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Tag Archives: douglas fir porch decking

  • Douglas Fir in Your Great Outdoors

    Posted on March 21, 2012 by Jennifer

    You may know that Douglas fir makes beautiful floors that will last for decades inside your home--but did you know that Douglas fir can make the outside of your home look great too?

    Turns out Douglas fir is more than just a good-looking wood. Its durability and resistance to rot and insects make it a favorite choice for outdoor projects like porch decking as well.

    In fact, vertical-grain Douglas fir has been a traditional choice for porches on historic homes for more than 100 years. Builders chose it back then for its widespread availability and its durability--the same reasons builders continue to use it today.

    What makes Douglas fir so good for the outdoors? For one thing, it’s a very dimensionally stable wood, with few knots. When it expands and contracts in response to moisture--as all wood products do--it does so evenly. It’s unlikely to warp and buckle, especially if you select clear vertical-grain products.

    It’s also naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insects. According to research done by the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, completely untreated Douglas fir will last 10-15 years in outdoor uses.

    It’s generally recommended that if you’re using wood for an outdoor purpose, you’ll want to treat it with something that will extend its life even further. According to the University of California’s research, Douglas fir that was treated with ACQ (a water-based fungicide and insecticide made of copper oxide and an ammonium compound) will last for 30 years or more. Paints, stains, and finishes designed for outdoor use will also help your Douglas fir stand the test of time.

    So now that you’re convinced Douglas fir can stand up to the elements, let’s talk about what you can do with it. Or, how about a more accurate question: what can’t you do with it?

    One typical use for Douglas fir is siding. Real wood siding is not only a historically accurate choice if you have an older home -- it also provides more aesthetic appeal than aluminum or vinyl siding. Whether you’re restoring an old home or building a new one, with periodic care Douglas fir siding will outlast its synthetic competitors.

    Douglas fir is also good for an often-overlooked part of your home’s exterior: soffits. What’s a soffit, you may ask? It’s the underside of the eaves of your house. Still not sure what we mean? Go outside. Look up at the piece of the roof that extends out above your head. The wood on the underside of that overhang is called soffit. Perhaps you’ve never given much thought at all to what wood is used in the soffit of your house. Perhaps that’s because you’ve never used Douglas fir. Using attractive solid wood for a soffit can turn it from an unnoticed architectural necessity, to a subtle design feature that adds to your outdoor living space.

    Speaking of outdoor living, we’ve already talked about porches, but when you think about the areas for outdoor entertaining, don’t limit yourself to the front of the house. With the right Douglas fir, you can also build beautiful decks, patios, and pergolas, perfect for summer entertaining. In an article by syndicated home and garden columnists Bill and Kevin Burnett, they recommend using Douglas fir for a backyard deck, choosing it over redwood for its extra durability. “If you select vertical grain fir, cure it properly and prime and paint it thoroughly, it will perform...and will resist heavy foot traffic and dings a bit better,” they wrote.

    Once you’ve got a nice Douglas fir deck, don’t stop there. The current trend in landscape design is to view the entire back yard as an extension of the house, creating an “outdoor living room.”

    Because Douglas fir is widely available, more-cost effective than redwood or cedar, but doesn’t skimp on durability and appearance, it makes adding an outdoor living room a real possibility. A Douglas fir gazebo for relaxing outside, a covered fire pit for roasting marshmallows, a trellis for climbing plants--whatever feature you can dream up, your builder can create a Douglas fir structure that will fit your needs. Especially in the Pacific Northwest, having a covered pavilion outdoors means the party can go on no matter what the weather.

    And--because you know that Douglas fir will stand the test of time--you can keep on planning those parties for years to come.

    - Jennifer Rouse

    This post was posted in Care & Maintenance, Douglas Fir Paneling and was tagged with douglas fir paneling, douglas fir porch decking, douglas fir soffits, douglas fir siding, outdoor living room

  • Douglas Fir Porch Decking: Clear vertical grain or mixed grain?

    Posted on March 8, 2012 by Jennifer

    Sipping a glass of tea on a big front porch is the essence of Americana: classic, neighborly, and relaxing. If you’re building a porch, you can probably picture it right now. What you may not have pictured in your front-porch daydream is what kind of lumber you need to turn that dream into reality.

    Prefinished CVG Douglas Fir | AltruFir Doug Fir Flooring

    CVG Douglas Fir

    Traditionally, porches on historic homes were built with clear, vertical-grain Douglas fir decking. Though grown in the Pacific Northwest, it was shipped all over the country to serve as porch floorboards as far away as Chicago and New Jersey.

    Why? Because 100-125 years ago, old-growth Douglas fir with beautiful vertical grain was not only recognized as a superior choice for quality and durability, it was also plentiful and affordable.

    These days, vertical grain Douglas fir is still the recommended choice for a porch that will last for your home’s next several decades—but it’s more expensive than a shipment of mixed-grain Douglas fir decking. Some homeowners think, if you’re just going to paint your porch floor anyway (another historic home tradition) who's going to know what type of porch decking is under that paint?

    Unfortunately, you will be able to tell in just a few years whether you’ve opted for a wood product that will stand the test of time, or one that will begin to wear out and buckle.

    To understand why clear vertical grain Douglas fir (you might see it abbreviated at lumber suppliers as CVG) works so well for an outdoor use like a porch floor, first you need to understand what woodworkers mean when they talk about CVG vs. mixed-grain.

    Vertical Grain means that the grain of the wood runs parallel along the face of the board. When you look at it, you’ll see straight lines running up and down the length of the board. These straight vertical lines give CVG Douglas fir some important benefits.

    For one, those parallel lines mean that as CVG Douglas fir naturally expands and contracts in response to moisture—as any wood product does—it expands and contracts evenly. It is less prone to warping, buckling, or bending. This is especially important when you’re talking about a porch, where the wood will be exposed to constantly-changing weather conditions.

    CVG Douglas fir is also generally regarded to be the most durable grade of Douglas fir, holding its shape well and holding its fasteners tightly.

    Mixed grain is exactly what its name sounds like—a mixture. That means that when you order a batch of lumber from your supplier, some of the boards you get will be vertical grain. Others, however, will come from boards that were sawn the other way, parallel to the annual growth rings of the tree. These are called flat grain, sometimes FG, and you won’t see neat lines running along the face of the board. You’ll see a wavy pattern of wood grain, which is attractive in its own way, but not best suited for an outdoor application.

    The historic home experts at “This Old House” magazine wrote about this very problem in a Q&A column: the homeowner wrote in that his porch had been replaced with fir graded “D & Btr mix-grain,” that was primed and then painted. “Now every winter the floor buckles, and in the spring it flattens out again,” he wrote.

    This Old House’s master carpenter, Norm Abram, replied: “Flat-grain boards expand and contract more than vertical-grain wood, which has rings nearly perpendicular to the face. To make matters worse, all that swelling wood is pushing against your porch piers and your house without anywhere to go. Buckling is the inevitable result.”

    A CVG Douglas fir porch, on the other hand, if treated properly and regularly painted and maintained, will last 40 years or more. Tim Carter, a building contractor who writes a nationally-syndicated “Ask the Builder “ column, writes that vertical grain Douglas fir is his number-one choice for porch decking. “Some of the wood is over 100 years old and still in good condition,” he said in his column.

    So when you’re choosing your porch decking, take a lesson from what historic homeowners across the nation can tell you about the quality and durability of vertical grain Douglas fir.

    Or what they would tell you, if you could get a hold of them. They’re all outside with their feet up, sipping tea on their big front porches.

    - Jennifer Rouse

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring and was tagged with douglas fir porch decking, cvg douglas fir

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