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Tag Archives: Douglas fir flooring

  • Douglas Fir Hardwood Q&A

    Posted on December 18, 2012 by Jennifer

    You’ve got questions about Douglas fir flooring? Great! We’ve got answers. Read on to learn all you ever wanted to know about hardwoods, softwoods, hardness ratings, and what all those terms really mean for the lifespan of your hardwood flooring.

    Q: Is Douglas fir a hardwood?

    A: That depends on what you mean when you say hardwood. Actually, “hardwood” and “softwood” are generic terms that have nothing to do with the physical hardness of the wood. “Hardwood” is a common term for a broad class of trees scientifically known as angiosperms. Angiosperm means “enclosed seed,” and it refers to plants whose mature seed is in some sort of fruit or nut. Oak, cherry, walnut—these are all angiosperms, or hardwood trees.

    “Softwood” is the common term for gymnosperm plants. Gymnosperm means naked seed. These plants usually carry their seeds in some kind of cone, which opens to expose the seeds once they are ripe. Pines, firs, cedars—these are gymnosperms, or softwood trees.

    Douglas fir falls in the gymnosperm, or softwood category. So is it a hardwood? Technically no. However, if what you’re really asking is whether or not Douglas fir is a tough, strong building material, the answer is yes—it’s widely known as a very durable wood.


    Q: So which is harder – hardwoods (angiosperms)? Or softwoods (gymnosperms)?

    A: It varies from tree to tree. Oak, Ash and Walnut are all very hard angiosperms. However, Douglas fir, which is a gymnosperm, or softwood, is actually harder than chestnut, an angiosperm that most people would call a hardwood. Balsa is a hardwood, but its wood is so soft and lightweight that it’s most commonly used for making model airplanes.


    Q: Then how can I tell which woods are the hardest? How do they measure this stuff, anyway?

    A: Engineers use a lot of different factors when they are determining the strength of a material, and hardness is only one of them. “Hardness” is defined specifically as “resistance to indentation.” Scientists test for this via the Janka hardness test. They take a .444-inch steel ball and drop it repeatedly onto the surface of a plank. The amount of force it takes to embed this little ball halfway into the plank gives the wood its Janka hardness rating. Douglas fir gets a Janka hardness rating of 660 pounds-force.


    Q: Then woods with the highest Janka hardness ratings are the strongest?

    A: Nope. Like we said before, there are many different factors that engineers and materials scientists consider when they are determining the strength of a material. Other factors to consider are modulus of elasticity, which measures how well a material can bend and still return to its original shape without deforming or breaking: Impact bending, which is measured by dropping a hammer on a beam from higher and higher heights until the wood either snaps or deflects 6 inches or more; and tensile strength, which is how much force a material can handle without breaking when it’s stretched.

    Douglas fir has a relatively low Janka hardness rating, but it has a high modulus of elasticity as well has high ratings for shear, tension parallel-to-grain, compression, and other strength characteristics. In fact, Douglas fir’s strength-to-weight ratio is so superiorthat it is considered the material of choice for most commercial and residential building projects in North America.


    Q: What about my floors? Is Douglas fir hard enough to use for flooring?

    A: Absolutely. Unless you are shooting steel balls into your floors on a regular basis, you should have no problems with the durability of your Douglas fir flooring. The Pacific Northwest is full of homes dating from the early part of the 20th century whose original Douglas fir floors are still beautiful—80 to 100 years after they were first installed. Yes, scratches and dents are possible, but they’re a possibility on any flooring, even hardwoods like oak or man-made products like ceramic tile. Make sure your Douglas fir floor has a quality finish, keep the floors clean with sweeping and occasional mopping, and maintain the finish when necessary.

    If you can do those simple things, your Douglas fir flooring will last a lifetime, with durability that ranks up there with any so-called “hardwood” on the market.

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, janka hardness, douglas fir hardwood q&a, hardwoods, softwoods, angiosperms, gymnosperms

  • Water Based Finishes for Wood

    Posted on June 20, 2012 by pat

    Water based finishes, like oil based finishes, protect your wood from everyday wear ‘n’ tear inside your home. But, what are the real differences between water based and oil based finishes for solid wood flooring, paneling, trim, and casework? Here are four common questions about water based finishes.

    What are the benefits of water based finishes?

    Choosing a water based finish (waterborne) really comes down to preference. People who prefer working with products that emit low odors or less VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) opt for a water based finish. Oil based finishes are notorious for their stink factor and required ventilation during application.

    Many of the harsh and flammable ingredients found in oil based finishes have been replaced with water in water based finishes, making them safer to work with, easier to clean, and less harmful to breath, though not completely harm-free. People looking for environmentally-friendly wood finishes can find water based products made with plant oils and plant waxes.

    Another benefit of water based finishes is its drying time. Weather conditions and climate aside, water based finishes dry faster because their ingredients evaporate once applied – oil based finishes dry through a reaction process. However, a faster drying time calls for a faster application time, leaving less wiggle room for errors.

    Water based finishes also affect the final look of the wood differently than their oil based counterparts. Left alone, water based finishes tend to maintain the existing color of the wood as closely as possible, whereas most oil based finishes can deepen the color of the wood adding, an amber hue to your CVG Douglas Fir Flooring.

    What’s the durability of water based finishes?

    Water based finishes are durable. However, the level of durability needed is important when considering a water based finish for interior wood. For instance, if you’re finishing a Doug fir floor and prefer a water based finish, you’ll want to use a water based finish made for flooring that offers scratch-resistance, such as a water based polyurethane finish. On the other hand, if you’re looking to finish wainscoting in a bathroom, you may need a different kind of durability from a finish, and may want to consider an oil based product to protect against humidity and moisture (but we’re not saying there aren’t water based options for this type of application, as well).

    What maintenance is required for water based finishes?

    Water based finishes are a breeze to maintain, so keep your maintenance routine simple. Dampen a clean washcloth with mild water and wipe the wood dry. If you’re tempted to use a cleaning agent or product designed for wood--don’t. The most popular household wood cleaners contain waxes that build up on your wood, leaving a dull, smeary appearance over time.

    You can reapply or re-coat water based finishes as often as needed, though you may need to do some light sanding to remove dirt, grease, and grime before re-coating.

    What else should I know about water based finishes?

    Our advice is to condition the wood before applying the water based finish: after sanding, wipe down the wood’s surface with a damp cloth, then lightly re-sand to get rid of any raised grain. Also be sure to read the manufacturer’s label and instructions before applying your finish – application guidelines vary from product to product. Store your finishes in their original canisters and keep them from freezing. If you’re the inquisitive, inventive type, never mix water based finishes with oil based finishes together in the can. You’ll end up with a mess on your hands and money down the drain.

    Happy finishing!

    This post was posted in Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, water based finishes, oil based finishes, wood flooring, paneling, trim, casework, CVG douglas fir flooring

  • Douglas Fir Trim Up!

    Posted on May 10, 2012 by Nicole

    Trim is to flooring and paneling as butter is to bread and biscuits. One without the other is plain and boring. Trim is the spice of life here at Altrufir, which is why we offer Douglas fir trim and molding options that go beyond the typical 1 x 2, 1 x 3, and 1 x 4 sizes. So if you’re looking for a specialty trim profile of the Douglas fir persuasion, start here.

    CVG Douglas fir Trim | Altrufir Douglas Fir Flooring & Lumber

    Douglas fir trim for stairs 

    Need to replace a few faulty stair treads and landings on your stairwell? Or are you looking to dress up your home’s central staircase in Douglas fir CVG? Cool! There are many specialty trim options available in addition to the standard trim sizes – 6’ to 12’ increments of 25 linear feet. So, don’t let an odd riser size or unique landing-piece stand in your (stair)way – call on Altrufir to help.

    Douglas fir trim for custom casework, windows, and doors

    If you’re looking to restore the original casework in your home – living room open shelving or corridor cabinets – use Doug fir trim and molding. Graded on appearance, Douglas fir offers exquisite grain clarity which accentuates the integrity of all-natural finished casework, a bonus for homeowners wanting to maintain period homes.

    And because Douglas fir is dimensionally stable, Doug fir trim is a favored and reliable choice for window and door casings. Around here we like to call Douglas fir the strongest softwood because it resists moisture and moisture-related maladies – it’s less likely to shrink, swell, and warp.

    Opt for AltruFir’s specialty trim profile when you’re renovation includes building custom or semi-custom casework. Call us when you’ve got your design down – we can help measure material for the big project.

    Douglas fir trim for cover-ups

    Doug fir trim works wonders too on surface imperfections. If you can’t stand losing another coin to the crevice between the door and floor, cover it up with trim. The same holds true for visible joists or unsightly gaps throughout your home – they’re not going anywhere. Just jot down the sizes you need and we’ll help you with the rest (including overage).

    A note on specialty orders

    Specialty orders take additional time to process and fulfill – plan your project accordingly. If you’re also in the market for flooring, paneling, or standard size trim, save on the cost of shipping by ordering all your materials at the same time. Not only will your wallet thank you, but you can recoup project time.

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Trim and was tagged with Douglas-fir, Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, douglas fir trim, douglas fir molding, douglas fir CVG

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