or concentrated cleaners, and save your steal wool pads for pots and pans.

    4. Read and follow directions on the labels of everything: cleaning products, complete wood care kits, and cleaning supplies. They’re there for a reason, so don’t skimp on the prep time unless you want problems.

    A Note on Existing Floors
    If you’ve been fortunate enough to inherit fir floors, you may have already spent a weekend’s worth of time examining every scratch and splotch wondering whodunit. As we all know, this mystery is likely to go unsolved. Look at those scratches and splotches this way, your floors have character. With a bit of elbow grease – buffing & waxing to restore luster or re-sanding & finishing to erase severe scratches – they will appear aged to perfection.

    Following our preventative measures for maintenance will help you prolong the life of your Douglas fir flooring. After all, a clean floor is a happy floor.

    - Nicole Morales

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, maintaining wood floors, maintaining fir floors, cleaning wood floors

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