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Tag Archives: fir flooring

  • Replacing Douglas Fir Floorboards

    Posted on July 21, 2011 by Ian

    No matter how hard we try to protect our Douglas fir floors, accidents inevitably happen. Over the years, spills, dents, and other types of damage necessitate removing and replacing floorboards. The process involves a few advanced techniques, as well as some power tools. But, if you’re willing to work carefully, you can do it yourself. And on top of saving yourself the price of hiring a carpenter, you’ll find the satisfaction of a working relationship with your home. Follow these steps:

    1) Removing a board. You’ll be using a power saw for this step (preferably a circular saw), so this is the part of the process where you should be most careful so as not to damage your floor. To ensure precision, outline the board accurately with painter’s tape. Next, make a series of long parallel cuts into the board, as well as one diagonal cut in the center. You should set the depth of your cuts to ¾” (or the depth of the wood), to ensure you only cut through the floorboard. If you cut too deep, you could slice up either or both of the protective mat underneath the board and the subfloor. After you’ve made your cuts, use a hammer and chisel to remove the broken pieces of the board. Be careful not to damage neighboring boards, especially the tongue and grooves that meet the board you’re trying to replace.

    replace wood floorboard

    You better replace your wood floorboard if it looks like this!

    2) Finding a replacement board. The hallmark of a good fix is that you can’t tell it was broken in the first place. Therefore you’ll want to replace your broken board with close match, to leave your floor looking like it did the day it was installed. Luckily, Douglas fir, like any wood, is a natural product that has natural color and pattern variation making the search for an exact match unnecessary. For common woods and finishes, bring a piece of the broken board to your lumber supplier and ask them to find a match for you. If you do have Douglas fir, we hope you’ll turn to us to replace those historic 3 ¼” flooring boards. Keep in mind you’ll also have to match the stain, finish, and level of sanding. You may already have wood in your own home that will serve as a good replacement. Find a rarely seen or used part of your floor – in a closet or utility room, for a example – and extract a board to use as a replacement. Then, you can replace the wood you took out of the closet with a less-than-perfect match.

    3) Replacing the board. First, you’ll have to saw off the lower end of the groove so that you can slip the board in on top of its neighbors. Next, the board should be fastened with glue and flooring nails. After face-nailing, use wood putty to fill in the holes. You may need to do some additional sanding, if the replacement board seems out of place with its neighbors.

    These steps should help you to keep your Douglas fir floor, or any wood floor, looking good and built to last.

    - Ian Friedman

    This post was posted in Douglas Fir Flooring, Care & Maintenance and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, fir flooring, maintaining wood floors, replace floor boards, replacing floor boards

  • 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

  • How Douglas Fir Makes the Grade

    Posted on April 21, 2011 by Jennifer

    We’re going to delve into the sometimes complicated world of grading Douglas-fir and other lumber. We all know about grades. In school, if you get an A, you’re the best of the best. But if you get a C, D or something lower, then you probably won’t be the valedictorian. In the lumber industry, grades don’t break down so simply. As it is in school, lot depends on who is handing out the grades and on what the purpose of the test was to begin with.

    Wood grades are a way of letting consumers know that the wood they’re buying meets certain guidelines. In order for any agency to grade lumber, they must follow rules set by the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC), a government agency run through the Department of Commerce.

    Underneath the umbrella of ALSC are numerous lumber grading agencies. When it comes to Douglas-fir, you’re going to see grades from agencies that specialize in softwoods from the western U.S., such as the West Coast Lumber Inspection Bureau or the Western Wood Products Association. These groups grade the lumber based on its intended use.

    Douglas-fir that will be used for framing a house is called structural grade, and it’s subjected to intense tests to determine how strong and stiff each board is. Wood that will be used for things like paneling, flooring, and trim is called appearance grade, and as you might expect, that means it’s evaluated mainly on its looks.

    Timber graders visually inspect Douglas-fir and other lumber, assigning it a grade based on its color, texture, and grain. “Clear” is a term you’ll hear a lot—that means the wood is virtually free from knots, streaks, nicks and gouges from mill machines, or other blemishes. In the highest-level grades, moisture content levels also play a role.

    A "select" grade Douglas fir plank.

    The most perfect boards are known as “Selects” or “Finish” grade boards. Within those “Select” and “Finish” the grades have different names depending on which agency graded them. In general, the higher the letter grade, the less-knotty and more even in color it will appear.

    Boards labeled “Superior” “B & BTR” (BTR=better) or “C & BTR” are almost knot-free and evenly colored. “Prime,” “D Finish” and “E” Finish are still mostly clear, but might have some variation. AltruFir’s CVG Douglas fir flooring is a C & BTR grade, and is characterized by having 10-25 rings per inch and knots no larger than ¾” in diameter. B & BTR is not commonly sold in the U.S., as there is little market for it, but it is available.

    Anything within the “Select” and “Finish” categories makes good flooring, trim, cabinets, and paneling. There will be minimal color contrast, making each board look similar to another, which is good if you want your trim or paneling to have a formal, perfectly-matched look.

    “Select Merchantable” and “Common” grades have some small, tight knots visible. These grades can also be used for flooring, paneling or siding—it just depends on the look you’re hoping to achieve. Some designers and home owners like the character of a knotty Douglas fir, while others prefer each board to look smooth and uniform.

    flat sawn douglas fir

    Knotty, or rustic, Douglas fir is often used for paneling.

    “Construction” and “Standard” grade boards are going to have varying sizes of knots or knot holes, and are fine for fencing, shelving, sub-floors, or other uses where being pretty isn’t so important.

    “CVG” is another acronym you will see in wood grading—it stands for Clear Vertical Grain, and it has to do both with the way the wood grows and the way it was cut. In the simplest of terms, the grain of the wood is the pattern of alternating light and dark rings that develop as a tree grows. When a tree is cut down and sawn into boards, those bands of color become visible. When the cells of a tree grow in just one direction, up and down the trunk of the tree, that’s a straight grain, and it’s something Douglas-fir in particular is known for.

    The way the mill saws the wood affects what type of grain you see as well. We talked about this in our post about flat- vs. quarter-sawn lumber. Douglas-fir is known for exceptionally straight vertical grain, which makes it very good for flooring. When vertical grain boards contract and expand, as all wood does, they shrink less than a flat-sawn board and remain more stable. And even when they do contract, they contract evenly across the thickness of board, with minimal warping. Vertical grain boards in general stay flat, which is why it is a common choice for flooring.

    Grain also has to do with the type of cells in the wood—when you cut a tree into boards, the cells that were once used to transport water up and down the trunk are visible as tiny hollows called pores. Woods with large pores are called open grain, while those with pores too small to see with the naked eye are called closed grain. In general, conifers like the Douglas-fir have small pores, and therefore a closed grain.

    The texture of the wood plays a part too; wood with very small cells will be very smooth to the touch, and referred to as fine-grained, while a less-smooth wood with larger cells would be coarse-grained. Douglas-fir is a medium grained wood.

    In the end, the grade your board gets doesn’t matter so much as whether it’s suited for what you want it to do. A high-grade “select” board might be perfect for a glossy china cabinet, while “common” grade boards with visible knots might be perfect for adding contrast and interest to a room-size batch of flooring. So don’t worry if your Douglas fir didn’t get straight A’s. Just because it’s a B, C, or D doesn’t mean it won’t meet the qualifications for your project.

    - Jennifer Rouse

    This post was posted in All Entries, Douglas Fir Flooring, Douglas Fir Trim and was tagged with Douglas fir flooring, douglas fir floors, fir flooring, grading douglas fir, douglas fir grade

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