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Tag Archives: douglas fir trim

  • 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

  • Moisture Meters & Douglas Fir: Common questions about moisture meters for wood

    Posted on July 12, 2011 by Nicole

    What’s a moisture meter? When should I use one? And, Do I really have to use a moisture meter on my new Douglas fir floors? These questions might pop up as you’re starting a home project or major renovation. What follows is some moisture meter Q & A, starting with the basics, that should help you decide if using one is right for your current project.

    Q: What’s a moisture meter?

    A moisture meter measures the percentage of moisture in something. There are moisture meters for ceramics, concrete, soil, and most commonly, wood. It comes in handy during a renovation or building project, usually before a material is installed, like wood flooring.

    In this post, we’ll be referring to moisture meters used specifically on wood.

    Q: Why should I use a moisture meter?

    A moisture meter is a prevention tool. Taking a moisture reading of your floor boards before installation tells you how much water or moisture is in the wood – too much or too little at time of installation can cause big problems later. It’s sort of like taking the temp of a turkey in the oven – too hot and you’re left with a brittle bird; not hot enough and you might find yourself leaving the dinner table repeatedly throughout the meal. In cases like this, prevention is the best medicine.

    moisture meter

    A pin meter can be used to measure the moisture in Douglas fir.

    Q: What types of moisture meters are there?

    Pin and pinless models are two of the most common types of wood moisture meters. The latest models have an LCD screen. Wood moisture meters should also have settings specific to ‘wood species’. On these, the user can adjust the meter to the species being read, such as Douglas fir or Cedar. Different species have different characteristics, so they all give different readings even when the moisture content is the same.

    Q: How does a moisture meter work?

    Pin moisture meters commonly have two pins – Pin A + Pin B – that are inserted into the wood. Once the pins are in, a current passes from Pin A to Pin B. Since moisture conducts electricity, a strong current indicates high moisture content. A low current means low moisture.

    A pinless or surface moisture meter sends electric wave signals into the wood. These signals create a field. The level of moisture – high or low – affects this field.

    Q: Is one type of meter better than the other?

    A pin moisture meter is the most accurate. But, if the material will be featured in highly visible areas, the pin-holes can be an eyesore for the homeowner. And, the pin detectors may be more challenging to operate; some have tiny cables that tangle easily.

    Pinless moisture meters are easier to use, but also more likely to give a faulty reading if there is moisture on the surface of the wood. However, there’s no piercing involved.

    Q: When do I use a moisture meter?

    You can use a moisture meter before, during, and after any wood installation project -- for products like flooring, decking, paneling, and trim. Tracking readings is important throughout the project. Why? You’ll learn that in the answer to the final question.

    Q: What’s a good moisture-reading?

    A good reading is one that is compatible with its working or end-use environment. It is referred to as the equilibrium moisture content (EMC), when the wood’s moisture is in sync with its surroundings. Because environments, seasons, and climates change, so does the EMC. That’s where the average moisture content figures into “a good moisture-reading.”

    Builders and contractors tend to rely on an average moisture content of 8% which is common in most of the US, even in the rainy Northwest. Hot ‘n’ humid places along the central and southern coast of California and the South have an average moisture content of 11%. In desertscapes like Arizona and Nevada, the average moisture content is close to 6%. Knowing the average moisture content of where you live (and where the wood will be), helps you achieve EMC, creating wood + environmental harmony.

    Q: Do I really need a moisture meter?

    The quick answer is, “That depends on the homeowner.” Most contractors, builders, and wood-working shop owners rely on moisture meters – it’s a tool of the trade. This is why proper acclimatization is an essential step for homeowners who don’t have or use a wood moisture meter. Installing Douglas fir flooring right after it lands on your doorstep is bad practice and not recommended. Wood needs time to adjust to its new home, whether that is your living room, the attic, or even the deck. If the moisture content is too high, way above the EMC, the floor boards will shrink and gap along between the seams. If the content is way below the EMC, you’ll end up with floor boards too big for their own britches: replacing cracked and split floor boards isn’t fun for anyone.

    However, if you want to take the guesswork out of knowing when your new Douglas fir (or any wood) is ready to be installed, use a moisture meter. Using one may help to prevent warping, shrinking, or splitting problems later on, giving you piece of mind now.

    And if you do go the moisture-meter route, be sure to read the instruction manual.

    - Nicole Morales

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, douglas fir trim, warping floors, douglas fir paneling, douglas fir decking, wood moisture meter

  • Douglas Fir Moulding and Trim

    Posted on May 25, 2011 by Jennifer

    In the simplest sense, baseboards have a humble function: they’re strips of wood attached to the bottom of the wall, wide enough to cover up the little gap around the edges of your flooring. But beautiful Douglas fir trim, or baseboards, can go beyond their utilitarian function to be a key design element, providing a visual marker that offsets both the walls and floors. They can set the tone for a room—a more formal home might have baseboards with an elaborately curved profile, while a modern or Asian-influenced home might have simple, straight baseboards.

    Choosing your style

    The size of your room: Although a standard height for baseboards is in the range of 3 ½ to 4 inches, a room with high ceilings can handle a wider baseboard, extending up to 10 inches up from the floor. A smaller room calls for a more minimal baseboard. AltruFir offers clear vertical grain Douglas fir trim in a variety of sizes, from small 2 or 3 inch wide baseboards to dramatic 10-inch baseboards that will make an eye-catching addition to a room.

    The stain or finish you want: Douglas fir baseboards accept paint or stain equally well, so consider whether you want wood tones or a more vibrant color. If you want to highlight the natural grain of the wood, you might consider a baseboard with clear vertical grain. If you plan to paint over it in the end anyway, a different grade of board might be fine for the job.

    Ordering baseboards

    douglas fir trim

    Douglas fir trim (1x4) available on our site.

    Once you’ve selected your moulding, it’s time to figure out how much you need. AltruFir sells trim by the lineal foot, which is simply the measurement of how long each board is. To figure out how many lineal feet you need, measure how long each wall is and then add up the total. Plan to order that amount plus a little bit extra—between 5-10 percent greater than your total. That’s just in case of mistakes, which can happen to even the handiest of home handy-people.

    When you’re ordering, you can buy your trim in an assorted package called “random lengths.” With random lengths, you get a mixed batch of boards of different sizes that all add up to a pre-agreed-upon amount of lineal feet. One of our random lengths packages will give you 25 lineal feet of board, made up of boards that are between 6 and 12 feet long. Or, you can order by the piece, specifying how many boards you want and of which sizes.

    Getting started

    Once you have your baseboards, sand, and stain and finish or paint them first, before installing. It’s much easier to sand and stain each piece pre-install, when you don’t have to stoop down to floor level to do the work, and you don’t have to worry about slopping paint or stain onto the walls and floors. You can go back and touch up your work afterward if necessary.

    Before you start nailing the boards to the wall, you need to know where the studs are. A stud is a supportive vertical board behind the sheetrock—when you start installing the baseboards, you’ll want to anchor them into those hidden studs. A simple tool called a stud finder, available at hardware stores for $10-20, will help with the process. In most standard construction, studs are located about every 16 inches along the wall.

    Start with your longest wall, and measure to find out exactly how long a piece of trim you need. Measure your board to the appropriate length and cut it to fit. When you make your cut, use a miter saw to make a diagonal 45-degree cut on either end of the piece, then nail it in place at the stud locations all along the length of the wall.

    When doing your nailing, you want to sink the nails down into the surface of the trim. This ensures that the nails get all the way through the baseboard, sheetrock, and into the stud behind them. It also allows you to fill in the nail holes with wood putty and sand over them for a smoother final finish. You can buy or rent a nail gun for the job, which will shoot them down into your trim, or you can do it the old-fashioned way using a hammer and a nail set. A nail set is a small piece of metal that looks something like an ice pick—you put the pointed end of the nail set onto the head of the nail, then hit the blunt end with a hammer, driving the nail all the way down into the wood.

    Joint work

    When you’re ready to fit the next piece of trim, take a small scrap piece of wood, cut the end off at a 45-degree angle, and test it to see whether or not it fits just right against the first piece. A lot of corners aren’t exactly 90 degrees, so you may have to adjust the angle on your saw up and down a bit, testing until you find the angle that gives you a snug mating piece. Then keep your saw at that angle while you cut the next piece of trim. Nail the next board in place, and continue the process all the way around the room.

    If you have an extremely long wall, longer than any of the pieces you ordered, you may need to use two pieces of wood, making what’s called a scarf joint. Cut a 45-degree angle at the end of your trim piece, angling away from the face of the board, toward the back. Then repeat the angle-testing process that you used on the corners to get a tight fit for the scarf joint. Use a fine layer of wood glue on one of the surfaces when attaching the two ends, then fasten in place with nails.

    If you come to a door casing, a built-in cabinet, or another flat surface on the edge of the wall, you can use what’s called a butt joint—simply make a flat 90-degree cut on the end of your trim piece and run it straight up against the other piece of wood.

    The final touch

    Once every piece is in place, cover nail holes with wood putty, let it dry, and sand lightly for a smooth finish. Using a small brush, touch up the nail holes and any other problem areas.

    When you’re all done, your Douglas fir trim will be a beautiful accent to the rest of your room—the finishing touch that ties your walls and fir floor together. Just because baseboards have the humble job of covering a gap doesn’t mean they can’t look good while they’re doing it.

    - Jennifer Rouse

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Trim and was tagged with Douglas-fir, douglas fir trim, wood trim, installing trim

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