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  • 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

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