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Tag Archives: douglas fir paneling

  • Douglas Fir Paneling: Making your choice

    Posted on September 9, 2011 by Nicole

    This is Pat.

    Meet Pat. He’s a Chinese-food-loving, ‘Wind of Change’ singing, Ironman-respecting wood pro. In other words, Patrick Monaghan is a down-to-earth guy who knows a thing or two about that hard fibrous stuff you find under bark. He’s the president of and a salesman at Altrufir, a small staff of people who want the best for you when it comes to your Douglas fir needs. On this day, he’s going to expound on Douglas fir paneling, a new product offered on our website.

    On the job
    I do the general everyday running of the company. I’ll also do sales. I’m on the phone talking with people, talking with the mills, finding the best quality and best prices. I also keep track of what kinds of products come from different mills, which is important for our company. What we’re looking for is clear vertical grain Douglas fir. We want lumber from slow-growth trees because that’s the wood that is both beautiful and durable. In a nutshell, we’re simplifying the sourcing and buying of wood on the web. We want to make it easier for the consumer, a one-stop-shop really.

    On Douglas fir
    Douglas fir has all kinds of different names like Oregon Pine, All Vertical Grain, VG Doug fir, and CVG. It’s a richer color than hemlock or spruce which are bland or flat-looking. Doug fir is a more durable wood, it holds nails really well, it’s long-lasting, and it’s plentiful – there’s a lot in the Northwest.

    Tight vertical grain Douglas fir bead board in 6" width.

    On paneling profiles
    Basically, paneling is used for spaces like kitchen walls, outside porch soffits, and decks. It creates a warmer, richer look than your standard drywall. Paneling comes standard in 4” or 6” profiles (net 3 1/8” or 5 1/8” face) with a tongue that isn’t exposed when installed. And the design can either be flat or beaded. Our paneling is CVG Doug fir or clear vertical grain which works well for people looking for a natural finish to their paneling.

    Both the 4” and 6” profile are available in tight, standard, or mixed grain. And they’re installed similarity onto the wall or ceiling.

    On paneling grades
    Usually the wood material is graded which helps to evaluate the quality of the lumber. Things that go into grade consideration are the number of knots and blemishes on the board. Old growth Douglas fir has a very tight grain, what we call clear vertical grain or CVG. Because of the tightness of the grain, it’s less likely to cup and warp over the long haul.

    The other type of paneling grade is mixed or flat. This grade has a wavy grain appearance. Mixed grain paneling is sold standard in 4” profile. Since the grain isn’t as tight, it’s best to use 4” profile is less likely to cup or warp than 6”.

    On cost
    Generally speaking, the 4” is less expensive than the 6” standard profile. But, the consumer has a couple of things to consider. Opt for the mixed or flat grain profile if it’s going to be painted. Since the grain will be covered, it’s more cost-effective. If going for a clean natural finish, use vertical grain. But keep in mind, that it’ll cost more because of its grade and how it is cut.

    And then there’s the environment. Where will the paneling be installed, outside where it’s wet all the time, inside a bathroom, or in an office? Though the up-front costs may be higher for a higher grade, it may save the consumer not having to replace lower grade paneling that likely won’t last as long. This is true especially if it will be exposed to the elements.

    Sometimes consumers want a custom profile instead of the standard 4” or 6” cuts. This is doable, but it does cost more. You might spend $300 or so for the machine setup and another $50 or more for the extra cutting blades. A custom job only makes sense for larger projects. Smaller projects can be custom-run, but anything custom will require a set-up fee.

    On finish
    From the finish standpoint, it’s better to do this first before installing the paneling. It’s messier and way harder to do a careful and thorough job when the paneling has already been installed.

    Thanks Pat! You’ve been a big help and you’re just a phone call away if we’ve got more questions. In the meantime, enjoy that little box of Kung Pao and turn up the Scorps.

    - Nicole Morales

    This post was posted in All Entries, Care & Maintenance, Douglas Fir Paneling and was tagged with douglas fir paneling, douglas fir grades, wood grades

  • Douglas Fir in California Building Design

    Posted on July 28, 2011 by Jennifer

    Los Angeles is America’s city of dreams—the sun-drenched town where hopeful folks go to make their dreams come true. And the city is known for homes that reflect that California dream—from elaborate Hollywood mansions to simple suburban ranches, much of California architecture is about taking the best of the state’s natural beauty and bringing it into the home.

    The Kaufmann House in Palm Springs makes great use of Douglas fir paneling.

    For decades, home designers have turned to Douglas fir—naturally beautiful and native to the West Coast—as a key element in creating those California dream homes.


    Many of the earliest structures in Southern California reflected the influence of Spanish settlements, making use of stone and adobe. However, in the early 20th Century, the Arts and Crafts movement swept the country, and L.A.’s residents were not immune to its charms. As the name suggests, Arts and Crafts-style homes reflect a love of quality, hand-crafted elements. Wood paneling, built-in cabinets, and use of natural materials like stone and wood are key features.

    One of L.A.’s most notable Arts and Crafts homes, the Gamble House, was built in 1908 for wealthy residents David and Mary Gamble of the Procter and Gamble Company. Douglas fir is one of several types of wood used for the exposed beams, window and door frames, and other intricately-crafted woodworking that fills the interior of the home, known as one of the “twelve great man-made wonders of L.A. county.”

    A 1917 issue of “House Beautiful” magazine includes an article on native building materials of the Pacific coast, calling Douglas fir “a wood destined for extensive building uses in this country” and mentions that it holds “exceptional possibilities for paneling.” The Historic Highlands area of Pasadena, Calif., which was built from the turn of the century to 1925, is another area where surviving examples of Douglas fir’s use in the Craftsman/Bungalow area can be seen.

    However, as 20th century continued, Los Angeles homes evolved, and architects began using Douglas fir in new ways. Beginning as early as the 1930s and continuing through the 1960s, a simpler, sleeker style of architecture began to arise—known as mid-century modern, or as California modern. Characterized by simplicity and integration with nature, architects such as Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler and Gregory Ain epitomized the California style.

    douglas fir trim and siding

    Skyrose Chapel has 10 miles of Douglas fir trim and siding.

    Douglas fir continued to be important to mid-century modern architects, as a building material that was both natural and widely available for west coast homes. Many mid-century modern architects were very conscious of designing homes that were accessible to anyone—using readily available materials and designs that were easy to build.

    The Crestwood Hills area of L.A., for instance, was developed in the late 1940s as a neighborhood of modern homes to meet the needs of the post-World War II baby boom families. According to a 2010 article in Westside Today magazine, the houses of Crestwood Hills “set a standard for excellence in postwar tract-home development.” They used simple materials like concrete block, Douglas fir, and plate glass. “With thoughtful planning and the use of level changes, the original structures housed a post-war family quite comfortably. Large areas of glass in the walls and sliding doors dissolve the boundary between house and garden,” architect Cory Buckner writes.

    Richard Neutra, a noted modernist architect, was another designer who experimented with creating simple homes out of affordable materials like Douglas fir. His 1936 “Plywood House” built out of Douglas fir plywood was designed as part of a competition at the California House and Garden Exhibition—it was meant to pay homage to his love of small but spacious homes and was finished inside and out with Douglas fir.

    The mid-century modern style did not necessarily mean the homes were utilitarian or not attractive, however. The Dorland House, designed by America’s most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1948, uses Douglas fir ceiling beams as one of the many features that set off the beauty of its setting in the Altadena foothills by deliberate use of organic materials that echo the surrounding natural beauty.

    Wright’s colleague Richard Schindler also chose Douglas fir for one of his most lovely homes, the Rodriguez house in Glendale. Vertical grain Douglas fir, Santa Maria stone, and slate are among the many natural materials showcased in the house.

    As the century has continued, California’s love of natural materials like Douglas fir has continued too. Once-lost historical gems like Richard Neutra’s classic of the modernist movement, the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, which features Douglas fir ceilings, have been recently restored.

    In 1997, Douglas fir was used in the Skyrose Chapel of Whittier, Calif., one of several funeral chapels at Rose Hills Memorial Park. Skyrose Chapel features stunning exposed beams throughout, soaring ceilings, and more than 10 miles of trim and siding.

    And in 2010, the California Home & Design Award for residential interior design went to a Costa Mesa home that features Douglas fir doorways and ceiling beams, adding an earthy flair to an otherwise modern home.

    From craftsman to modern, simple to ornate, Douglas fir is an adaptable wood that’s well-suited to the California aesthetic: organic materials meeting natural beauty for more than a century of L.A. homes.

    - Jennifer Rouse

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Trim, History and Interest and was tagged with Douglas-fir, Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir trim, douglas fir paneling, douglas fir design, california design

  • 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

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